Patagonia Black Hole Duffel (120L)

By Justin Walker 13 November 2014
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This tough duffel bag is great for hauling gear anywhere

A RECENT MULTI-ACTVITY (trek, paddle and MTB) assignment in Canada presented me with a (literally) huge challenge: I had to pack myriad bulky items into one bag for my flight. Included in my huge pile of essential equipment was: a 40-litre daypack; trekking poles; camera tripod; MTB helmet; MTB shoes; MTB hydration pack; hiking boots; paddling shoes; sleeping bag; sleeping mat and a considerable amount of clothing that would be needed for each of the activities. That led me to Patagonia’s Black Hole, in the 120-litre (Large) size.

I have seen a number of these duffels around but had not used one myself, so the Canada assignment made for the perfect testing ground for the Black Hole. With its adventure heritage, you would think Patagonia would know its way around designing a bomber duffel – and it does.

The Black Hole is made from robust 1200-denier polyester, which includes a TPU film laminate for extra protection and a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatment to ensure it is highly weather-resistant. The padded base ensures your gear receives as much protection as possible when being thrown into the back of a ute/off the back of a mule, etc.

Patagonia has also been smart with the ways in which you can carry or move the duffel around. The removable padded shoulder straps were brilliant when I was in transit at airports; it was just a matter of adjusting the length and slinging the duffel on my back. Even though it is not a proper backpack harness, it is still comfortable when walking short distances. The handles themselves use a snap closure, rather than the usual Velcro, while the haul loops at each end are well attached to the bag and allow you to drag and lift what can be heavy when full of gear.

The duffel also features four daisy chains around the exterior, which are great for helping tie it down on/in a vehicle. There are also interior and exterior zippered compartments; I used the exterior one for storing dirty clothes and my multi-tool. Access to the interior of the duffel is excellent; the large U-shaped opening makes it easy to grab gear from anywhere in the bag.

During the 17 days on assignment, the Black Hole was dragged across airports, thrown in the back of utes and wagons, strapped in to a boat and spent one slightly rainy night outside my tent when I forgot to drag it under the vestibule. The rain was not heavy but I still had a minor freak-out until I checked inside and saw all my gear was still dry. The bag is not fully waterproof (and Patagonia does not claim it to be), but this accidental test showed that it is most certainly weather-resistant.

The Patagonia Black Hole impressed over the testing period. I fit all my equipment in the bag, it was easy to access said equipment, and moving the fully loaded, heavy, duffel around from airport to transport was no drama at all. It is still too early to comment on long-term durability but we’re keeping this duffel on the Australian Geographic Adventure test fleet for the next 12 months and will update its performance in a future issue. For now, e can say that for those looking for a reliable gear-toting bag, the Patagonia Black Hole offers great bang for your bucks.

RRP $189.95