The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is our Top Pick for Small Adventures. While this model's largest available size is smaller in volume than all the other models we included in this review, it remains our Top Pick even when compared to the comparably smaller versions. We loved this model because of how lightweight and compact it is, compressing down into its pocket which doubles as a stuff sack and takes up the least model space when not in use. This meant that this duffel is the perfect option to be stashed in larger luggage and then broken out when a smaller bag or more space is desired. Besides being a tremendous auxiliary piece, it is also a competent standalone model that can be used on expeditions, as a carry-on, or simply to help organize the car. For travelers who find themselves frequenting more exotic, less developed, or wet locations, this is the straight-up most weather resistant model we tested.
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Review
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
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole is a fresh, compact addition to any adventurous travelers 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.
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 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 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.
Ease of Packing
The Lightweight Black Hole features a relatively unique diagonal zipper.
This small design strays from a typical straight-down-the-middle zipper design, which made it easier to rummage and search for items. Instead, it features a diagonal zipper. However, our testing team didn't necessarily find it easier to pack.
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 we thought this design worked super well for the smaller volume of this duffel, we'd prefer the larger "D" shaped opening for larger models.
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 in fact is sewn into a rectangle, and it's free hanging, meaning more items fit inside of it and it's easier to find things and harder to lose things. This pocket doubles as a stuff-sack or stuff pocket to compress the bag for storage. It also minimizes the amount of space it takes up if you're packing it as a secondary bad, which is then placed inside a larger piece of luggage.
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, which is to function as a deployable bag or a smaller stand-alone bag.
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.
This model lives up to its name as the "Lightweight Black Hole" and weighs only 1 lb 2 oz, which is by far 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.
This model was one of the most weather resistant models we tested.
The material was the most weather resistant, and its water-tight zipper let the least 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.
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 maybe 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 own side pocket. On top of that, it still offered some similar performance characteristics that many other models in our review provided.
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 were 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.
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.
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.
— Ian Nicholson