It's time we admit it, duffel bags are officially a thing – and have been for a few years now. There are more duffel bag designs out there now than you can shake a stick at. It used to be a plain old army surplus olive drab shapeless canvas sack was sufficient, but now there's even duffels advertised as "bespoke", a code word for waaaaaaay overpriced.
Happily good value and good design are still alive and well, and a perfect example is Patagonia's new Lightweight Black Hole collection. It includes various packs, totes and bags, and we've been reefing on the 30L duffel for a while now. The lightweight series is a takeoff on the normal, burly Black Hole bags, using less material and generally being constructed in a tough but not overbuilt manner. A good general rule of thumb is, if your luggage is traveling on a forty-year-old ridiculously over-decorated bus with chickens, goats and other assorted livestock, some tied to the roof, go with the beefier version. For everyone else, the lightweight series is the ticket.
The 30L tips the scales at just one single pound. That's a lot of storage space for not much weight. The zipper is cleverly designed to open diagonally corner to corner, the extra length giving just a little extra access to contents, and there are plenty of grab options: handles on each end, plus two long adjustable webbing straps that allow you to carry the bag over the shoulder, as a backpack or normally in the hand. We don't recall seeing this simple but amazingly flexible handle setup before, but it quickly won us over with its practical versatility.
The Lightweight Black Hole Duffel stores into its own pocket, and a key keeper does double duty as a handle for it in that configuration. It's just another nice touch on a really thoughtfully designed product. The whole duffel is bomber, with ripstop nylon and extremely water resistant laminate construction. With the durability, flat bottom design and light weight we're really looking forward to using this as a sled bag for glacier travel and big mountain work. The Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Duffel is a very nice piece of gear that should serve a long time. And now is a great time to support Patagonia and other vendors that are working to protect the places we love to go.