Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Review
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
— Jediah Porter & Ian Nicholson