Proven: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel

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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.

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{ 3 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Zirkel

    I thoroughly concur. I too have the same Patagonia Black Hole Duffel, but in grey. This bag has been to Antarctica TWICE, and accompanied me on every major trip, road trip, or gear-intensive overnight for the past fifteen years. Climbing gear? Check. Paddling gear? Check. Dirty laundry even. Fellow travelers often comment on this bag’s sleek design and minimalist lines. I smile knowing this is one piece of lifetime gear that I will never replace.

  • Dean

    I took this bag on my honeymoon 11 years ago. The bag must have sat outside in the rain at the airport because when we got to our hotel everything inside of it was soaked. Additionally, the bag had bled and most of our stuff was dyed orange. Not a fan.

  • David Evans

    I bought an army surplus parachute bag about 25 years ago, it was well made, cheap and durable, I still use it today. Awesome value.

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