‘Now boarding flight 4507 – nonstop service to Berlin’
As I got on the plane I was completely oblivious to what was happening in my carry on. It wasn’t until I got to the hotel in Berlin did I realize the epic disaster that was about to unfold.
Ziiiiiip….that was the sound of my suitcase opening.
What hit me next, nearly knocked me completely on to the floor…
Let me step back for just a moment:
After going through the pack list of what I needed to take with me for my week long trip along the Germany and Czech Republic countryside, I remember packing just the bare essentials. I packed only a few shirts, jeans, socks, and briefs for clothes – my goal at the time was to avoid the exuberant baggage fees assessed by the airlines, plus I like not having to wait for the baggage upon arrival.
With this being a relatively short trip, all things considered, I had to wear my clothes a couple of times in order to conserve space (gross I know, but it had to do). Clothes aside, in my carry on I also had the required power converters, handy German and Czech phrase books, photocopies of my credentials should I lose anything, and lastly my toiletry bag which was just a cheap flimsy plastic bag from the neighborhood drug store.
You know the saying, ignorance is bliss? Well it couldn’t have been more true…
That’s where the problem occurred…
Somewhere between JFK and Berlin, likely over the atlantic when we hit a patch of turbulence, my toiletry bag was punctured by the prongs on the power adapter. Whats worse is that the power adapter happened to also break my bottle of cologne, leading all my stuff (yes everything) – documents, clothes, books, etc to be completely soaked by the time we made it to Berlin.
Had I given a care in the world, all of this could have been easily prevented by just a simple purchase of a dopp kit (i.e. toiletry bag). It didn’t even have to be the best dopp kit on the market, just a substandard nylon one would have been perfect to prevent this catastrophe!
It was a tough lesson to learn, but one that I want to make sure that the readers of Tools of Men learn in order to avoid the same consequences.
Once I got back to the U.S. I was fast to jump on to Amazon to fire off an order for a dopp kit.
You see the benefits of actually owning a dopp kit don’t just end at wanting your things separate from another or having a waterproof bag to begin with. For instance, if you are packing an electric razor, the last thing you want is a loose electric razor opening up and having clippings all over your clothes.
Another key advantage, especially when traveling both domestically and internationally, is that a dopp kit makes it extremely easy to grab all your toiletries in just a few seconds in order to take out any sort of liquids that might be subject to inspection from the TSA.
Ever Wonder Why A Toiletry Bag Is Called A Dopp Kit?
According to this pretty interesting Wikipedia article, the dopp kit get actually gets its name from the 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt. However, Mr. Doppelt didn’t actually design the bag himself, in fact his nephew, Jerome Harris was the craftsman and also worked at the same company as Charles Doppelt (the more you know!).
Thus the name Dopp Kit was born. While we won’t drone on about the individual details regarding the legal battle of the actual name – let’s just say this – a dopp kit and a toiletry bag are often categorized as the same thing. Although the original dopp name still lives on today since Buxton bought the rights to it in 1979.
What To Look For When Choosing Your Dopp Kit
When it comes to selecting a dopp kit, you can quickly get overwhelmed when just doing a simple search on any popular online retailer.
From fabrics, compartments, and dimensions, selecting your favorite dopp kit can get a bit dizzying at first.
However, we will get to the reviews in a minute where we lay everything out in an incredibly easy to read manner. But first, just a few of the basics:
Dopp Kits Come In A Variety of Materials
Dopp kits primarily come in leather, vinyl, or cloth.
Regardless of the material, one of the most important parts that you want to be on the look out for when picking up a dopp kit is to ensure that it has a waterproof inside liner. The primary purpose of the dopp kit is to not only keep all your toiletries from falling out, but in the event that you experience a severe spill of your favorite beard oil or cologne, the inside liner will protect the rest of your luggage from getting ruined.
If you are going for more of a refined look and want to harken back to the days when men like James Bond ruled the world, then a leather dopp kit will likely be your bag of choice.
Leather dopp kits both say a statement, but also smell incredible as well. Now when it comes to using a leather dopp kit, its ok if some water does get on the outside of it. However, we would recommend making sure that you keep it off the bathroom counter for the most part to ensure it doesn’t get water-logged and suffer any light damage.
Leather dopp kits, with proper care, should be able to last your entire life.
A popular alternative to leather is vinyl. While some men may scoff at the idea of using vinyl as it seems subpar of a material it definitely has several benefits.
First and foremost vinyl is going to be waterproof, therefore if you let it rest in a puddle on your bathroom counter, its likely not going to be a very big deal.
In addition to being naturally waterproof, vinyl is a relatively cheaper fabric when compared to the leather dopp kits out there. Therefore you can still look extremely stylish while enjoying all the great benefits of vinyl and save a few bucks along the way.
Lastly, and the most popular among the environmentally and animal conscious men is going to be a canvas dopp kit. Whether you are looking for a dopp kit that is either tactical in nature like the Ralph Lauren one reviewed below, or one that will be relatively light weight for the weekend excursions to the woods, a canvas dopp kit will likely make an excellent choice.
Do Pockets and/or Compartments Matter For You?
If you are like some men who like to travel light and only pack the bare essentials in their dopp kit, you likely don’t need that many compartments to choose between as they will likely get in the way.
Therefore if you are a guy that keeps it rather compact, a single pouch dopp kit like this one will likely serve you well.
However if you are traveling for an extended period of time and want to have back stock of additional toiletries, then a roomy dopp kit with two zippers along with compartments like this one would serve you a bit better.
When all is said and done, it largely comes down to personal preference. If this is a dopp kit that you plan on buying for life we recommend a medium-sized leather one with a just a few compartments as a happy medium – we find that this will be the most versatile one out there.
Reviews of The Best Dopp Kits For Men Currently Available
From leather to canvas, one compartment to many, here is a list of some of the best dopp kits for men that you can pick up from major retailers like Amazon with just a few clicks of the mouse:
Vetelli Leather Toiletry Bag
This beautifully crafted dopp kit from Vetelli features two compartments in a PU leather (more on this in a minute) clad design for easy access of your toiletries. It’s over-sized steel zippers allow you to get your personal items rather easily from the bag, even if your hands were covered in shaving cream.
In addition to its beautiful PU leather shell, inside the Vetelli bag is a waterproof nylon lining that will prevent any sort of seepage, both inside and out. Therefore if you have an accidental spill of your favorite aftershave balm while in transit, you won’t have a wonderfully smelling mess that you will have to clean up.
As an added bonus Vetelli also includes two plastic travel containers that adhere to the latest TSA liquid restriction standards. Each plastic container can hold 2oz worth of liquids (or about a weeks worth of shampoo).
What we love most about this product beyond the design is that it includes a lifetime warranty. Therefore if the threads along the seams begin to fray or simply the bag itself loses its integrity, you have the peace of mind and can have it easily replaced by Vetelli.
Now regarding the inclusion of PU Leather, its important to understand that this isn’t 100% genuine leather. Instead PU leather is a hybrid of a leather backing with a polyurethane (plastic) surface. This polyurethane coating makes the bag resistant to water and much easier to clean as opposed to genuine leather.
Pros: Intuitive two compartment design for easy access
Cons: Not 100% genuine leather
Dimensions: 11″ x 6.2″ x 3.5″ (top) & 11″ x 6.2″ x 2″ (bottom)
Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit
This incredibly sleek, low key dopp kit by Herschel Supply Co. is a terrific dopp kit that simply gets the job done. This dopp kit is a unique hybrid of being both fashionable while also affordable. With its polyester frame, the kit itself has a pretty durable shell that should withstand being shuffled around within your luggage.
One amazing part for this dopp kit is that it can actually pack quite a bit of toiletries – making it great for short or mid-length trips. If you are traveling overseas for a month, chances are that this dopp kit should do a great job serving you well for the first couple of weeks.
Regarding compartments, the Chapter travel kit is a bit limited. On the inside there is a mesh thats affixed to the side that can help to separate your toiletries. However, should one spring a leak, the mesh will easily allow fluids to pass through. Therefore this simply doesn’t offer the same protection as other dopp kits on the market- especially ones like the Vetelli or Brooks Brothers (reviewed below) that offer a completely separate compartments – so proceed with caution.
In addition to the mesh netting on the inside of the kit, along the side of the Chapter bag is a small pouch – ideal for your favorite double edge safety razor or other products that you don’t want bouncing around with the rest of your gear.
If you are in the market for an animal-free bag then you will have to skip on this one unfortunately. This bag doe use leather for the zipper pull for the side pouch instead you should check out the Timbuk2 toiletry bag. However, the remaining parts of the bag are absent of any leather.
Pros: Incredibly sleek design that can get the job done
Cons: Inside mesh can’t contain spills – will have to store fragile items in the side pouch
Dimensions: 6.5″ x 9.5″ x 4.75″
iBlue Canvas Dopp Kit
If you are looking for a no nonsense dopp kit, this dopp kit may make a fine choice. Constructed from waxed canvas, the iBlue dopp kit is great for short/overnight trips and can pack just the essentials.
We want to make sure that we stress the size of this dopp kit compared to the others featured in this post. This dopp kit is small, but gets the job done. It’s not a bag that you would want to take with you on an extended vacation or overseas trip. Size aside, the iBlue dopp kit isn’t waterproof either. Which of course makes you susceptible to leakage of toiletry bottles that could ruin both your clothes and your vacation.
The upside of this particular dopp kit comes with the competitive price tag. It’s a sub $20 dopp kit that features just a single compartment for both easy access and packing. Regarding the design of the iBlue, overall its a bit of a mixed bag. It’s leather clad logo on both the inside and outside seem a hair too big, but the oversized handle placed on the outside end is great for strapping onto a backpack or suitcase.
iBlue does offer a few color choices as well – army green, khaki, and grey. Definitely worth checking out if you are on a budget and only have shorter trips planned.
Pros: It’s incredibly affordable and gets the job done for overnight or weekend trips
Cons: It has some noticeable shortcomings in design and material, not a dopp kit for life
Dimensions: 9″ x 4″ x 5″
AmeriLeather Leather Toiletry Bag
This genuine leather toiletry bag by AmeriLeather is definitely a serious contender to be one of the best dopp kits for men. With its several compartments and construction, its no wonder that its one of the best selling dopp kits.
First and foremost, the outside material for this dopp kit is indeed genuine leather, not PU leather like the Vetelli dopp kit we reviewed earlier. While this bag is constructed in China, AmeriLeather does state that the leather for this bag was sourced in both EU and USA. Whats unique about this dopp kit that we didn’t see in many of the others reviewed is its metal beam reinforced body. Therefore when setting this dopp kit on your bathroom counter, it will effectively always stay up straight and have an open top for extremely easy access of your toiletries.
Another smart move by the manufacturer on this dopp kit was that the leather bottom of the bag does have rather wide rubber feet that will keep the bag slightly elevated to avoid those counter puddles left over by you or your companion.
Now if there was a sticking point on the construction of this bag, it would definitely have to be with the zipper. Overall AmeriLeather hits all high marks when it comes to the construction of the bag, but for some reason it seems that careful execution in design wasn’t carried over to its plastic zipper. Why they didn’t opt for steel one is unfortunate, but shouldn’t be a primary driver for not picking up this bag.
When it comes to storage, this dopp kit has 3 major compartments, the large main compartment coupled by a side and bottom pocket. The side pocket is primarily for smaller items such as floss or razor blades whereas the bottom compartment will be great for tweezers, shaving cream tubes (think Proraso’s shaving cream), and other similarly shaped objects.
Moving to the main compartment, you should be able to easily fit in full sized products and won’t feel pressured to make a last minute trip to the drugstore to pick up their miniature counterparts. In addition to its spacious interior, the main compartment does also feature two pouches as well for additional storage.
Whats more is that AmeriLeather reinforced this dopp kit with a double-stitched nylon inner which will contain any incidental spills. Therefore should the worse occur and a bottle of your favorite cologne breaks, this dopp kitt will keep the spill contained until you get to the hotel room.
Overall this is a rather large dopp kit that should suit you well for extended business trips or even an overseas vacation. It’s constructed of fine materials and should last you for years. Oh and did we mention that its competitively priced as well?
Pros: A large dopp kit that can easily keep all your items stored – features a waterproof nylon inner as well.
Cons: While finely constructed both inside and out, it does have a plastic zipper.
Dimensions: 6.5″ x 6.75″ x 11.5″
Ralph Lauren Leather Carrying Case
Constrcuted from calfskin leather, this dopp kit by Ralph Lauren is in the upper echelon of dopp kits. This finely constructed bag is a simple dopp kit for short business trips or overnighters. With its large main pouch and smaller side pocket within the pouch you should be able to safety pack away the bare essentials when traveling.
Coming in either a cognac or mahogany design, this is a dopp kit that you would buy for life and something that your children or grandchildren would also cherish. To verify its authenticity, the pony accent is embossed on the front right corner of the bag – all without being to overbearing.
Unlike some of the lower end dopp kits, this bag features a metallic zipper with a leather pull tab. While this the bag isn’t waterproofed with a nylon doubled stiched inner, it is instead lined with a cotton twill.
Pros: Made from the highest quality of materials. Can be passed down generation to generation.
Cons: Interior isn’t waterproof.
Dimensions: 5″ x 10″ x 4.75″
Nylon Shaving Kit by Ralph Lauren
If the leather dopp kit by Ralph Lauren is out of your budget, or simply you are looking for a finely constructed bag from a larger fashion house, then this nylon dopp kit from Ralph Lauren should make an excellent choice.
Coming in tactical colors of army green or a bright orange and green bag this dopp kit is pretty sweet. Functionality was in mind when this dopp kit was made. Not only does it have an oversized loop on one end that you can easily latch on to a backpack or suitcase exterior, it also has an incredibly easy access snap pouch that is located on the side of the bag.
On the back side of the bag is a longer secondary side pouch that you will be able to easily slide in either a pair of tweezers and nail clippers or perhaps a tube of your high quality shaving cream, whatever you decide to pack, this dopp kit has sleek versatility not typically found in bags this size.
To add a bit of class to this dopp kit, Ralph Lauren also added a leather pull tab on the primary zipper for an easy open/close design.
While this bag isn’t 100% waterproof, it is naturally water resistant. Therefore if you rest it on a bathroom counter or near a puddle, you won’t have to worry about any additional cleaning due to water damage or mold build up.
Pros: Awesome tactical design that comes with two color choices. Also extremely versatile.
Cons: Leather pull tab may be a deal breaker for those looking for an animal-free dopp kit.
Dimensions: 6″ x 11″ x 5″
Brooks Brothers Leather Toiletry Case
Of all the dopp kits that are featured, this is by and far the Rolls Royce of dopp kits. This no holds barred dopp kit by Brooks Brothers emits elegance and class. Crafted from genuine leather in Italy, this is the pinnacle of all the dopp kits on the market.
With its two compartment yet compact design, the Brooks Brothers bag will help to ensure that your toiletries stay separated. Whether you want to organize it by morning and night time use or shaving and showering, this bag should be able to suit your needs. With the two compartment design, this dopp kit can work with a variety of scenarios. Whether you are going on an extended vacation or simply heading off to an overnight trip – it should work well.
Unlike some of the lower end dopp kits on the market, the Brooks Brothers embossed logo on the side of the kit compliments the overall design nicely. This is a bag that you would pass down from one generation to another.
Pros: This bag is top notch and simply bleeds elegance.
Cons: The price point is much higher and resereved for those with extra discreitionary funds.
Dimensions: 10″ x 5″ x 6″
Wayland Dopp Kit by Cole Hann
Known primarily for their exquisite leather goods including dress shoes and messenger bags, Cole Hann’s dopp kit is a fine addition to their lineup. The Wayland dopp kit is a clean and simple dopp kit that just simply gets the job done for short to medium length trips.
With its genuine pebble leather design this dopp kit will make an excellent bag that you will cherish for years. Each end of the kit includes two finely polished nickel buttons that snap down for an even more compact design while traveling. Inside the main compartment, is a faille fabric lining. While its not waterproof, faille is a ribbed fabric that is sourced from the finest materials that will leave your toiletries in great shape when traveling.
Within the dopp kit itself is a separate smaller pouch where you can store small toiletries such as tweezers, nail clippers, razors, etc.
Lastly, the Wayland Dopp Kit does come in three different colors including Black, British Tan, and Chocolate.
Pros: Makes a terrific gift for a light traveler.
Cons: Faille fabric may experience wear over time.
Dimensions: 9.5″ x 5″ x 5″
Timbuk2 Toiletry Bag
If you are looking for a toiletry bag that is free of any leather then the dopp kit by Timbuk2 is a perfect match. Made from nylon, this dopp kit is absolutely loaded with a ton of compartments. Whether you are packing away a travel size bottle of your favorite mouth wash or a larger beard brush, this dopp kit has a slot for all of your gear.
Fans of Timbuk2’s assorted backpacks and messenger bags will fall in love with all the functionality that their dopp kit also delivers.
Unlike many of the other dopp kits that we reviewed, this dopp kit is actually waterproof on the outside. So therefore you never have to think twice when handling this bag in a wet bathroom at all.
Another unique component to the design of this dopp kit is that it actually can be in two completely different forms. With its zipper that lines the entire bottom and sides, you can either carry this dopp kit in the traditional rectangle shape that we so from so many others, or you can unzip it to make it lie completely flat. So whether you are tossing this in a carryon or backpack, its one of the most versatile and functional dopp kits that you can own.
Also you can have complete peace of mind with this dopp kit as all of Timbuk2’s products come with a lifetime warranty.
Pros: Complete nylon design – waterproof outer shell.
Cons: Loaded with compartments – may be a good or bad thing depending on your preference.
Dimensions: 11″ x 6″ x 4.25″
So What Dopp Kit Will Be The Best One For You?
As you can see there are a variety of options when selecting a dopp kit. The best dopp kit on the market doesn’t necessarily have to cost over $200, nor does it need to come in leather. When you are trying to decide on one, its important to select based on what will fit your lifestyle. If your a college student, then a nylon tactical dopp kit like the one offered by Ralph Lauren might make a fine choice.
However, if you have a few extra bucks to spare and want it to be a heirloom that you pass down to your son, then a leather dopp kit such as the one offered by Cole Hann or Brooks Brothers will serve you for years to come.