Even the simplest of men’s grooming regimes can feel like a chore when you’re struggling to find your tweezers, have misplaced your toothbrush and can’t for the life of you figure out where your face cream has run off to. That’s where a dopp kit comes in.
Also known as a wash bag, the dopp kit was invented by Charles Doppelt in 1919 as a place for US soldiers to stash their toiletries. Today a well-selected example is just as handy when you wake up and crawl into the bathroom, or when jet-setting around the world as a way of keeping those ruinous cosmetic liquids (we’re looking at you, shaving foam) away from your Oxford shirts.
A dopp kit, particularly one that will be used for travelling, should be able to contain all the basics, but no more. Nab one that has just enough room for all the holiday grooming essentials – you basically want something as small as possible to allow for more room in the rest of your luggage.
At home, it’s often a case of the bigger is better. Leather is a quality, durable fabric to buy your dopp kit in, but it is markedly thicker and heavier than synthetic or canvas options; or there’s cotton, a solid choice if you want one with a more relaxed feel. The point is, there is an infinite number of the things available today. So to make your life easier, we’ve whittled down the very best on the market.
Beginning life as a stall on London’s Portobello Road in the 1970s, it is widely believed that Hackett helped market classic British style to the rest of the world, bringing fine tailoring and sporting-inspired casualwear to the masses. But there’s a lot more to Hackett than just clothing, starting with the fine collection of dopp kits it offers. All its styles are different, mixed up with chic two-way vertical stripes or multi-fabric splices, and in contrasting fabrics including cotton and leather.
As well as selling dopp kits from other brands including Ted Baker, Hugo Boss and Reiss, John Lewis does its own range of plain but plush leather options. The department store chain is synonymous with affordable quality, so feign faux horror for that is precisely what you’re going to get with its styles, which are more suited to the mature gentleman who wants his stuff to last longer than a couple of seasons.
Want Les Essentiels
With a name that reminds most shoppers of their distinctly poor attempt at learning French in school, Want Les Essentiels has become one of the biggest names in the luxury bag market. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, the brand’s wares don’t come cheap, but when it comes to bags it produces some of the freshest styles around. The finish is minimal and practical, and each is fitted with robust, wipeable linings, two-way closing systems, often rendered in organically-grown cotton outers.
Marks & Spencer
If there’s one thing British high street stalwart Marks & Spencer does well it’s the essentials (think a quality summer suit or sturdy Derby shoes). And when it comes to your face, a dopp kit certainly earns that title. Genuine leather styles are the order of the day here, and at a tenth of the price of most designer options, you can rest assured you’ll be investing in quality without breaking the bank.
Smythson of Bond Street
Smythson of Bond Street is a go-to for luxury leather notebooks and passport covers. But with all that spare hide about the place, it makes sense to put it to use, creating handy dopp kits that are built to last. Though many products from the royal warranted brand skew classic, it also produces eye-catching examples in bold patterns like camouflage that you definitely won’t want to hide away in the bushes.
Miansai is a Miami-based lifestyle accessories brand that specialises in bracelets, but also produces a fine line of premium Italian leather bags. When it comes to the dopp kits you can only choose between basic navy, brown and black, but the focus here is on timeless style, and with price points at the premium end of things, you’ll be happy for a classic piece that is designed to outlast trends anyway.
Herschel Supply Co.
Canadian backpack maker Herschel Supply Co. doesn’t make specific dopp kits (well, it doesn’t call them that anyway) but its assortment of differently sized travel kits work equally well in the bathroom as they do all packed up at 10,000 feet. Like the brand’s backpacks, these kits are hardwearing, durable and are available in designs zanier than a ‘It’s A Small World’ boat ride.
Granted, you could spend the night before your flight decanting lotions and potions into smaller tubes, or you could kick back and start the holiday early with a dopp kit pre-filled with all you need. Molton Brown is one of the best when it comes to the whole showering thing, with a royal warrant to its name for good reason: its men’s kits are jammed with smoky, masculine scents to get soapy with. The locals won’t be able to resist you.
Baxter of California
Forgot offshoots of female brands, Baxter of California targets its premium products firmly at the boys (or men, if you take into account the facial rug needed to make the most of its beard oils). It’s a philosophy that extends to its line-up of dopp kits — rendered in durable canvas and large enough to hold several products, like its close shave formula or aftershave balm that soothes even the fiercest of razor burns.
If clichés are true, all Aussie blokes wash their golden Thor-like locks in the Great Barrier Reef and let them dry out next to the BBQ without a care in the world. But as Australian grooming brand Uppercut shows, they can be just as discerning as the chaps elsewhere when it comes to their hair. The style its products work towards is more 1950s barbershop quartet, so expect flip combs and polished pomades in this pre-made dopp kit to keep everything neat up top.
L’Oreal products have been widely available for so long that you’ll probably have tried at least one of them in your lifetime. Men’s facial care, especially for those smooth-faced cherubs out there, is a forte for the biggest cosmetics company in the world, and you’ll find its fatigue-busting face wash and moisturiser snuck in the kits like an alarm clock poised to go off and work its magic on your early morning bags.
Eastpak is to bags what Nike is to sneakers. Aimed somewhat towards a younger audience, the Boston-based firm started out making rucksacks for the US military in the 1950s, before entering the consumer market two decades later. In addition to collaborations with high-end fashion designers like Christopher Shannon and Raf Simons, the colour and patterns available are vast and even for big names, few will leave a damaging effect on your bank balance.