I’ve admired the lineup of Black Hole duffle bags from Patagonia for some time. Available in a range of colors and sizes, the Black Hole collection features durable, weather-resistant construction and materials. Removable shoulder straps and numerous lash points make for easy carry and provide options for strapping it down or attaching extra gear.
The abrasion-resistant material is what has always impressed me the most though – these are bags designed for longevity and abuse. Or for many of us, a typical weekend adventure.
- Constructed from a durable, water resistant recycled polyester ripstop fabric with a TPU film laminate
- Full access main compartment
- Zippered side pocket
- Mesh internal full width zip lid pocket
- Removable padded shoulder straps for backpack style carry
- Padded base
- External daisy chains for lashing gear
- Weight: 1,165g (2 lbs 9.09oz)
The Black Hole Duffle doesn’t feature a ton of organization, but it does feature an external zipper compartment and a mesh internal pocket for smaller items. The external pocket is also accessible from the inside, and it’s more than big enough to store a set of socks, underwear, tools, passport, etc plus a few other items. (there’s nothing worse than changing post-ride and realizing you forgot to pack some briefs)
The main compartment is a “throw all your crap in” proposition, which I find a nice selling point. From a cycling standpoint, it means you can easily fit a full-face helmet and pads as well as all your clothing for a day or long weekend. Alternatively, you could stuff in a PFD, wetsuit, roller skates, or whatever the heck you want to carry – large items can easily be stuffed into the large zipper opening.
Should you want more organization, packing cubes are the way to go; Patagonia even offers several options, should you want to go for the matching set. Personally, I like to stuff underwear and socks into a dual-sided packing cube, with the rest just stuffed in.
Admittedly, I mostly travel in a van, so much of my gear is prepacked on shelves in the “bedroom area”. I’ve been experimenting with various methods of organizing clothing and gear, and prior to the Black Hole, was using a few different duffles. The addition of the Black Hole has simplified things considerably.
Size-wise, the 55L is spot on for my needs. I have a number of larger duffles and bags as well as smaller ones, and the 55L seems just right. The duffle is a pleasure to use, and accessing gear is easily accomplished with the full access main compartment. I’ve found the TPU laminate gives the Black Hole a bit of structure, which gives it a bit of that suitcase usability (especially with some gear inside) and the bright yellow interior makes finding items easy. These duffles are available in a wide range of colors and I definitely recommend selecting one with a bright colored liner.
Mountain bikers aren’t known for using suitcases to tote gear; I only use them if I’m flying. I’d definitely fly with this bag if I could bring it on the plane with me, but the 55L is over the size limit and wouldn’t be allowed as carry-on. It would be perfect for an adventure by seaplane and traveling to a base camp. Tossing in my buddies car for the day? For sure – all my gear would fit including my waist pack or hydration pack. I’d even consider it for SUP camping, as the lash points are ideal for strapping on the board. (admittedly I haven’t tested the extent of the water-resistance – I should note that the seams are not sealed)
Also worth pointing out are the backpack straps, which are well implemented. They are especially nice when you’re carrying the bag for any length of time.
When not in use, the Black Hole Duffle can fold into its own pocket for a more compact form factor for storage. It arrives packed in this form as well, which is a boon for retailers.
Patagonia is known for making low-impact goods, and while the bag utilizes recycled polyester for the materials, the durability and long usable life of the bag is really what will keep its carbon footprint down in the long run, as they’re known for lasting years. Admittedly at over $100, the Black Hole Duffle isn’t inexpensive. However, if you’re looking to invest in gear that will not only hold up (Case in point, I have several other gear bags in need of repair with torn seams and holes) but still look good after a few seasons of use, it’s hard to go wrong with a Patagonia product.