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What is a Dopp Kit?

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  • Written By: Kate Monteith
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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A Dopp kit is a men’s toiletry bag with several compartments, making it a good travel item. When away from home overnight, Dopp kits are the height of grooming efficiency. Savvy travelers know it pays to be organized, and a good Dopp kit has numerous separated spaces to store a man’s personal effects.

The basic design is a one-piece bag with multiple compartments inside and out. Dopp kits allow a man to store a shaving kit, toothbrush, shampoo, and other grooming accessories in one convenient travel bag. The various pouches and pockets will hold a surprising number of medicinal and grooming items.

A Dopp kit can be made of fabric, leather or vinyl. They range in shape from square to oval to rectangular. The main body of the bag is usually designed with a large zippered or hinged opening. The exterior generally sports a carrying strap, and a few pockets for small items such as lip balm or nail clippers. The interior may be sectioned off to contain larger items, such as shampoo bottles and aerosol cans.

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Although men have used one-piece bags and pouches to carry their personal effects for thousands of years, the official Dopp kit did not make an appearance until the early 20th century. The name is attributed to a German immigrant to the United States (US), Charles Doppelt, whose leather shop began producing the familiar toiletry bags in 1919. The grooming kits were dubbed with “Dopp,” a shortened version of the company name, although it may have actually been Doppelt’s nephew, Jerome Harris, who actually invented them.

During World War II, the original leather Dopp kit became a standard-issue item for American soldiers. Millions of the sturdy toiletry bags were handed out at boot camp, and many were still in use well after the end of the war. Additionally, Dopp kits became a popular gift for young boys who reached shaving age. In the 1970s, the Samsonite™ luggage company bought Doppelt’s company and began producing several types of travel bags under the name “Dopp Kit.” The term has now come into common usage for any brand of men's toiletry bag, and is no longer trademarked.

Dopp kits are a necessity for men who travel frequently, making them a popular gift. It’s easy to find a variety of men’s toiletry bags in department stores and drug stores. Vinyl and cloth styles are usually the most economical, but their lifespan is limited. A genuine leather Dopp kit can last a lifetime, developing a rich and pleasing patina after many years of travel.

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