Looking for a duffel bag that you can wheel through the airport? The Patagonia Black Hole 70L provides this functionality and more. Versatile in its carry options, you can turn this suitcase into a backpack, carry it with the provided handle, or wheel it along when you're not feeling super strong. It offers 70 liters of unorganized storage, making it a great option for those that love just throwing things into a soft-sided case. The exterior material is exceptionally durable, ideal for traveling to even the most remote places in the world. If you're somebody who can't choose between a duffel or wheeled suitcase, this unique option offers the best of both worlds.
Patagonia Black Hole 70L Wheeled Review
Cons: Wheels skip in tight circles, lacks features
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Hole 70L Wheeled is a durable duffel-bag on wheels. It's simple and doesn't offer much in terms of organizational features, but if you want something you can carry in many different ways depending on where you are and how your body is feeling, this is the ticket. Perfect for the expedition traveler that loves a duffel bag for travel but hates having to carry it through the airport.
Similar to all the Black Hole products by Patagonia, this wheeled duffel can be trusted wholeheartedly. The material is burly, and the large oversized wheels have a sturdy housing. We don't see it happening very often (if ever), but that housing can also be switched out if it happens to break.
The handle on the Black Hole offers two heights for travel and about an average level of reliability in its construction. When under weight, it doesn't bow or flex, but it does feel a little wobbly.
We also love the bomber water-resistant 14-oz 900-denier ripstop fabric. When oriented with wheels down, like a duffel, its hard for water (coming from the sky) to get into the bag. However, when in roller mode, the zippers are more exposed to falling rain. So, if you have items that need to stay super dry in a rainstorm, be sure to either carry your bag duffel style or find a little shelter. Overall, however, we were confident when traveling with this exceptional piece of luggage.
Storage & Organization
Like most duffels, storage is simple. There aren't a huge amount of pockets or compartments to systematically organize all your things. That makes this bag perfect for those that prefer to just toss everything into one giant compartment and figure it out later.
We like the two large zippered mesh compartments on the inside of the front flap, perfect for storing smaller items that can either get lost easily or that you need access to quickly. There are also two compression straps in the main compartment, an external zippered side pocket, and exterior webbing loops for lashing extra gear or helping to attach the bag to a vehicle or pack animal.
The Black Hole we tested offers roughly 70 liters of storage, though it's also available in a smaller 40 and larger 100-liter size. The soft-sided nature of the bag allows it to be packed down and stored flat when not in use, a feature we appreciate.
Ease of Transport
The Black Hole can be carried either like a duffel bag or a wheeled suitcase. The duffel carry handle is bare-bones and straightforward without any additional padding, but it's comfortable enough to make it through a set of stairs or over a rocky streambed.
What's cool is the straps, even though they aren't designed this way, can be converted into a backpack if you want to be hands-free. As we said, Patagonia didn't intend for this function, but we found it useful when going from pavement to dirt roads when pulling the bag on its wheels wasn't ideal.
While the oversized wheels of this bag do a decent job over most terrain, we found these wheels to be a little vibrational and sticky in comparison to other wheeled luggage. It's not a great option if you need to wheel it over cobbles, which is why we appreciate the backpack carry.
The wheel axles on the Black Hole are pretty clean, spinning smoothly without getting gummed up. However, this bag waivers and skips when turning in super tight circles. It even flipped on us once when fully loaded and spinning quickly. The wheels don't have the same capabilities as we observed with many other two-wheeled options. As a result, it doesn't score as high in this category.
However, this bag does provide easy transport in the airport, meandering easily through crowds and lines with its thinner profile. It moves over cracked pavement with ease, whether pushing or pulling. If Patagonia could figure out how to make the wheels a little smoother (maybe skateboard wheels?), it'd be far easier to transport. We also need to mention that we love the long plastic bumpers along the back of the suitcase which make it easy to bump up flights of stairs and over curbs.
With minimalistic construction, this wheeled duffel stands out as super lightweight. It weighs only 8 lbs, making it one of the lightest that we've tested thus far. This allows you to pack in 42 lbs of gear before hitting weight maximums at the airport. If lightweight and simple is what you seek, this suitcase is a perfect option.
Being a duffel bag on wheels, the Black Hole offers a more techy and outdoorsy look. Not designed for formal businesswomen or men, it has a casual look that's best for those who aren't concerned with formal fashion. However, the sleek exterior is reflective and super easy to spot at the luggage claim, and there are many fun colors to choose from.
You get what you pay for. This simple roller duffel may seem like a high price tag, but the reliability factor is top-notch. This bag will last you for many years with its super-durable construction and quality craftsmanship. If you don't already know, Patagonia is known for its quality products and they offer an amazing lifetime guarantee that includes parts that break easily like zippers. If you're seeking a simple roller duffel with decent performance all around, this is a one to consider seriously.
The Patagonia Black Hole 70L suitcase is actually a rolling duffel bag! It offers amazing transport versatility with the ability to roll like a suitcase, securely strap to a vehicle, carry as a duffel, or turn into a backpack (that isn't very comfortable). If you love duffel bags, but long for a set of wheels when you get to the airport, this is an excellent option. Now… if we could just figure out how to make the wheels removable, this would be the best piece of luggage ever!
— Amber King