Do GoToobs deserve a spot in your toiletry bag?
Cute travel gear? Yep, I find it just about irresistible - and I have an entire dresser drawer filled with my impulse purchases over the years. I'd rather a new suitcase than new shoes and I'd always pick shopping for packing cubes over clothing! That dresser drawer tells the tale of a hundred trips and a million ideas. Yet only half a dozen or so products make my list of essential gear.
Things that seemed like a great idea in the airport never live up to their claims and the hyped up products in the travel supply catalog are rarely worth their weight and suitcase space. And I find that the more I travel, the pickier I get. I've been traveling with GoToob refillable toiletry containers now for nearly a year and I'm still finalizing my opinion on them. Are they essential gear or just pretty impostors? Here's what I've discovered after a few thousand miles.
1.) They ARE easy to refill
One of GoToob's biggest claims is that the containers are easy to refill and this is 100% true. The wide mouth containers are easy to fill and you can squeeze or pour in your favourite toiletries. The container lids are also easy to remove for the purposes of filling. And that ease of use makes cleaning a breeze. So far, so good.
2.) They are carry-on friendly.
You would think that all toiletry kits would contain appropriately sized containers but that is oddly not always the case. There are plenty of containers that are just a bit too big (what's the point!) or are undersized. GoToob products are all 3-1-1 kit friendly, meaning they are at the acceptable size and volume to be carried on a plane.
They're also carry-on friendly for another reason. The soft, squeezable silicon bodies of the tubes make it easy to squeeze out every last drop of product. When you travel light, every bit matters and by using GoToobs instead of traditional, hard bodies toiletry containers I've been able to stretch my product use for an extra day or two.
3.) Let's admit it: They're cute.
I'm not exactly proud of this but I'd be a liar if I said that I wasn't influenced by how my travel gear looks and feels. GoToobs are cute and I like cute! And when you travel all the time and you pare down your entire hygiene routine to just a few tiny tubes, little things like cuteness matters. And the multiple colors are more than just decorative - it helps with organization too.
1.) They're SO expensive
A quick price check through a major online distributor in Canada confirms this. A single 3 oz tube is $11 and a 3 pack of these tubes is $27. Yikes! That's A LOT of money for small plastic tubes designed to carry shampoo! Yes, they are a quality product with a lot of pros but that is still a lot of money.
When I foolishly left behind a few of my GoToobs in a Hawaiian hotel room, I was kicking myself with regret. I wasn't just missing my favourite body wash - I was missing all that money I had invested in my cute kit! I was so bummed out that Ryan replaced my GoToobs for my birthday - yep, these are at a birthday gift level of money!
2.) Viscosity blues
GoToobs live up to their promise of having no leak, no drip valves. But when it comes to squeezing the product out of the tube, look out! Thick toiletries, such as conditioner, come out of the tube much as you'd expect, slowly and mess-free. But less thick toiletries, such as body lotion, shoot out of the tube at an alarming rate and it can be very hard to control the volume of product you want to squeeze out of the tube. This is especially pronounced at the beginning of the trip when you tubes are at their fullest. I've learned to hold the product upside down, so that the valve is pointing upwards, and apply the barest of pressure when I just want a small amount of lotion.
Fully liquid products, such as aftershave or toner, are a bit of a disaster. You need to apply more pressure than usual for these thinner liquids to pass through the valves but, once it starts, it's hard to control and it isn't unusual to lose half the product through spillage.
And a few things I'm still not sure about...
1.) What's with those labels?
One of features GoToob likes to brag about is the fact that there are built in labels in the base of the tubes - you just twist the sections of the lid until the name of your chosen toiletry appears. I suppose this could be helpful to some people, but considering that GoToobs come in three sizes and six colors (and that toiletries themselves come in so many different colors), I can't really see anyone actually using this. I know that I never have. Final verdict: Nice feature, but not exactly a deal sealer.
2.) Suspicious suction
As you can tell in the above photos, some GoToobs come with a suction cup attached to the back of the tube. The idea behind this is that you can use the suction to attach the tube to any wet surface (the inside of the shower, the side of the tub, a damp mirror). These suction cups weren't a feature in my initial set of GoToobs but when they came on my birthday replacement set, I was eager to try them out. After all, I'm sure everyone has suffered through tiny hostel showers and even hotel stalls where there's no ledge to set down your toiletry bottles - this wall suction idea sounded ideal!
The first time I used the suction cups, they worked great. It made it so easy when taking a shower in a hostel! However, things took a turn for the worse on my second attempt, this time in a hotel in Istanbul. After just a few minutes, the suction cup gave way and the tube crashed to the shower floor, cracking of a significant chunk of the hard, clear, plastic lid. Can you imagine being in a steamy shower with bare feet, knowing somewhere among the water and the suds there is an inch-long piece of sharp, curved plastic just waiting to to slice into your foot?
Fortunately the lid of that particular tube still snaps shut but the broken off edges are still very sharp. I did use the suction cup as directed (which says to adhere it to a wet surface), so I was very disappointed that it fell of the wall and broke. I imagine most people will have their tubes fall on the shower floor at some point or another - suction cup or not- just from the natural clumsiness that comes from being jet lagged in a strange environment and it's upsetting that such an expensive product that brags about their excellent design would break so easily.
GoToob does offer a lifetime warranty on their products, which is an important consideration if you're on the fence about investing in the product. However, I think what's most important here isn't that I could have my tube cap replaced but the fact that it so easily broke in the first place.
Should GoToobs be in your toiletry kit?
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I hate to give an ambivalent answer but my best response is: maybe. If you are devoted to carry-on only travel, I think you will appreciate the tubes' design, user friendly filling and cleaning, and the cute (and helpful!) colors. And provided you don't use thin liquids and you apply a gentle touch when the tubes are filled, they work quite well. And any traveler who is frustrated by hard, undersized toiletry bottles will be happy to have something so squeezable and 3-1-1 kit friendly.
But the high price point and potential for damage -and even injury - if the suction cup fails make this a lukewarm recommendation. I think the traditional, suction cup-free tubes are an ideal item to put on a wish list - maybe for the Christmas holidays or YOUR birthday. Here's the truth: the appeal of GoToobs greatly increase when you aren't paying for them yourself! (Again, thank you Ryan! You are awesome!). But whether you are treating yourself or receiving them as a treat from a loved one, I would avoid the suction cups. The potential for injury is never worth it.
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