Fifteen years. Fifteen years of use, abuse, and mistreatment, and still the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel does me right.
The duffel has waterproof zippers, it’s lightweight compared to Cordura duffels, and its minimalist design (haul straps at either end and dual backpack straps) means it doesn’t get as tortured by baggage handlers in first- through third-world nations where I’ve lugged it.
It’s also proven its mettle as my overflow bag: I roll it into a tube and zip-tie it that way, then stuff it into the bottom of another piece of luggage. When I acquire the detritus of travel they go into the Black Hole. I’ve done this on too many trips to count and the abuse never seems to show. Likewise, I have no idea how many times this thing has been dragged across the last half mile of an unplowed driveway to a ski shack, up a rock cliff face to a sheltered bivouac, or chucked off the tailgate of a friend’s pickup.
It doesn’t owe me anything and if I ever wear a hole in the underside I’m certain a little duct tape bandage is all I’ll need to heal the wound.
My version, alas, is made of PVC. Patagonia stopped making the duffel with polyvinyl chloride in 2000, when it pulled the plug on anything made of PVC. Polyvinyl chloride, you may know, is nasty in myriad ways. Production of PVC is a major source of dioxin pollution, which when leached into groundwater can be awful for wildlife and for people. Also, to make PVC soft, manufacturers used phthalates — suspected of being endocrine disruptors and carcinogens — which have been outlawed in children’s toys.
So, not only does the Black Hole keep proving itself worthy of carrying and protecting my stuff, it keeps keeping its polyvinyl carcinogens out of the landfill.
Patagonia continues to make the Black Hole, only now in non-toxic polyester, in four sizes. See it here.