February 19 2011
There aren’t many areas where men – at least those in my life – could be said to be much neater than women. One of the exceptions has to be when it comes to the travelling washbag. Women often find themselves lugging something the size of a doctor’s emergency bag from place to place. For most of us, the necessary essentials go way beyond the basics of shampoo and toothbrushes, cleansers and moisturisers. They include elaborate hair accessories, make-up, bits of jewellery and perfume. Over the years I must have owned a dozen washbags, each more elaborately patterned and equipped with more pockets and pouches than the last. Yet, far from being more ergonomic, their various “innovations” simply succeeded in making things harder to find. When not in use, their bulk made them hard to store and more likely to fall out of my bathroom cupboard and hit me on the head.
To the rescue comes Muji. The airport security regulations restricting liquids to no more than 100ml for in-flight baggage have led the Japanese company to conduct a complete rethink of the washbag. The result is the Muji travel case, which for me is useful both as an in-flight washbag and beyond, and which has compelled me to condense my sprawling mass of toiletries and beauty paraphernalia.
At first glance it is far from the prettiest bag I’ve ever owned but, like so many things Muji, it is by far the best designed. The khaki shade is a bit military but highlights the travel case’s functionality. The four zip-fastening green pouches – two mesh and two solid fabric – are removable, being attached to the bag by Velcro. This means that they can double up as small make-up bags, for example, and can be tucked into a beach bag or handbag. On a recent skiing trip I was able to rip away one tiny pouch and carry extra sunscreen, lip salve and other essentials without needing to pack an extra separate bag for such eventualities.
The Muji travel case comes in two sizes, but mine is the smaller one at just 22.5cm x 16cm x 10cm (£13.50). I like to think of it as the smartphone among travel bags, with everything condensed into one place – and portable too.