Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag Review Facts
Available in three sizes, the Patagonia Black Hole is an ideal choice for backcountry skiers. It is lightweight, durable, and comfortable to carry. With the kind of water resistance it offers, you can always hope to have your equipment safe and dry. While it may not be the most suitable choice for kayaking and sailing trips, as the material is not actually waterproof, it certainly performs exceptionally well in most weather conditions. If you compare it with other top scorers, you will find that the Black Hole only barely edges out for top awards.
Material and Design
The Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag
is made from Bluesign approved fabric guaranteeing consumer safety. Made from 900-denier 100% polyester material, it not only looks stylish but can also withstand harsh weather conditions with authority. For added protection and quality performance, Patagonia has applied TPU film and a coating of DWR, which is why the bag manages to ward off moisture and keeps it from damaging your gear.
Ease of Packing
The main compartment, the black hole itself of the Patagonia Black Hole, comes with a generous D shaped opening and a large zipped flap for ease of packing and unpacking. The strap attachment system is the quickest to remove as compared to other models, as all you have to do is take the buckle on your shoulder strap and pass it through a D shaped buckle and the bottom of the straps to connect with Fast-tec buckles.
An important thing to note is that though the material is durable, it is not that rigid at all. Being made from a flexible yet durable material simplifies the task of packing it. the presence of a generous zipper flap enables you to load the bag
with ease. It also works great to keep out water and snow that usually may accumulate on the top of the bag.
There is no wasted space with the Black Hole. Under the flap lid are a hidden couple of well-designed pockets to help you stay organized on even the longest of treks. Lacking in most other duffels, these handy pockets
are invaluable for storing items like your phone, compass, torch or batteries, etc. Those pockets may not seem that important on the Black Hole where you have many other storage options available, but you instantly miss that feature when you pack up a different model.
Just keep in mind that it is better not to overload these pockets or else the top becomes too heavy to be opened easily. It makes us think that the location of these pockets could have been better. Moreover, the zippers for these pockets are located at the top of the lid, which means that when you open the lid, the pockets are upside down, increasing the risk of spilling all the contents on the ground. A better location would have been on the inside wall of the bag because you could load them up as much as you want without hindering access to the bag.
There is another small pocket, suitable for use as a stuff sack, which is accessible from the outside and this works well for storing the Black Hole in itself. It is easy enough to use when the bag is empty or even half full, but it becomes tricky and difficult to access when the bag is loaded up.
For comfort, the Patagonia Black Hole is right up there with other top-of-the-line duffel bags, all thanks to highly padded straps. The pads keep you comfortable even when the bag
is loaded to the max or contains cumbersome items. The addition of a sternum strap creates added security and stability and with it, increased comfort. The only issue we had was how quickly the heavy molded back panel would make the pack warm on longer bike ride outs. More attention to breathability could correct this issue. A hip belt to carry heavier items with ease would also be a benefit.
Thanks to its soft yet sturdy material, you are less likely to experience any problems in terms of durability. The zipper flap on the main zipper adds to its durability. You will also find haul loops on either end along with as many as four daisy chains that make lashing gear a lot easier. The presence of those series of flower chains makes it a lot easier to attach your bag
to any vehicle.
How long it is going to serve you well also depends on how you are going to use it, but testers have found it to be much more durable than the Helly Hansen, which is another popular option available in the market. Interestingly, the Patagonia Black Hole bag is made of recycled materials, so you do not feel guilty about hurting the environment while using this super durable bag.
Whether you are off to explore the wide world or helping your friend move home, the Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag
is a purchase well worthy of consideration. Put simply, it lives up to its name with an impressive range of carrying capacities; 45L, 60L, 90L and a massive 120L for the times when you need to take everything- including the kitchen sink.
Whatever capacity you go for, lifting and carrying the Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag is made easy with sturdy webbing handles on the top that snaps together to help balance the weight when lifting it off the ground. No nasty back jarring. In case you have loaded it nicely, you will be better off carrying the bag in a backpack style, and the integrated shoulder strap system makes it easy. The shoulder straps are padded and can be removed when you do not really need them.
While we like the idea of comfort around the shoulders (we are only human), accessing the Black Hole around the padding can be awkward. With the option to remove them, it would be useful to have a Velcro pocket within handy reach to stow them away. We do, however, like the padded bottom of the Black Hole, particularly how it protects your back when carrying it as a backpack. Another feature we like is the reinforced grab loops at either end so that when the duffel bag is lying on its side in the trunk of a truck or car grabbing it out is straightforward. These details increase the Black Hole’s versatility and ease of use.
With its seemingly bottomless capacity, it would hardly be a surprise to see someone cram in a beer cooler and snow shovel along with their gear. But whatever the load, daisy chains make lashing it straightforward. Once packed it can be secured without problems and without the fear of losing it, onto anything from a wooden dory or motorcycle to a snowmobile or a helicopter’s ski basket.
The DWR coating makes the entire bag
highly water resistant. Although not as such, waterproof, it is effective at repelling water and keeps it dry and ready to go in even the wettest conditions. There is no doubt this is a bag built to last and worth the investment. Testers found it comfortably outlasted the market leader, Helly Hanson.
The fact that the Patagonia Black Hole can be carried as a backpack makes it one of the most portable duffel bags around. Testers have found it much more 'transportable' as compared to other top scorers, including the Gregory Alpaca, the Helly Hansen Duffel Bag2, and the Marmot Long Hauler. The easy to remove backpack straps and an easy pass-through design adds to their portability and make things a lot easier when checking it at the airport. If expedition travel
is your thing and you need a highly portable bag, the Black Hole is highly recommended along with the Gregory Alpaca.
The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag is extremely lightweight, with 45L version weighing only 1lb and 12 oz only. Even the largest version (120L) weighs only 3lbs, which is fairly low compared to its competition. The Black Hole is considered the lightest of them all, especially considering that it has removable padded shoulder straps and pockets. The North Face Base Camp is the only comparable model here, which is a pound heavier but offers an additional pocket for improved organization. As mentioned already, it is a highly portable bag and is suitable for those who travel
a lot by air, but its low weight also makes it a perfect choice for those who try to push the 50-pound limit on airlines.
Available in a variety of colors, such as mango, black, lagoon, and olive, you will always be able to find one that suits your taste. Some old colors may not be available now, but you can opt for paintbrush red, hex grey, and navy blue, which are the latest color options.
Given the storage options, you can always put your money on the Black Hole when going on remote expeditions. The rugged appearance makes it suitable for trekking, whereas easy portability means you can take it as your primary travel bag. With so many lashing options and the ease of wearing it around your shoulders actually make it a good choice for trips when you prefer a duffel over a wheeling piece of luggage.
Comparison to Other Brands
The Black Hole offers many impressive features and actually manages to compete with many other popular names in the industry. the Gregory Alpaca is regarded as one of the most weather resistant bags in the market, and the Black Hole can match its performance. However, if you are interested in a bag with waterproofing being the primary feature, you will be better off putting your money on the Marmot Long Hauler and the North Face Base Camp because they kept everything dry even when sprayed down with a hose.
In terms of durability, the Black Hole certainly impresses you and competes with top names such as the Helly Hansen and Gregory Alpaca. It is also comparable to the Marmot Long Hauler; however, the North Face Base Camp Duffel may be a bit more durable as compared to the Black Hole. Overall, it would not be wrong to suggest that with its amazing lashing options, lightweight, and weather resistant features, the Black Hole easily falls in between award winners.
At this price, the 45L version of Black Hole is certainly an affordable choice. However, you will have to spend more to buy a larger bag – the 12L version costs you a bit more. It means you will be spending anywhere between $90 and $150 depending on the size you choose. It may feel expensive compared to an average travel bag, but it is well worth the money when you compare it to multi-functional top-of-the-line travel bags.
The Bottom Line
It would not be wrong to suggest that the Patagonia Black Hole has everything you wish to see in a duffel bag, as it offers numerous storage options, highly durable laminate ripstop fabric, and more than enough carrying options. Rain, mud, and snow are never going to be an issue with the Black Hole, thanks to its DWR protected polyester. Highly reliable haul straps are amazing, and coupled with a removable sling they make it easier to move the bag from plane to bus to car to hotel with utmost ease, even when it is fully loaded. It just barely misses the top spot because of a misplaced pocket under the lid and no way to keep the back straps from coming in the way while packing and unpacking the bag. Overall, you can still buy it and may never notice those glitches, and that is what makes it a frontrunner.