What is a Dopp Kit?

by Dave Johnson

Maybe you’ve heard someone use the term “dopp kit” and you scratched your head, wondering “What the heck is a dopp?” But what you might not realize that a dopp kit has been staring you in the face every day.

History of the Dopp Kit

history of the dopp kit - Charles Doppelt

A dopp kit is also known by other names: toiletry bag, ditty bag, wash bag, and other variations. The term “dopp kit” is more common in the United States, though I personally have always heard it called a toiletry bag. The original dopp kit was made in the 1920s by Charles Doppelt, a leather-goods maker in Chicago, and he made the bag for men to store their toiletries. He initially called it the “toilet bag”, but because toilets conjure an entirely different association—quite the opposite of “clean”—Doppelt’s bags were affectionately dubbed “dopp kits”. He sold the bags locally until he secured a contract with the US Army who supplied troops with Doppelt’s kits during World War II, which consequently made Doppelt and his toiletry bag famous.

After the war, men returning home loved the Dopp kit so much they continued to use it. Today, the legacy of Doppelt lives on.

As you have already surmised, a dopp kit is a small bag that stores all your bathroom and hygiene essentials. You can use a dopp kit for your everyday hygienic routines, but dopp kits excel when you are travelling and you are limited for space. With a little bit of clever, Tetris-minded packing, you can stuff even a small dopp kit with everything you will need for trips and vacations—or your everyday routine.

Dopp kits come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, materials, and options. The classic dopp kit shape is a small bag with a square bottom, and a zippered top. That is still the bread and butter of the dopp kit designs on the market today, though there are many other great variations. The original dopp kits were made of leather, and leather will still be your top tier option for these. But you can also find great dopp kits made of duck canvas, which is a very tough, durable fabric—and a little cheaper. Of course, there are many cheap varieties, too, which use synthetic materials and are even cheaper, but of course I would always recommend doing a little shopping and buying one that is high quality. This is a bag that you will literally throw around, so don’t buy a five-dollar dopp kit that will fall apart like a five-dollar suitcase. Buy one that will last.

Once you fill your need for a hygienic supply holder, now you are starting expert mode of dopp kit usage. What else are dopp kits good for? Well, anything small. Makeup, collections, phone chargers, electronic cables, batteries, first aid kits, emergency survival kits for the car—the options are endless. I even have a second dopp kit that holds cologne samples I want to try.

Dopp kits can be anything, but more specifically, they’re an extremely useful bag for your hygiene routines. Of course, whatever you bag you choose, choose quality.

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