What is a dopp kit? Is it the same as a toiletry kit?
What is a dopp kit? Easy. A dopp kit is a toiletry bag. But you probably already knew this, right? It’s a small travel bag where men and women choose to store their bathroom items. Your toothbrush, your shave cream, your face moisturizer, etc, it all goes into this bag to help keep your life organized. After all, nobody likes fishing through a suitcase for something small and very important. But why then do so many folks tend to call this bag a dopp kit versus a toiletry bag?
Let’s take a look at the history: The bag was invented by Charles Doppelt, along with the help of his nephew, who fashioned it out of leather in 1919. Originally, it was actually called a “toilet bag.” But over the years, people started to call it a Dopp kit versus the less socially acceptable name, toilet bag. And during both World Wars I and II, each soldier was issued a Dopp kit! The bags eventually became so popular that Samsonite purchased Doppelt’s company in the 1970s, their aim being to trademark the name “dopp kit.” Fast forward to today and Buxton owns the trademark.
Although the Dopp kit was introduced in leather (Charles was a leather maker, after all!), today there are all sorts of materials available. Cloth, leather, and synthetic materials are all commonplace. When I purchased some Tumi luggage a few years back, I also splurged for the matching toiletry bag. And guess what? I rarely use it! The reason being that I feel like it’s heavier than it needs to be and I prefer to travel very light.
Instead, I more often than not reach for my (ridiculously light) synthetic bag made by Eagle Creek. It literally weighs in at 1 oz. Originally, I purchased it exclusively for backpacking, because I really was counting ounces. However, the extremely light material is now starting to show some age and has a few small holes in it.
So, it’s all a balance of your needs, right? Just like most things style and clothing related.
Obviously, this all depends on what you’re carrying with you. Some guys have grown accustomed to very large dopp bags, while others may be more minimalist. Personally, I aim to carry as little as possible when I travel, but I’m still surprised by what it all adds up to! Especially, since some cosmetic products aren’t available in small containers.
Regardless, ask yourself the tough question when packing your kit: do I really need this? Then find a dopp kit that fits just those things.
Perhaps at no other time in history do you have so many options to choose from in the toiletry department of life. There are many small businesses out there making some super cool bags out of either leather, waxed canvas, cloth, or something else awesome!
Some designers are playing it relatively safe with dark leather and robust zippers, while other brands are experimenting with strong contrast colors and new materials.
Regardless of where you decide to go style-wise, buy something that you’ll be proud to set on the bathroom counter. 🙂
What is a dopp kit: Further reading
Wikipedia: Toiletry bag
Ryan’s favorite bag maker at the moment: Wood & Faulk, Traverse Shave Kit.