What's the secret to looking put together…
no matter where you are or what's happening?
That means having your toolkit on hand.
How do I do it?
Glad you asked.
Today we'll be discussing the fine tradition of the Dopp kit, how to condense the MOST essential grooming into the smallest space…
and how to use your Dopp kit as a personal style statement in itself.
Dopp Kit Meaning
A Dopp kit, in its original definition, meant a leather bag that held a man's grooming kit while traveling. It's named after Charles Doppelt, who invented the concept in 1919. They became popular after he supplied millions to the US Army during WWII.
Today a Dopp kit doesn't have to be leather – you can get a nylon wash bag for a few dollars. But why not make it a style statement? Leather still has a kind of class that other options don't provide, and can last long enough to become an heirloom.
When you're putting it to everyday use for overnights or the gym, your Dopp kit should be functional enough to help streamline your life. When you're traveling with others, an attractive, well-packed Dopp kit says a lot about who you are and how you take control of your life.
What To Put In A Dopp Kit
A lot of guys stuff everything into their Dopp kits. I prefer to keep it to the bare essentials. Since I travel a lot, I've got this down to a science.
#1. Razor And Spare Cartridges
I shave the old-fashioned way at home, but have you tried bringing a straight razor on an airplane? For travel, you can't beat a cartridge razor.
How long will you be traveling for? One cartridge should last you a week or more, but always bring at least one spare. Especially if you're on a business trip, you don't want to be caught with patchy stubble.
Another option is disposable razors, but they give an inferior shave. Overall, you'll spend less time and money if you invest in a cartridge razor.
#2. Travel Shaving Cream
You CAN use shave soap and a mug of water with a cartridge razor if you really want to. But it's an extra hassle to carry a mug with you or bank on finding one at your destination.
A mini tube or bottle of an air-travel-friendly gel should get the job done (and if you are flying, check the amount of liquids you're allowed to bring on the flight).
If you're going somewhere cold or windy, make sure your travel shaving cream or gel is a moisturizing one that will replace the oils of your skin as the weather depletes them.
#3. Shampoo And Body Wash 2-in-1
This one bottle is all I need in the shower – it saves room in the kit. You might have preferred brands of each to use at home, but a little compromise goes a long way towards hassle-free traveling.
One more thing. You know the pressure changes that make your ears pop when you're flying? They can make the bottles in your Dopp kit pop too. Before packing, make sure you squeeze the air out of all your bottles (until the liquid is almost coming out) to avoid a mess.
#4. Travel Sized Aftershave
Check how big a bottle you're allowed to bring, and decant your aftershave into a smaller one if needed.
Pick the right scent for the climate you're traveling to. You don't want to smell like a spicy pine forest on the beach.
Again, if you're going somewhere cold or windy, keep your skin in mind. A natural men's after shave balm might be better than an astringent.
#5. Bringing Deodorant On A Plane
You definitely need this when you're traveling – especially on a hot stuffy plane. Stick deodorant is the easiest to fly with since generally there are no rules or size restrictions on it.
However, this is NOT the time to try out a new deodorant just because it's a stick. Travel comes with enough variables, and the only thing worse than having an annoying skin reaction or embarrassing body odor is having it on a plane.
#6. Best Men's Fragrances For Travel
If fragrance ISN'T a grooming essential for you, you might want to check out the benefits of wearing cologne. Again, if you're flying, check how much liquid you can bring and decant your cologne if needed. You don't want to have to leave anything behind, especially something that's such an important part of your first impression.
Otherwise: light, citrusy and aquatic scents are best for hot climates; spices, woods and incense for cold ones. If you're traveling through all kinds of climates grab an ‘all-seasons' fragrance like Versace Eros or Aqua di Gio Profumo.
#7. Travel Shaving Brush
A travel brush comes with its own container to protect the brush (and protect the inside of your Dopp kit from wet badger bristles.) Good ones are vented to keep the brush from going musty. Many are collapsible, which saves precious space.
#8. Travel Toothbrush And Toothpaste
It's cheap and easy to keep a spare toothbrush and toothpaste in your Dopp kit instead of packing your main one whenever you go away. A travel toothbrush is a good call too (same deal – collapsible, comes with a case.)
#9. Hair product – Fiber
If your hair tends to stick out, fiber is a strong pliable product that can make it manageable. It feels like a thick dry wax – before you can put it in your hair, you have to work it into your palms so the fiber “relaxes” and starts to spread.
It gives you volume and texture with a matte finish, but makes it hard to run your fingers through your hair. Not recommended for hair over 3 inches unless you love tangles, but great for guys with classic short haircuts who want to keep them looking neat.
What's NOT In My Dopp Kit – And WHY?
- Nose Trimmers – Unnecessary. I trim nose hair at home once a week.
- Face Wash – I use this at home in the evening, but I want to keep my Dopp kit lightweight.
- Bar Of Soap And Shampoo – I use one bottle for everything.
- Body Lotion – Again, left out to keep it lightweight.
These items didn't make the cut because I'm focused on keeping it essential. Your list of ‘maybe' items could be different from mine, but you can follow the same rule: If in doubt, leave it out. Would you rather scrabble around in a cluttered bag, or calmly take out the one perfect thing from your stylishly simple kit?