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Everything You Need in Your Pickleball Bag!

It’s official: Pickleball is no longer just a fun recreational activity. If you’re not pulling up to the courts with a bag full of the latest and greatest gear, you’re doing it wrong. Court shoes, paddle covers, gels to keep you energized after a long dink fest, we’re going to talk about it all because you need it all.

Everything You Need in Your Pickleball Bag! Featured Image

Ok, maybe you don’t need it all. Really, all you need to play pickleball is a paddle and some court shoes (yes, proper court shoes are essential to get the most out of your game), but there are a few other pieces of gear that can enhance your experience especially if you’re starting to take the game more seriously.

You better believe, with how much competitive pickleball has grown over the past several years, that pickleball pros are showing up to their matches just as stocked up as pro tennis players. It’s the reality of the sport nowadays; if you want to optimize your game, you’ll need more than just the essentials, and that’s something I’ve certainly learned over the past year reviewing paddles.

There are certain things I need in my bag; others are perhaps a bit more of a luxury, but they will often come in handy. Today, we’re going to talk about everything I carry in my bag.

Pickleball Bag

The bag itself is obviously an important part of the setup. Pickleball bags have gotten much better since the sport’s boom in the late 2010s, so you can put away that raggedy old tennis bag that is way too big — these will work much better, and you’ll look like a total pro.

You have two choices: backpack or classic paddle/racket duffle bag. Personally, I’m a man of the classics, so I’ve gone for a duffel bag, specifically Gearbox’s Core Collection Ally Bag. This was more of an emotional decision — my first ever paddle was a Gearbox so I figured I’d honour those roots but it also has plenty space to fit all the paddles I need to test, and all the gear we’re going to talk about throughout this article.

You can’t go wrong with any bag; if you want a backpack, Selkirk offers some great ones, as does Vulcan, Vatic, and ProDrive.

 

Two Pickleball Paddles

You won’t get far without a paddle, but why do you need two? Well, you never know what’s going to happen during a session. With every new technological development, pickleball paddles are becoming more durable, but they’re still not bulletproof. After enough hitting against the ball, the ground, or your forehead, they will break. You don’t want to be stranded during a session without a paddle, so having a backup is always a good idea.

More importantly, though, before a paddle breaks, it wears, and if you want to extend the playability of your paddle, it’s a good idea to buy two identical paddles. Switch between them during a session or even every other session, and you’ll see that you can drastically extend the lives of both of them.

If you do buy two paddles, it’s important to buy two identical ones and match them as closely as possible. This will ensure a seamless transition when you switch between one and the other, which is key to maintaining consistency in your game. Of course, we are happy to help you match your paddles, as we have the proper equipment and paddle technicians to do the job well.

I will admit I haven’t settled on any one paddle quite yet, but right now, I’m playtesting a couple, and I’ve got the Body Helix X-3 Pro and Lite, the Selkirk Vanguard Control Invikta, and the SixZero Ruby in my bag. They are all fantastic paddles, but I’m really not taking my own advice about only carrying identical paddles.

   

A Pair of Court Shoes

I wasn’t kidding when I said a pair of court shoes is necessary to get the most out of your game. If you’re playing pickleball in running shoes, we strongly recommend you consider a pair of tennis or court shoes. Not only will they boost your lateral stability and performance, but they are also much safer and may help prevent an injury.

You can’t go wrong with either the New Balance 996 V5 Pickleball All-Court shoe or its tennis counterpart.

 

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Personally, I’m still sticking to a similar shoe that I wear on the tennis court. Lightweight shoes like the Nike Vapor Pro 2 and Asics Solution Speed FF3 are pretty much living in my pickleball bag at this point.

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So paddles, court shoes, and balls are a must-have — I didn’t talk about balls because they are such a personal preference type of thing that I didn’t want to open that can of worms, but this article gives you the basics. And if anyone is interested, I play with the Franklin X-40.

Now we’re going to move into the section of gear that you really should be bringing every time you go to the court, but none of these are as important as those other three.

Overgrips

If you’re still playing with your paddle’s stock replacement grip, I promise you that adding an overgrip will be the best decision you ever made. There are several reasons for that: One, an overgrip is much less expensive than a replacement grip. A pack of three costs $10, whereas a single new replacement grip can cost more than $12. By consistently replacing your overgrip, you can extend the life of your replacement grip, but the benefits don’t stop there.

Replacement grips are great because they provide a comfortable layer between your hand and the handle, but they don’t have many benefits beyond that. Overgrips allow you to personalize the feel, stickiness, and moisture-wicking properties of the contact point between you and the paddle, so once you reach a certain level, they are almost a must.

It took me years to settle on an overgrip, and while I appreciate the hybrid tacky and moisture-wicking feel of something like Ronbus’ Premium Tacky Overgrip or Wilson’s Pro Overgrip, it’s Tourna’s Original XL that I can’t play without. If you’ve ever seen one of our YouTube videos, you’ve probably noticed a purple grip on my paddle’s handle. That’s Tourna Grip, the single best piece of equipment for those of you with sweaty hands.

It works much like a shammy; the wetter it gets, the grippier it becomes, and even if you’re not sweating profusely, it doesn’t take much to start working its magic.

I can’t play pickleball or tennis without my Tourna Grip. It’s a product I couldn’t recommend enough, and it’s probably best to keep more than just three in your bag because as you play more and more, you’ll start wanting to switch them out more often.

   

The Adaptive (Sun)glasses

I’ll admit, this is one I’m still coming around to myself. I’ve tried these adaptive glasses, and I still prefer playing pickleball au naturel, but there is something to be said about these awesome new gadgets CRBN has developed.

The Pivot Pickleball Glasses are incredible because they will adapt to any lighting, making it completely uniform, whether it’s a bright, sunny summer day or a dark, gloomy winter Vancouver classic. The first time I put them on I quite literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and honesty, if I could wrap my head around having something covering my eyes, it would probably help my game immensely, especially when it’s sunny.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve completely fluffed at an overhead because the sun got in my eyes — the few times I have worn these, that was a complete non-issue.

They are also made to protect your eyes if you do take a ball to the face. Your first instinct should be to move out of the way becaue if a ball is going that high, it's also probably going out, but if it does end up making contact, these glasses have you covered.

Oh, and let’s be honest, they look pretty cool too.

Paddle Cover

You’ve got a bag; why do you need a cover? Well, your pickleball paddle is sacred; you probably already know that, especially if you parted with 300+ dollars to get one, so you want to keep that paddle face in as good of condition as possible. Whether waiting in line at the courts or in your bag sloshing around with all the other stuff, keeping that delicate face away from anything is the best way to ensure a long life for your paddle.

If you want to look like a sponsored pro, match your cover to your paddle brand; we’ve got covers from Selkirk, Gearbox, Joola, and Bread & Butter, but if you want to be really cool, get yourself a Rackets & Runners branded paddle cover. They actually enhance paddle performance by 7%. (Unconfirmed, but worth a shot)

Obviously, I’m only pulling up to the courts with a Rackets & Runners paddle cover. No brand will be getting free marketing from me!

   

Paddle Eraser

While we’re on the topic of extending your paddle’s life, a paddle eraser comes in a close second to the cover. It won’t just help extend its life; it’ll also revamp playability when you start feeling that dreaded drop-off in spin.

Losing spin, especially with raw carbon paddles, has been well-documented in the pickleball community. That will continue, despite the trend towards better durability, because the ball will always chip away at the face when it makes contact. Sometimes the drop-off in spin is not so much due to the paddle’s grit wearing but because the ball’s plastic is getting lodged inside the grit, effectively smoothing the face.

That’s where the paddle eraser comes in. It deep cleans your paddle’s face by digging into the carbon and pulling out all that excess plastic residue. It’s a highly effective tool that players should use at least after every session.

Energy

Have you heard of bonking? If you’ve heard of it, it’s probably because you’ve experienced it and never want to experience it again. Bonking is when your body runs out of fuel, like a car running out of gas. As an avid cyclist, I’ve bonked more times than I would care to admit, and generally, this will happen after more than an hour and a half of physical activity.

I’ve been to the public courts around Vancouver, and I know some of you are playing for much longer than one and a half hours, and if that’s you, you probably want to keep some energy in your bag in case you completely run out one day. Of course, you can bring whatever carb-filled food you like the most, but there are also tasty, scientifically developed products that will do a more efficient job at getting you that quick energy.

I’m a GU guy. Whether it’s their Chews, their Gels, or their oh-so-delicious Stroopwafels, they all achieve the same goal: stopping us from bonking. 

So that’s about all the gear I carry in my pickleball bag whenever I take to the court. Of course, you should also bring a water bottle (that really goes without saying), and I probably don’t need to remind you to bring your wallet, keys, and phone, but there’s your reminder if you needed it.

If you want to stop by the store and talk to our pickleball specialists, we’re more than happy to help you pick out all these essentials, or, you can purchase all of them online!

Explore our full collection of esstentials.

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