6 am on the island of Kalymnos, Greece and the rain begins. As the storm grows stronger and stronger, we’re clinging to a closed ticket window for shelter while we wait for the captain of a small ferry to come unlock the boat (he’s our only shot at getting out of the downpour). The rain shifts into our face and we’re instantly drenched—it’s times like these that I’m really thankful for amazing gear, like the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel.
This 90L duffel is my new favorite travel bag. With luggage becoming more of a magic show, than a piece that can withstand the test of time, it’s refreshing to test something so simple. True to its name, the Black Hole eats up a ton of gear. I was able to pack all the climbing gear for two people, including a 70m rope, all of my cloths and accessories, a tripod and I still had plenty of room to spare. One feature that is crucial for all luggage is a nice strong zipper, the Black Hole has just that. When you’re trying to squeeze that one last thing into the bag, this U-shapped opening does a great job of compressing everything inside, I never felt like the zipper was strained at all.
This bag comes with a quick-access pocket on the outside, and two mesh pockets on the inside of the lid. I found that to be great for things that I needed quick access to. The Black Hole doesn’t have any other compartments or dividers, so it’s nice to bring along a few stuff sacks for organization.
The Black Hole is made from 1,200-denier polyester, with a TPU film laminate and a DWR water resistant finish. Patagonia says it will protect your gear in “all but the wettest conditions”, which I found to be spot on. After that rainstorm in Greece, my gear was a little damp, but throughout numerous light rain and snowstorms it has performed flawlessly. It also has a padded bottom, which is nice for protecting your gear.
It has three options for carry; the side grab handles, the traditional handles which snap together, or the shoulder straps. When this bag is loaded down with 45 lbs of gear, the shoulder straps were a life saver. While the bag is uncomfortable to wear for any long duration of time, it’s still a much better option than the traditional handles. The shoulder straps have buckles at the bottom, which is nice because they would otherwise impede access to the contents of the bag. They can also be taken off completely, which is a good idea for checked luggage. Lastly the Black Hole has daisy chain style webbing on all four corners which can be used to attach extra gear or tie-down the bag.
There’s no extra bells and whistles with the Patagonia Black Hole, but that’s why I love it. For people that bring gear to-and-from work, like myself, this is probably the best option on the market. While it’s on the upper end of the price range for duffels, you’ll be using this for many years to come.
Colors: Black, white, blue, orange, and green
Weight: 2 lbs 9.6 oz
Best used for: Travel, Commuting
Patagonia also offers the Black Hole as a messenger style bag, traditional backpack, wheeled duffel and ski bag.