Reviews You Can Rely On

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Review

A sleek-looking, versatile, and durable duffel that performs highly across the board and is ready for any adventure
gearlab tested logo
Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Review (The Patagonia Black Hole is consistently one of the top-scoring duffels in our lineup.)
The Patagonia Black Hole is consistently one of the top-scoring duffels in our lineup.
Credit: Hale Milano
Price:  $169 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Hale Milano ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 24, 2023
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 15
  • Storage and Ease of Packing - 30% 8.6
  • Ease of Transport - 30% 8.5
  • Protection - 15% 8.5
  • Construction Quality - 15% 9.2
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 10% 6.1

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel is an impressive duffel bag that outperformed the rest of our duffel bag lineup thanks to its user-friendly design and dependable all-around performance. We've tested both the 100-liter and 55-liter versions of this duffel, and both are high performers. The Black Hole is easy to pack with external and internal storage pockets and is comfortable to carry thanks to its cushy and easily removable shoulder straps. Its 900-denier recycled material is durable enough to make it an excellent choice for a rugged expedition and is stylish enough for any kind of casual travel. Explorers looking for a versatile and well-rounded piece of luggage will be pleased with the Black Hole. To see how the rest of the competition compares, see our full review of the best duffel bags.
REASONS TO BUY
Durable recycled material
Easily removable shoulder straps
Convenient pockets
Stylish design
REASONS TO AVOID
Button snaps on suitcase handles
No small items pouch
Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 24, 2023, to reflect the most recently tested model. Previously, we tested the 100-liter version of the Black Hole, while this review reflects our testing of the updated 55-liter version. Both bags are incredibly similar, with only minor design differences in the number and configuration of pockets, backpack strap attachment, and available storage volume.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $169.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$187.14 at Amazon
Compare at 4 sellers
$140 List
$103.88 at Amazon
$158.95 at Evo
Compare at 4 sellers
$37 List
$33.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
84
83
80
78
56
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line Packed full of adventure-ready features, this versatile bag is ready to tackle your next adventure, whether it's across town or across the worldA top performer with unmatched carrying comfort, great protection from the elements, and nice storage featuresThis excellent duffel offers great features regardless of which size model you prefer and is budget friendlyRemains one of our favorite all-around models with its simple and rugged designThis budget-conscious bag still provides great organization features ideal for day trips
Rating Categories Patagonia Black Hol... Osprey Transporter Gregory Alpaca The North Face Base... HYC00 Travel
Storage and Ease of Packing (30%)
8.6
8.0
8.5
7.0
6.5
Ease of Transport (30%)
8.5
9.0
8.2
7.2
5.5
Protection (15%)
8.5
8.8
8.3
9.2
4.5
Construction Quality (15%)
9.2
7.5
9.1
9.8
6.0
Weight-to-Volume Ratio (10%)
6.1
7.4
4.0
6.6
4.5
Specs Patagonia Black Hol... Osprey Transporter Gregory Alpaca The North Face Base... HYC00 Travel
Sizes Available 40, 55, 70, 100 L 40, 65, 95, 120 L 40, 60, 80, 100, 120 L 31, 50, 71, 95, 132, 150 L
(XS-XXL)
30 L
Material (Main Body) 900D polyester ripstop (100% postconsumer recycled) with TPU-film laminate 900D polyester (recycled) with PFC-free DWR and TPU coating 900D polyester ripstop (40% recycled) with TPU weather-resistant coating 1000D polyester with phthalate-free PVC coating (body), additional layer of 840D recycled ballistics nylon with a non-PFC DWR finish (bottom) Nylon
Number of Pockets (Excludes Main Compartment) 3 3 3 2 4
Backpack Straps Yes Yes Yes Yes No
D or I-Shaped Opening D D D D I
Laundry Compartment No No Yes (partial) No No
Measured Weight 2.6 lb (55L model) 3.3 lb (95L model) 2.7 lb (40L model) 4.1 lb (95 L model) 1.9 lb (30L model)
Calculated Weight-to-Volume Ratio 0.76 oz/L 0.56 oz/L 1.08 oz/L 0.69 oz/L 1.01 oz/L
Size Tested 100L and 55L 95L 90L and 40L 95L 30L

Our Analysis and Test Results

After extensive testing and real-world use of previous versions of this bag over the last several years, we are more impressed than ever with the latest Patagonia Black Hole duffel. Its recycled materials are more durable and water-resistant than ever, and the backpack-style shoulder straps are easily removable for quick airport transitions with an intuitive buckle design. To remove the shoulder straps with previous versions of this bag, you had to delicately unthread them through some very tight-fitting buckles. Now, each strap is a combination of an easy pass-through buckle on top, and a side-release buckle on the bottom; a similar design to many other top bags in our review. This convenient feature is one of several well-executed design details that earn this bag a high ranking.

We tested both the 100 and 55-liter versions of the Black Hole Duffel, in order to compare and contrast performance across a model that we have found to be reliable. It is available in 40, 55, 70, and 100-liter volume options.

Performance Comparison


patagonia black hole duffel - the black hole duffel is versatile enough for rugged expeditions...
The Black Hole duffel is versatile enough for rugged expeditions, general travel, and everything in between, like this family camping trip.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Storage and Ease of Packing


The Black Hole was one of our higher-scoring bags in our storage and ease of packing metrics, thanks to many industry-leading design features. It features a large D-shaped zippered opening that makes it easy to load and access the main storage compartment. The 900-denier recycled polyester is also a bit softer and more flexible than other more rigid expedition duffels, which makes the bag easier to handle in certain circumstances, though it is more challenging to hold its shape while packing.


On the 100-liter model, our entire review team loved the two well-designed pockets located under the lid that helped us stay just a little more organized. After using these two pockets, we truly missed them every time we packed up a different model with only a single giant mesh pocket, where everything would inevitably get clumped together and be more difficult to find. The 55-liter model only has a single lid pocket, but at almost half the size of the larger version, we didn't have as much of an issue with this. It also has an externally and internally accessed zippered pouch along the size of the bag that is convenient for small items.

The two zippered mesh pockets underneath the top lid are a nice...
The two zippered mesh pockets underneath the top lid are a nice addition to the large main storage compartment.
Single zippered pocket on the hood of the 55L Black Hole.
Single zippered pocket on the hood of the 55L Black Hole.
The dual pockets on the 100L Black Hole (brown, left) versus the single pocket on the 55L version (blue, right).

The small dual-access zippered pocket conveniently located on the front of the bag also doubles as a stuff sack in which you can store the empty bag. While this pocket is a convenient addition, getting the duffel bag back into the pocket for compact storage is easier said than done.

patagonia black hole duffel - while a slim side pocket might not fit bulkier items, it can...
While a slim side pocket might not fit bulkier items, it can definitely keep your essential supplies easily within reach.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Ease of Transport


This model is one of the top-scoring duffels we tested in this performance metric and is also one of the most comfortable bags to carry backpack-style for extended durations. We like the design of the contoured and padded shoulder straps.


Our only wish is that the shoulder straps had a sternum strap to make extended carries more efficient. Besides being among the most comfortable in this review, the new version of the Black Hole has two backpack straps that are very easy to remove when checking in at the airport. They feature an easy pass-through buckle-in-loop design on top and traditional side-release buckles on the bottom.

patagonia black hole duffel - buckles on both the top and bottom of the black hole's backpack...
Buckles on both the top and bottom of the Black Hole's backpack straps make them easy to add or remove.
Credit: Hale Milano

In addition to the backpack straps, the Black Hole also features two shorter permanently attached straps for a traditional briefcase-style carry system. These handles are a common feature across most duffels, but Patagonia employs two snap buttons to secure the handles together, whereas most use velcro. We found these snaps somewhat stiff and difficult to use during testing. It also includes two low-profile grab handles that are convenient for lugging the bag in and out of vehicles or on and off luggage racks. Four sets of vertically oriented daisy chains, plus a few extra lash points, help facilitate attaching the bag to auto rooftops, yaks, or whatever else you might need.

patagonia black hole duffel - the traditional briefcase-style handles provide a comfortable option...
The traditional briefcase-style handles provide a comfortable option to support a fully-loaded bag.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Finally, when your trip is over, the Black Hole also stuffs laboriously inside its side pocket for convenient low-profile storage. If you have limited storage space for your gear, this feature certainly gives the bag a smaller footprint when not in use and allows it to easily fit inside another piece of luggage.

patagonia black hole duffel - the black hole stuffs into its own side pouch for storage, but that...
The Black Hole stuffs into its own side pouch for storage, but that process isn't for the faint of heart.
Credit: Hale Milano

Protection


In addition to our real-world testing on camping trips, climbing expeditions, and family vacations, we tested each contender by filling them with towels and spraying them down with a hose. The Black Hole performed about as well as any of the other top performers. The seams and zippers are not submersible or watertight, but the fabric thoroughly kept the precipitation out.


We also really like the Black Hole's padded base. A thin layer of padding between the outer material and the internal lining not only helps protect your gear from overzealous baggage handlers and the rigors of rugged travel, but also adds to the bag's overall strength and durability.

patagonia black hole duffel - bonus points, the black holes padded base makes a decent spot for...
Bonus points, the Black Holes padded base makes a decent spot for sleepy dogs to relax.
Credit: Hale Milano

We let the Black Hole sit outside in the middle of a tropical storm for about an hour during our most recent round of testing. Throughout that, the contents stayed dry, and water beaded right off the waterproof material. Only in our hose test, when water hit the bag from all angles, did the contents get wet.

patagonia black hole duffel - the 900-denier body material repels moisture, and a protective...
The 900-denier body material repels moisture, and a protective weather flap guards the main zipper against the elements.
Credit: Hale Milano

Construction Quality


The Black Hole's 900-denier recycled polyester held up to everything we could throw at it during our side-by-side testing and throughout a few remote expeditions. It's not quite as durable as other top-rated bags we tested with 1000-denier materials, though it's close. The fabric is relatively supple and thin compared directly to the burliest duffels, which makes it more comfortable to carry and easier to store but ever so slightly compromises its overall durability.


We liked the balance between the toughness and durability of the Black Hole fabric, combined with the weight savings and packability of the 900-denier fabric. Seams and zippers are all well-made and thoroughly stitched. The Black Hole can survive being loaded to max capacity and thrown in and out of cars, planes, boats, and more.

patagonia black hole duffel - the transporter (left) and the black hole (right) models are plenty...
The Transporter (left) and the Black Hole (right) models are plenty durable to withstand rough handling.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Weight-to-Volume Ratio


We have tested multiple iterations of the Black Hole Duffel through the years, and at one time, it was the lightest all-around expedition duffel that we tested. While improvements and additional features added through the years have increased its weight compared to its former self, it remains a reasonable weight for a full-size expedition pack.


The 100-liter size that we tested weighs in at 3.8 pounds, while the smaller 55-liter version is only 2.6 pounds. When comparing this weight-to-volume ratio to other duffel styles, it's about average for expedition-style models.

patagonia black hole duffel - the black hole is reasonably lightweight for its size and is capable...
The Black Hole is reasonably lightweight for its size and is capable of carrying big, heavy loads.
Credit: Nick Bruckbauer

Should You Buy the Patagonia Black Hole?


The Black Hole is an excellent all-around performer that scored above average in all of our testing metrics. Its sleek design, comfortable carrying options, and high-quality materials make it an excellent multi-purpose duffel bag choice. Unless your duffel bag requirements fall into niche categories, we think this is a great option for world adventurers, weekend warriors, and casual business travelers alike.

patagonia black hole duffel - we loved the versatility of the black hole duffel; it was equally at...
We loved the versatility of the Black Hole duffel; it was equally at home on camping trips, casual business trips, or expedition-style adventures.
Credit: Hale Milano

What Other Duffel Bags Should You Consider?


If you're looking for a duffel bag on a budget, the Gregory Alpaca offers a design, durability, and performance similar to the Black Hole at a lower price point. If you're looking for bags that can survive the most extreme environments, consider the Yeti Panga Duffel 50, a fully waterproof duffel bag and dry bag hybrid, or the The North Face Base Camp, a simple and durable duffel bag that is built to survive global expeditions for many years. Alternatively, we highly recommend the HYC00 Travel duffel for casual weekend and day trips thanks to its plentiful organization options and the Adidas Defender for your everyday gym bag or sports practice duffel.

patagonia black hole duffel - the black hole features a classic design and performs above average...
The Black Hole features a classic design and performs above average across all our testing metrics.
Credit: Hale Milano

Hale Milano