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What is a Dopp Kit and How To Use It

Toiletry Bag laying on marble counter with eucalyptus

Most people born after the 1950s have no idea what a Dopp kit is or how it relates to personal hygiene and travel. The term was once in wide usage, at least in the United States, but is now rarely used uou can still find Dopp kits listed when you’re looking for toiletry bags, so it’s helpful to be able to define what a Dopp kit is and the difference between a Dopp kit and a regular toiletry bag.

What is a Dopp kit, anyway?

So, where does the term Dopp kit come from? A Dopp kit is a travel toiletry bag originally made from leather or cloth. The term originates in Germany when Charles Doppelt began producing a new type of toiletry bag in1926.

Dopp bags became popular with members of the U.S. military. The original army toiletry kits were canvas roll kits, which had loose pockets and were tied with string. They weren’t very secure, and items could easily fall out of the roll. Storing small items like cotton swabs and extra razor blades was difficult, as they got lost during transportation. As a result, service members would only pack the most basic grooming supplies.

Charles Doppelt’s new design was similar to a modern leather toiletry bag. It had a wide opening, closed securely, and took up little space in a travel bag. Dopp kits were also water-resistant — a great advantage for active-duty personnel. As for the name, Dopp kits were originally called toilet bags, but the term offended early 20th-century sensibilities, so the bags were renamed Dopp bags. Even when the term was in use, ‘Dopp bag” was mostly used in the U.S. and rarely saw use internationally.

Dopp kits were originally intended for men, but women appreciated the practical nature of these new toiletry bags, and by the 1950s, toiletry kits based on Doppelt’s design were used by everyone. Samsonite would eventually buy out Doppelt’s company but stopped using the term “Dopp kit" in favor of the more modern “toiletry bag,” and today, few people remember the role Charles Doppelt played in revolutionizing travel toiletry bags.

How is it different from a toiletry bag?

As you probably realized by now, most modern toiletry bags are Dopp kits, so discussing the pros and cons of Dopp kits vs. toiletry bags isn’t necessary. The two are one and the same. Travelers worldwide owe Charles Doppelt a debt of gratitude, though — without him, we might still be using toiletry roll kits, which could not handle the many small moisturizer bottles, creams, medication bottles, and small grooming items found in modern toiletry bags.

Which one should you purchase?

When choosing a toiletry bag, you need to consider size and materials. While the modern Dopp bag is compact, they do come in different sizes. A larger bag, such as the Travelpro®Essentials™ MaxAccess Cubes™ Toiletry Organizer, will keep your grooming supplies easy to find through a unique, angled zipper opening that provides unparalleled access and viewing of all interior contents. If you prefer a Dopp bag you can hang, opt for theEssentials™ Split Case Toiletry Bag that opens wide and lets you see at a glance what’s inside through two zippered pockets with clear plastic windows.

Dopp kits were originally made from leather or heavy canvas. Today's toiletry bag materials also include vinyl and polyester. High-density, abrasion-resistant polyester fabric works extremely well as a toiletry bag material. The Travelpro®Essentials™ MaxAccess Cubes™ Deluxe Hanging Toiletry Organizer is one such bag. In addition to its durable exterior, the Deluxe Hanging Toiletry Organizer comes with a convenient hanging hook and two removable water-resistant pockets to transport gels and creams securely.

Charles Doppelt would no doubt be amazed at the range of sizes, colors, and materials found in modern Dopp bags. He may be all but forgotten today, but he changed how wepack toiletries for travel. He’s an unsung hero in the history of luggage and deserves some recognition.

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