This is a review of the King Kong Bag Original Duffel. Now called the Plus45 Original.
The duffel-style gym bag has been my go-to since I was a kid. I’ve owned them all! Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armour, Ohio, Mizuna, Umbro, Puma, Easton, Samba. If you can name it, I’ve probably owned it (seriously, I have a problem!). 35 years’ worth of bags starting with youth sports and carrying me through high school sports, college, bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit, and working professionally as a Personal Trainer and Strength Coach.
The King Kong Original Duffle Bag is hands down the best gym bag on the market. It’s the best I’ve ever owned. It has plenty of space to organize all your gear, two shoe compartments, and various extra pouches and mesh pockets for quick-access items and water bottles. It’s incredibly durable, made with high-quality materials that will last a lifetime if used properly. If you’re looking to upgrade your current bag, or are getting back to working out after a bit of time off, buy this one. Don’t spend more, don’t spend less. Do it right!
*The Original 3.0 Duffel is now called the Plus45 Original.
Let’s check out what makes this bag worth the money.
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Table of Contents
- Watch Me Go Through My Bag
- Picking the Right Gym Bag
- King Kong Bag Sizes
- King Kong Bag Construction
- King Kong Bag Organization
- King Kong Apparel’s Warranty
- Price – $$
- Conclusion: King Kong Bags Review
- 2021 Update
- Read Next
Watch Me Go Through My Bag
Picking the Right Gym Bag
Having a workout bag is essential. Whether you are a competitor, gym warrior, or mom of five, you need a place for all your gym stuff (gear), shoes, and workout clothes.
Are you a competitor? You need a bag that will hold everything you need, no matter what happens or the competition throws at you.
CrossFit athlete, Grid League, or functional fitness? You’ll need various shoes, straps, wraps, ropes, swimming gear, and mobility tools.
Powerlifter, Weightlifter, or Strongman? Straps, wraps, belts, and shoes.
Bodybuilder? Belts, shoes, trunks, towels.
Active lifestyle? You need it all!
Busy parent? You need to make sure there are no obstacles keeping you from getting your workout in. Your bag should be packed and waiting by the door for your early morning session. Or already in your passenger seat, waiting for you after a long day’s work, begging you to hit the gym.
Continue reading to learn about my favorite features of the King Kong Original Duffel Style Gym Bag, and see if this bag will meet your needs.
King Kong Bag Sizes
King Kong duffel bags come in three sizes: the PLUS33 Jnr Kong, PLUS45 Original King Kong, and the PLUS63 Giant Kong. The number represents the capacity of the bag in liters. Recently they have come out with 4 additional duffel bag options, the EDGE45, CORE35, CORE51, and the ZONE28 (which comes with an insulated ZONE insert, 2 meal containers, and an ice pack).
This review will stick to the style I own and know; The Original 3.0, now called The Plus45 Original.
Weight and Capacity
As the names and numbers imply, this bag comes in small, medium, and large. The Original is the size you’re probably used to; a standard gym bag, coming in at 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) with an 11.9 gallon (45 L) capacity. If you have a lot of gym gear, choose this option. This is the one I have. It has room for all my toys, can hold food and additional clothing if I need, but it isn’t overly massive.
the Jr. is smaller, weighing in at 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg), with an 8.7 gallon (33 L) capacity. Don’t let the small size fool you! I have seen CrossFit competitors with this bag! It’s compact, but its layout still allows you to pack everything you need.
The Giant is, well, giant. It’s massive. If you like big, this is your boy. This bag actually weighs the same as the Original (3.3 lbs/1.5 kg), but has a whopping 17 gallon (63 L) capacity!
Which Size is Best For You?
I chose The Original (Plus45) because it was the size that I was used to, and I didn’t want to ever have to worry about it being too small (although I’ve seen the Jr. in action, have several friends that have this model, and think I would have been just fine).
This has been my companion for every Powerlifting meet and CrossFit competition I’ve done. And each time this was the only bag I needed. I have been able to carry multiple pairs of shoes, all of my workout and mobility gear, changes of clothes, and meal bags!
99 percent of the time, however, this is simply my everyday gym bag. I can easily find all my stuff, bring extra things if I need them, and it’s tough enough to handle daily use.
King Kong Bag Construction
This is where the bag shows off! King Kong’s bags are durable and built to last. The canvas material is tough, the zippers are heavy-duty, and the straps and buckles are not only strong but extra attention was also put into where they connect to the bag, preventing failure at this common weak point.
I am in and out of this bag at home all the time and it goes with me everywhere. It gets thrown around my gym, tossed in and out of closets at home, has been on multiple flights, shoved in and out of overhead storage bins, and generally abused in every way possible. I have yet to see fraying, color loss, tears, or wearing down!
King Kong’s duffel bags are made from durable, water-resistant 1000D military spec nylon (the D stands for denier, which is a measurement of the thickness of the fibers in a fabric. The higher the number, the stronger the fabric.). This is the toughest material I’ve personally seen used in a duffel bag. After 6 years of daily use, competitions, and two kids who love to get into Daddy’s things, this bag still looks brand new.
Straps, Handles, and Buckles
King Kong uses heavy-duty carbon steel buckles to connect the padded shoulder strap to the bag, which swivel and can be easily detached. I use the strap. Rarely, if ever, do I carry my bags by their handles. So a nice strap is essential for me. The buckles are not going to break (no cheap plastic here), and have not torn where they are sewn into the bag! This is usually where I end up seeing the death of my bags. This is where the tears start. So far, not a hint of construction failure!
If you use the handles, you’ll love these! The handles connect together with a center, wrap-around sleeve, like most gym bags. King Kong, however, uses magnets to hold the sleeve together instead of velcro. Such a small difference, but you’ll be shocked at how much you’ll like this feature. Tearing those velcro handles apart, which are used on every other bag I’ve owned, is not a big deal until you don’t have to do it anymore. This feature is fast and easy to hook and unhook, meaning that you’ll actually use it.
I love King Kong’s zippers. Along with handles, zippers are where my bags often end up failing. They tear away from the bag, the head snaps off, the lining peels away, or they keep getting caught on the bag’s material, frustrating me to no end and eventually wearing my bags down. King Kong uses #10 YKK industrial-strength zippers, which are made of a continuous piece of extruded nylon thread that has been formed into a chain. These are incredibly strong and smooth!
Most of the bags I’ve owned that had heavy-duty zippers used large teeth that were difficult to get in and out of. The teeth were overkill and they just didn’t zip easily. I’m in and out of this bag all the time (and so are my 3 and 6-year-olds boys!). I keep everything in here, so even when I’m at home and I need a Lacrosse ball, roller, or Band-Aids I’m digging around in it. Not only have the zippers held up after more than 6 years of constant use, but it’s nice to not have to fight the zippers every time I need something.
You’ll notice other small features with this bag as well, that either add to its durability or functionality. Small ventilation holes help keep your bag aired out. Double-stitched seams provide extra durability in areas that are typically weak. Even the stitching for their logo is laid on thick!
Workout bags are what King Kong does, and every feature demonstrates their commitment and expertise as people who actually use what they make. They’re not a company that is involved in a bit of everything, simply throwing another bag into the market.
King Kong Bag Organization
I’m a bit of a neat freak when it comes to how my bag is organized. I want to know exactly where everything is inside my bag. I get made fun of for this often…until people want to borrow things. Need a pair of wrist wraps? Yeah, the main compartment in the black baggie. Jump rope? Side compartment in original bag.
King Kong’s duffel bags not only offer plenty of space, they have a ton of extremely useful pockets, mesh inserts, and compartments so that everything has a place and is easy to find.
Dual Shoe Compartments
The bag has two shoe compartments, located above and below each other on one end of the bag. Shoes fit horizontally and then take up space in the internal compartment of the bag. King Kong’s newer options (the Edge and Core models) have switched to vertical compartments, one on each end of the bag, that are extendable so shoes don’t take up room inside the bag. I haven’t seen this in action, but it’s worth looking into.
The updated Original, Jr., and Giant models, however, have stuck with the horizontal layout. I’m sure they would have moved completely away from this layout if they had complaints, but it’s nice to see they now have both options. Personally, I like the horizontal layout and have no complaints about the space it takes up in the main section of the bag.
When I compete I take 3 pairs of shoes: lifters, running shoes, and training shoes. I wear a fourth pair to and from, and in between workouts. I have fit my runners and Nano 8s (my favorite shoes) into one compartment, with my bulky lifters in the other, no problem.
For daily use, however, I use the shoe pockets very differently! The bottom compartment always has my lifters (I use them almost every workout), but I use the top to store my knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, and shin protectors for rope climbs. They sit in here nice and flat and are easy to find if and when I need them.
The shoe compartments are also a great place to toss your sweaty clothes or wet towel after a workout! I’ll do this on days that I have to head straight to work from the gym. This keeps the rest of my equipment from getting wet, and to this day my bag still doesn’t smell!
Opposite the shoe pockets is a standard end compartment. This will hold whatever you want but is where I organize my jump ropes. Inside you’ll also find an additional zippered mesh pocket; the perfect spot for Band-Aids. Just a little extra organizational space without taking up additional real estate.
The outside of the end compartment features a mesh webbing, sewn in the middle, for holding two water bottles. Usually, I carry a water bottle on one side and then toss my phone on the other. When I’ve used the bag at competitions, however, I truly use both sides. One water bottle for liquid and one full of dry protein powder and a scoop.
*Update: The Plus45 has actually moved away from the mesh compartment on the outside end of the bag, opting instead for a large pocket made of the same 1,000D nylon as the rest of the bag and a heavy-duty Hypalon elastic strap to hold it shut. I’ve never had an issue with the mesh pocket, but this is a nice update.
The front of the bag has three small-item compartments; two medium-sized velcro (which has never torn!) pockets and a small zipper compartment in the middle (great for your keys, wallet, and phone when you get to the gym). The Plus45 has beefed up the middle pocket, which would be great for today’s massive phones.
And then there’s the main section of the bag. Even with shoes taking up some space in here, there’s still more than enough room for all of your stuff. This is where I keep mobility tools, belts, wrist wraps and straps, tape, clothes, towel, snacks, meal bags, you name it.
The bottom of the main compartment features a firm, sewn-in base. You know those drop-in bases that most bags use, that inevitably end up bent, torn, and thrown away, leaving you with a flimsy workout bag? No problem here! This bag has held up, kept its shape, and I don’t have to dig under a drop-in liner to find my smaller items!
I want my things to be easy to find, and this bag gives me a ton of options for organizing.
Unlike a backpack, most people don’t think about comfort when making a duffel bag selection. I carry this bag with me everywhere though! it’s one thing to just take the bag from your car to the gym. But I’ve used this bag as my carry-on for travel (both the Jr. and the Original are carry-on compatible), which means I had to walk long distances with the bag wrapped over my shoulder. The canvas material is tough but comfortable.
The comfort of a duffel bag may not be a selling point, but I have never been annoyed choosing this as the bag I travel with.
King Kong Apparel’s Warranty
King Kong believes in its products and backs its bags with a 25-year warranty.
Here is warranty information, straight from their website:
Absolutely. We trust our gear completely, so all King Kong bags are warranted against defects in material and manufacturing faults. If your bag has a manufacturing fault, you can submit a warranty claim and we will contact you with a solution. If it’s not practical to repair we will replace it. All warranty details are listed under the products details. Products purchased from our outlet comes with a 2 year warranty.https://kingkongapparel.com/pages/faqs
Price – $$
The Original King Kong Bag, now called the Plus45 King Kong Duffel, comes with a price tag of $149.95. It’s not the most expensive out there, but it’s definitely not the cheapest. And while that may be more expensive than the bags you’ve purchased in the past, it’s worth it.
Cheaper bags are…cheap. If you’re serious about your goals or taking care of your body and health, your bag is going to get a lot of use. This bag will pay for itself many times over in the number of replacement bags you won’t have to buy. I got tired of having to buy a new bag every year. More than 6 years going and my bag shows no signs of failure.
Conclusion: King Kong Bags Review
The King Kong Duffle-Style Bag is the perfect choice, regardless of your workout goals. Check out their website to see some of the other styles in action, and make a choice that best fits your goals and lifestyle. Or, just take my word for it and pick one up. You won’t be disappointed!
Since I purchased the Original King Kong Duffel bag 6 years ago, things have changed a bit. King Kong has upgraded its bags. I don’t have any of the new bags. Here is where King Kong is a victim of its own hard work; the bag I have, even given the punishment I’ve put it through over the years, is still in such good shape that I don’t need a new one yet!
Even so, I soon may have to get another (as I said, I have a problem). The EDGE51 has an external lifting belt slot and dedicated laptop compartment. If I were to buy a new one today, this is the one I would personally purchase. Mostly because I already have the previous version of the Plus45. If this were my first King Kong purchase, I’d go with the PLUS45 because it’s been such a good bag for me and I use the external compartments. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Have you bought a newer version from King Kong Apparel or one of their other models? Let us know what you think!
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