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by Alexander Forsyth

What is a Dopp kit?

A Dopp kit is a small bag made for transporting toiletries in a convenient and portable manner - if you’ve never heard of the term Dopp kit before, they’re also known as toiletry bags, or wash bags. They can be made from any number of materials, but we think they’re best made out of waxed canvas.

History of the Dopp kit
What size of Dopp kit do I need?
Essential items to pack in your Dopp kit
How to pack your Dopp kit like a pro
How to pack for carry on luggage

The History of the Dopp Kit

Our classic waxed canvas Dopp kit is based on the original invention by Charles Doppelt, an American immigrant of German origin, whose company stitched the first “Doppelt Kit” out of leather in 1926. It was named after its inventor, but affectionately abbreviated to Dopp.

Initially only sold locally, an order from the US Military during WWII tasked the factory with providing one to all active service personnel. And when those soldiers finished active service, most brought their Dopp kits home and started using them in civilian life. Thus, the “Dopp kit” became a household name.


What Size of Dopp Kit Do I Need?

When it comes to choosing a travel Dopp kit, our number one tip is: don’t go too large. The best travel Dopp kit should be about 1 litre in size – not only is this the ideal size to pack what you need, it’ll also help you get around the TSA liquids rule, ensuring you don’t come up against any difficulties at check-in.

Remember that a Dopp kit is meant to be portable, so it should be small enough to fit in your carry on luggage without sacrificing too much valuable space. It should work like a packing cube for your toiletries – keeping them neat, and maximising packing efficiency.

So don’t think about packing that full sized bottle of shampoo! We’re packing for speed, weight, and space.


Dopp Kit Essentials

a dopp kit filled with travel toiletries

Here’s our list of the top 10 essential items to pack in a Dopp kit:

1. Body Wash
Whether it’s a bar of soap, or a small vial of your favourite body wash, this is an absolute essential. Pack just enough to see you through the trip, and remember that a little can go a long way!

2. Shampoo & Conditioner
Consider dry shampoo – it’s a more efficient way to pack (and another way to avoid the TSA liquids rule) and it can be used on the go without worrying about finding a water source, or drying wet hair. It’s perfect for a quick spruce up after a long flight, or when arriving in a new city.

3. Comb
No need for a large unwieldy brush - a good metal comb will last you a lifetime, and even help you reduce your plastic consumption. Equally good for facial hair, too, it’s your classic go-to for all your hair styling requirements.

    4. A good reusable razor
    Forget cheap plastic disposable razors – they just create waste, and don’t give you a personal shave. Investing in a good reusable razor will give you a product that you can use time and time again, only having to replace the part you need. As a bonus, spare blades can be found all over the world. We recommend the classical aluminium razor by standard razors. Trust us, your skin and wallet will thank you for it.

      an aluminium standard razor

      5. Toothpaste and a foldable toothbrush
      A folding toothbrush will do two things: it’ll save precious space, and it’ll also keep the bristles clean, saving the need for a toothbrush holder. Easy.

        6. A travel sewing kit
        It doesn’t need to be big – just a needle with some thread to fix any emergencies. Omit this if you're flying.

          7. Deodorant
          Avoid large and short-lived aerosols. Pack a small stick deodorant to save space. Or better yet, a small spray like the amazing herbal spray deodorant from Aesop. With ingredients you can recognise, it’s the ideal size to throw in your Dopp kit for freshening up in an emergency.

            8. Ear Plugs
            This one is easy. For planes, trains, or even just loud cities, these can be your fastest way to get a bit of peace and quiet while travelling, or trying to bed down somewhere new.

              9. Nail Clippers
              With such a minimal packing footprint, it's worth buying a small, good quality pair of metal nail cippers with an attached file. They’ll last you a lifetime.

                10. Paracetamol, and relevant medication
                Remember, health comes first. One of the toughest things to arrange in a foreign country is medicine and healthcare, so take some emergency paracetamol, and a tailored pouch of relevant drugs. Think anti-histamines, antacids and any prescription medication you need to take regularly.

                How to Pack a Dopp Kit Like a Pro

                a man packing a dopp kit

                Aside from the essential items, travelling light is about travelling smart, so here are our guide to how to pack your Dopp kit like a pro.

                Solid is the new liquid
                When it comes to carry on travel, solid is the new liquid. Think solid soaps, shave bars, moisturisers, and even solid toothpaste. Solid toiletries can also be cut to size, meaning you can bring only what you need.

                  Look for Travel kits
                  We think the guys at Aesop do an amazing job with their Jet Set travel collection. The bottles are made from fully recycled (and recyclable) plastic, and their focus on materials and quality is second to none. A perfect way to get all the essentials in one small package.

                  Think about what’ll be available at your destination
                  If you’re deliberating over something you’re not sure if you need, ask yourself instead “can I get it where I’m going?”. If the answer is “yes”, and it’s non-essential, then leave that sucker behind.

                  Go through your Daily routine, and only take what you need
                  Focus on packing what you use in your daily routine, and while you’re away you’ll benefit from finding those important items close to hand, without having to sort through clutter. If you haven’t used those effervescent Vitamin C tablets since last year, there’s a good chance you’re not going to need them in the next week away.

                  Buy refillable bottles and decant products into them
                  Have products you love that don’t come in travel size? it’s easy to buy reusable and refillable sample bottles.

                  Don’t pack anything with a loose seal, or an insecure lid
                  The one thing worse than losing one of your toiletries to a rogue cap or a broken seal, is having to clean out your entire Dopp kit of the mess it’s made. Screw caps are essential!

                  How to Pack for Carry on Luggage

                  a dopp kit packed in a carry on backpack

                  Travelling efficiently is about taking what you need - saving weight so you can pack more of the essentials, travel lighter, and avoid the dreaded check-in bag. We can tell you how you to pack your Dopp kit like a pro, but all that hard work can be undone if you’re not packing smart elsewhere. We have a full guide on how to pack for hand luggage only, but these three key tips will ensure you’re on the right track:

                  A good carry on luggage backpack

                  • With a bit of strategic packing, and the right carry on luggage backpack, you can not only save the excessive fees of hold luggage, but you can be free as soon as you step off the plane. As a bonus, there’s no danger of having a bag lost, or damaged. We recommend a waxed canvas carry on backpack; they’re weatherproof, and amazingly efficient to pack. We designed out Storr carry on backpack to provide everything you could possibly want - packability, compartments, and portability. Throw it on your back, and the world is only one step away.

                  A lightweight travel towel

                  •  One of the biggest space savers you can make is choosing to opt for a linen travel towel. Not only are they only 25% of the size, but they're more durable, and more absorbent than their cotton counterparts. Also, they're free from those hazardous plastics that make up the microfibre travel towels. You can check our guide here, answering the question why choose a linen travel towel?.

                  With these two key travel tips, and a well packed waxed canvas Dopp kit, you'll be good to go!

                  Alexander Forsyth
                  Alexander Forsyth



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