Away Small Toiletry Bag Review
The Away Small Toiletry Bag’s decent capacity got us through a long weekend, but the organization inside could use an extra pocket or two.
- Well-structured and water-resistant outer shell
- Deep pockets are well-suited for storage
- Black interior liner hides stains well
- No option to hang it up in a bathroom to save counter space
- Lacks more granular organization (liner pockets, loops, etc.)
- Slip pocket only suited for small, thin items
6 oz (170.1 g)
5.5 in x 8.3 in x 3.15 in (14 x 21.1 x 8 cm)
Nylon, YKK Zippers
Attending important social functions such as a wedding requires a certain amount of preparation, not quite like vacations or business trips. Depending on how close you are to the soon-to-be-wedded, you may want to be more prim, proper, and ready than the rest of the guests. Trust us when we say it never hurts to be prepared.
As such, there’s no better test for Away’s Small Toiletry Bag than a special day like a wedding. Spoiler alert: it did pretty well. Save for a rogue thread, the materials held up well against splashes and spills, there was enough space for a short weekend, and a convenient (albeit slim) slip pocket is great for make-up removing wipes. The biggest downside can be summed up as organization, but stick with us for the nitty-gritty details of how this Small Toiletry Bag did on a big day.
Materials & Aesthetic
There are some bags that look structured and solid the first time you see them. In the case of the Small Toiletry Bag, the squared-off design and sharp-ish edges make it look like one brick of a pouch before you even hold it. The matte finish, courtesy of the Coast Nylon colorway, mixes well with the shape and profile.
While we put function over form any day of the week here at Pack Hacker, we won’t say no to aesthetics with a hint of charisma, be it on a 50-liter travel backpack or a small toiletry bag. Away is definitely a brand that proudly goes with a minimalist approach to styling. Their Small Zip Backpack, for example, is just as bare-faced as this toiletry bag, and yet we’d say the styling absolutely works, and it has a personality of its own.
There’s very little in terms of garnishing. The logo is tucked away on the bottom right corner on a miniature metal plaque and then again on the zipper pulls. Unfortunately, we did notice something else that’s just as subtle: a bit of loose thread. While we remain confident in the overall fit and finish of the Small Toiletry Bag, a loose thread is a loose thread. If it were us, we’d snip away at it, but for the purpose of this review, we left it dangling.
We find the Coast Nylon colorway particularly endearing because of its pastel appearance, though it can use a bit more pop to really stand out. At the time of this review, there’s also Black Nylon and Green Nylon available. Those are much darker, which could be a plus if you’re more splash-happy with your toiletries and beauty potions.
Usage & Features
One of the most stressful tests you can put a piece of travel gear through is a weekend trip for a wedding—and it’s exactly where we brought the Small Toiletry bag to. Even as a guest, one must be in tip-top shape in terms of preparation unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb at a formal event. Second only to a travel bag, a toiletry bag keeps everything you need to stay fresh and presentable on a big occasion.
So how did the Small Toiletry Bag fare? For starters, the nylon shell isn’t only stylish but also very splash-resistant. We had no problem placing it on damp surfaces inside the bathroom or on somewhat dusty tables. When you’re a guest at a wedding, you work with whatever space is available, so we’re glad to see that the Small Toiletry Bag can handle a bit of puddle.
The secondary slip pocket is almost perfectly designed as a quick-access pocket for make-up remover wipes, tissues, and Q-tips. The pocket doesn’t have a ton of space or dimensionality. It’s really more geared towards slim items like the ones we just mentioned. Having a pocket almost exclusively dedicated to dispensing wipes is a blessing, especially at a wedding. By the end of the night, we found ourselves distributing spare wipes to those who need them. Mind you, you can only fit so much in a slim pocket, so we wouldn’t be too overly generous.
Of course, the size is the limit for what you can fit in any pocket. You’re free to swap out the wet wipes for anything small that fits the occasion, like tweezers or cosmetic scissors. Plus, in case you ever need access to more of the heavy stuff, there’s always the main compartment itself.
The advantage of the Small Toiletry Bag is that, well, it’s small. Small enough that you don’t feel like you’re carrying the entire medicine cabinet with you. Better still, thanks to the colorway we chose, it’s not looking entirely out of place even at the wedding itself, so you can confidently bring it along with you even at a formal event. It may be a bit oversized to store in a purse depending on what you carry, but the opportunity is definitely there if you anticipate needing a touch-up after an outdoor ceremony in the summer.
Then there’s the main compartment itself. There are only really two sides to this interior, which opens up fully clamshell-style. While we did say that this toiletry bag is small enough to carry around while blending in, it does take quite a bit of space on a table. If you’re running out of counter space, you may want to opt for a horseshoe-style opening. That said, the upshot is that everything you put inside the main compartment is laid bare in front of you, which makes getting to your toiletries easy.
On the bottom half is a mesh-covered compartment where you can dump all make-up tools and tubes of concealers, lotions, sunscreens, and ointments. While there is a fair amount of depth to both halves of the main compartment, travel-sized tubes and canisters still work best if you want to maximize all of the available space.
The top leather handle is lightly padded and useful for carrying the Small Toiletry Bag around, but we wish there was a way to hang it like the Aer Travel Kit. Hanging a toiletry bag or Dopp kit frees up a ton of counter space, which makes all the difference in small hotel bathrooms. However, this would take some redesigning—since the pockets don’t unzip in the same direction, all the gear on one side would fall out if opened in a hanging position.
On the top half of the Small Toiletry Bag is a see-through zippered compartment. We opted to load it up with travel bottles of liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste. We were able to fit four travel bottles side by side inside, and we have to say, it’s rather satisfying to see them lined up like this.
While the space available is more than enough for a wedding trip, overall organization is just adequate. Some more granular means of organization would have been welcome. Which is to say, the Small Toiletry Bag could perhaps use a liner pocket or two, or maybe an elastic loop for a toothbrush.
In terms of internal spillage, the Small Toiletry Bag passes with ease. We accidentally left one of our tubes of lotion open, and the resulting spill only left a barely noticeable stain against the black fabric. We typically prefer bright interior liners for the sake of visibility. But in the case of Dopp kits and toiletry bags, dark fabric’s stain hiding ability is undeniable. Plus, the Small Toiletry Bag opens up clamshell-style anyway, so internal visibility isn’t a big issue anyway.
To answer our question earlier, the Small Toiletry Bag got us through the wedding minus the hassle of disorganized toiletry. The volume is more than enough to bring all the toiletries we need for a relatively quick trip, and the slip pocket was a nice little bonus. However, we think that the organization inside can still be improved upon by adding a liner pocket or two to complement the mesh and see-through compartments. Fortunately, the great degree of accessibility through the clamshell opening makes up for it.
- Opens fully clamshell for easy access
- There’s a see-through zippered compartment inside
- Rear slip pocket for wet wipes is pretty stealthy
- Nylon exterior has accumulated a few water stains, but it’s nothing too noticeable
- YKK zippers are smooth to open
- One corner has threading coming out, though it doesn’t look structurally important
- Spilled liquids and oils come out of the liner easily, but it does leave a mark—though nothing too noticeable
- Pockets are deep and the mesh pocket expands, so it can fit a good amount of everyday makeup items