Any frequent traveler knows that containing and organizing toiletries is important. A good toiletry bag, or dopp kit, can minimize spills, organize & protect items, speed you through airport security. That said, there are several factors to consider when choosing a bag, such as: cost, weight, size, durability, hanging ability, aesthetics. It can be challenging to find a product that will have the right balance of these factors. I’ve used a bunch of toiletry containers as I’ve traveled and I’ll show you some of those here, with my opinions on each.
Toiletries I Bring
I wrote a packing blog post a while back, which included my initial toiletries set (that post can be found here). That was about six months ago, but the list hasn’t changed much. You’ll see that some of the consumables have changed as I’ve been traveling and consuming those items. Here is a list of what toiletries I typically travel with (top left, clockwise):
- Dental floss
- Lip balm
- Pills (Ibuprofen, sleep aid, anti-diarrhea, antacid)
- Small travel towel
- Hair paste/gel/pomade
- Face soap
- Shaving razor
- Shaving foam
- Nail clippers
As you can see, pretty standard stuff. I’ve slept in/on hostels, hotels, warehouse floors, airport benches, which can change the kit a bit. If I’m staying in a hostel, I expect to bring my own soap, towel, etc. Hotels and AirBnBs typically provide towels, but may not have toothpaste. Anyway, this toiletry packing list has gotten me through all of my travel situations. Here’s a quick list of some of the toiletry containers I’ve used along the way.
Cheap and easy, I’ve used a plain old ziplock bag for my toiletries several times, but mostly for short trips. If I’m worried about spills, I’ll double bag it. The benefits are: they’re cheap, easy to find, and disposable. Of course, they’re not very durable and I don’t like to add plastic to our landfills if I can help it. If I’ll be traveling a lot, I know I’ll be in and out of my toiletry kit often, which makes me reach for another option. I want something that’ll at least last the trip and provide some ease of use while I’m getting in the bag and looking for my items.
Leather Dopp Kit
I used a leather dopp kit when I first started traveling. This type of bag has since become my least favorite option on this list. The benefits are classic looks and durability. The downsides for me, though, are huge. Leather dopp kits are typically expensive, heavy, and bulky. Nowadays, I travel light and there’s no way I’m going to sacrifice the space and weight needed for this leather dopp kit. Additionally, these kits usually have very little organization (basically two large compartments). These are the reasons I haven’t used a leather dopp kit in years.
Cheap, polyester toiletry bag
These types of kits can be found in any big box store or Amazon for $25 and under. They’re ubiquitous, but there’s a huge range in quality. I’ll always choose this kit over the leather dopp kit, but there are a few features that I’ll pay close attention to. First is organization. I like to have my items at-the-ready. I don’t like to dig around too long looking for something. Next is durability. Here, I’ll pay attention to the fabric (polyester doesn’t last as long as nylon), zippers (crappy zippers will fail quickly), stitching (double/reinforced stitching on stress points) Finally, I’ll see it has the functions I’m looking for. Is it water-resistant? Can I hang it from a hook, knob, or shower curtain (especially important in hostels where countertops can be grimy)? Given all these factors, this may or may not be a good choice.
DASH Dopp Kit
I’m currently using a DASH Dopp Kit. I wanted something small, lightweight, water-resistant, and obsessively organized. The DASH Dopp Kit uses 1000D nylon and is sprayed twice with a polyurethane backing, making it water-resistant. The YKK zippers are double-stitched. The elastic loops and mesh keep all my items organized while providing breathability. The carry handles and included carabiner allow me to hang it anywhere. It’s incredibly durable (see a ‘scientific’ torture test here) and has a lifetime guarantee.
As an added bonus, this dopp kit pulls double duty. If I’m staying in one spot for an extended period of time, I unpack my toiletries and keep them in the bathroom. I then use the dopp kit to carry some of my everyday items, such as external hard drive, headphones, phone charger, pens/pencils, and miscellaneous cables. Learn more about the DASH Dopp Kit here.
There are many options for packing toiletries. I’ve used many of them and have had varied success. Sometimes the situation will dictate the correct option to go with. Some of the features I look for are: durability, ‘hang’-ability, water-resistance, and organization. When I keep these things in mind, I’ve found that it’s one less thing to hassle me on my travels.