Last week, I published a piece on The Graying Area about why you might need a Dopp bag. The article actually got quite a bit of traffic, and there were lots of comments on my Instagram account. I promised to follow it up with a review on the best Dopp bag I’ve found, and guys seemed to be on the hook.
And why wouldn’t they be? I mentioned how important a Dopp bag is in that previous article, and how owning one is pretty much a rite of passage. A symbol of manhood, if you will. From the stuff a Dopp bag can carry to the adventures it might go on, it’s a very manly item.
With that in mind, I give you a full review of what I believe to be the best Dopp bag for most guys: this model from Aaron Leather Goods (available on Amazon).
By the way, I’ll be linking to products from Amazon throughout this article. As an Amazon Associate, if you purchase something through these links, The Graying Area gets a small commission. So, purchase a lot.
What is a Dopp Bag?
Last week’s article covered the topic, but in case you’re not a regular reader (um.. Why aren’t you a regular reader?), I’ll quickly reiterate: A Dopp bag, or Dopp kit as it’s also known, is a men’s toiletry bag. A Dopp bag should carry all of a man’s grooming needs, making organization and travel much simpler.
In the 1920s, a Chicago leatherworker named Charles Doppelt created such a bag, though he named it the “toilet bag.” Doppelt designed the toilet bag to carry everything a man needed for grooming, including cologne, a razor, shaving soap, aftershave, a hair styling product, mustache wax, and combs.
If you consider that many apartment buildings in urban America shared bathrooms in the 1920s, the convenience of a grab-and-go kit makes a ton of sense.
“Toilet bag” is a shitty name, so Doppelt changed the name to Dopp bag or Dopp kit. In the generations since then, men have been using Dopp bags for their intended purpose: carrying lots of grooming gear.
The Best Dopp Bag: Aaron Leather Goods
The background is nice, but the real question at hand is, “what’s the best Dopp bag?” My answer: The one I picked up on Amazon from Aaron Leather Goods. To truly understand why that is, I’ll discuss the specs, the pros and cons, and who this bag might be perfect for.
Let’s do a quick overview of the specs, including the materials, size, and features.
Aaron Leather Goods says it makes this Dopp bag from 100 percent Buffalo leather, and it’s available in 15 different color combinations. It utilizes dual genuine YKK metal zippers, each of which has a leather pull tab or strap. This Dopp bag also has rolled and machine-stitched seams. The bag’s interior has a waterproof nylon liner, and the bottom has metal feet to keep it from sitting on a wet countertop.
As far as size goes, this bag’s not small. It measures 10 inches long, 5.5 inches tall, and 5 inches across. For reference, the pictures show how much gear the bag can actually hold.
The Aaron Leather Goods Dopp bag has other features going for it as well, such as the dual-zippered flap that opens wide and allows full access to the stuff inside. Also, there is a machine-stitched carrying or hanging loop, as well as a zippered pocket on both the inside and outside. Obviously, the metal feet mentioned earlier are a feature as well.
The Best Dopp Bag: Pros
- Good-looking bag
- Plenty of space
- Waterproof liner
- The price
It’s one good-looking bag. I bought my Aaron Leather Good Dopp bag in dark brown, and I have to say, the leather is sweet. It has a pull-up effect, which means the leather changes color when a pinch or scratch occurs since they displace the oils and waxes. It looks outstanding, and it’s definitely masculine.
It holds plenty of kit. I can fit all of my grooming stuff inside this Dopp bag, including travel-sized shampoos and soaps, a toothbrush, hair products, a razor, a trimmer, and anything else I might need. The double-zippered flap makes accessing everything inside a breeze as well. Honestly, I leave it on my windowsill and just grab what I need when I need it.
The waterproof liner is a big plus. All of the best Dopp bags should have waterproof liners, but this one is nice. Anything that spills inside of the bag will be easy to clean, and it will keep my clothes or shoes from getting ruined on a trip.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention the price for the pro that it is. I paid $39.99 for a 100 percent buffalo leather bag with a waterproof liner. That’s wild. I’m a bit of leatherworking hobbyist myself, and constructing this bag would take me an entire weekend. And, here’s what is even crazier: There are other colors available that cost half of what I paid.
The Best Dopp Bag: Cons
- I don’t like the logo
- The leather will be difficult to clean
I’m not a huge fan of Aaron Leather Goods’ logo, or the fact that it’s proudly emblazoned on the side of the bag. I don’t like any branding on my stuff, and that star gives me serious Winter Soldier vibes (though he is one of my favorite MCU characters). Anyone else getting that?
I love the leather, and I wanted a leather Dopp bag. But, it’s only fair to mention that if the leather gets dirty and gross, it can be difficult to restore. Luckily, Aaron Leather Goods uses a high-wax, high-oil leather to keep it from absorbing moisture (think latigo, the leather used for horse bridles). But, over time it might dry out and require an oiling, at which point it’ll be easier to stain.
Is this the best Dopp bag for you?
At the moment, this is the best Dopp bag I’ve found for myself. It’s leather like I wanted, and it features the zippered pockets and plenty of storage that I need. For my needs, it’s almost ideal. I can do without Sgt. Barnes’ shoulder tattoo embossed on the side, but I digress.
If you have a beard and style your hair, you might have a lot of grooming products and tools to organize. This is probably the best Dopp bag for you. It offers plenty of space, keeps things secure, and is easy to find things in (thanks to the large flap). And, you can’t deny the killer price.
Obviously, if you don’t have many items to organize or travel a lot, or don’t have a lot of hair, you might not need this kit. You can probably find a smaller bag to carry a toothbrush and some deodorant if that’s all you travel with. But, if you have the space in your suitcase or carry-on (or windowsill, in my case), this might still be the best Dopp kit for you.
Also, if you fell off a super train in the middle of WW2 while chasing a mad scientist, only to be found by Russian spies and taught all kinds of badass skills, have your arm replaced with high-tech metal, and reunite with your best friend after trying to kill him for 2.5 hours of cinema, dude, this Dopp bag’s perfect for you.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a Dopp bag? What do you use for your grooming kit? Do you think men shouldn’t carry enough grooming products to warrant a Dopp bag? Or do you need an entire duffle bag’s worth of volume to carry all your gear? Let me know in the comments below. And share this post with someone who might find it helpful.
The Best Dopp Bag FAQs
Still have some questions about choosing the best Dopp bag? I got ya covered.
What does Dopp kit mean?
A Dopp kit or bag is a toiletry bag (aimed at men, originally) meant for carrying grooming products. In the 1920s, a Chicago leatherworker named Charles Doppelt created such a bag, but he named it the “toilet bag.” As “toilet bag” might not conjure the most pleasant of notions, Doppelt changed the name to “Dopp kit.”
How do you clean a Dopp kit?
Anything that spends its life in a bathroom is likely to get funky at some point. Dopp bags made from some materials, like canvas, nylon, and polyester are easy to clean: just empty it and throw it in the washer (according to the manufacturer’s instructions, of course).
For leather bags, a bit of saddle soap (available on Amazon) and a brush (also available on Amazon) will help restore the bag. Also, consider using some leather conditioner to replenish the oils the cleaning process might remove.
What is a sponge bag now called?
Originally, toiletry bags were known as “sponge bags,” which sounds awful. When Doppelt created his bag, he first referred to it as a “toilet bag.” Today, men refer to sponge or toilet bags as Dopp bags or kits.
How do you pack a Dopp bag?
Packing a Dopp bag isn’t rocket science, but this guide should help anyway. Your Dopp bag should contain:
- Deodorant (available on Amazon)
- Haircare products
- Comb (available on Amazon)
- Beard and mustache styling products (available on Amazon)
- Nail clippers
- Shaving soap
If you’re heading on a trip, throw in some travel-sized soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Also, stash a few bucks in there, and maybe even a credit card for emergencies on your trip.