Hands-on Gear Review

Patagonia Black Hole 25 Review

Price:  $129 List | $129.00 at REI
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Best weather resistance, versatile, easy to adjust, good organization
Cons:  Lacks laptop protection, smaller fit
Bottom line:  A fantastically water-resistant bag that offers great versatility and performance.
Editors' Rating:   
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Volume (L):  25 L
Dimensions:  21 x 11 x 6.5 in.
Weight:  1.8 lb.
Manufacturer:   Patagonia

Our Verdict

Active lifestyles, on-the-move schedules, and fast-paced workflows are all tough on our technology and equipment. Luckily, the Patagonia Black Hole fills the void and accommodates it all. With light and sturdy polyester ripstop fabric and highly waterproof and durable finish, this is a strong choice if you plan on working and cavorting in the elements and need to tote along a laptop as well. With a few surprisingly fun features, this backpack caters to the active, adventurous working individual. A perfect option for those seeking a water-resistant backpack for bike-commuting to work or hanging out in the elements.

As a contender for our favorite bike commuting model, this pack is perfect for getting anywhere you need to go. The weather-resistant outer is impervious rain (during our test), and it proves to be incredibly versatile. That said, the Thule Paramount is a better bike commuter because of its enhanced laptop protection, expandable storage options, and additional features. The laptop and main compartment feature two separate side-zipper access points, making it easier to use. Plus, it has better attachment points for a bike light and helmet. We also appreciate the reflective tape on the back that the Black Hole 25L does not have for biking at night. That said, while the Thule Paramount offers great weather protection, it's not as bomber as the Black Hole. The Thule doesn't get in a light storm, but the fabric does eventually leak (not into the laptop compartment). Therefore, if you plan on being in the worst weather, the Patagonia Black Hole 25L is a better option.

New Hues
Patagonia updated the colorways for the Black Hole 25, but otherwise, it's the same pack.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Laptop Backpacks of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Katherine Elliott

Last Updated:
Thursday
June 21, 2018

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One of the facts of an active working lifestyle is that you tend to become very familiar with every weather scenario that your region tends to materialize. For us, this meant testing in a high elevation mountain town in the late fall where the fickle weather can be sunny and warm one day and then rainy and snowy the next. Having a bag that is weather resistant is crucial for keeping your electronics safe and dry when commuting in the elements. The Black Hole was just the right blend of trendy and functional to accomplish this task.

Performance Comparison


Even when this pack was fully loaded it maintain a very comfortable fit.
Even when this pack was fully loaded it maintain a very comfortable fit.

Laptop Protection


This model didn't take home the highest scores in the laptop protection department, but one nice feature is that it also includes a smaller padded tablet or small electronic device sleeve as well as the larger padded sleeve for your laptop. One function that stood out is the buckle to secure your laptop in place in the carrying sleeve; this gave peace of mind that the laptop won't slip out or excessively move around too much while in motion. The buckle is especially handy while carrying smaller laptops in the padded sleeve.

The Black Hole laptop backpack had a nice buckle to secure your larger laptop and featured a smaller padded pocket for a tablet  or in our case  an 11" Chromebook.
The Black Hole laptop backpack had a nice buckle to secure your larger laptop and featured a smaller padded pocket for a tablet, or in our case, an 11" Chromebook.

Comfort


We appreciate the features of this pack. The straps are padded and very comfortable, which helps when the pack is loaded heavily or with cumbersome items, and there is a sternum strap for added stability. While the heavy molded back panel made for a comfy commute on most days, it did get warm on longer bike commutes and isn't super breathable. We also wish for a hip belt when carrying heavier items.

The Black Hole series by Patagonia never disappoints. Although not an award winner  this is a highly functional water resistant backpack that can also carry a laptop.
The Black Hole series by Patagonia never disappoints. Although not an award winner, this is a highly functional water resistant backpack that can also carry a laptop.

Storage


The large signal chamber compartment made it easy to access and load everything from kale to climbing shoes. The interior drop-in organizer pockets are helpful for storing small items such as pens and earbuds that might otherwise get lost in the bottom of the large single chamber compartment. This contender also includes two mesh water bottle pockets on the outside of the bag's sides, although the lightweight mesh was not as resilient as the durable fabric that encompasses the rest of the bag.

The stretchy mesh water bottle holder was big enough for a full-sized Nalgene  but just barely.
The stretchy mesh water bottle holder was big enough for a full-sized Nalgene, but just barely.

It also features a smaller semi-padded pocket for smaller items like a tablet or portable electronic device. A tube port lets the laptop sleeve double as a hydration sleeve, and there are side stretch pockets for water bottles. It fits a full-size Nalgene, but you have to cram it in there. The plethora of functions makes it versatile for all sorts of activities.

Take a look at all the fun features and storage of this pack by watching this video

Ease of Use


The feature that stood out about the Black Hole is the large webbing strap on the front that provides a briefcase-style carry. This is nice when loading the bag into or out of our vehicle quickly. The top-loading design makes it easy to load and pack our gear, be it books and papers, or an extra change of clothes. It even fit gym shoes, along with everything else we needed for the day. The sternum strap can be clipped to any of four positions along a daisy chain on the straps, offering great versatility, but not the same on-the-fly adjustability as other designs. The bonus, however, is that the sternum strap will not slip.

The sternum strap in highly adjustable and can be clipped in anywhere along the webbing along the straps.
The sternum strap in highly adjustable and can be clipped in anywhere along the webbing along the straps.

Water Resistance


Patagonia does not list a waterproof rating for Black Hole 25, stating "The pack is not waterproof. It will be water resistant". With that said, is incredibly water resistant. It is made with a TPU film laminate a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. It will keep your gadgets dry even in the worst of simulated downpours.

This was one of the highest ranking packs for water resistance out of the 9 tested. It has a durable water resistant coating applied (DWR)  which could wear out over time and with use (and might need to be reapplied).
This was one of the highest ranking packs for water resistance out of the 9 tested. It has a durable water resistant coating applied (DWR), which could wear out over time and with use (and might need to be reapplied).

Style


Patagonia boasts a polished look about their products, which often are designed for integration. The Black Hole 25L is no different. With its sleek, streamlined design and a large single chamber compartment, it can be sported in and out of the office. Although the look made it feel a little more outdoorsy, the Black Hole 25L fits all kinds of occasions.

With its outdoorsy feel this pack is better suited for an outdoor environment rather than an office both functionally and style wise.
With its outdoorsy feel this pack is better suited for an outdoor environment rather than an office both functionally and style wise.

Best Applications


This urban style daypack has plenty of room for all your gear, including a decently safe place to keep a laptop. It will keep your goodies dry and safe to a certain degree, with almost any amount of precipitation. The Black Hole is great for a commute while either walking or biking. Overall, a wonderfully versatile bag, perfect for the nastiest of weather.

The pack's design made it very comfortable while biking.
The pack's design made it very comfortable while biking.

Value


With a retail value of $129, it has a high price tag. Even though this is on the pricey side, Patagonia's Ironclad Guarantee stands behind this product, replacing it under any condition. We'd say this is a high-value backpack, despite the high price.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Black Hole 25L is a highly functional pack, especially for the outdoor-minded individual. It has plenty of room for all your gear and gadgets, keeps your electronics dry and organized and is in it for the long haul.

Built to withstand the elements  the Black Hole 25L is a great choice for an everyday outdoor backpack that can also hold your laptop.
Built to withstand the elements, the Black Hole 25L is a great choice for an everyday outdoor backpack that can also hold your laptop.

Katherine Elliott

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 21, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Nov 30, 2016 - 12:32am
Gunkie · Climber · East Coast US

I got this specifically as a commuter bag on the TRAIN. Perfect size for my laptop, tablet, coffee thermos, rain jacket, various wires/chargers, passport, a bit of other documents, pens, business cards and train tickets. Plus it's seemingly really waterproof as it has kept all of my stuff dry walking back to my car in monstrous thunderstorms (about 1/2 mile). Plus it doesn't look like every other computer bag that every other cubicle sloth is carrying into the job. Love it. Plus I use it on business trips to carry my bouldering shoes and chalk bag and water bottle after work to the crags or gym and then to the bar.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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