Building The Perfect Dopp Kit

by Brett on March 18, 2008 · 124 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair


Unlike many women who require a small suitcase for their toiletries, a traveling man needs only a few essentials to be happy. Nevertheless, a man needs a place to stow these items. Enter the Dopp kit.

The History of the Dopp Kit

Charles Doppelt, a German leather-goods maker from Chicago, invented the Dopp kit during the early 1900′s. The small pouches became known as Dopps, in recognition of its creator. Doppelt scored a contract with the US Army during WWII to provide the toiletry pouches to millions of American GIs. The bags became a hit, and demand for Dopp kits soared when American men returned home from war.

My memories of Dopp kits include looking over my dad’s black leather one. It was worn from years of use. As a child, I was always amazed at all the stuff he could put in there. It was almost like a doctor’s old medical bag.

Building your Dopp Kit

The Bag
The first thing you’ll need is the bag. These aren’t difficult to find. You can get a nylon travel bag for under $5 at any big box store like Target or Wal-Mart. They’ll get the job done.

But if you want a Dopp kit with class, leather is the only way to go. Sure, it will cost you more, but it will last forever, age nicely, and become something you enjoy owning and toting around. It’s something you’ll be able to pass down to your sons and grandsons, along with the stories of the places you took it. You can find a nice leather Dopp kit at most department stores. You can also buy nice affordable leather Dopp kit for $35 online. If you’re lucky, you can also score a vintage leather Dopp bag on eBay.

The Supplies

After you have your bag, it’s time to fill it up with the stuff you need to keep you well groomed while traveling. Most of things we suggest are common sense, others you might not have thought of, but will be happy to have on hand during your adventures.

  • Travel bottle of shampoo
  • Bar of your favorite soap
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
  • Shaving supplies: razor, brush, and cream
  • Nail clippers
  • Lip Balm
  • Band Aids
  • Safety Pins
  • Aspirin or Tylenol
  • Lint Roller
  • $20 bill
  • Extra pair of contact lenses

Organizing the kit

One of the things I remember about my dad filling up his Dopp kit is the care he took when packing his supplies. Everything had its place. The way you place supplies in the pouch will ensure safe arrival to your destination.

If you will be flying with your Dopp kit, keep in mind that pressure changes on the airplane can cause your shampoo and cream bottles to explode. This will create a big mess and a lot of disappointment, especially if you went ahead a bought a nice leather kit. To avoid a mess, try this hint: Before placing a bottle that holds liquidy materials in your bag, squeeze the air out of the bottle right up until the cream reaches the tip of the hole. Without this excess air, your bottles will be much more likely to hold unto their contents during flight.

What do you carry in your Dopp kit? Did we miss anything that you think is essential to have? Drop a line in the comment box and let us know.

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{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Daniel June 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Why should this kit contain a $20 bill?

102 James | Tech for the Masses June 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Yeah, whats the deal with the $20 bill?

103 Jim June 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

With all the suggestions, the list of items is getting pretty long. My suggestion is to do what I do with my backpacking gear. If I take something and don’t use it at all after two or three trips it comes out of my pack (or in this case dopp kit). The only exceptions are emergency items. I also never carry two items when one will suffice, so for example biodegradable camp soap can be used to wash everything, dishes, laundry, hair, body, etc. and it can be used anywhere indoors or out. And as for that $20 bill, I carry a spare $40 as emergency backup cash (one $20, one $10, one $5, and five $1′s). I keep it in a small resealable plastic pouch used to carry ID’s and I have one in a pocket of each of my coats, the glovebox of my car, and yes… in my Dopp kit. This habit has come in useful too many times for me to count.

104 Trevor July 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

I am young and I don’t have a lot of experience with traveling but recently it has been a lot of international travel so I have learned quite a few things. Here is a list of what I bring!
My bag
Saddleback Leather Small Travel Kit

What’s inside the kit

Dr. Bronners (I have used this stuff for Soap, Shampoo, Shaving, Dish Soap, Laundry Detergent, Toothpaste in a pinch, Rinsing Vegetables. It’s quite incredible)
Rubbing Alcohol (another milti-use item for cleaning, bleeding, sunglass cleaner, Razor Sterilizer)
Deodorant (No brainer, I like the Mitchum Gel Uncented)
Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
DE razor, brush, and soap (purchase DE Blades at my destination if I am flying)
Safety Razor with extra cartridges (Mostly incase it takes me a few days to find those blades!)
Shave Oil (Pre-shave)
qTips (Clean ears are essential for me, also a multi-use item)
Nail clippers (with nail file)
Tweezers (splinters, ingrown hairs, anti-unibrow)
Hair Comb
Small Cologne
Daily Multivitamins

A mini first aid/survival kit is also in my duffel that contains the following

Band Aids
Sewing Kit w/ Safety Pins
Some Ibuprofen
Some parachute chord
Duct Tape
Folded up bit of toilet paper

Gold Bond powder (I’ve been surprised how many times this has come in handy; itching sweating, general refresher)
Several Food Bars (for emergencies)
Water Purification Tablets (also for emergencies)

And in my briefcase a few essential items
Facial Tissues
Lipbalm (Burts Beeswax)
Extra cash with my passport hidden away
Breath Mints (Fisherman’s Friend is my favorite!)

I don’t use a styptic pencil because I find that with dabbing the cut with a little bit of you own saliva a few times almost always does the trick.

At least for me I feel that these are the essentials. Not too much, not too little. It also helps that I have a few different places to put them.

105 corey July 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I’ve built my perfect kit for long motorcycle rides and a month-long trip to europe. The items I think most people miss are:
1. five hour energy and sleeping pills
2. skin shield [glue for cuts]
3. sunscreen
4. anti-bacterial wipes

see pics and my COMPLETE list at:

106 Adel Matar November 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Are all real men supposed to be bold? why is there no comb or hair brush? or are you supposed to brush your hair with a tooth brush?

107 Melissa February 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I would imagine the $20 is so that you have emergency cash in case something happens to your wallet and if you’re traveling, then you would have your shave kit.

108 Elias March 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

Heh. Shaving kit. That’s a great idea.
Except my best mate’s Native American.
Don’t forget your consideration, folks.

109 Will March 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Native Americans have personal hygiene needs also. I always travel with a toiletries bag.

110 Arron April 7, 2013 at 12:47 am

@WILL Im pretty sure he is referring to Native Americans not growing alot of facial hair

111 Michael April 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

A travel pack of disposable (flushable) wipes are a must. Use them to “finish the job”. You will feel and be fresh and clean the remainder of the day. You can thank me later!!

112 Alan June 20, 2013 at 9:43 am

@Michael, amen on the flushable wipes!

113 Jaron June 27, 2013 at 4:12 am

If you aren’t lucky enough to be a comb-and-go hair guy, or prefer something a bit longer than a crew cut or high-and-tight, I’d suggest traveling with a small tub of hair wax or paste (Suave and Pantene both make great options, and are less messy / sticky than higher price brands I’ve tried…they also leave my hair feeling like…hair. Not plastic.)

These products are easier to use / less bulky than mousses or sprays, and are a lot less messy. In fact, both brands have survived Georgia summer heat (90-100*F exterior) inside a dark-colored vehicle for days without melting and oozing out of their containers.

114 Tim August 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Love the idea, but I like to keep my toiletries in my carry-on bag. Do you guys keep your razor, brush, toothpaste, meds, etc in the Dopp bag while transporting the liquids in a TSA-approved plastic bag? Combine it all when you reach your destination?

115 Eric August 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

When taking bottles of shampoo or soaps on the road it is useful to use a little bit of saran wrap to stop leaks. Simple unscrew the top of the bottle and stretch a thin layer of saran wrap over the opening of the bottle. Screw the lid back on and you have a tight seal that liquids won’t spill from.

116 robbie August 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I reccommed placing any liqids tht have scent (cologne) in a small ziplock inside your dopp kit
Way better than saran wrap & can save all your clothes in suitcsss from smelling like hugoboss or somethjng not as nice xox

117 Jeff September 14, 2013 at 7:08 am

If you’re going to suggest “cream” and “brush” under shaving supplies, the “bowl” or “mug” needs to be in there too! That is fine if you’re using it in a dorm or barracks, but obviously for travel most mugs and bowls can break.

A “Shaving Stick” which lathers directly on the face without a brush is a better travel option as is a jarred brush-less cream

118 Debbie Bowles October 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Most men would probably want to add some “Stop Bleed”. I don’t know the technical name for this. What I’ve seen is a white stick that when dabbed on a cut, stops the bleeding.

119 Ryan October 20, 2013 at 1:04 am

Wow, a lot of you guys carry tons of stuff. I personally prefer to travel light. My toiletries kit (which, often as not, is just a thick gallon-size freezer baggie so TSA doesn’t complain) will at MOST contain:

Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hairbrush and hair ties
Baking soda*
Nail clippers
Electric shaver and cord

*Mixed with a little water, renders shampoo/conditioner completely superfluous. It’s all I use, and my hair’s never looked better.

Unless I’m going camping (in which case I pack a separate first aid kit and no one cares how well-groomed I am), anything else I might possibly need is readily available pretty much everywhere for cheap. Don’t usually need anything more than what I bring, though.

120 Jon December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I’m currently in the Army Reserve. A few things that i have that come in handy are below:
1. Folding Mirror/hair brush (helps with shaving)
2. Gold Bond Body powder (for the swampa$$
3. Baby wipes (used in case you can’t get a shower for a few days)
4. Matches
5. Zip Ties (i’ve needed these quite a few times with car trouble of if your bag breaks)
6. flashlight
7. car usb charger(sometimes you don’t have power out in the field but in the back of humvees there are car charging outlets)

121 Bernie March 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm

When I’m traveling, my Dopp kit goes in my suitcase, but my meds go in my backpack. NEVER pack your meds in your checked luggage.

I led a club ski trip a couple of years ago that included a guy with moderate Alzheimer’s disease (still an excellent skier…). The person who packed for him stuffed almost all his gear and clothing into his ski bag, and the rest into his boot bag.

Naturally, the ski bag was MIA when we reached our destination. All his Alzheimer’s meds were in there and I had the pleasure of trying to help a guy with the intellectual capacity of a ten-year-old deal with the baggage person.

His ski bag showed up the next day, fortunately.

But NEVER NEVER NEVER check your meds.


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