PATAGONIA BLACK HOLE DUFFEL 60L
Patagonia's Black Hole Duffel line has 4 sizes, 45L, 60L, 90L and 120L. The 60L is perfect for hauling around gear with its burly fabric while still being carry-on size.
- Size/Shape - The 60L duffel is just within carry-on size limits. With a little coaxing, I've gotten it to fit into even the smaller overhead compartments. For carrying gear on a plane, a duffel bag has advantages over a backpack in that it doesn't have any hard panels that can't be compressed. Also, a rectangular shape can hold more volume than a backpack which is generally taller and skinner with a rounded top. Finally, the rectangular shape is easily stacked versus a cylindrical shape like the North Face Base Camp Duffel.
- Fabric - Like everything in the Black Hole line, the duffel material is highly water-resistant and extremely durable. My model uses 14.7-oz 1,200 Denier Polyester with a TPU laminate and a DWR finish. The current model uses 15-oz 900-denier polyester ripstop. After a year of use, both my Black Hole Duffel and Black Hole 25L pack clean up easily and still look shiny and new.
- Shoulder Straps - There are a bunch of expedition duffels on the market made of burly materials and have shoulder straps for backpack carry. Shoulder straps make it much easier to carry a duffel compared an over-the-shoulder strap. With that said, don't expect carrying a fully packed duffel to be as comfortable as a pack made for backpacking. This is still a duffel bag, just with the convenience of backpack carry.
All Black Hole Duffels except the 45L have Patagonia's standard padded shoulder straps with a quick release buckle on the bottom end. The ability to quickly remove one end of the shoulder strap is handy to get the straps out of the way when accessing the main compartment. Also, the top of the shoulder strap can be unthreaded to completely remove the shoulder straps. I'd do this if I was checking the bag to eliminate the chance of something getting snagged on the baggage carousel. The latest version has a D ring buckle on the top making it even easier to remove.
- Pockets - There is one exterior pocket that is sized well for a small tablet or travel documents. On the interior, there are two mesh pockets on the lid flap. One thing to note, be careful what you pack in that region because pointy items will be digging into your back when you wear the duffel as a backpack
- Handles - There are two thick haul handles on each end of the duffle for easy handling. There are also side webbing handles with a snap closure. You'll notice I did something unorthodox and cut off my side handles. In my experience with duffel bags in general, the side handles tend to get in the way; always getting in the way of the main opening or accidentally getting zipped into the main compartment. So after a few uses, I cut off the side handles and have been happy with using just the end handles and shoulder straps. The shoulder straps in particular function like side handles.
- Padded Bottom - The duffel has a padded bottom which protects your gear. With my unpadded duffel bags, I used to strategically pack the delicate items on the top with my clothing on the bottom for padding. With this duffle bag, I don't have to worry about items on the bottom.
- Capacity - I'm been impressed with how much gear I can get into this duffel. I have used it to carry trad climbing gear for two people as well as used it to carry equipment for a 3 day camping trip. In both cases, I was able to carry on.
Recommended uses - Any kind of travel, especially if you need to maximize your carry-on capability. With my duffel and 25L pack, I can carry a lot with a carry-on bag and personal bag.