When going through airport security, there is nothing more disheartening (apart from your sports team losing over the weekend) than to watch security take your toiletry bag apart and throwing your new bottle of cologne in the trash. Besides holding up the queue at security, it will cause you more stress which is never a good look. Don’t be that guy.
Being organized ensures you are never rushed or lose your cool. Having everything in order will help you focus on the trip, whether it is a weekend away or that really important business trip. As a general rule I have 2 sizes of Dopp bag, one for a last-minute weekend away, and a larger one for my business trips.
In this post, I’m going to go over everything you did and didn’t want to know about packing a Dopp kit. What’s that, you say? Read on. I’ll give you the full skinny.
What is a Dopp Bag?
The name is, admittedly, a little confusing if you’re wondering about the Dopp kit meaning. The name is derived from the name of the inventor, Charles Doppelt. He was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States.
Doppelt felt that grooming was important. He also felt it was necessary to have a water-tight bag to carry toiletries. He created a bag that would make it easier to transport everything a man needed for good grooming.
His first model of the original Dopp kit, in 1926, was made of waxed leather. It was designed with portability and utility in mind. Originally sold as the Doppelt Kit, the bags soon became popular and, over time, were nicknamed “Dopps.” So, that’s why it is called a Dopp bag.
So, what does Dopp kit mean? It refers to the classic toiletry bag kit that we have come to know, and love. Now that’s how it appeared on the scene.
How Do You Pack A Dopp Kit?
These kits contain men’s toiletries. You might find any of the following Dopp kit essentials in there:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair gel
- Soap or body wash
- A lint roller
- A razor
- A shaving brush
- Shaving cream
- Lip Balm
The term “kit” is something of a misnomer here. Today the Dopp Kit refers more to the actual bag than the items it carries. The kit can be stocked with whatever you might think is useful.
A Brief History of the Dopp Kit
The original kits were made using leather. They proved strong and durable and soon became a part of every gentleman's wardrobe. It wasn’t really until World War II that these toiletry travel bags became a household name.
During World War II, the United States government decided to make the kits standard issue for all its military personnel. As a result, Dopps came into common usage. Soldiers would use them while deployed as toiletry bags and then bring them home again.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Modern kits may be leather, men’s leather toiletry bags are often popular, but can also be made from synthetic materials. A leather men’s wash bag has the disadvantage of not being waterproof, so we recommend a waterproof one for easy maintenance.
What Size Should I Get?
#1 rule… don’t go too large. Plan ahead. If you are going to fly, make sure it is a TSA approved, quart-sized bag. I’m packing for optimum speed, space and weight.
Ultimately, it depends on how much you are going to put into your kit.
That said, if you’re traveling, a kit with a capacity of about a litre should be plenty. If you’re going to fly, you also need to keep in mind the security regulations regarding liquids and sprays.
Smaller is usually better. Also, you want something that won’t take up much space in your luggage. The whole idea is that a Dopp is meant to be portable.
A well-packed toiletries bag will make it simple for you to lay your hands on the items you need in a hurry.
Dopp Kit Essentials
When I’m traveling, there are a few important items in my boys toiletry bag. I only take what I need. I focus on packing only what I use daily, if I haven’t used the product in the last month, it stays behind, apart from medications like paracetamol and antacid.
Ensure everything you pack can be securely closed, there is nothing worse than getting to your destination and having your items covered in charcoal activated toothpaste.
Also ensure your travel toiletry bag is waterproof and leak proof, to keep your toiletry items from leaking onto the rest of your luggage. Need more info on men's grooming essentials? See our guide to the Best Men's Grooming Kit.
Body Wash or Soap
Personally, I prefer body wash. I find it’s easier to keep it neat and tidy. I don’t like having to deal with damp soap in my toilet bag.
If push comes to shove, I’ll just get a container for the soap. To save space when I’m taking body wash, I decant it into a travel-sized bottle. That way, I’ve got plenty to use and I’m optimizing space.
If you’re really trying to pare down your items, you can skip the body wash. I sometimes do this when I’m going to be staying in a hotel. Alternatively, I just pick up a small bottle of body wash when I arrive at my destination.
Shampoo & Conditioner
This is something that I don’t take a chance with and I always make sure I pack my preferred brand of shampoo and conditioner. You can’t always say how reliable the hotel brand will be. Going on a trip does not mean you should compromise on quality. Hotel shampoo and conditioner could wreak havoc with your hair and cause damage that will take weeks to repair. I recommend Blackwood For Men.
I also keep a small container of dry shampoo in my kit, it is a lifesaver after a long flight and gives me a quick spruce up when I need it. Dry shampoo is a good option here. It helps freshen up your hair during a long flight or where you can’t have a decent shower.
A comb is a grooming tool that every man should have on hand. They don’t take up space and are abundantly useful. I bought a good quality metal comb.
Providing I don’t lose it; I won’t need to replace it. That’s good for the environment, too.
For now, I don’t have a beard. But there are times when I covet one. Combs come in very handy for taming beards and mustaches, too. See our post on Top Grooming Tips For Men if you need more grooming advice.
A Good Quality Razor
I’ve been on plenty of money-saving kicks in my time. I remember scraping my face with more than one cheap disposable razor.
I also remember being inspired by a program about real cheapskates. This one was about a couple that shared a disposable razor and sharpened it over, and over again. His face must have been made of steel because I’d rather have a thousand paper cuts.
Do yourself a favor, buy a good quality razor for a smooth shave.
You’ll pay more upfront, but you’ll also get more use out of them. You can find replacement blades easily and they’re easier to pack, better for the environment, and more efficient.
Forget cheap plastic disposable razors – they just create waste. Investing in a good reusable razor will give you a product that you can use time and time again, only having to replace the part you need. As a bonus, spare blades can be found all over the world. Try Harry’s razor set or Ernest's shaving box.
Toothpaste and Toothbrush
I don’t bother taking my electric toothbrush with me when I travel. I received a travel toothbrush on one of my first trips, and they’re cool. They’re short, and you can take them apart.
Better still, the bristle section fits into the handle section neatly. You save space and don’t need to pack a toothbrush holder.
A Sewing Kit
A sewing kit is something that every well-groomed man should have at his disposal. You don’t need anything fancy – I travel with a needle, clear thread, and some clear nail polish.
Because it makes my nails pop? No.
The needle is for obvious reasons. The clear thread can be used with any color fabric. The nail polish is not essential, but it does come in handy when you’ve just sewn on a button.
My sewing skills aren’t that great – when I sew on a button, I put a little nail polish over the top to make sure that the stitching doesn’t unravel.
Choose a stick deodorant. Aerosols might be confiscated on at the airport. Besides, stick deodorant takes up less space, last a long time, and are better for the environment. Also, with the TSA rules on liquid, I have started buying more solid products, like soaps, shave bars and cologne. Try Duke Cannon’s new solid cologne range.
If you can sleep through all the noise on a plane, or a bomb going off next to you, then you don’t need these. I’m a light sleeper and I find earplugs invaluable. I have a set of silicone earplugs, which block out all external noise (and you can wash them).
If you want your nail polish to look good, these are well worth the tiny amount of space they’ll take up. Seriously, though, they come in handy if you need to clip a loose thread or neaten up your nails.
Before packing any medication, check what the rules are in the country of your destination. In Dubai, for example, paracetamol is fine, but codeine or sleeping tablets could get you into serious trouble.
TIP: Always carry medication in its original blister packaging where possible.
If you have a regular script to take, find out what the rules are first. You may need to get permission to take into the country. We recommend also getting a letter from your doctor explaining why you need them and carrying the original script or a certified copy of it.
It’s also worth scouting to finding a doctor you could see when you get there (if necessary).
The Best Travel Toiletry Bag For Men: Top Tips
Your aim should always be to travel light. If you can do without something in your travel toiletries bag, leave it behind. If something else can double up, pack just the one item.
If possible, switch out solid items wherever possible. Think travel soap and shaving bars.
Buy Travel Toiletries Sets
There are plenty of travel-sized items available on the market. Look for a travel kit for men of the items that you’ll need or that you normally use. It’s usually a little more expensive to buy things this way, but the convenience is worth it. The best Dopp bag is portable and can be stored in your carry-on luggage, so don’t bother packing your large bottle of shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
If a travel size isn’t available in your favorite brand, fill a small container/vial to ensure you get it through airport security.
Every Man Jack sells a travel kit that includes body wash, deodorant, shave cream and face lotion.
Check What You Can Get There
Things like shampoo are a very personal choice. Sure, almost any brand will clean your hair, but you choose your brand for a reason. When it comes to personal preference items like that, take your own.
Things like mouthwash and toothpaste, for example, are common items the world over. If they are available when you get there, do you really need to take your own?
What Do You Really Need?
Is your sunscreen religiously packed on every trip, but somehow never makes it out of the bag? Why bother wasting space? Save your space for things you need.
Save Money by Using Refillable Bottles
If you travel often, it’s worth getting a small set of travel bottles. Just decant your favorite body wash, shampoo, and other items. It saves you spending on an extra travel set. It’s also not a big deal if you leave something behind.
One word of caution here–make sure everything is properly sealed. To be on the safe side, I place all my toiletries in two plastic bags before I leave. That way, if something spills, it’s not going to ruin everything else in your luggage.
Do I Need a Dopp Kit for My Carry-On Luggage?
Generally speaking, I’d advise packing your toiletries into your main baggage. Keep that carry on as light as possible.
I do always keep a stick of deodorant, a clean shirt, and some underwear in my carryon luggage. That way, I can do a quick change and freshen up at the airport. If I have a long layover or flight, I also pack a small container of dry hair shampoo.
It’s helpful to take a small, light gym towel to wipe off the worst of the sweat. A linen towel, if you can find one, is more absorbent and weighs much less.
What Is The Best Dopp Kit?
If you travel a fair amount, budget a bit more. A leather kit is going to last you a very long time. They’re pricier but hold their shape well and generally last better.
Nylon is easier on the budget. Do choose a reputable brand. You don’t have to have designer-everything, but you want something that will last. Whatever option you choose, make sure the bag is waxed or has a waterproof lining. It’ll double as a camping wash bag or wherever else you’d like to take it.
Looking for the best men’s leather toiletry bag? Take The Koby Bag on your next holiday. It’s TSA-approved, made of 100% silicone, looks like leather and prevents any spills. Going on a weekend trip? The Koby Mini will hold everything you need in a smaller version. Get organized today with a Dopp kit of your very own.
That’s about it. My main tip when it comes to travel is to pack as light and as smart as possible.
Get creative and don’t be scared to think unconventionally about the items in your luggage.
In a pinch, conditioner can double as shaving cream, for example. It’s not ideal, but it can work.
If you just look at things a little more creatively, you’ll find it becomes easier to pack light. Remember, travel light – you’ll enjoy the experience that much more. Check out Tooletries' extended range of bathroom storage organizers here.