What is a Dopp Kit and How is it Different From a Toiletry Bag?
Dopp kit is a bit of jargon that may have rung a bell in your head long ago, but whose meaning has probably slipped your mind since then. No longer in vogue, even expert groomers find it difficult to answer what is a Dopp kit.
But the Dopp kit meaning isn't quite riddle-of-the-sphinx territory. It's simply that, like the term "hoover" to describe a vacuum cleaner, Dopp kits have become old-fashioned while their modern counterparts have taken over.
What is a Dopp Kit?
Simply put, a Dopp kit is a small bag for storing toiletries.
How is it different from a regular toiletry bag, you might ask? Brace yourself for an underwhelming answer:
As a matter of fact, the terms "Dopp kit" and "toiletry bag" are used interchangeably. The main difference is that “Dopp kit” is used almost exclusively in the U.S. and rarely, if at all.
A Brief History of Dopp Kits
Still wondering, what is a Dopp kit?
We get it — it sounds like it could be some sort of gadget for playing golf or tennis!
But we promise you, it's a totally valid substitute for the term "toiletry bag," with an interesting history to boot.
Dopp kits were named after Charles Doppelt, a leather craftsman from Germany who founded the company that made them in 1926.
Before then, the U.S. Military issued toiletry kits to soldiers who fought in World War I. These kits helped service members keep their grooming essentials organized ... to an extent.
As it turned out, most of these toiletry organizers were roll kits made of canvas. They had loose-fitting pockets for items like lather brushes and small tobacco cans — zippers not included.
The idea was to roll the kit once the grooming items were "secured" in their pockets or liners and to tie it with a string.
As a result, service members traveled with the bare minimum of toiletries, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, hair comb, and nail clippers.
Dopp Kits: From Military Toiletry Bag to All-Purpose Travel Kit
The true Dopp kit meaning took shape during World War II, as more service members ditched their flimsy roll kits and opted for a "no-roll flat case" instead.
Charles Doppelt invariably had a hand in this new development by designing the leather toilet case that "opens wide ... closes snug and flat, taking up little space in your luggage," according to one vintage ad.
But calling it a toilet case was too crass for the masses, so many started calling it a Dopp kit, period.
Over time, it grew in popularity thanks to its lightweight and water-resistant construction, making it a go-to accessory for any traveler. By the 1950s and 60s, American civilians started using it to store cosmetics, shaving essentials, and other personal hygiene items.
The End of the Dopp Brand
Now that we know the Dopp kit meaning and how popular these toiletry bags were back in the day, what led to the end of the Dopp brand?
Well, historical records are scarce on this topic, but when Samsonite bought Doppelt's company in the early 1970s, it decided not to retain the brand name.
Nevertheless, Samsonite filed a trademark for "Dopp" on April 3rd, 1980. The trademark included the following class of goods: "toilet cases sold empty, briefcases, briefcase type portfolios, sample and catalog cases sold empty, luggage identification tags, and traveling bags," according to Wikipedia.
But in 2013, Samsonite failed to submit a Declaration of Continued Use with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which would have recorded its use of the trademark for five consecutive years as required by federal law.
When the trademark was canceled by default, Buxton Acquisition Co. stepped in and has owned the trademark ever since.
What is a Dopp Kit if Not a Toiletry Bag?
So, what is a Dopp kit?
It's not only an old-school accessory that remains relevant today but also one of the best ways to keep all of your grooming essentials well-organized.
Although the term "Dopp kit" is becoming obsolete, it's perfectly fine to call it that when referring to a toiletry bag. It's just that some people won't catch the Dopp kit meaning without a little background info.
Just remember: When compared to a roll kit, Dopp kits are more concerned with size, structure, and function. The same can be said about the best toiletry organizers currently on the market.
Gravel's Lightweight, Sustainable, and High-Quality Toiletry Bags For Every Traveler
If you're looking to up your toiletry game, don't look past Gravel's Explorer SLIM and Explorer PLUS bags. Both are made from super durable materials, are TSA-approved, water-resistant, and feature a stowaway adjustable strap with an aluminum G-hook, which is fancy talk for "hang me anywhere."
Even better? Our carefully curated mesh-pocket system means that there's a special place for everything, keeping toiletries organized and easily accessible. And yes, zippers are included!
Check out Gravel’s Ultimate Guide to Travel Toiletries and our Pro Packing Guide to make the most of your travels. From product recommendations to packing strategies, we've got you covered.
See you on the road!
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