Andrew, Dappered’s grooming correspondent, is also the editor-in-chief of Electrogent, a men’s interest, grooming, and lifestyle website which squares the modern interests of men with the classic notions of manliness.
Your own bed, your couch, your pillow, your bathroom and your kitchen: all of these are staples of comfort in your home. However, for guys on the road a lot, sometimes the essentials around your bathroom sink are just as desirable as the actual sink itself. Ever forgotten your toothbrush on a long trip to a secluded area? Avoid that feeling by always having your own dopp kit either put together and ready to go, or at least a strategy for putting one together.
Dopp kits gained their namesake from a German immigrant leatherworker named Charles Doppelt. In 1919, he invented a leather case for carrying toiletries, and eventually these were distributed to GI’s during World War II. These days, a dopp kit is a more casual term referring to a travel bag for toiletries. However, despite the dopp kit’s history, the fundamentals are relatively unchanged over all those years.
There are a few essential items that all guys should keep in their dopp kit in order to keep that “home sink” feeling, no matter where you go. The main aspect to consider is the size of the item, followed by the item’s necessity. As shown below, you can pack many useful smaller items in the same amount of space as one bulky item that you might have a special affinity for. Additionally, because you’re going to have limited space, only take what you feel is absolutely essential to your travels. If you’re going camping, you will likely need more utilitarian items than cosmetic, and if you’re going away on business it’s likely you’ll feel the opposite.
Here are some ideas to get you started when packing your next dopp kit:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Razor blades
- Shaving cream
- A comb
- Hair product of choice
- Hand lotion
- A sewing kit
- Fingernail clippers
- Pocket knife
- Styptic pencil
Surely, everyone’s list can differ in both content and priority, as it depends largely on your own personality and the nature of your trip. However, almost all dopp kits should contain the essentials, a few luxuries (if you want), and a couple utilities (you never know when you’ll need one of them). So long as you can affirmatively answer the question, “Do I really need this?” before packing it away, then you’ll have a successful dopp kit.
Furthermore, you will need to consider how you’re traveling. If you’re flying and you prefer to go straight carry-on, like me, you might have to ditch the double edge razors and pack some cartridges. A pack of 5 is really small (and cheap) so you could always try and sneak some past TSA, but you don’t want to get tased (bro). I’ve had the TSA take fingernail clippers before, and I surely know they’d confiscate a pocket knife. If you’re driving, you have nothing to worry about; but if you have to fly then make sure you check with TSA regulations to see if your dopp kit makes you a terrorist.
But what to put all this stuff in? Sure you could go the Zip-loc bag route, but that’s not really any fun. Plus it looks terrible hanging out on the bathroom counter at the hotel. A few options worth considering:
Clean, inexpensive, and slim at just 4″ tall. For the guys that wants something that looks good, yet doesn’t take up all that much space. 6″ wide and a full 12″ long means you’ll still have space. Made in the USA and three color options.
About double the price of the previous bag, but wider and shorter. This heavy 20 ounce canvas with waterproof lining is exactly what you’re looking for. Izola also has similar bags with different designs on them. This dopp kit also has an exterior pocket, in case you need quick access to something in particular and don’t have time to dig around inside your bag. A solid option, if price isn’t as important.
Pottery Barn Saddle Dopp Kit – $39.00 (add $7 for monogramming)
Dopp kits are one of those rare instances in which Pottery Barn steps up to the plate and doesn’t offer some outrageously overpriced option. I personally use a dopp kit from Pottery Barn (see the featured image), but not this particular version. These make fantastic wedding presents to groomsmen, as the quality is unrivaled and a monogrammed dopp kit is not something you’re likely to buy for yourself. However, gift or not, Pottery Barn’s totally reasonable $39.00 option is one worth considering.
No matter which dopp kit you pick up, make sure it’s something that will stand the test of time. There’s something charming about an old dopp kit–the smell of your old cologne, the knicks and scuffs of travel–and maybe one day your kids will fight over it. Having a plan for a dopp kit, or having one at the ready, will make your travels much more enjoyable, and your ability to look and feel your best intact.
Which grooming items do you use the most and least when you travel? Discuss your experience in the comments.