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Dopp Kit 101

by , April 27, 2012

Dopp Kit 101

How’s this for a Google search comparison: search for “dopp kit” and for “toiletry bag” and notice the difference in image results. While the latter returns your average youth-hostel-bathroom-view the results for dopp kit ooze that smooth, comfortable feeling of classy luxury.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, although in many parts of our wonderful universe the term toiletry bag, toilet kit, travel kit or even wash bag is used, today we are going to talk about dopp kits. And we need your opinion on the subject!

Here’s the history part (courtesy of Wikipedia): the name derives from early 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to the United States, who invented his toiletry case in 1919. The kits became widely known during the Second World War when they were issued to GIs. Doppelt’s company was purchased by Samsonite in the early 1970s. Dopp kits were once a common gift given to adolescent males as they ascended from boyhood to adulthood. Although the term was originally a trademark, it appears to have at least mostly become generic, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists the trademark as abandoned.”

Considering a dopp kit

Vintage dopp kit

There’s a few things to be taken into account when considering a dopp kit:

-Your Destination: Are you traveling from one five star hotel to another on a business trip, camping out in the woods for three weeks with nothing but a swiss knife and a fishing line (might need to stash some first aid stuff), just visiting friends for the weekend or adventuring through six countries in six weeks?

– Your Means of Traveling: Flying with only carry-on luggage requires TSA-compliance, cycling and camping often requires lightweight packing.

– Your Hygiene and Health Needs: Do you just have to bring a toothbrush, deodorant and shampoo or do you need lens fluids, serious gear to trim your beard or medicine

– Your Usage Pattern: Having substantial grooming sessions three times a day versus brushing your teeth every three days (which is disgusting).

Depending on that, you’re going to develop some preferences on size, weight, waterproofness, pocketing, maybe materials and definitely contents.

The first question to ask after you’ve determined your “hygiene, health and travel needs” is: Do I need to bring a dopp kit at all? There’s definitely a case to be made for packing light and bringing just a toothbrush if you stay over at friends with a home spa or if you have deodorant brought in by room service. Note: never borrow a used toothbrush. Ever. Not even if she’s really hot (the owner, that is).

Categories of dopp kits

If you’ve passed that stage and still consider a dopp kit there are five categories to choose from:

– The wonderful Ziploc® bag:

ZipLoc bag

Light, available in different sizes, mostly waterproof, transparent (making it easier to find stuff) and cheap.

– The “normal” 5$ drug store toiletry kit:

Toiletry bag

Cheap, one or two sections and cheap.

– The expandable travel kit:

Vaude Hurler S

Cavernous, pocketed, hangable.

– The designer dopp kit:

Boss dopp kit

Expensive, form above function but…. extremely beautiful. Don’t even take it out of the house; just permanently exhibit it on your bathroom sink.

– The field pocket that doubles as a dopp kit:

Dopp Kit 101

Military, pocketed, waterproof highly water resistant.

Packing a dopp kit

Dopp Kit 101

– First off: you need your dopp kit packed and ready to go. Fill up that empty shampoo bottle, replace the razor blades, buy an extra toothbrush if you have to. At any time you need to be able to grab your dopp kit, leave the house and feel confident you’ve got everything you need.

– Go for small bottles: no need to bring a gallon of shower gel when you’re away for the weekend. Small sample bottles of toiletry items can be bought in any drug store (as an alternative you can buy and refill small bottles in any decent outdoor store). Small bottles help you get through customs and TSA scans as well.

– Go for less: unless you’re keen on your personal shower gel, most hotels will give you shampoo and shower gel for free. Do you really need those nail clippers, 100 aspirins and 20 band-aids for two days?

Your Dopp Kits

So here’s the point where you tell us your stories.

What are your experiences?
What do you like and dislike about dopp kits?
Do you use one?
Do you use different setups for different occasions?
How do you pack it?

Based on your experiences we’ll be posting a follow-up article…


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