Patagonia Black Hole DuffelWhen you need a bag to carry everything—and I mean everything essential—the duffel is hard to beat. Sure, it doesn’t have fancy wheels, and the shapeless tubular style isn’t always great if you have far fewer things to pack inside, but that same shape is fantastic for cramming your gear inside and hauling it to the ends of the earth, or your closest mountain.

The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel comes in four sizes (45L, 60L, 90L and 120L), so you can get the one you’re likely to need depending on your sport, length or trip, and packing style. This review is for the 90L size, which is just right for me, whether it’s a cycling, skiing, or general outdoorsy trip.

The durable, weather-resistant bag can easily carry a week’s worth of gear and protect that gear from rough handling, assuming you’re not packing any delicate electronics in there.

The polyester ripstop fabric has a highly weatherproof TPU laminate and a durable water-repellant finish. It’ll propel a lot, but don’t assume water-repellent means waterproof. The seams and zippers aren’t meant to keep every last drop out. A full 50 percent of the fabric is solution dyed, meaning it’ll keep its color longer, and if you accidentally scratch it, you won’t see another color popping through.

The main compartment is accessed through a large, zippered U-shaped lid, which is far better than the slash zip of traditional duffels. On the underside of the lid, there are two zippered mesh pockets for storing smaller items. The zippered exterior pocket holds the gear you need to access quickly. The cushioned bottom adds structure and also protects your gear when you’re tossing the bag around.

An internal compression system helps you keep your stuff from sliding around too much, which is helpful when you’re carrying the bag around, as well as trying to locate your stuff when you open the bag.

Carry the duffel by its haul loops, webbing handles, or padded removable shoulder straps. The daisy chain loops allow to you add gear to the outside of the bag, as necessary.

If you’re skilled at folding and stuffing, the side pocket is also able to act as a carrying bag for the entire Black Hole duffel. It comes packed that way when you buy it, and once I unpacked it, I realized I’d never be able to stuff it back in the carrying pocket again. I tried, believe me. The video on the Patagonia site runs through the merits of the bag, however I think for us folding-challenged people, it might be good to add a segment on getting the bag back into the pocket.

The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel comes in a variety of sizes, from 45L to 120L. This particular review was of the 90L size, which is somewhat like a Goldilocks bag (just right) for my travels. It comes in black, classic red, forge gray, underwater blue and aqua stone, and lists for $149 on the Patagonia site. It’s also available at REI and Backcountry.

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