Every traveller needs a good toiletry bag. You may be the type that can get by on just a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste, but the accessories you need for more than a few days away quickly mount up. Shampoo and body wash is increasingly provided by hotels these days, but you still need to travel with your own deodorant, razor, shaving cream, moisturiser, creams, gels, medication, tablets… for some travellers, the list goes on and on.
So while you may aspire to travel with just a toothbrush and a credit card, the reality is very different. Cue the travel wash bag, a long-time travel staple.
However, they come in many different shapes and sizes. There are luxury-looking wash bags fashioned from leather, canvas bags designed for camping, and all kinds of styles in-between. There are clutches, products with integrated hanging hooks, and ultralight designs that are all about saving weight.
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How to choose the toiletry bag for you
You may not spend as much time choosing a wash bag as a wristwatch, but what you choose will say a lot about you.
You can pay for materials and style, of course, with leather (both faux and real Italian hide) in our lineup. Those materials are easy to clean and exude style, but they come at a high price.
The soft leather James Purdey & Sons Leather Wash Bag is a high roller at aroud £295, but it's very basic in design. Even the faux leather Ted Baker Cobbler Wash Bag is more intriguing, though not as impressive as the ultra-organised Aspinal of London Men's Hanging Washbag.
In the mid-rage sits the attractive Filson Canvas Wash Bag at around £120, with the rest of our roundup concentrating on more affordable and outdoorsy, unisex designs using man-made fabrics, such as the feature-packed Snugpak Luxury Wash Bag, and the compact Lifeventure Travel Wash Bag,
For those who prefer to travel ultralight, check-out the Osprey Ultralight Washbag Zip, which also acts as a hanging wash bag, but includes a tear-off, see-through pouch for storing liquids in hand luggage, as does the unisex OneNine5, which is fashioned from recycled plastic.
From business trips and plush hotels to camping and backpacking, there’s a travel wash bag here for you.
The 8 best toiletry bags you can buy
If you’re the kind of traveller that takes a lot of creams, lotions and potions, this generously-sized wash bag is for you. Designed by a London based start-up, OneNine5 has the Millennial crowd in its sights; it’s got a 100% recycled plastic lining, but also a magnetised clear liquids bag for getting through airport security when you’re travelling carry-on only.
Coming in three colours, the OneNine5 travel wash bag has seven separate compartments to maximise space, including a zipped area for must-not-lose items as well as a hanging hook and a separate toothbrush holder. It’s available in three unisex colours; blue, pink and grey.
Sometimes you don’t have to spend big to get your money’s worth. If you can live with the polyester outdoorsy look, Snugpak’s offering has all you need and more; as well as two main individually divided and zipped compartments, the Luxury Wash Bag has a useful wet storage compartment, a detachable mirror, and a stainless steel hanging hook to store it up and out of the way in bathrooms. That’s three features you don’t usually get from a washbag. It’s also got four elasticated sections for sundries.
If you want to travel in luxury, look no further than this beautiful leather wash bag. The clutch design may be reminiscent of a handbag, but elsewhere it's masculinity defined; where else would you find a 'signature oak bark tanning technique' applied to hide?
At 8x18x26cm it's roomy enough for most toiletries, while the nicely lined main area contains a small pouch for contact lenses. Elsewhere it's all about style, with excellent quality zips and an embossed designer emblem. It's beautiful, if a little basic, but does anyone need to pay this much for a washbag?
If you're after a more vegetarian retro look, consider canvas. It's light, durable and much more versatile than leather. Oh, and it's cheaper, too. Cut from canvas and lined with nylon for extra waterproofing, this simple toiletry bag from Filson is a one-compartment affair, though inside is an open side-pocket for easy division of kit.
A grab handle on one end is a nice touch, as is a high quality zip. Measuring 14x19x30cm, it's big enough to take some serious gear, but it folds down to nothing when not in use, which is handy when you're back at your bathroom base.
Take two wash bags into the bathroom? If you're quite the jet-setter who's just as likely to pop over to Europe for a business meeting – with hand luggage only – as you are to go long duration, long haul, you don't want to have to buy a different wash bag for every kind of trip.
This well-designed and incredibly lightweight 14x23x7cm option from outdoor specialist Osprey has three separate sections that can be unfurled when you get to your destination. Weighing just 12g, it's got a small coat hanger and plenty of pockets, a built-in mirror, and a transparent compartment that doubles as a rip-off toiletries pouch.
At first glimpse this looks like a solid leather trunk bag, but a clever compartment saves the day. Made from faux leather, with brass-look zips and with some attractive detailing, this 12.5x13x26cm toiletry bag has one big compartment ideal for storing the usual suspects like deodorant, shaving cream and a tube of toothpaste.
However, another compartment on its undercarriage contains a few mesh pockets and a host of elasticated straps ideal for securing shaving accessories (or even cables). It adds some much-needed functionality because despite the attractive look, the build quality here is actually pretty basic.
Are you the organised type? If you're the kind of man who likes to travel with everything you need at your fingertips, there are few better options than a hanging wash bag. When closed it looks like a regular wash bag, with a magnet keeping everything snug. There’s even a carry handle on rear.
However, unfurl it and you find three separate compartments, two of them zipped. There's even a mirror. Handmade in smooth calf leather, each pocket is lined with water resistant fabric. It's a joy to use, but the bizarre choice to have a loop rather than a hook makes it harder to find it a home.
If you have no need for leather and looks, you'll love this small unisex toiletry bag that looks like a packing cube. Available in blue, red and grey, the 22x18x8cm Lifeventure is all about practical design rather than style. It's made from ripstop nylon, and has two compartments one a mesh pocket and the other a more secure zip top security pocket.
Thankfully, the loop design also comes with a hook, and there's a zipped pocket to make tablets easily accessible without opening the whole bag. It's also got a mirror, though in practical terms it's mere novelty.