Dopp Bag: What It Is and Why You (Probably) Need One

dopp bag

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You head to the bathroom to get ready for the day. You reach for your deodorant, but it isn’t where you left it. Your comb is missing, and when you find it, it has 30 long strands of female hair between its teeth. Your pomade or gel? Cap off, crusty as hell… My friend, in my opinion, you need a Dopp bag.

If you don’t know what a Dopp bag is (it also goes by “Dopp kit,” in some circumstances), it’s a bag for men’s toiletries. It’s a small, sturdy bag that guys can throw their deodorant, pomade, combs, beard oil, and anything else they use daily. And you might need one.

By the way, I’ll be linking to some Amazon products. If you buy something from the list, The Graying Area will make a small commission, so buy lots, will ya?

dopp bag

Origin of the Dopp Bag

Some guys shun the thought of personal care products; they use the same deodorant and shampoo they’ve been using since the 6th grade. But, believe it or not, there was a time not too long ago when men took pride in their appearance and wanted to look good. I’m talking about The Greatest Generation, boys.

Men in the early half of the 19th century enjoyed looking good. They had a trusty straight blade razor, a shaving soap dish and brush, a few good combs, some hair tonic or Brylcreem, maybe mustache wax, cologne of some sort, and more. And, being the classy gents that they were, they needed a place to keep them all.

To answer the call, a Chicago leatherworker named Charles Doppelt created the “toilet bag.” It was a bag that could hold everything a gentleman needed, keeping things organized and clean. But, since “toilet bag” is kind of a crappy name (pun intended), he changed the name to the Dopp kit, aka Dopp bag. 

dopp bag contents
That’s a lot of crap to let hang out in the bottom of your suitcase or weekender bag, no? You need a Dopp bag, bro.

What should I look for in a Dopp bag?

At its core, a Dopp bag is pretty simple and straightforward. But there are a few features guys should look out for in a Dopp bag.

If you want to save some time, check out this review on my favorite Dopp bag from Aaron Leather Goods

Material

Dopp bags come in a massive variety of materials, and it’s really up to you which works best. Leather is the most popular option, as it’s durable, masculine, and classy. But, waxed canvas, nylon, and polyester are popular as well. 

Interior Lining

The material on the outside of the Dopp bag might not matter as much as the liner inside. Nylon liners (and other water-resistant materials) can keep spills from leaking out of a Dopp bag. Sure, everything in the bag might get messy, but the bag itself, as well as the stuff in your suitcase or on the counter won’t get funky. 

Size

Yeah, fellas, I hate to break it to you, but the size of your Dopp bag matters. Look for a bag that’s large enough to carry everything you need, especially if you travel. After all, it needs to hold extra travel shampoos and the like.

Closure

Your Dopp bag needs to keep all your stuff contained, so look for one with a reliable closure system. Double-zippered center sections allow the user to pull back a large flap for plenty of access but also keep things securely stashed away. Buttons are also available, but zippers are best.

Extra Pockets

While the primary purpose of a Dopp bag is to keep oddly shaped grooming products inside, some have extra pockets. Zippered interior and exterior pockets provide a few extra spots to stash smaller items that disappear in the bottom of a typical Dopp bag.

What should be in a Dopp bag?

dopp bag
Your Dopp bag should hold all of your regular grooming kit, as well as some extra items for emergencies.

Honestly, a Dopp bag can carry just about anything most guys need in the bathroom. Some items you might typically keep in a Dopp bag include:

They can carry it all. But, Dopp bags really come in handy while traveling, so it’s a great idea to take advantage of the extra storage. Stash some spare cash, a credit card, and a quality pocket knife in the bonus zippered pocket, just in case shit hits the fan while you’re out of town.

So, do you need a Dopp bag?

The background on Dopp bags is pretty straightforward, but not everyone needs one. You do need a Dopp bag if you travel frequently or share a bathroom with a spouse. But, if you’re a single guy and you don’t head out on many adventures, you probably don’t need a Dopp bag at this stage in your life—which sort of brings me to my point…

A Dopp bag is sort of a symbol of manhood. When you find the products you like, establish yourself as a partner, or take the adventures you’ve always wanted to, finding the right Dopp bag matters.

Dopp Bag FAQs

What is a men’s toiletry bag called?

Men’s toiletry bags go by a few different names, including Dopp bag, Dopp kit, and sponge bag. 

How do you clean a Dopp kit?

Cleaning a Dopp kit depends on the material from which it’s made. Leather will require saddle soap, while bags made from most other materials can withstand a washing machine cycle. Most importantly, follow the Dopp bag’s cleaning instructions from the manufacturer.

Can you carry on a Dopp bag?

Dopp bags are small enough to fit in a carry-on bag, so it’s more about what you carry in the Dopp bag. As long as any liquids are travel-sized and you use a disposable or electric razor, you’ll have no problem.