Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 55L Review
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Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 55L
|Price||$169.00 at REI|
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$149.00 at REI
|$229.00 at Evo|
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|$137.95 at Amazon|
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|$134.95 at Evo|
|Pros||Lightweight, very spacious, backpack straps, waterproof, super durable||Airplane-friendly shape, comfortable harness system, thoughtful pocket placement, lightweight, versatile design||Distributes weight nicely, highly organized structure, comfortable & removable straps, sturdy handles||Protective and durable shell design, affordable, good harness system, useful clips and straps||Removable straps, compact, waterproof, attachment loops, handles on each side|
|Cons||One open compartment, limited organizational pockets, can feel slouchy when not full||Does not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpadded, may not fit under an airplane seat||Too many pockets for minimalist travelers, does not fit under an airplane seat, not the best for loose/large items||Protrudes from back, may not fit under airplane seat||Limited organizational pockets, lacks comfort when fully packed|
|Bottom Line||A duffel-style backpack with an unmatched weight to volume ratio and excellent durability that is well suited for multi-day vacations or expeditions||With a spacious and thoughtful design, this is a versatile bag meant for airplane travel and outdoor adventures alike at an affordable price||A stylish and slim 40-liter three-way travel backpack with stellar organization and a comfortable harness system, perfect for a weekend warrior||This travel backpack is easy to pack, organized, and very durable, though a little bulky for quick trips||A compact duffel style bag perfect for the minimalist weekend traveler who doesn't need the added organization of backpack straps|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Black Hol...||REI Co-op Ruckpack 40||Topo Designs Global...||Osprey Porter 46||The North Face Base...|
|Packing and Accessibility (25%)|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (15%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Black Hol...||REI Co-op Ruckpack 40||Topo Designs Global...||Osprey Porter 46||The North Face Base...|
|Volume of Main Compartment||55L||40L||40L||46L||42L|
|Measured Weight||2.57 lbs||2.10 lbs||3.65 lbs||3.23 lbs||2.6 lbs|
|Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better)||21.4||19.05||10.96||14.24||16.15|
|Dimensions||26.7" x 15.7" x 11.8"||24" x 13" x 10"||22.5" x 14" x 7.5"||21" x 14" x 12"||23" x 14.67" x 10.2"|
|Carry-on Size Compatible? (22" x 14" x 9")||Yes, if squished||No||Yes||Must be cinched down||Yes, if squished|
|Measured Stuffed Dimensions||27" x 16" x 12.5"||22" x 9" x 14"||22.5" x 14" x 7.9"||22" x 14" x 12"||22" x 13 " x 9"|
|Fabrics||900D recycled polyester, 200D recycled polyester||Recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved)||1000D recycled nylon, 400D recycled nylon, 210D recycled nylon, 1680D recycled ballistic nylon||420D nylon hex diamond ripstop, 420HD nylon packcloth||300D recycled polyester tarpaulin, 840D recycled ballistic nylon|
|Frame Type||None||Ventilated mesh||Foam with nylon padded backpanel||Stiff foam||None|
|Access Type||Clamshell||Top loading||U-Zip||Panel loading, zips all the way open||Clamshell|
|Number of Pockets||Internal/external zippered side pocket, interior mesh lid,||6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle||External: 2 large zippered security, 2 water bottle
Internal: 1 laptop, mesh organization
|7 zip, 8 no zip||4 zip, main compartment divider option|
|Waist Belt Type||None||Padded||Removable||Padded||N/A|
|Sternum Strap||None||Yes||Yes||Yes, whistle||N/A|
|Different Sizes Available?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Volume Options||40L, 55L, 70L, 100L||18L, 28L, 40L, 65L||30L, 40L||30L, 46L, 65L||32L, 42L, 62L|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This soft 55-liter pack is 27 x 16 x 12.5 inches when stuffed and weighs less than three pounds. It is great for longer trips and durable enough to potentially last a lifetime. Read on to see how the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel held up to our testing regime.
Patagonia is known for checking all the boxes, but it is difficult to make a truly comfortable duffel-style pack without a proper harness system, especially at this size. The 55-liter Black Hole Duffel is big, soft, and stuffable, which means it can get heavy very quickly. The shoulder straps are somewhat thin but surprisingly comfortable as the foam is dense.
The comfort of this bag highly depends on what you're packing and how you pack it. Since it is essentially structureless, packing things like hard shoes by the back panel doesn't feel good. It's best to put heavy items, like boots, down at the bottoms and softer, lighter items close to your back and at the top of the pack. Packing cubes are also very helpful here, and having a fully stuffed backpack helps keep everything in place.
At the end of the day, not having a hip belt on a 55-liter backpack is somewhat of an oversight, but the Black Hole is meant to be a duffel that can be carried like a backpack and not the other way around. When considering that, we understand why the design doesn't prioritize backpack-style comfort.
The Black Hole Duffel offers two different carry modes: a snap-secured set of handles that carry like a duffel and a backpack-style with over-the-shoulder straps that attach and detach via D-rings and Duraflex buckles. The D-rings are super incognito without the backpack straps attached, and they work very well, despite what our testers expected when first inspecting the design. The buckles at the bottom of the bag don't have a garage to tuck into, so they flop around a little, but they still remain mostly out of the way.
There are daisy chains on each side, great for clipping water bottles, climbing shoes, or any irregularly shaped items that might make the inside feel too bulky. The two hauler handles on each side of the bag, made of folded nylon webbing, are great for moving the duffel around while it's open or pulling it out of an overhead bin. The main compartment zipper is covered with a storm flap for weather resistance. That, paired with hefty YKK zippers, truly helps keep moisture out, even in heavy rain.
The strap adjusters pull up rather than down to tighten, which is unique to some Patagonia bags. We are unsure of how we feel about it. Some testers prefer the feeling of pulling the straps up to tighten, while others prefer pulling down and back. The one thing we all agreed upon is that pulling them forward means that they flop around in front of you, which can be a little annoying when on the go.
Speaking of annoying, the duffel straps share the same side as the backpack straps and have nowhere to go when you have the Black Hole Duffel in backpack mode. This makes it easy to get your arms stuck in the duffel-carry straps when putting it on as a backpack, and if the straps are clipped together, they tend to dig into your back.
Packing and Accessibility
The Black Hole Duffel is modeled after a true duffel bag and is therefore very simple without the need for excessive organizational pockets. It has a small quick-grab zipper pocket that is accessible from both the exterior and interior. This pocket also comes with a minimal key clip.
The main compartment has tons of room with little organization, as you'd expect from a duffel. Like many travel bags with large main compartments, we suggest using packing cubes for optimal organization. There is also a shallow zippered mesh compartment on the main flap, which is great for anything you'd like to keep separate from the larger bucket-style compartment. The mesh makes finding smaller items easy, although it would be nice to have a few smaller mesh pockets for organization sprinkled throughout this pack.
Volume to Weight Ratio
The Black Hole Duffel is available in sizes as small as 40 liters and as big as 100 liters. The 55-liter pack we tested only weighs 2.57 pounds — this is insanely lightweight for its carrying capacity making this bag a top contender in this metric.
The TPU-coated, 900D ripstop polyester that makes up the Black Hole is an absolute dream. Duffels like this are meant to be placed on the ground, tossed up into overhead cabinets, and brought along on treacherous expeditions, so durability is paramount.
The nylon webbing daisy chain and grab handles are all made of 100% polyester and are Bluesign-approved recycled material. The number 10 durable YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware ensure longevity in all the moving parts, and the bottom of the bag is also slightly more padded for protection.
Should You Buy the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel?
If you are looking for a lightweight duffel-style pack with a high volume capacity and durability to match, then this bag is pretty close to perfect. Not to mention, it's rather affordable for the space it provides. That said, if you're more focused on organization, structure, and features, this may not hold the value of other packs in this category. We feel the Black Hole bag is a high-quality duffel at a fair price with lightweight yet durable material components.
What Other Travel Backpacks Should You Consider?
If high volume is your main priority, another pack that offers high-quality comfort is the Osprey Fairview 55. It is heavier than the Black Hole Duffel but has a comfortable backpack structure and useful features like a removable daypack and internal compression straps. The Peak Design Travel 45 is another favorite, but it is almost twice the price and geared towards the traveling photographer or business person.
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