Photo: Courtesy of Steele Canvas
If your cosmetics bottles fail you, a proper toiletry bag will act as a barrier between the mess and the clothes in your suitcase. The flimsy plastic bags from the drugstore are no better than a Ziploc and likely won’t make it through your first trip, let alone the next one. You need something that’s primed for travel, roomy enough to fit all the essentials, and stylish. It should be spacious, have a wide opening, and be water resistant in case of any accidents. In pursuit of the best options, we surveyed ten frequent travelers, men’s-grooming experts, and generally stylish guys on the Dopp kits and toiletry bags they rely on to carry their precious products.
One thing all the best Dopp kits have is either a hook or handle so it can be hung up when you get to your destination. It gives you back some counter space and it ensures your stuff won’t be sitting in water all day. It means you can carry it around easily instead of having to “hold it like a football,” according to photographer Gray Malin. Ones with hooks, called hanging dopp kits, take it a step further and allow you to open up the bag while it’s hanging, which gives you a full view of all your products. “It unfolds like a mini garment bag and has a little hanger so you can keep your stuff out of the sink,” Nick Greene, author of How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius, describes his pick. “It makes you feel grown,” Greene summarizes, “without busting your bank.”
Surprisingly, few of the travelers we spoke to prioritized compartments within the Dopp kit as something they were looking for. While they are a bonus, “you don’t need a lot of zippers, pockets, and compartments,” Peter Hunsinger, the co-founder of sock brand Kane 11, says. He prefers something easy to open that allows you to see everything. Our experts were above all concerned with the size of the kit. Most of the cases below have about a five-liter capacity, which is plenty of room for your skin-care routine and travel-size toiletries, but there are a few ten-liter Dopp kits that appear on our list, which are large enough to hold a compact blow-dryer or clippers. While the latter may take up more room for those who travel light, the size is ideal for those who can’t travel without taking a chunk of their bathroom. Every bag on this list is made from a fabric flexible enough to squish into an already stuffed suitcase or weekender, so the larger size shouldn’t be a problem.
Speaking of material, that seems to be the most important thing to consider when buying a Dopp kit. Something durable, easy to clean, and water resistant is what you want to look for. You’ll find that many are made from nylon, which is wipeable in case of spills. It won’t be ruined by sitting on a wet countertop. Leather, silicone, and canvas have these qualities as well, the latter of which is another popular option among our experts. The thick material is durable and affordable, and it can look more distinguished than other common Dopp kit materials. Like the other fabrics, they can be wiped or spot-cleaned. The material on the inside is just as important. It should be easy to clean and waterproof or resistant as well. For that, nylon or canvas is the way to go.
The last thing to consider is how easy it is to get to your products, which is easiest with a Dopp kit that unzips all the way around to lie flat. This is guaranteed with hanging bags, while with others it’s a toss-up. Each of the options below either unzips fully or has a wide mouth.
Hanger type: Hook | Size: 2.5 L | Material: Nylon | Access: Wide opening
This hanging toiletry bag comes from travel-accessory company Aer and is recommended by Barron Cuadro, the founding editor of Effortless Gent. You’ll first notice the tough ballistic nylon exterior, which he says is “crazy durable and easy to clean.” Ballistic nylon was created during World War II and used for military jackets to protect them against shrapnel, so it will definitely hold up against frequent travel. It’s water-resistant, which makes it great Dopp kit material. When you open it up, you’ll find it unzips fully so you can see everything inside. It’s lined with water resistant fabric and has a hidden hook for hanging, which Cuadro likes because “you can save counter space while keeping everything accessible.” This toiletry bag’s capacity is only 2.5 liters, making it one of the smaller options on this list, but it’s certainly not a mini. According to Cuadro, it’s “compact” when all zipped up, but “it still manages to fit all your necessities.” It has plenty of compartments, which helps maximize the space. On the outside, there are front and back pockets as well as an exterior toothbrush holder. Inside, there are two zippered pockets and elastic organizers for your toiletry bottles.
Hanger type: Hook | Size: < 1 L | Material: Polyester | Access: Wide opening
For less than half the price of the Aer bag, you can get this one by Muji. As compared to the Aer, it’s significantly smaller and made from a cheaper material, polyester. While it might not be as nice as ballistic nylon, it’s still a very resilient and quick-drying fabric, which makes it a solid option for a Dopp kit. This Muji case is the bag Greene said made him feel “grown,” with its garment-bag-style hanging option. Inside, there are two zippered pockets and a removable pouch that can be used separately, giving you two bags in one. The smaller insert can be taken on shorter trips, or you can use it as a wet bag to take to the pool on your vacation.
Hanger type: Carry loop | Size: 10L | Material: Polyester ripstop | Access: Wide opening
Sometimes you have to think outside the box to find the best solution to your problem. Bags that aren’t technically Dopp kits, such as this Patagonia packing cube, might actually be the best thing for storing your toiletries. Like the rest of the brand’s products, it’s built for the outdoors. Matt Kays, a senior vice-president at PR Consulting, relies on this Patagonia number for its ripstop, practically indestructible exterior. He actually has two: He uses one as a Dopp kit for travel and the other as a wet bag to hold his things when he goes to the beach, so you know the water resistance is serious. This packing cube doesn’t have many compartments, which Hunsinger actually appreciates. It unzips to lie flat and opens like a hard-shell suitcase: Both sides are separated by a mesh zippered partition. One side alone can hold a pair of shoes, so you’d easily be able to stuff all your grooming products as well as clippers or a travel blow-dryer in here if you needed to. This bag has both a top handle and a daisy chain for clipping it to something else or hanging it from a hook.
Hanger type: Carry loop | Size: 10 L | Material: Nylon | Access: Wide opening
This is another packing cube turned Dopp kit. But here, you get the same-size bag for half the cost. Topo Designs makes a specific, triangular-shaped toiletry bag, but barber Mark Miguez, of New York City’s Friend of a Barber, prefers its ten-liter packing cube because it lies flat, adding that he has used “so many Dopp kits for work” and that this is the one he has been happiest with. It’s cheaper than the Topo Designs Dopp kit. It’s made from 400D nylon, which has great abrasion resistance, water resistance, and tear strength. It has a U-shaped opening, so it lies flat, and you can easily toss in and retrieve your products. It has a nice loop handle, which makes it easy to hang in places without counter-height surfaces. There are no compartments inside, so you’ll want to make sure your toiletry caps are screwed on tight and not breakable, as there’s nothing to hold them in place.
Hanger type: No carry loop | Size: 5.9 L | Material: Silicone | Access: Average opening
Tooletries makes waterproof silicone accessories that suction to your shower wall, making your grooming tools accessible and the whole experience more streamlined. It has thought of everything from a soap holder to a beer holder to a shower mirror and has brought its technology outside the shower with this silicone Dopp kit. Its waterproof, leather-looking, antibacterial silicone is what Kyle Bergman, former senior merchant at Birchbox and founder of Swoveralls, loves most about the bag, saying it’s “leakproof and essentially stain-resistant,” as well as “very easy to clean.” It doesn’t have as much of a handle as some others, but based on the product images, the loop seems to have been designed to be big enough to fit a finger through, though using it with a carabiner to hook on to another bag might be more comfortable. It’s a medium-size bag compared to the other Dopp kits on this list, but Bergman was still impressed with the size: “It’s like an old-school Chevy Suburban inside with the amount of room it has for various products.” He didn’t mention the zipper or how easy it was to access products, but the opening is visibly smaller than others on this list. You’ll still be able to access your toiletries, but you might not be able to see them all at once.
Hanger type: Extra large carry loop | Size: 5 L | Material: Nylon canvas | Access: Wide opening
Dylan Raasch, senior design director at Nike, always travels for work with this toiletry bag from Herschel. “I’ve been on dozens of trips with it and it looks as new as the day I bought it. It’s easy to clean and seems to fit everything I need without having to dig around.” It doubles as a travel and storage item, where Raasch keeps his things organized so his partner can take up shelf space with her toiletries. The bag is also a favorite of Strategist editor Maxine Builder. She says it has just the right amount of pockets — enough that everything has a space, but not so many that she forgets where she’s put something. She’s also a fan of the oversize hook, which has “proved to be really useful when I’m digging through a duffel bag.”
Hanger type: Carry Loop | Size: 3.6 L | Material: Leather | Access: Wide opening
For a classic option, here’s the original Dopp model that gave these kits their name. Investment banker Tsz Hin Kwok says he has used his leather Dopp kit “pretty much daily” for the past few years because it’s longer than most other kits (but still portable). We reached out to Dopp, who told us that Kwok’s exact model is no longer in production, but pointed us towards this remarkably similar option. Like Kwok’s, the kit is also made from leather, which means it’s built to last and luxurious. At a length of 10.25, it’s great for oblong items like a hairbrush, or full-size tubes of toothpaste or hair gel if you’re checking a bag. The kit also has a flat bottom and a wide mouth like a vintage doctor’s bag, as well as a convenient carry loop.
Hanger type: Carry loop | Size: 5.5 L | Material: Leather | Access: Wide opening
For something that will inevitably be smeared with toothpaste, it feels slightly wrong to recommend anything too extravagant, but if you are prepared to make more of an investment, this leather kit is a splurge I can wrap my head around. It’s good-looking but not too precious to get dirty. The outside wipes clean anyway, and the inside lining is water resistant in case of leaks or spills. These double zippered pockets are equal in size, adding to the “structural” design that made Gray attracted to it. (And it looks a lot like the $1,790 Tom Ford bag the Points Guy recommended to us but comes at a fraction of the cost. ) It’s perfect for overpackers, traveling with a partner, or just separating your a.m. and p.m. routines. As Gray says, “It just fits everything.” It has the extra-special touch of being customizable: You can choose between signature and premium leather, and if you purchase it from Leatherology, there is an option to monogram it for an additional $10 to $15. Malin went with a rose-gold monogram, but you can pick from 22-karat gold, silver, or other options.
Hanger type: Carry loop | Size: 3 L | Material: Coated nylon | Access: Wide opening
Thomas Pardee, brand director at Lupine Creative, likes this flexible toiletry bag that’s easy to squish into tight spaces in his suitcase. That’s not to say the bag is small. “The triangular shape is deceptively roomy,” Pardee says. It sits upright on any surface without tipping over, but in case of spills, its coated-nylon fabric is water resistant and easy to wipe clean. The kit also has a heavy-duty zipper with handy grab tabs to pull on, as well as a sturdy strap to loop over a hook.
• Kyle Bergman, founder of Swoveralls
• Barron Cuadro, founding editor of Effortless Gent
• Nick Greene, author of How to Watch Basketball Like a Genius
• Peter Hunsinger, co-founder of sock brand Kane 11
• Matt Kays, senior vice-president at PR Consulting
• Brian Kelly, the Points Guy
• Tsz Hin Kwok, investment banker
• Gray Malin, photographer
• Tim Melideo, photographer and menswear blogger behind Stay Classic
• Mark Miguez, co-owner and operator of Friend of a Barber NYC
• Jonathan Daniel Pryce, photographer known as GarconJon
• Thomas Pardee, brand director at Lupine Creative
• Dylan Raasch, creative director at Nike
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