What Is A Dopp Kit? What Travelers Need to Know

What is a dopp kit? Tumi Dopp Kit

What is a Dopp kit? Put simply, the term is used to describe a bag used to stash toiletries for travel.

The term is usually reserved for men’s toiletry kits.

The female counterpart is more likely to be called a cosmetic or makeup bag.

Both male and female travelers seem to recognize the importance of having some way to segregate their toiletries (personal care and/or beauty items such as medications, deodorant, shavers, toothbrush/toothpaste, other grooming accessories, etc.) from their clothing because of the risk of these items spilling, oozing, or soiling—or of these or other small items getting scattered or buried in a suitcase.

With increasingly stringent TSA requirements, travelers are often required to pack their toiletries in checked bags.

What is a Dopp Kit?

The term Dopp kit is an eponym.

Just like “Kleenex” is often substituted for tissues and “Jacuzzi” for spas or hot tubs, people started using the eponym (or short-hand term) “Dopp kit” to describe male toiletry kits.

History of the Dopp Kit

These bags were popularized and the term trademarked by Charles Doppelt, a German leather maker who produced the first “Dopp-Kit toilet case” in Chicago in 1926.

It had a flap fastener that opened wide at the top and retailed for $3.25. You can see an old advertisement for one of the original leather kits online.

During World War II, Dopp kits were issued to U.S. soldiers and they soon gained popularity as coming-of-age or special occasion gifts to civilians, too.

Samsonite purchased the trademark, which Buxton then acquired before the registration was canceled in 2003. (“Ditty bag” is another oft-used term for the kits, especially by fishermen and sailors.)

Dopp kits are still popular gift choices for milestone occasions (e.g., graduations, job promotions) or simply for a “Bon Voyage” gift before a big trip.

Yet, these days, many younger people (and especially those outside the U.S.) tend to be perplexed when they hear the old term, Dopp kit.

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How To Choose and Buy A Dopp Kit

Because there are so many choices, here are a few considerations to help you decide:

Dopp Kit Materials

Although the first Dopp kits were made of leather, they’re now made in a variety of materials, including leather, plastic, ballistic nylon, canvas and more.

For environmentally-conscious travelers, some are made of recycled materials, like this one made of recycled sails.

This Chebeague Toiletry Bag by Sea Bags of Maine is made of recycled sails.
This Chebeague Toiletry Bag by Sea Bags of Maine is made of recycled sails.


Leather offers a lux look and many are coated to protect them from scratches and moisture.

It’s important to remember that travelers tend to place these kits on bathroom sinks and counters that can be wet.

What is a Dopp Kit? KomalC Leather Travel Dopp Kit, an Amazon favorite
KomalC Leather Travel Dopp Kit, an Amazon favorite

With more than 10,000 reviews, this KomalC Leather Travel Dopp Kit is one of the most popular ones on Amazon.

Buyers loved the quality of the leather and the roominess of its one large, undivided interior pocket. It comes in a variety of colors.

Ballistic nylon often turns out to be one of the most rip-proof and durable fabrics; it’s also easy to clean and generally lighter than leather. Canvas and plastic kits may not last as long but they’re also not as expensive.

Also, be sure to look at the material inside and make sure it’s resistant to spills and stains.


Dopp Kit Shape and Size

Briggs & Riley low-profile toiletry kit
Briggs & Riley low-profile toiletry kit

Most Dopp kits are rectangular in shape but there are many variations on the theme.

Some have a “low profile,” meaning they aren’t very deep and don’t take up as much room in a suitcase. Others are larger and boxier but allow for more storage.

Choose a shape and size that will fit your needs.

This Briggs and Riley Baseline Hanging Dopp kit is an example of a low-profile toiletry bag. It’s smaller than many bags, just large enough to stow your essentials, but is only 3″ thick.

That allows you to easily tuck it into the side of a suitcase. At your destination, it conveniently hangs to afford easy viewing and access to your items. 

Made of 90% nylon, it is water-resistant. The coated lining helps minimize the chance of leaks.


Number of Zippered and/or Pocket Compartments

Check out the size and number of compartments.

Many travelers like separate compartments to help organize their belongings. Some compartments are zippered; others are not. (Also, look at the quality of the stitching and zippers.) Also bear in mind that additional pockets and zippers can also add weight. 

Sometimes, mesh pockets and/or elastic bands are stitched into the kit to hold objects in place. Having see-thru compartments makes it easier to know what’s inside.

While some people prefer pockets, Amazon reviewers raved about the single pocket on the Kolmac
While some people prefer pockets, Amazon reviewers raved about the single pocket on the KolmaC

Hangers and Handles

Kits with a hanger offer the possibility of placing the kit on a hook or towel bar so it’s out of your way, especially in small bathrooms with no counter space or when you’re traveling with a partner.

Having a small side loop or handle can be another “handy” feature.

What is a Dopp Kit? An AmazonBasics hanging toiletry kit
An AmazonBasics hanging toiletry kit


Dopp Kit Weight

Given luggage weight restrictions, it isn’t prudent to choose a heavy Dopp kit.

If it’s heavy when empty, it’s going to be a lot heavier when filled with your sundries.

I would opt for a Dopp kit that weighs less than a pound unfilled.

This attractive Longchamp Boxford Dopp kit comes in brown, blue, or black with a leather trim.

This spacious case has two zipped compartments and a washable interior with a convenient handle at the end.

It weighs in at just over 10 ounces and makes a lovely gift.


Dopp Kit Appearance and Design

Some more costly Dopp kits come in posh leathers with designer logos or labels. They may offer monogrammed nameplates and come in a choice of colors. While they serve the same basic function, these kits offer a “feel-good factor” for those who can afford them.Retailing at over $300, the Ghurka Barber No. 287 Toiletry Bag is a high-end designer Dopp kit

Retailing at over $300, the Ghurka Barber No. 287 Toiletry Bag is a high-end designer Dopp kit.

A Tom Ford dopp kit that retails for over $1500
A Tom Ford dopp kit that retails for over $1500

Finding the perfect fit

Many years ago, my husband invested in a ballistic nylon Dopp kit made by Hartmann. It’s no longer available but it has stood the test of time and use.

He’s carried it all over the world and always remarks how much he loves it. It has a split design that opens in the middle with two zippered compartments on each side.

The bottom line: Choose a Dopp kit that you love and it will become a regular travel companion.

Also on MoreTimeToTravel.com

Best Travel Accessories for Men: 35 Great Gifts for Travelers


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What is a Dopp Kit?

How To Buy & Choose a Dopp Kit

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  1. My husband introduced me to his buddy leather Dopp kit when we married in 2008 and started traveling together. He has recently parted ways with it. With restrictions in luggage, he allows me to pack all our toiletries together in 2 large zip lock bags of travel-size stuff.

  2. I’d never heard that term before. Good to know. I use a combination of Dopp kits and yep! Biploc. I like the weathered brown leather kit.

  3. Interesting history on something we use nearly every day — and now I know what to call it. How fun to see the original ad, and the Amazon leather looks similar but I love the single zippered flap.

  4. Ha! Never heard the term Dopp kit before. Thanks for the education. The hubby is definitely in the market for a new one, so I’ll make sure he sees the post and gets motivated to get shopping.

  5. Hopefully someone can answer this. Years ago I remember seeing a toiletry holder that was flat, plastic, and could be hung in a garment bag. It had the advantage of keeping everything spread out (as opposed to the Dopp kit, which can be awkward to fit in a garment bag and is easily crushed). This gadget was designed for women’s cosmetic, but I’d use it if I could find it.

  6. A whole new word and world opened with this post. . .we use Ziplock bags these days and have stashes of such containers tucked away in drawers (most of which we’ve been handed by the airline when in Business Class – and there they are unisex packs). Most interesting article, Irene!

  7. I just love this story Irene. I had no idea of the history of the dopp kit. I know my Dad had one just like the one in the ad you shared. Nice bit of nostalgia that’s for sure.

  8. Dopp Kits for Men, Cosmetic Bags for Women, or gender-neutral ziplocs for anybody. The choice is personal and varied and I don’t think gender plays as a big a role in it anymore. Do you?

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