Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit Review
The Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit is a durable, choose-your-own-adventure toiletry bag that stands upright but takes up a lot of counter real estate.
- Ample space for gear
- Water-resistant zipper keeps inside dry
- Stands upright on its own
- Covers a lot of counter space
- Lacks much organization
- Fabric marks easily
5.65 oz (160.2 g)
6 in x 9.5 in x 4.5 in (15.2 x 24.1 x 11.4 cm)
Polyester, GCC Zippers
What do you look for in a toiletry bag? Do you like lots of open space or a lot of segmentation? There’s also the question of how much room it takes up on the bathroom counter, whether you want to hang it to be accessible in the shower, and how water-resistant the materials are.
The 5-liter Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit is large enough to organize your everyday toiletries, but how does it perform on the road? Let’s find out.
We’re taking the Travel Kit for a test drive while staying in a camper. Right off the bat, you can see how this kit may perform better in a home where you (hopefully) have a larger countertop than while traveling. If you’ve ever seen the counter space in the bathroom of a travel trailer, you’ll know there’s not much room, and we’ve run into hotels with the same issue. But maybe you’re renting a house or packing for a hostel stay with more homey facilities? In that case, the sizable footprint may not be as much of an issue.
We have the Standard size here, but the Chapter Travel Kit also comes in a Carry-On size that’s about an inch smaller all around if you need to slide it into a tighter space. Of course, you’ll sacrifice capacity that way, too, but it could be worth it, depending on your needs.
Either way, the polyester fabric is sturdy, if a bit coarse. Herschel Supply Co. doesn’t mention any water-resistant coating on the material, though when we hold it under a sink (very scientific, we know!), no moisture appears to make its way into the kit. That’s good because toiletry kits are the most likely to be set on damp countertops and encounter spills from within and without, so whether it’s coated or just has thick fabric, it’s nice to see some resistance. The polyester does seem prone to marking from lotions, sunscreen, toothpaste, and the like, so if that bothers you, going for a print colorway instead of a solid could be ideal for hiding stains in a pattern.
While we have Black (it’s kind of our thing), you can get the Chapter Travel Kit in various colors and patterns, from plaid to flowers, so choose the one that suits your style. No matter what you choose, you’ll find the white Herschel Supply Co. Brand patch in the bottom right corner of the bag’s front and a pebbled leather zipper pull on the front pocket that varies in color with the colorway.
The fabric may not be specifically water-resistant, but the main compartment zipper is. Moisture beads up along the coated zipper to keep it from seeping through the teeth, although some would still leak through the end if you were to, say, drop this off the side of your house boat while vacationing in the Lake of the Ozarks. A quick squeeze of the bag while it’s zipped shows that it’s not waterproof; it collapses quickly as the air leaks out.
The zipper itself is a new brand for us: GCC. It unzips easily, stays closed, and generally gets the job done, so we have no complaints.
And before we go any further, it’s important to mention the large carry handle on this bag. It’s, honestly, bigger than the handle on some travel daypacks we’ve seen, so even if you’re the Green Giant, you should have no problem holding this thing. It’s on the left side of the bag, so using it naturally turns the bag on its side. The zipper also ends on the left side, so you can hang it up and then reach in to pull out a hairbrush without the rest of your gear falling out of the bag. It may not end up in the same place you packed it after turning sideways, but we’ll cover that issue more shortly.
On the right side is one more loop, which you can hold to unzip the bag. It’s a nice touch and comes in handy, plus there’s a little Herschel tab there, as well, in case you need more branding.
While this is usually where we talk about how a bag fits our testers, this time, we’ll chat about how this bag fits in different places. As we mentioned, countertops can be small when traveling, whether in a camper, a hotel room, or a studio apartment. And this big boy eats up more than 42 square inches (106 square centimeters) of counter space, so it may not fit. On the other hand, its broad base does allow it to stand solo, so if you have room, you don’t have to worry about a tippy toiletry bag.
Also, at 5 liters, it’s quite large for your travel backpack. However, it does compress if you don’t fully pack it, so if you find yourself without enough room while packing for vacation, pull out a few bottles and make plans to buy them at your destination. Or opt for travel-size bottles instead of a big hairbrush to save space. While that fits in the kit, it may cause it to take up too much room in your luggage.
Inside The Kit
There are two places to store your gear in the Chapter Travel Kit. The front compartment opens via a zipper concealed under a fabric flap and takes up the entire face of the kit. The welt is nice to prevent moisture from seeping in, but it gets in the way a bit at the end. Inside, you’ll find Herschel’s signature striped liner. Although this pocket seems shallow, you can actually fit thicker items, like bottles of sunscreen, inside. If you do, it will jut into the main compartment, but if it’s something you would otherwise stow in the larger space anyway, that might not matter to you.
It’s probably best used as a place for your toothbrush, though, to keep something that goes in your mouth away from hair, lotions, and the other detritus that accumulates in a toiletry kit, and it’s long enough for a standard-size toothbrush if you like a longer handle.
Inside the main compartment, you’ll find the same signature pinstripe liner. Of course, you will; there’s a reason it’s “signature.” It provides a nice backdrop for seeing your gear, though. Even if you have a dark colorway, you don’t have to worry about not finding something on the bottom of a dim kit.
Against the back side is a large mesh pocket. While it has elastic on top, it acts more as a divider than a pocket, as it doesn’t hold bottles and containers very tightly unless you really stuff it. Even if you don’t turn the bag sideways with the carry handle, there’s a chance gear will fall on an adjacent item in this pocket. Indeed, after traveling with the bag, we opened it to find all our neatly lined up bottles sprawled on each other. They were still in the pocket but not upright. To mitigate this, pack it tightly, perhaps adding a rectangular soap container to your lineup of bottles to hold them tight. If you do that, they stay in place even when using the carry handle. If you don’t, they may not.
The rest of the kit is open space. If you’re not traveling by air and like to bring larger bottles and brushes, you’ll have room to lay them flat in this bag, but if you primarily use travel-size gear and don’t pack a lot, it could be overkill. Your toiletries may not be where you packed them when you reach your destination unless you thoroughly pack the kit. If you Tetris in your travel companions’ gear along with your own, you may be able to get it tight enough to prevent jostling, but otherwise, you’ll be digging through the bag to find what you need.
Some people like less organization instead of plentiful pockets that may not fit your specific gear. If that’s you and you pack a lot in your toiletry bag, the Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit might be right for you. It’s a durable and easy-to-pack choose-your-own-adventure Dopp kit that stands upright easily, though it will take up quite a bit of counter real estate.
- Really like the pinstripe liner on the Black colorway
- Interested to see what fits in the standard size
- A few loose threads on the stitching—we’ll watch to make sure they don’t unravel
- Larger gear fits in this kit
- Light-colored liner makes it easy to see your gear
- You have to stuff the mesh pocket full for your gear to remain standing