After researching dozens of toiletry bags and trying nine top-rated contenders in our most recent round of testing, we think the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small is the best option for most travelers. In addition to being lightweight and leak resistant, it has flexible internal organization and an oversize, swiveling hook that can find a place to hang in almost any bathroom.
The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small organizes a week’s worth of travel-size toiletries into a compact, carry-on-friendly package that weighs only 4 ounces when empty. Its 4-liter capacity, split across three zippered compartments, makes it the largest carry-on-friendly toiletry bag in our test group, and leaves room to accommodate extra makeup or an electric shaver. And its ripstop, siliconized nylon body gave it great leak resistance in our soap-spill test.
If the Eagle Creek isn’t available, check out the small-size Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag. The Travelling Light bag has a similar layout to our main pick and is made of similarly spill-resistant materials but has only 3 L of storage and a smaller, more finicky hanging hook. This toiletry bag easily and neatly fits the essentials for a week in its large bottom pocket, while the zippered mesh top pockets are great for toothbrushes, lip balm, tweezers, and other longer, thinner items. It also has a handy, removable mirror. But the Sea to Summit bag’s lack of padding and smaller overall capacity mean it won’t hold its shape as well as the Eagle Creek model when packed to the brim.
For longer trips and the option to pack full-size bottles, the medium-size L.L.Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag is a great choice. It spreads its 6.4 L storage capacity across a dozen compartments (a mix of zippered and open-top organizer pouches), so you have a dedicated place for pretty much everything you could want to bring on a trip. It even offers a removable mesh-pouch shower caddy with space for toiletry-size shampoo and body-wash bottles. The downside to the L.L.Bean’s increased capacity and wide array of compartments is its hefty 14-ounce empty weight—not ideal for carry-on travel.
If weight is your top concern, or if you are sure you don’t want the convenient accessibility of a hanging toiletry bag, check out the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Quick Trip dopp kit. Its 3 L capacity holds a week’s worth of toiletries in its main compartment, and the two side pockets are perfect for accessories. Those accessory pockets are especially handy, since most dopp kits offer only one big compartment. Although you can hang this bag from its handle for storage, you can’t access its contents while doing so, unlike with our purpose-built hanging picks.
Table of contents
- Why you should trust us
- Who should get this
- How we picked
- How we tested
- Our pick: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small
- Runner-up: Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag (Small)
- For longer trips: L.L.Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag (Medium)
- A dopp-kit option: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Quick Trip
- The competition
Why you should trust us
I’ve visited every continent not named Antarctica while working as a freelance travel writer. Whether backpacking through Southeast Asia or staying in luxury hotels in Europe, I’ve traveled and tested all types of gear in myriad settings. My background and master’s degree in science journalism help me bring an analytical approach to finding the best gear possible for each travel scenario. Furthermore, since The Wirecutter is a remote company, our editors and writers fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year for both business and pleasure while using all the travel gear we recommend—so we know it holds up.
Who should get this
If you’re still traveling with your toiletries in a zip-top plastic bag, you don’t know what you’re missing. Anyone who wants to spend less time digging through bags of scattered toiletries, who has limited (or just wants more) counter space, and who wants the convenience of hanging those items on a towel bar or shower hook nearby will appreciate our hanging toiletry bag picks. Whether you’re heading on a weekend getaway, a weeklong work conference, or a months-long adventure, the best toiletry bags make toting your essentials easy and convenient.
If you travel primarily with travel-size toiletries, a smaller hanging toiletry bag hits the sweet spot, holding enough items to last you about a week before you run out of your most commonly used potions. If you don’t mind checking a bag and prefer to travel with full-size bottles, or if you travel with lots of beauty tools and makeup, a large bag will better fit your needs. In you’re in between, we suggest erring on the smaller side, since underpacking a larger bag would leave lots of space for the contents to shift during travel.
Though toiletry bags aren’t technically compliant with the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule (they’re not fully transparent), we have yet to hear of anyone getting stopped for this offense. At worst, the agents will make you take out the bottles and rescan your bags.
How we picked
This is our fourth year reviewing toiletry bags, so we have a pretty good idea of what we personally value in one of these, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons along the way. For this round, however, we also consulted with our friends and colleagues about how they carry their toiletries. Additionally, we read articles and reviews by other publications to learn how other travelers prefer to transport their toiletries. Carryology, for example, helpfully breaks down bag styles by their potential uses. Her Packing List suggests it’s possible for a 1-ounce shampoo bottle to last upwards of three weeks with every-other-night washes. And the minimalist-travel resource OneBag lays out the bare necessities for a one-week trip.
Frequent fliers and expert travelers suggested in past interviews that hanging toiletry bags are better than countertop dopp-kit bags because they offer more organization and take advantage of underutilized vertical space in the small bathrooms commonly found in countries outside North America. And while dopp kits typically have less than 3 L of packing space, hanging toiletry bags hold at least 3 L on the small side and up to 7 L for larger kits.
In the end, we settled on some key criteria for selecting the most promising candidates for further testing:
- Hanging hook: A good hanging hook should be big enough to accommodate any towel bar, but larger ones that can hang from a shower rod or doorknob give you even more placement flexibility. A swiveling hook is ideal for ultimate versatility.
- Compartments: Unlike with a packing cube, for a toiletry bag interior organization is a must in order to keep larger bottles from hiding smaller tools like nail clippers. It’s also necessary to prevent contents from shifting in transit. Bags with exterior pouches are also great, as it can be useful to access items like medicines or lip balm without opening the full kit. All of the bags we tested had a minimum of three separate compartments.
- Interior organization: Just having compartments isn’t enough. They need to be laid out intuitively so your things are accessible and like items fit together in the same space. Your stuff should remain easily reachable when the bag is hung up, too.
- Affordable: Most good bags that have the features you want are in the $25 to $35 range. You can find $50-plus bags that use premium materials, but those are more for style than function—which is fine if you’re willing to shell out for that. Similarly, you’ll run across many ultracheap, $10 bags, but they aren’t built to last, and the ones we tested in the past were unimpressive.
- Light weight (or with a good reason not to be, such as a leakproof design): We drew the line at under 5 ounces for small bags and under 15 ounces for large bags (most of the large versions we tested were considerably under this threshold). You don’t want a bag that adds tons of unnecessary heft to your suitcase.
- Bonus features and color choices: Aesthetics have a lot to do with how most people choose the items they want to own, and toiletry bags are no exception (just look at the hundreds of dopp-kit options that range wildly in style and price, but not in design, as evidence). The ideal bag comes in a variety of color choices and can include bonus items like removable mirrors, see-through pouches, and more.
- A solid reputation backed by a warranty: When you’re traveling, the last thing you want is to be a guinea pig for an unknown company’s unproven product. We limited our search to established brands that stand by their products with a warranty, because we know from testing packing cubes that the cheap knockoffs proliferating on Amazon tend to cut corners in materials and quality control that aren’t worth cutting just to save $10.
Armed with this knowledge, to arrive at our competitive lineup we researched popular travel retailers’ best-selling toiletry bags, choosing those that met the criteria for an average traveler. In total we tested five top-rated styles tailor-made for smaller-size toiletries (3.4 ounces or less) and four larger styles with space for full-size bath items. The contenders came from a variety of respected travel brands, including Eagle Creek, eBags, Lewis N. Clark, L.L.Bean, Osprey, and Sea to Summit.
How we tested
Once we had the bags in hand, we checked each model for what it could carry and the intuitiveness of the interior organization. To do so, we assembled a standard kit with a week’s worth of sundries: shampoo, body wash, lotion, face wash, toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, deodorant, and razor. We used both store-bought and hotel-hoarded versions, as well as the differently shaped pieces within our top pick for toiletry bottles (we used the entire contents of the Nalgene Travel Kit). We fit them several ways within each bag.
We then added more items until the bag would no longer close. Our first addition to all of the aforementioned essentials included conditioner, sunscreen, hair spray, facial tissue, and an all-purpose balm. The second addition (if all of the above fit) included some makeup: eyeliner, concealer, under-eye cream, mascara, blush, makeup brushes, lip gloss, makeup sponges, and cotton swabs. For the largest bags that could still fit more, we threw in all of the above plus a travel-size flat iron or electric razor.
Along the way, we noted the shape of each full bag, the ease of closing it for transport, and how readily we could access items when it was hanging and full. We also shook the bags when they were full and partially full—simulating transport—to make sure items stayed in place within the bag itself.
After checking the bags’ storage capacities, we tested their ability to contain a leak. We took one 3.4-ounce bottle filled with hand soap and dumped it into an interior pouch (if a bag had “leakproof” or plastic-lined compartments, as opposed to mesh-enclosed ones, that’s where the soap went). Then we shook the bags and watched for leaks or any obvious sign of moisture on the outside. Afterward we hand-washed the bags, dried them thoroughly, and then completed the same test with 3.4 ounces of water, representative of less viscous toiletries (such as eye-makeup remover or toner), for comparison.
We also took into account the weight of the bag, the style and size of the hanging hook (if present), any bonus features (removable shower caddy, mirrors, leakproof pouches), the standard price, and the breadth of the color choices available.
Our pick: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small
Of all the kits we tested, Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Wallaby Small offers the best combination of lightness, high-quality materials, and efficient interior organization, easily handling a week’s worth of travel-size toiletries. The 4-liter capacity and 4-ounce weight give it a terrific weight-to-capacity ratio. It’s about the size of a hardcover book with curved, rounded edges. The body is lined with semirigid foam padding, so it retains its shape when stuffed full. That firmness, combined with the interior organization, helps prevent the contents from moving around when jostled, reducing the chance of spills.
Unzipped, the Pack-It Specter Wallaby reveals three horizontal pouches: two smaller pouches at the top and one larger pouch on the bottom. This layout doesn’t restrict you to putting certain items in certain places—it doesn’t have a dedicated spot for a hairbrush, for example. We like this design since it gives you the flexibility to pack what you need for any given trip however you see fit. Our only complaint is that the translucent ripstop material isn’t quite as easy to see into as the mesh pockets featured in other kits. But it does improve leak containment, and you can easily leave the hanging bag unzipped to see what’s inside.
In our testing, the Pack-It Specter Wallaby easily held a week’s worth of travel-size essentials. While slightly smaller toiletry bags like Osprey’s Ultralight Zip Organizer could barely contain our week’s worth of stuff, the Pack-It Specter Wallaby easily accommodated that kit plus all three of our expansion packs (bonus items, makeup, and a travel flat iron or an electric razor—although not both of the latter two at the same time). When we tried the same packing test with the Nalgene Travel Kit bottles, we had no trouble fitting everything, but we did find the wide-mouthed short bottles a bit challenging to fit with the rest of the items due to the bag’s slim design.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Pack-It Wallaby line, regardless of size or materials, is the large swiveling hanging hook. Its size makes the bag much easier to hang from a wider variety of poles and handles. Unlike with the other toiletry bags we tested, the Eagle Creek hook can fit on a shower-curtain rod or door handle. It’s made of plastic instead of metal, but it feels sturdy and stows easily on the outside of the bag thanks to a clasping loop, so it doesn’t snag.
None of the tested bags were totally impervious to liquids, but the Pack-It Specter Wallaby scored high for its ability to contain the leak of thicker liquids in our hand-soap spill test. We found that if we let the soap sit inside the kit, simulating an early-in-the-travel-process leak, a touch of moisture permeated through the fabric. This result gave the Eagle Creek bag an edge over Sea to Summit’s otherwise excellent Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag, which felt straight-up wet around the zipper after the same test.
Adding water to the Eagle Creek did cause the spill to seep out of the gap between zippers, but this was the case with every bag we tested—even the much thicker and heavier The North Face Base Camp Travel Canister.
In addition to being relatively leak resistant, Eagle Creek’s Specter ripstop fabric stands up to the test of time. Wirecutter writers and editors have been using Specter packing cubes since they debuted, and they still look good as new. But should anything go wrong, Eagle Creek’s lifetime warranty (which covers defects for the life of the product, not the purchaser) has a more generous reputation than most when it comes to authorizing repairs or replacements.
Runner-up: Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag (Small)
If the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Wallaby isn’t available, we also recommend the small-size Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag, which is similar in design and layout but is even more lightweight at 2.8 ounces. In our tests it fit our standard week’s worth of travel toiletries with room to spare for either the shaver, the iron, or the makeup. The slightly larger Eagle Creek bag could fit more than one bonus item at a time and was slightly more leak resistant around the zipper, but this Sea to Summit bag is a solid backup choice.
This hanging pouch has two zippered mesh compartments in the top—one perfect for toothpaste and toothbrush, the other suitable for smaller items like salve tins and hand sanitizer—and a buckle-close flap that divides the bottom into two for even more organization. You’ll also find a lined and zippered compartment in the back of the bag. The top folds over the bottom like an envelope, and the bag closes with a zip. The small plastic hanger doesn’t swivel but still fits many thin shower rods and towel racks.
The Sea to Summit’s exterior is made of a fabric similar to that of the Pack-It Specter Wallaby, but the bag lacks the Specter Wallaby’s foam reinforcement. This design can cause the Sea to Summit bag to look deformed when full or lopsided when empty. In addition, during both of our spill tests, it leaked a bit from the fabric along the zipper line. Sea to Summit’s limited lifetime warranty (which covers defects for the life of the product, not the purchaser) isn’t as renowned as Eagle Creek’s, but it’s still quite good.
For longer trips: L.L.Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag (Medium)
If you’re hitting the road for longer periods or prefer to travel with full-size bottles, the medium-size L.L.Bean Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag is our choice for a larger toiletry bag. This style’s 6.4 L capacity dwarfs the Eagle Creek’s 4 L capacity, and this bag offers much more internal organization, so you can find a place for just about everything. Despite its large capacity, the Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag has a relatively slim profile, which makes it easy to pack. However, it’s still significantly bulkier than our other picks and not the best option for carry-on.
It was a close call between this bag and our previous larger pick, the Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Wallaby, but as I continued to travel over the past year, I found myself gravitating more toward the L.L.Bean because of its durable fabric, shape retention, and interior compartmentalization, which allowed me to easily see and find things within. The Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Wallaby has a floppy, horizontal format that felt comparatively bulky when full.
The L.L.Bean model’s front and side zippered pockets are useful for storing small items, such as lip balm, that you might want to grab without having to open the full kit. Inside, the hanging envelope-style bag has a plastic-lined mesh pouch on top and a clear plastic pouch for liquids. In the main compartment on the bottom, a series of mesh compartments with expandable elastic tops ensure everything stays put during transit. The bag even has a removable two-pouch shower caddy with its own hanger, and a separate mirror.
The Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag is heavy, weighing 14 ounces empty. However, this bag is made of water-resistant pack cloth, which is sturdy and effective at containing leaks: In our tests, the only minor leak involved water coming through the gaps where the zippers met. The bag feels like it’s built to last, but should anything go wrong, L.L.Bean’s famous lifetime satisfaction guarantee promises that you can exchange it at any time.
A dopp-kit option: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Quick Trip
A countertop dopp kit isn’t designed to hold as much stuff or to be as easily accessible as a hanging toiletry bag, but it is more affordable and even lighter. If those are priorities for you, we love Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Specter Quick Trip, which is made of the same lightweight, spill-resistant fabric as our top pick. Because it’s smaller and unpadded, it weighs a scant 1 ounce empty.
A long zippered pouch opens down the middle, and two side zippered storage pockets provide better organization than your typical dopp kit with only one big main pocket. This bag is also surprisingly roomy: In our tests the Pack-It Specter Quick Trip swallowed all of our essentials and had room for makeup and either a mini flat iron or an electric razor on top of that. Though it does have a hanging loop on one end, you can’t really access the bag’s contents while it’s hanging. In keeping leaks contained, this model was comparable to the Pack-It Specter Wallaby.
If you like the Quick Trip layout but want a different material, you can choose the slightly roomier (3.5 L versus the others’ 3 L) Pack-It Sport Quick Trip with plastic-lined mesh pouches, ripstop accents, and antimicrobial properties, or the Pack-It Original Quick Trip, which features a soft polyester fabric. But we prefer the Specter version overall because of its lightness.
The North Face’s Base Camp Travel Canister was awkward as a hanging kit due to its horizontal orientation and lack of compartmentalized storage. Its thick canvas fabric did the best at containing leaks, but at nearly 1 pound when empty (15 ounces), it’s just too heavy for us to recommend over our other picks, which weigh less than a third as much.
We appreciated the diversity of storage options in Osprey’s Ultralight Zip Organizer, which was the only small-size kit we tested to have a three-tiered hanging structure. In our test group, it was also the most compact bag when fully closed. However, its slim profile didn’t accommodate more than the basic essentials, and its breathable mesh pouches stood zero chance at preventing leaks from spreading. We’d be interested in seeing a non-mesh-backed version that was slightly larger, but this model just didn’t quite compete with our picks.
For a previous version of this review, we tested Tom Bihn’s Spiff Kit and its larger Deluxe version, but these bags were held back by their ineffectively small, nonswiveling metal hooks. We also didn’t care for the Velcro-attached Nalgene jars that took up a lot of space along the bottom of the Deluxe version; the lids were huge in proportion to their capacity, and the wide-mouthed screw tops weren’t well-suited to carrying liquids. We like that our toiletry bottle kit includes one of those jars for pills, but four is excessive unless you have many different types of pills you travel with regularly.
Although we loved the Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Wallaby (it was our top pick last time), after we put it to good use alongside L.L.Bean’s Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag on the road over the past few months, we realized it couldn’t hold up to the organizational features of the L.L.Bean model. In our tests the two bags held about the same amount of items and were similar in leak-preventing performance, but the abundance of options for storing items within the L.L.Bean made it the ultimate victor. Some of the L.L.Bean’s storage, with elastic tops, also meant items stayed in place better there than in the Eagle Creek Original Wallaby when we jostled the bags.
Affordably priced at $16 at the time of our review, the Lewis N. Clark Hanging Toiletry Kit was the cheapest of all the bags we tested. But you get what you pay for: All the pouches leaked in both of our leak tests, the bag was awkward to fold when the compartments were full, and the heavier material meant a heavier bag without many added benefits. The bag also comes in a single color, black.
We chose to test the eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit because of its unique format: It’s a horizontal hanging kit with zippered side expansion pouches and some mesh interior storage. The kit is great lying flat, though you’ll need a big counter for its 15-by-9¼-inch footprint. However, it’s awkward and unbalanced when full and hanging, and in our tests the leakproof pouch—lined with plastic on the bag’s right side—leaked from its zipper. We think that compartment is better used for keeping certain items dry (cotton swabs, facial tissue, makeup sponges) from potential invading leaks. While this model had plenty of compartmentalized storage, it just wasn’t the best design for a hanging bag.
The bigger version of our runner-up pick, the Sea to Summit Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag (Large), isn’t as good as the small-size version we recommend. The larger 6 L capacity is difficult to fill, and if you don’t do so completely, the floppy unpadded exterior struggles to maintain its shape, and the bag’s contents are free to slosh around inside. We’d also like to see more organization features and compartments in a bag with this much capacity.
- The 15 Best Dopp Kits for Any Style and Budget, Gear Patrol ,
- Best Hanging Toiletry Bags for Men and Women, Lifestyll.com, April 29, 2017 ,
- Best Hanging Toiletry Bag for Women, Travel Bag Quest
- Top 10 Toiletry Bags for Travel, Travel Fashion Girl ,
- How Long Do Travel Toiletries Last?, Her Packing List, March 16, 2016 ,
- How Long Travel-Sized Shampoo Will Last You, Map Happy, November 18, 2014 ,