What’s the best minimalist toiletry bag? It depends a bit on what you mean by “minimalist”—we’ve experimented in our constant travels with both solutions for simplicity in design and for travelling very light. Be warned that the solutions we review here are not for those who travel with lots of cosmetics—they’d be better off looking at our reviews of the best larger toiletry bags.
But for you minimalists, here’s the best that we have found and tested in our travels up to now.
- Full-Featured Bags for Carrying a Minimal Amount of Toiletries
- No-Featured, Minimalist-Style Toiletry Bags
Update History of This Article
Full-Featured Bags for Carrying a Minimal Amount of Toiletries
This is where my heart lies as a traveller—perhaps I’m not a true minimalist. I want travel gear that is light but maximally functional so I can stay organized, have my stuff when I need it, and focus on enjoying wherever I happen to be without extra trips shopping for missing toiletries or cosmetics, nor time spent cleaning up after a leaky bag.
For more on this you can check out our reviews of the small but fully featured toiletry bags for travelling minimalists. But our top two picks are below.
Very Smart Organization: The L.L. Bean Small Personal Organizer Bag
- The oversized, rotating hook allows you to easily hang it anywhere without taking up a host’s precious shelf or counter space.
- The judiciously used pockets keep things well organized, including, crucially, transparent and mesh pockets on the front when hanging. I’ve found them extremely thoughtful, though the side pockets for me are a bit of overkill.
- The durability is unmatched: the nylon packcloth exterior, YKK zippers, and even the mesh elements feel quite solid and lasting.
The L.L. Bean Small Personal Organizer Bag measures 8.5 x 8.25 x 3 inches (21.6 x 21.0 x 7.6 cm.) when closed and weighs 11 ounces (312 g.) when empty.
Clear, Detachable Pocket, Very Lightweight: The Osprey Ultralight Zip
- The small hook allows you to easily hang it whether the bag is opened or closed.
- The main pocket has both front and back zippers, making it accessible without folding out the bag. And the detachable clear liquids pocket is acceptable at many (not all) airports’ security checks in lieu of a ziplock bag.
- While it’s extremely lightweight, I can attest firsthand that its durability is excellent; I report in my review of the Ultralight Zip it held up for years of constant road use and still shows little sign of wear.
The Osprey Ultralight Zip measures 2.8 x 9.1 x 5.5 inches (7 x 23 x 14 cm.) when closed up and when empty weighs 4.2 ounces (124 g.).
No-Featured, Minimalist-Style Toiletry Bags
If you want to go more minimalist in the sense of the design of your toiletry bag—that is, a simple, durable bag to chuck shampoos, soaps, etc. into—we have a couple of options to recommend depending on how simple you want to go, and whether you want transparency or good watertightness.
Simple, Leakproof, Very Light: The Matador FlatPak Waterproof Toiletry Case
This is a svelte, useful, truly minimalist way to carry toiletries. The Matador FlatPak Toiletry Case is an extremely waterproof / leakproof way to carry any bottles and soaps that might otherwise cause disasters in your luggage.
The bag rolls up at the top and then clips, forming a nice carry handle. There is also a small loop at the back so that you can hang it on a hook or a peg when it’s open. And when full it can sit flat on a countertop without tipping over.
When empty it weighs next to nothing and folds up extremely flat.
We’re impressed with the FlatPak Toiletry Case’s ability to contain leaks. Matador also claims that the BPA- and PVC-free material allows water to slowly evaporate outwards, so that the inside doesn’t get messy. We’re dubious, but so far in our use the inside has stayed dry. We’ll be testing this more.
The Matador FlatPak Toiletry Case weighs 1.17 ounces (33.2 g.) and when full stretches out to 9.5 x 3.75 x 5.5 inches (24.1 x 9.5 x 14.0 cm.).
A Transparent, Leakproof Simple Option: The Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Sac
The mesh outer liner of this Eagle Creek simple toiletry sack provides structure and durability while the laminated inside material keeps water from getting in or out. The construction, as you would expect from Eagle Creek, is top-notch.
There’s a clip on the side that is of questionable utility in my book, as it’s not quite big enough to hang in most places and in any case the positioning would make me concerned about spills if the bag is open.
You can get a full set of three different sizes for cheap at Amazon, or find a wider variety of sizes and colors sold individually or in sets directly from Eagle Creek.
A Very Cheap Transparent Option: Nylon Mesh Zipper Bags
These HRX Nylon Mesh Zipper Bags are a very cheap, small, lightweight packing option; their semi-transparent nature makes them great for quickly finding things.
The zippers appear cheaply made, though not as bad as expected, and as of this writing have held up flawlessly after several months of daily use.
They come in sets of six, which is great because if you have them, you’ll end up using them for all sorts of other travel gear as well: cables, cards, small toys, various countries’ currencies, pens and pencils, etc.
The Cheapest Toiletry Bag Option with No Fancy Businessdisposable toiletry bag. All bags can get dirty/soapy/oily and will need to be cleaned at some point, and cheaper bags inevitably break down. Why not use one that you can just dispose of when it’s fulfilled its purpose?
We’re serious. Zip-lock bags are the ultimate in light travel, and can be folded up or discarded (recycled!) when no longer needed.
And if you want to be a really cheap bastard, just carry your small liquid bottles loose, and you’ll generally be offered a quart-sized zip-lock bag at airport security.