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Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Review

Our review team's favorite smaller duffel to be used both as a stand-along option or to be packed away in larger luggage and broken out when the situation calls for it.
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Price:  $99 List | $68.93 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Fantastic weather resistance, diagonal zipper makes it easier to search for items, packs into its side pocket, very compressible
Cons:  Only comes in two volumes, shoulder straps are fine but aren't particularly comfortable and they don't extend long enough to use as a shoulder sling
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Ease of Transport - 22% 5
  • Ease of Packing - 22% 6
  • Durability - 22% 5
  • Weight - 24% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is a solid choice for smaller adventures. The main drawback is that the largest available size is smaller in volume than most we included in this review. We loved this model for how lightweight and compact it is, compressing down into its pocket when not in use; this made this duffel an excellent option to be stashed in larger luggage and then broken out when a smaller bag or more space is desired. In this capacity, the Patagonia is slightly exceeded, in most ways, by the Top Pick REI Roadtripper. The REI is larger, with just a minimal weight penalty. It is also much, much less expensive, though the Lightweight Black Hole is more water resistant than the REI. If you need to protect against water, and don't need the volume of the REI, the Patagonia is a better choice.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $68.93 at REI
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Pros Fantastic weather resistance, diagonal zipper makes it easier to search for items, packs into its side pocket, very compressibleEasy to pack, comfortable shoulder straps, excellent pockets, super durableHighly weather resistant, easy to pack, comfortable shoulder strapsEasy to pack, bomber construction, burly frame, internal dual-zippered mesh pockets, very maneuverable, highly water resistantGood pockets for organization and access, lightweight, comfortable to carry as a briefcase
Cons Only comes in two volumes, shoulder straps are fine but aren't particularly comfortable and they don't extend long enough to use as a shoulder slingNot super light, fabric is a little stiffExternally accessed pocket is on the smaller side, shoulder straps take a little more work to removeSome organizational options but not as many as othersNot quite as weather resistant as other models, not as durable as other contenders
Bottom Line Our review team's favorite smaller duffel to be used both as a stand-along option or to be packed away in larger luggage and broken out when the situation calls for it.While the Base Camp Duffel faces stiffer competition than it used to, it remains the duffel that all others are compared against.From its streamline design to its top notch weather resistance and multitude of lashing options, this is a solid duffel.This model offers a top-notch blend that makes it easy to transport and highly weather resistant.A top-notch model that is slightly less expensive than others, without giving up much in the way of features, pockets, carrying options or overall durability.
Rating Categories Lightweight Black Hole The North Face Base Camp Gregory Alpaca Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Marmot Long Hauler
Ease Of Transport (22%)
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6
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6
Ease Of Packing (22%)
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Durability (22%)
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Weight (24%)
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Weather Resistance (10%)
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7
Specs Lightweight Black... The North Face... Gregory Alpaca Patagonia Black... Marmot Long Hauler
Weight (Pounds) 1.12 pounds (45 liter model) 4.06 pounds (95 liter model) 3.72 pounds 7.5 pounds (70 liter model) 3.5 pounds (105 liter model)
Volume Size Options (Liters) 30, 45L 33, 50, 69, 95, 150 L 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 L 40, 70, 120 L 38, 50, 75, 105 L
D or I opening Diagonal I" D D D D
Back Pack Straps Yes Yes Yes No Yes
# of pockets (excludes main compartment) 1 3 2 3 4
Info window No Yes Yes No No
Material 7.1-oz 210-denier 100% nylon ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR finish 1000D phthalate-free TPE laminate body with additonal 840-denier Jr. ballistics nylon on the bottom 900D TPU diamond rip-stop material with additional layer of 630D nylon on the bottom 900D 100% polyester rip-stop (50% solution-dyed) with a TPU-film laminate 1000d TPE Laminate (Phthalate-Free) 100% Polyester with 1680d 100% Nylon Ballistics reinforcement material on end and bottom

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is a compact addition to any adventurous traveler's quiver of luggage. This versatile travel companion is small enough to be used as a carry-on and fits in most overhead compartments. It also compresses into its side pocket and packs down small enough that we found it to be the perfect option to throw into larger luggage, and then broken out later for organization, on-trip purchases, or any number of other reasons.

Performance Comparison


The Lightweight Black Hole wins our Top Pick Award for being the best all-around smaller duffle. It was our review team's favorite bag because it worked well both as a stand-alone option or could be packed away in larger luggage and broken out when needed. It was also the lightest  most compact  and most weather resistant duffel in our review.
The Lightweight Black Hole wins our Top Pick Award for being the best all-around smaller duffle. It was our review team's favorite bag because it worked well both as a stand-alone option or could be packed away in larger luggage and broken out when needed. It was also the lightest, most compact, and most weather resistant duffel in our review.

Ease of Transport


This model features two lightweight shoulder straps made out of tubular webbing. These shoulder straps work well as handles for briefcase-style carrying and offer the advantage of being durable, low weight, and quite compressible. However, for use as a backpack, they get the job done, but aren't the most comfortable on your shoulders.

Our review team found them comfortable enough for most average loads that you could manage to fit into the 45-liter model. If you are someone who often finds themselves toting around particularly dense or heavy items, we'd recommend a model with cushier, padded shoulder straps as these aren't the most comfortable if pack it to the brim.

We liked a lot of things about this model. One of the few things we didn't love was how narrow its un-padded webbing shoulder straps were. They were fine for moderate loads but if we had heavier-than-average items packed  the straps would start to cut into our shoulders.
We liked a lot of things about this model. One of the few things we didn't love was how narrow its un-padded webbing shoulder straps were. They were fine for moderate loads but if we had heavier-than-average items packed, the straps would start to cut into our shoulders.

We liked the two grab-loops featured on each end of this model; they certainly made throwing it into luggage compartments easier. However, if you have larger-than-average hands, you have to wrestle with the bag to fit your mitts into the loop, especially if the bag is maxed out capacity-wise. If you are a traveler who frequents more remote locations, you'll appreciate the loops featured on all four corners of the bag. The loops make it easier to strap this model onto jeeps, pack animals, sleds, boat decks or wherever else you might find yourself.

We like the grab loops featured on each end of this model as they made moving the bag around a touch easier. However  for folks we larger-than-average hands  you might find them a little small. In this photo  tester Ian Nicholson's hand is in the photo and you can see there isn't much extra room for him to get his hand in and out (and he commonly wears a medium-sized glove).
We like the grab loops featured on each end of this model as they made moving the bag around a touch easier. However, for folks we larger-than-average hands, you might find them a little small. In this photo, tester Ian Nicholson's hand is in the photo and you can see there isn't much extra room for him to get his hand in and out (and he commonly wears a medium-sized glove).

Ease of Packing


The Lightweight Black Hole features a relatively unique diagonal zipper. This small design cue strays from a typical straight-down-the-middle zipper design, which made it easier to rummage and search for items. However, our testing team didn't necessarily find it a lot easier to pack.

The diagonal variation on the traditional single straight-across zipper design was more beneficial than we were expecting and it certainly made it easier to search for items in the bag.
The diagonal variation on the traditional single straight-across zipper design was more beneficial than we were expecting and it certainly made it easier to search for items in the bag.

Several testers independently commented that this design made it easier to search through, particularly at the ends where smaller items may have worked their way deeper into the bag. While this design worked well for the smaller volume of this duffel, we'd prefer the more substantial "D" shaped opening for larger models.

Showing this model's diagonal (versus straight-down-the-middle) zipper  which made it easier to dig around for lost items than the traditional design.
Showing this model's diagonal (versus straight-down-the-middle) zipper, which made it easier to dig around for lost items than the traditional design.

The Lightweight Black Hole also features a small zippered pocket on one side to help give its user a few options to stay organized. This pocket isn't the traditional "flat" pocket that is seen on the sides of most other and is sewn into a rectangle and is free hanging, meaning more items fit inside and it's easier to find things (and harder to lose items). This pocket doubles as a stuff sack to compress the bag for storage. It also minimizes the amount of space it takes up if you're packing it as a secondary bag, which is then placed inside a larger piece of luggage.

The side zippered pock on this model was actually the most user-friendly pocket of any model we tested in several ways. One  it wasn't just a flat pocket; it was gusseted and thus was easier to search through. It can also be accessed from both the inside and the outside  and it doubles as a stuff/storage sack for the duffel itself.
The side zippered pock on this model was actually the most user-friendly pocket of any model we tested in several ways. One, it wasn't just a flat pocket; it was gusseted and thus was easier to search through. It can also be accessed from both the inside and the outside, and it doubles as a stuff/storage sack for the duffel itself.

Durability


The Lightweight Black Hole is made from a robust 210D rip-stop Nylon with TPU-film laminate that is reinforced on the lower half of the bag. As you might expect, the Lightweight is crafted from material that is not as thick as other Black Hole models. For example, the standard Patagonia Black Hole uses 900D rip-stop Nylon, compared with this model's 210D. The lighter weight material allows it to be more compressible (and lighter) for its intended use.

While not the burliest bag in our review  our entire testing team was super impressed. It is reinforced in the right places and while on the thinner side  its TPU-film laminated 210-D Nylon TPU proved plenty durable enough for its size and for most users.
While not the burliest bag in our review, our entire testing team was super impressed. It is reinforced in the right places and while on the thinner side, its TPU-film laminated 210-D Nylon TPU proved plenty durable enough for its size and for most users.

Despite what (at least on paper) appears to be a pretty significant difference in the thickness of the fabrics, in our experience, we were impressed by how well this model held up. It's certainly not as burly as most of the other models in this review, but it isn't frail and is beefy enough for its volume. For the most adventurous travelers, it will withstand countless adventures.

Weight


This model lives up to its name as the "Lightweight Black Hole" and weighs only 1 lb 2 oz, which is the lightest model in our review.

It has a very minimalist focus, as it is lightweight and packable. It's worth noting that when we say this model is the lightest in our fleet, it is also the smallest volume. With that said, it would still very likely be the lightest model if it was built in a 90 liter. For example, the 45-liter Lightweight Black Hole weighs 1 lbs 2 oz, while the 50-liter The North Face Base Camp weighs 2 lbs 12 oz, and the standard 45-liter Patagonia Black Hole weighs 1 lb 11 ounces.

The Lightweight Black Hole was an incredibly weather-resistant model in our side-by-side comparisons and real-world tests.
The Lightweight Black Hole was an incredibly weather-resistant model in our side-by-side comparisons and real-world tests.

Weather Resistance


This model was one of the most weather resistant models we tested. The material was fully weather resistant, and its water-tight zipper let the least amount of water in. We directly sprayed it with a hose, and almost no water found its way in. In our side by side testing, it performed better than all the other models we tested. Only the Top Pick Yeti Panga is more weatherproof than the Lightweight Black Hole. The Yeti is fully submersible, and durably so.


Best Applications


This model is great for any adventure where you need a smaller bag that is compact and/or extremely weather resistant. It excels as a smaller bag on its own for almost any type of travel or simply as a bag to help keep you organized in the trunk of your car during road trips. It became our go-to option for any trip where we wanted a smaller secondary duffel to be brought along for various reasons but it started the trip compressed and packed inside of our main luggage. Our testing team loved it for this application, as well as the fact that it compressed so small, packing into its side pocket. On top of that, it still offered some similar performance characteristics that many other models in our review provided.

Highlighting the lashing options on this bag.
Highlighting the lashing options on this bag.

While we love this model for many uses, it is worth noting that currently, it is only available in two volumes, which include 30 and 45 liters (as well as a tote, and two daypack size packs). These sizes are great for use as a carry-on piece, shorter trips, or to be used as smaller duffel to help stay organized. Its low profile shoulder straps are decent for most loads that might fit into this bag but if you are someone who carries heavier items, this model isn't the best, and we'd go with something different.

Value


The price is similar to a handful of larger models. We found its unique advantages, such as low weight and an impressively small packed size, coupled with its solid durability and top-tier weather resistance, made it a good overall value.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is a perfect option for any adventurous traveler to have in their quiver of luggage. It was our favorite of the smaller duffels and is an impressive stand-alone option. We also liked using it as a secondary bag, which can be broken out when the situation calls for it.


Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson