The Dopp Kit – Essential Travel Toiletry Bag

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Blue Claw Co.  FYI – I use their Dopp Kit as my go-to travel toiletry bag – Antonio

One bag, many names.

There are  more words for the portable toilet kit than any other piece of luggage out there.

Dopp kit, toilet kit, toilet bag, hygiene kit, soap bag, shower bag, toiletry bag, and that’s just the start of the list.

Probably the coolest and most masculine-sounding name is the old-fashioned phrase “Dopp kit,” which conjures images of the G.I.s who were issued them in World War II.

At that time the name was still a trademark , named after the German immigrant Charles Doppel who started selling them in 1919.

Since then it’s become a generic term for any rectangular, top-opening toilet kit, but especially ones made from tough cloth or leather rather than transparent plastic.

What Is It?

A classic Dopp kit is instantly recognizable in shape, size, and function:

  • roughly rectangular, with two square ends connected by longer sides
  • large, single interior pocket (sometimes with small compartments for pieces of gear)
  • zippered lengthwise across the top
  • about the size of a football — between 8″-12″ long, with the square ends about half as wide
  • waterproof or water resistant interior for easy cleaning

Stiffness of the sides vary, so some Dopp kits are rigidly rectangular while others have a softer, more squishable shape.

The goal is universal: to give you a flexible, protected compartment a little bigger than a loaf of bread in which you can store all your toiletries on the go.

 

Why You Should Own One

The classic single-compartment style of Dopp kit still has a number of advantages over more elaborate shower bags:

1. Simplicity. You take your toiletries and you throw them in there. If you’re worried about your soap rubbing on other things or your toothbrush tasting funny, you stick them in a baggie or a little plastic case, and then you throw them in the Dopp kit. Everything goes in there and stays in there until you need it, no further organization required.

2. Durability. Number one leads to number two — there’s no straps, pockets, buckles, or other fiddly bits to snap off or not-quite-fit. As long as the material and seams are of high quality, your Dopp kit should last forever.

3. Portability. Full, a Dopp kit takes up (as mentioned) about the same space as a loaf of bread. The sides have enough give that you can wedge it into tight corners, too. Empty, it can be folded up into almost nothing. You could carry it in your pocket if you had to, though it’d make a bit of a lump.

And then there’s style. It’s hard to beat a classic leather, canvas, or ballistic nylon Dopp kit. It looks like something you could go to war with, probably because thousands of American men already have.

 The Gold Standard: What Makes a Good Dopp Kit?

The best Dopp kits are rugged, simple, and portable.

(It also comes in darker leather.)

If you take a look at the photo (or click through to the Blue Claw Co website) you’ll see the basic features that make a good toilet kit:

  • tough outer material (heavy-duty ballistic nylon)
  • waterproof interior
  • portable size with a single roomy pocket (the whole thing measures 4″ x 4″ x 9.5″)
  • simple, tasteful style

Basically, it’s a bag you can throw all your little bathroom necessities into and then chuck in a suitcase or carry-on bag and bang around as much as you need. And when you pull it out it’s still going to look good, and all your stuff is still going to be there.

It’s also made in the USA, always a plus for responsible American shoppers, and the leather squares at the end make a firm rectangular shape that gives it more character than the softer, somewhat shapeless shower bags you get in a lot of department stores.

There’s a lot of brands out there making shower kits – Samsonite, for example, owns the actual Dopp brand, nowadays, and does still make shaving kits in a similar style.

However you make your buying decision remember you are looking for a bag that will last as long as you need it and do its job of housing your toiletries from day one.

 

The bag featured here is the Bay Head Bathroom Bag – this is the Dopp kit I own and use.

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.

  • RBiggs2r22423

    Good luck getting it through airport security. Alas, TSA would have us replace the mighty dopp kit with regulation-sized ziplock bags. I compromised – I have a heavier plastic bag with squared seams and a real (if cheap) zipper – I think it was packaging for some boxer shorts. Its about the size and shape of a dopp kit, but goes right through airport security without a hitch. Not very elegant, but it must be said that it is easier to pack when you can see what’s in the bag.

  • http://twitter.com/steveaustin72 Steve Austin

    What must have items would you reccomend to go inside your Dopp bag Antonio?

  • Gitmo SCV

    Why it is called a Dopp Kit is not explained in the article, as the email mentioned.

  • menstyle

    Well of course it is – read it again sir :)

  • menstyle

    That is for another video Steve!

  • menstyle

    Yea – the ole TSA having fun with our classic pieces. But I still carry mine when traveling by ground or checking my luggage.

  • Charles

    “At that time the name was still a trademark , named after the German immigrant Charles Doppel who started selling them in 1919.”

  • menstyle

    Charles – good to see you rise from the grave to help with that:)

  • Chaseme

    Really? I’ve only had a problem a few times with TSA. In fact, most often then not I don’t remove the dopp kit from my carry on luggage as the TSA recommends. I once had them remove it and run it through the scanner again, but usually as long as you have very few liquids and in small containers there will be no problem. I also make sure it’s on one of the outside pockets for easy removal if need be.

  • Tim G.

    Brett McKay from Art of Manliness wrote two good articles answering that question a while ago: artofmanliness.com/2008/03/18/building-the-perfect-dopp-kit/ and artofmanliness.com/2012/01/23/anatomy-of-a-dopp-kit/. But of course I’m interested in hearing Mr. Centeno’s take on the contents of the dopp kit. Enjoy your day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jurgen.decleen Jurgen De Cleen

    Hello Antonio,
    I also have the Bay Head Bathroom Bag (black and dark brown). Truly the best Dopp-Kitt I ever owned.

  • menstyle

    Yes he did – and who’s this Mr. Centeno guy? Only the neighborhood kids call me that:) Haha – Antonio

  • menstyle

    Great to hear you’re supporting Adam and his business sir!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.ekelmann Michael Ekelmann

    I still use the Dopp kit I picked up at Lackland AFB in 1988. It’s been all over the world and is still going strong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/topher.white.73 Topher White

    Personal preference, but I’ve always preferred the hanging roll-up shaving bag, like – http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Hanging-Toiletry/dp/B004NS4A38/ref=pd_sim_bt_2

    But, since most of my travel is short air-travel, I mostly use a very small bag for devices (razor, toothbrush) and a 1 qt zip lock for liquids. However, with the new TSA registration process, that might change.

  • menstyle

    Good point Topher!

  • menstyle

    That’s great to hear, Michael!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.evernham Mike Evernham

    I purchased two Victorinox dop kits, one for my Father and one for me. The unit had two top zippers on top, connected by a single pull to access one main compartment and two single zippers for compartments on each side. It was just the right size and super convenient. They are now nearly 15 years old and my Father has asked for a replacement. Naturally – none can be found. Any suggestions for a similar alternative?

  • menstyle

    Thank you, Mike! The dopp kit I use comes from Blue Claw, you can check out their dopp kits and other products here http://www.blueclawco.com/collections/classic-collection/products/the-bay-head-bathroom-bag

    Antonio

  • remest

    Here is another place to check out as you search for that replacement! community.artofmanliness.com/group/saddlebackmanbags/forum/topics/show-off-those-dopp-kits

  • RMRStyle

    community.artofmanliness.com/group/saddlebackmanbags/forum/topics/show-off-those-dopp-kits Check this out as well Mike!

  • http://twitter.com/BmoreStyleGuy Baltimore Style Guy

    I travel for a living and rack up over 100 days on the road every year. Here’s a glimpse of what I take with me in my Dopp kit: baltimorestyleguy.com/travel-essentials-the-dopp-kit/

  • menstyle

    Good one!

  • http://twitter.com/BmoreStyleGuy Baltimore Style Guy

    Thanks a lot!