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While we’re all for keeping things thrifty, using a plastic Ziploc bag as your carry-on toiletry bag can have some problems. They can easily rip and leak when your liquids leak, ruining the items in your suitcase.
They also aren’t as reusable as more durable types of bags.
The alternative to this is a solid, reusable toiletry bag that has all the features of a Ziploc without the downsides.
Features to Have
While it’s easy to pick a toiletry bag that’s cute or free with purchase of makeup, frequent travelers should seek out certain features in their toiletry bag. I have a nice leather dopp kit that I bring on longer trips where I don’t need to carry on my liquids, but for quick trips, I have another TSA-friendly toiletry bag, which came with my Pitotubes, that ticks all the boxes.
Clear: You’ll speed through security if your toiletry bag is clear or see-through. Or even better, one side with a clear panel and the other opaque.
The right size: Make sure the bag is 1 quart, the TSA-approved size for your toiletry bag. Technically you can have a smaller bag if you don’t have many liquids, but 1 quart is already pretty small.
Lightweight: If it’s going in your carry-on, you want to not only pare down in size, but also weight. Extra bulk and material should be avoided.
Waterproof: Make sure your toiletry bag of choice is waterproof or at least resistant to leaks in case one of your bottles spills. It should also be easy to wipe out in case something does bust in transit. Of course this is less of an issue if have some proper travel toiletry bottles. Brooke swears by her Nalgene travel bottles as they have never leaked on any of her adventures.
Extra features: Additional features you might like to have are the ability to hang up with a hook or carabiner. A mirror is another perk, as is a zippered mesh pocket.
Toiletry Bags We Recommend
Basic Toiletry Bags
In terms of more basic toiletry bags, you can find some for fairly cheap that are only a step above the Ziploc bag, yet more sustainable. They should cost you no more than $15 USD and often come with the bottles.
Some examples include:
- The REI 3-1-1 Air Travel Liquids Bag*, which comes with a carabiner.
- The Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch*, which has multiple colors while still being translucent.
- The Travelon Deluxe 1 Quart Bag*, which comes with its bottles and has a sturdy mesh exterior.
Bags with Extras
We’ve written about a few toiletry bags here on Her Packing List and also asked our followers on the #HPLWorld page for their recommendations. I’ve included a few for your consideration below.
Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube, $30 USD
While the price is a bit high for a toiletry bag, Tom Bihn makes high quality products for travel. The clear organizer cube comes in dozens of colors, has two high quality zippers and can have an add-on key strap or shoulder strap. It’s not waterproof, but is made of sustainable materials. It also has a hook to hang off your bathroom door or hostel dorm bunk. The cube clips into other bags by the company and can store more than just your toiletries. They also have mesh and solid fabric varieties.
Sea to Summit Travelling Light See Pouch*, $13 USD
The company makes an even more basic version that doesn’t stand up, but I liked the feature of a dopp kit while still being small to pack. It has one clear panel so you can see what you’re carrying, is made of water resistant ultrasil material and features tough YKK zippers. The pouch comes in three sizes and multiple colors, but the smallest size is 1 quart.
Arcteryx Index Dopp Kit*, $29 USD
This toiletry kit combines the best features of a dopp kit while also being TSA-friendly. It has three compartments: one that is clear and approved for airports, one that is mesh and zippered for non-liquids and one in the back for your comb and other essentials. It has a top handle that clasps so you can throw it on the back of your backpack or hang it up as needed. It comes in two colors and sizes.
Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag*, $20 USD
Separate your liquids and non-liquids with this two-part bag that has a hook to hang up for ease when getting ready. The patented two-section feature keeps the rest of your items from getting wet in case a bottle leaks.
It comes in 3 colors and is TSA approved, even when closed or opened thanks to a mesh panel. The kit includes 6 travel bottles for you to reuse as necessary.
What’s your favorite carry-on toiletry bag?
I’ve found a ziplock to be best for me. For the most part, I don’t fly that often. When I do, I take all the liquids out of my toiletry bag, stow them in a ziplock, and replace into my toiletry bag once through security. The ziplock gets rolled up and stowed in the bottom of my toiletry bag until the next time I need it, so it doesn’t get too beat up.
But a month ago I used it to store sugarcane to keep the ants from getting to it, and it got tossed out. So now I’m on the hunt for a free quart ziplock before I fly in mid december.
My husband and I have the Arcteryx bag and love them!! His is black, mine is the blue. It holds everything I need. I recommend it! ?
Good to hear, Beth! x
Beth, I am thinking about getting the Arcteryx bag for my husband. He doesn’t have much other than his liquids but he had a round brush. Will a brush fit in the back pocket? It looks so thin in the pictures. Thanks 🙂
I thought TSA only permit a ziplock plastic.
Thank you for sharing..
IKEA has some affordable options, though not sure about how leakproof they are as I have not personally used them, yet.
Love this blog! I have like 20 tabs open because I want to read it all lol!
Has anyone had trouble with their “TSA approved” bag? I always found London airports to be quite strict when I lived there. You have to use a Ziploc bag or one of their freebie bags…and of course their bags are smaller than a quart. I’m flying back for a visit soon. I’m not worried on the way out…Pensacola is a beach town and generally not strict about anything!…but I think I’ll go ahead and pack my liquids in a Ziploc to be on the safe side.
Fiona Ludbrook says
I just bought a new Travelon clear plastic toiletries bag with a zipper, mainly because I was thoroughly sick of the sturdier type zip lock bags failing me. These had all been free, but eventually the ziplock zips closed or open permanently. Twice I’ve had to cut my bag, in order to “unlock my liquid bag as the ziplock was exactly that and the plastic is hard to cut through and sharp.
I am about to use it on a forthcoming trip, along with some packing cubes.
It is only a minor trip to my niece in another state, but,essentially, there is not much difference between an easy quick holiday flight and travelling for a year.
I hate fighting with luggage.
Also worth noting, is that Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana are amongst the first countries to ban “single use” plastic bags, even the ziplock Glad variety. Hopefully more countries will follow their lead.
As a traveller with a keen environmental conscious, if I am going to use plastic at all, I want it to last and also not fail due to pretty disfunctonal zip mechanisms!
Fiona Ludbrook says
As for London airports, only one word; AVOID.
It often takes a half day to make it through Heathrow arrivals with Gatwick not being far behind, if a little better.
In contrast, arriving to England via Manchester or Birminham I have never been more than 20 minutes between landing, clearing customs and exiting the airport. Queues have been minimal and the experience as pleasant as international airports can get.
I have learned to add a day or two and fly in to England, via Manchester or Birmingham and enjoy these fabulous cities and their bucolic surrounds than go through the stress and numbers at Heathrow, unless utterly essential.
I then take either a superfast train to London or the fabulously cheap, National Express Bus service to arrive in London. A bad start to a country via long queues at the airport and officious staff, is never a good start to a happy adventure, anywhere in the world.
I simply switch flights in Dubai or Abudabi to Birmingham or Manchester and have a pleasurable, stress free start to my time in England!
Hi, I would like to know if the bag has to be totaly transparent, or it could have some pattern or stickers on it but still be transparent.
I would go with something that is completely transparent. While you could get away with it on many screenings, it only takes one agent to say no that will cause that extra bit of drama you don’t need.