How To Build a Lightweight Backpacking Dopp Kit - ITS Tactical

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How To Build a Lightweight Backpacking Dopp Kit

By Bryan Black

For the past year, I’ve been working hard at coming up with the minimal necessities I need while backpacking. By necessities, I mean hygiene items that give a good balance of size, weight, needs and wants.

Your mileage is going to vary considerably from mine, especially for the females reading this, but what I’m presenting here is a Lightweight Backpacking Dopp Kit that I’ve developed, along with some thoughts and considerations on how to develop your own.

Lightweight Backpacking Dopp Kit

The first thing you have to ask yourself is “what do I need to sustain myself for “X” number of days?” Take a look at what you use on a daily basis and what’s necessary. What isn’t? Make a list of those items and then start to think outside the box.

Lightweight Dopp Kit

You may find a few of these suggestions I’ll present to be gross, or not what you’d do and that’s fine. If you have a true desire to do more with less in the outdoors, hygiene items are a good place to trim weight. If you remember from Brian Green’s awesome post on Lightweight Backpacking, he mentioned weighing everything. You’ll be amazed if you haven’t tried this yet. It’s neat to get your brain thinking about how to trim ounces.

Take a travel size deodorant for example, do you really need all that plastic? The actual deodorant is all you’re using, right? As you’ll see in the photo, I’ve repackaged a travel-size deodorant into a small .25 fl. oz. container. I just use two fingers to apply it daily. I’ve done this with many items that you see here. I’ve even got a few that I don’t always take, but have shown just for their overall size.

Below you’ll see the contents of the Dopp Kit, which is enough for 10 days and even way more than 10 days with a few of the items. This just means that there’s even more room for improvement and weight savings. Again, this also contains a few things I don’t normally take, but the maximum of what I would for a 10-day backpacking trip. Everything you see here weighs just 8.8 ounces together.

Lightweight Dopp Kit Contents



The only thing not mentioned here would be toilet paper and that too can be repackaged by folding, or even getting those small Charmin To Go rolls. You can remove them from the plastic packaging and actually fit a roll in the same bag shown here, I’ve done that a few times and it worked out well. There’s some redundancy built into my contents here, as well as items that aren’t needed in certain situations, such as the Ginko for AMS if I’m not going into elevation. There’s also carrying sunscreen, but having the Dermatone for my face and the Aloe Gator Lip Balm being SPF 30 too.

Another possibility to add would be repackaged hand sanitizer, but a mini bottle of that is easy to throw in a pocket. That small travel size toothpaste tube I’m using could also either be repacked or you could make toothpaste dots. Mike’s did that when we were on the GORUCK Ascent last year and it worked out well for him.

The containers I used to repackaged most of these items were either Nalgene Snap-Cap Vials, Nalgene Containers, EZ-Dose Pill Pouches  (love these things) or  Polyethylene Containers from REI. I really like LOKSAK bags  for containing this kit, but overall they need to be replaced more often than I’d like. I’ve taken them scuba diving, backpacking, camping and just about everywhere. The only way that I’ve been able to truly guarantee they’re waterproofing the contents is to use a brand new one, or check a used one first by putting a paper towel in it and submerging it in a sink. That’s in no way saying they don’t work, but it’s always good to dirt dive them before you have to depend on them.

Hopefully, if nothing, this look into my Lightweight Backpacking Dopp Kit has given you a place to start, if you’re looking to construct your own. Feel free to ask me any questions and I’d be happy to give you more info if I can.


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  • Martin

    Food for thought on this one. Take the tooth brush and put it in a vice, get a drill with the smallest bit and drill a few small holes in it. I think you might be able to shave a few grams off without as much plastic. I know that it is a drop in the bucket but every little bit helps.

    • Good tip, just have my questions about whether it would snap on one of the holes in use. Thanks Martin!

    • Martin

      That would be a concern of mine as well. The best bet would be to try it at home and see what happens. I would say give it a bushing twice a day for 2 weeks would be a good test run. keep in mind I don’t have a vice or a drill to try this.

  • Dave J.

    I agree you should weigh everything. I do an excel spreadsheet with all the weights down to the gram, and you will be very surprised how much some things weigh.

  • Doc

    I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps which is totally organic and biodegradable. I first started using it when I hiked from Monson Maine to Mt. Katahdin at the age of 15. This soap will do everything for you. Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Body Wash, Shampoo, Clean the dishes, wash clothes, shaving cream. There are 18 different things you can use Dr. Bronner’s for. They have a website so check it out.

    With Dr. Bronner’s I can remove 4 items from the list above. Last fall I developed an Anaphylatic Reaction to some chemical(s) that is either in shaving gels, body washes, and shampoos. I have stopped using all cleaning/shaving gels, foams, soaps, shampoos, etc altogether. Since I have stopped the application of chemicals on my skin, my airway is no longer compromised.

    You can get Dr. Bronner’s in bar soap form which I pay $4.09 per bar at my natural food store and the bar is used for shaving, shampoo, and body wash. Each bar last me about 3 months. You can also get Dr. Bronner’s in the liquid form from a 2 ounce bottle all the way up to 1 gallon jugs. I highly recommend it.

    Just my opinion and testimony.

    • Hey Doc, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s before and for some reason it didn’t sit right to me to be using the same item for toothpaste, soap, etc… I still need to give it a fair shake again, but I lost interest in it last time I tried. Thanks for the comment!

  • Jerry R.

    If you don’t want to get your finger dirty when applying deodorant you can always just melt a little bit of solid unscented deodorant in the microwave and pour it into an empty chap-stick tube, it’s a little more work

    • Good tip Jerry! I’ll have to give that one a shot too.

  • Wes

    Very cool article Brian. I always pick up good ideas and new ways of thinking to suplement my own when reading your articles. Just curious, wouldn’t toilet paper be a priority for hygene on a 10 day set up? Or do you just cary it elswhere in your gear? Again, another great post, thanks.

    • Hey Wes, yes. It absolutely is, at least for me 🙂 I addressed that in the article, I typically carry the Charmin To Go rolls without their packaging. It fits well in the LOKSAK Bag with everything else. Thanks for the comment and your support!

    • Wes

      HAHA, I’m blind. Just reread it and there it was in my face. Thanks for not calling me out on that one haha.

    • Cameron Gray

      I’ve used “Warrior wipes” (baby wipes) in place of toilet paper. One wipe works way better than tons of TP. The weight of 20 wipes (double just in case) will be similar to a whoel role of TP. And it should pack smaller!

  • William Balogh

    Where do you get the orange-capped spray bottles?

    • Hey William, I tried to find them again but all I came up with is the product I linked to for the bug spray. Basically what I did was buy two tubes of Bug Spray (I think I got them from Wal-Mart) and empty one out. It took some finagling, but I was able to pop the top off and clean it out well with soap before putting the sunscreen into it. Hope that helps!

  • Jason Dellinger

    Excellent post and geared to all of us trying to carry a lighter load, whether at the airport, through the forest, or in to combat. I personally carry a couple of the single use Wet Ones wipes for times when you don’t have time or facilities for a full shower or running water. They’re compact and lightweight.

    Also, I was disappointed in the durability of my Loksak bags as well. I remedied this by slipping the Loksak bag into a lightweight nylon cover that I had saved from an old first aid kit. A larger version of the nylon cover that you supply with your EDC trauma kits would work well. This helps relieve stress and abrasion on the Loksak.

    Safe Travels!

  • Brian- Great write-up and I enjoy your site. I think you hit the nail on the head by asking “what do I need”. The kit format is spot on. But those items or the brands will change from person to person. The take away is building the kit.

    I have been making my way from backpacking to bikepacking. I have found that things work best on the bike and they would work just as well lightweight backpacking if I make kits like your DOPP kit.

    For example:
    I like using the aLOKSAK bag to build my kit with. I break my toiletry kit in two parts. I use a 4.5″X7″ bag and put a 1″ camp roll of toilet paper & 0.5oz bottle of hand sanitizer. I feel that the one task of using the bathroom does not need to mix with my hygiene kit.

    I do the same for my fire starting kit. 5″X4 aLOKSAK (10) Tinder Quik tabs, (1) Wet fire cube, (1) lighter (small).
    For each kit I make a 3X5 dummy card with the items in the kit. When I come back from a trip I check the kit with the card. If I need to replace an item I have my shopping list on that 3X5 card.

    Since I have kits built I can then take them and move them from pack to bag or what ever I am carrying for what every activity that I am doing and I am not carrying more than I need.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Eric Senf

    Great article. Here are a couple of things I have in my personal camping / bug-out dopp-kit.

    Multi-purpose soap (Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint – body, clothes, dishes, etc.) stored in a 3 oz. GoToob bottle; these bottles never leak.
    Aurelle TOOB Brush, which are quite the wonderful innovation.


  • Lively

    Another vote for Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

  • Ben

    Good call on the Doc Bronners soap. I’ve used it a lot while backpacking. As far as deodorant, I don’t take any with me to the woods. Fewer smellies=fewer bear concerns (black bear). I also don’t do more that 3-4 days on a trip either.

  • Jules W

    A cosmetic company, Lush, makes Toothy Tabs that are essentially toothpaste, though in solid, tablet format. Tiny and lightweight. I would suggest considering that as an option, as even half a tab is enough for a good brushing.

  • Joe

    You can use that to cut out the tube of toothpaste you’re carrying too. I use one for travel and it’s awesome.

  • Terry Hagan

    We have taken a concept similar to this and developed “self aid” trauma kits for our Active Shooter response bail-out bags. With the current mindset of “movement to contact”, initial responding officers will not treat the injured or begin evacuation until the threat is neutralized. Our officers will deploy these kits containing basic, life saving medical supplies to injured persons as they continue movement to locate, contain, and neutralize the threat. They are lightweight (under 10 oz) and each bail-out bag is stocked with 3 kits.

    • Brian Howard

      Some pictures or a link to these first aid kits would be great! The lessons learned in this post can definitely be carried over to other portions of light weight backpacking and first aid is as much a necessity as hygiene.

  • Jeff

    Hey all. Great article. I found these spray bottles at the container store. Hopefully you have access to one of them in your area.

  • Samuel

    I travel 2-3 nights a week and live out of my bag using a lot of the same techniques and ideas I use backpacking. My Dopp kit is much like the one above, but I use a 3 oz. GoToob of Dr. Bronner’s soap for many uses (and in the GoToob it is leakproof and airline friendly). I also love the Aurelle TOOB toothbrush mentioned—it is a lightweight, small tool for toothbrush/toothpaste that is economical because it is refillable.

    I put the whole kit in an Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter quarter cube, which is made of lightweight sil-nylon and is water-resistant.

    When backpacking, I put this along with clothes and such in a waterproof stuff sack, so I’m not as concerned about the waterproofing of the kit. I do use aLokSak for my first aid kit, which is then enclosed in a silnylon pouch for abrasion resistance.

  • I’m currently a travelling salesman, and have noticed that either for work, or vacation with my wife, my (or our) hygiene kit can be really bulky and heavy. Seems like a good idea for anyone, adapted to fit their needs.

  • Alvarez, Jennifer

    Love the great ideas you posted. I love traveling but hate the idea of packing. I am currently trying to learn how to pack light and found your article full of great advice. I am not a fan on the re-packing deodorant. I just do not like how it feels on my hands. But I found another website where this guy melted his in the microwave and re-packaged his in an old chap stick tube. Just thought I’ll past the tip along. Thank you again (:

    • Jericho

      Try gloves. They are cheap or you could probably cop some from your dr or dentist.

  • RadTac

    what would you carry to wash clothes? and also how would you go about that? im not sure if you would need to do it that often or even if its worth it.

  • arthurvino1
  • dustinhollis

    I’ve had a couple aLOKSACK bags fail on me when I used them as my liquids travel bag for air travel. I went to these zipper closed poly (like parachute material) bags that have not failed me yet!

  • alpha_bears

    Instead of bringing the tube of toothpaste, you should dry some dots of toothpaste and put them in a small pill size bag. Make sure you put a little bit of baking soda to prevent the toothpaste dots from sticking to the bag. Also, I heard that wax paper is better than zip lock bags. Zip lock bags fail all the time and you have to throw them and pollute this planet. Wax paper is waterproof paper that you can burn at the end of the trip and not worry about polluting.

  • jvandivere

    I know necro- but instead of TP, use baby wipes. Even though they weigh more, they are more multi purpose for camping- can clean wounds, wipe butts, clean pots or in a pinch give you a hooker bath.

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