The Black Hole line of bags from Patagonia has been a favorite for quite a long time. They’re super strong and travel-ready, and you have to ask just how much can be improved on a duffel bag. Well, here’s an idea – strip off the extra features and sell the same rugged fabric for half the price. The result is the Lightweight Black Hole Duffel.
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Duffel 45L Features:
- Lightweight, bomber nylon ripstop is weather-resistant and highly packable
- Diagonal zipper provides wide access to the main compartment; small stash pocket in main compartment holds essentials
- Micro daisy chain provides various lash points
- Durable tubular webbing grab handles adjust for various carrying options—in hand, over shoulder or as a backpack
- Stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage
- 7.1-oz 210-denier 100% nylon ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- 510 g (1 lb 2 oz)
- 45L tested (also available in 30L)
- MSRP: $99
Stay safe, stay dry:
“Made from 7.1-oz 210-denier 100% nylon ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes the Lightweight Black Hole the Lighweight Black Hole. This bomb-proof fabric is the little sibling of the 900D fabric found on the conventional Black Hole series, and it’s still incredibly strong and weather resistant. I recently went on a trip down to Tijuana with a gaggle of high schoolers to do a service project, and all of our luggage got jumbled up at the airport. I watched (and didn’t intervene, for the sake of testing) as one of these teenagers kicked my back for about 40 yards along the cement of the San Diego Airport’s pick-up area, and when I checked the bottom of the bag later there was hardly a sign of wear.
It’s also a PU-coated nylon weave, which means it has that rubbery sheen which I associate with exceptional waterproofing. There’s also a DWR, which does some of the legwork at keeping rain and snow from soaking into the fabric and ruining your day. All of the bag’s zippers are water resistant, so this thing is really made for wet weather.
One of the advantages of the lighter fabric weave (210D vs. 900D) is that this Lightweight Black Hole iteration can pack down into its own pocket, small enough such that you can stow it away into a bigger pack. So, if you’re traveling in base camp style, take a bigger duffel as your workhorse and then use the Lightweight Black Hole as a day- or weekend-tripper bag. The lower weight and the small packed size is the main advantage of this duffel.
There are several features that I appreciated while testing the Lightweight Black Hole. For one thing, the main compartment zipper runs diagonally up the length of the duffel. That helps the duffel to ‘lay’ open more naturally so that you can see your gear better without having to fight back the opening. Patagonia also used tubular webbing for the carrying handles, which is very strong and pretty soft next-to-skin. Mind you, there’s no padding, so don’t plan on carrying or hauling this bag for long distances with any degree of comfort.
I also found the pocket design to be simple but effective. There’s only one pocket, but it can be accessed through both the inside and the outside of the duffel bag and then inverted to serve as a stow pouch for the bag. There’s a small key lanyard and was the *perfect* place for my ear plugs. Muchas gracias to Patagonia for the minimalist organizational option.
Overall the bag fared very well during my traveling. It survived the abuse of staying in rough places, being packed and re-packed frequently and being crammed with a Mexican poncho that definitely shouldn’t have fit into it. I found that the straps really fell short in terms of carrying the bag for any distance; if you’re planning on doing that, opt for something like the conventional Black Hole series which has a nifty padded carrying strap system. Plus, for me it was hard to get the straps extended enough to fit as a backpack when the duffel was really loaded down. Finally, I’m skeptical about the longevity of those waterproof zippers. If you cram too much stuff into the duffel and then try to zip it shut, you’re going to make those zippers fail sooner or later. Waterproof zips just aren’t that resilient compared to toothy options like what you’d find on a backpack.
The upshot for me is this: this is a great product, but don’t push it beyond what it’s designed for. You’ll be frustrated by the carrying straps and you’ll break the zippers. So, keep it reserved for those adventures that require less gear and less hauling and you’ll be golden.
- Excellent fabric balances weight and durability
- Highly water resistant
- Tubular webbing is strong, soft to touch
- Diagonal zip is a nice touch
- Single organizational pocket is all you need
- Packs into its own pocket easily
- Doesn’t carry well over extended periods of time
The Bottom Line: Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole
For adventures or travel that requires a modest amount of equipment, or bigger adventures that need a more versatile buddy to tag along, the Lightweight Black Hole is a well-designed and ethically produced option. There are other duffels out there, but I have to say it: Patagonia is such a strong leader in ethical sourcing and manufacturing that, for me, the Black Hole series really outclasses the competition.
Buy Now: Available from Patagonia.com