The Grooming Manual
A Dopp kit - also called a toiletry bag or an overnight bag - is an essential for every man. Whether you’re going on a business trip or spending the weekend away on vacation, you need to have a convenient way to bring along all of your personal care products.
But some guys struggle with packing their Dopp kits. Maybe you tend to overpack. Or you forget what exactly you need to bring along with you. It’s no fun discovering that you’re without a toothbrush, body wash, or razor late at night in a hotel room in a strange city - but that won’t happen to you thanks to these tips on how to pack your Dopp kit.
History of the Dopp Kit
Dopp kit's originate from an early 20th century leather craftsman named Charles Doppelt who started making his own men's travel cases. The Dopp kit became very popular during the Second World War when Doppelt secured a contract with the US Army to provide his men's travel cases to millions of American GI’s.
The popularity of the Dopp kit popularity soared during the mid-twentieth century. When a boy reached adulthood, it was common for them to receive a Dopp kit as a gift from their parents.
Choosing Your Dopp Kit
You can spend anywhere from a $5 to $100 (or even more) on your Dopp kit. It depends on the brand, the size, the materials used to make it, and other factors.
If you’re not planning on using it often and just need a basic travel bag, a cheap Dopp kit will do. But it won’t hold up as well as a higher end bag made from premium materials.
Nylon, polyester, cotton, and leather are all common materials used to make Dopp kits and toiletry bags. There are pros and cons to all of them. Leather bags, for example, can last a lifetime and look and feel better with age. But they come with a heftier price tag up front than a polyester bag.
Water resistant bags are nice since most Dopp kits will be exposed to water or an interior spill at some point. A bag with water resistant coating may cost a little more but is likely to be more durable and long lasting over years of use.
Finding the sweet spot with Dopp kit size can be challenging. You don't want such a cavernous bag that it takes up too much space in your luggage. And a big bag can tempt you to overpack.
But the opposite is bad too. If there's not enough space in your tiny Dopp kit for the items you absolutely need, you'll end up having to pack a second toiletry bag.
One way to make sure you get the right size bag is to lay out your items before you shop. Get an idea of how much space you'll need before you purchase your Dopp kit to ensure you select the right size.
Dopp kits were originally - and many still are - designed to sit up flat on a bathroom counter. That makes it easy for you to find your products or tools without the bag flopping over.
Another popular option is a hanging toiletry bag. These come with hooks and make it easy for you to pack and access all of your items.
Regardless of which style you pick, consider the interior organization as well. Do you want a Dopp kit with one large space? Or do you prefer to keep your items separate in different sections? This is more of a personal preference matter, so choose whichever seems right for your packing style.
What to Pack in Your Dopp Kit
Start with the basic grooming essentials that you need even if you’re just going for an overnight trip. For most guys that includes:
- All in One Wash (this covers face wash, body wash, and shampoo)
- Face Moisturizer
- Razor and Shave Cream
- Brush or Comb and Hair Styling Product
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss, Mouthwash
- Prescription Medication
These items cover pretty much everything you’ll need for a weekend away, a short business trip, or a similar brief travel itinerary. If you’ll be away from home for longer, are traveling internationally, or have specific needs related to your trip, you may want to include these items as well:
What You Don’t Need in Your Dopp Kit
Basically, anything else. If you’re only going to be away from home for a day or two, you don’t need to bring along some of your more specialized skincare products. If you really can’t be without, at least invest in some travel size containers - refillable ones you can reuse on every trip are best - so that you aren’t trying to jam full size bottles into your Dopp kit.
How to Save Space in Your Dopp Kit
If you travel often, having a dedicated set of refillable travel bottles for all your essential products is smart. That will massively cut down on the space and weight you take up in your Dopp kit.
In general, the trick to packing less is learning to do with less everyday. You can still be totally comfortable during your trip without having to bring along every comfort from home.
If you’re flying, consider the frustration of dealing with extra security screenings because you have a few too many liquids in your carry-on bag. Wouldn’t it be better to cut back on your Dopp kit and only bring along the necessities?
Enjoy all the luxuries of your full skincare and grooming routine while you’re at home. But for a couple of days on the road, a slimmed down Dopp kit with all the essentials - and none of the extras - is the smart choice.