The Patagonia bag we take everywhere – from the office, to the airport, to the mountains

It's not often a bag gets a five star rating from our testers, but the Patagonia Black Hole 32 has smashed the 4.5 star barrier and blown us away.

from Patagonia
RRP  £155.00
Patagonia Black hole 32 product card image starred

by Fliss Freeborn |
Updated on

It's not often you find a piece of gear you fall in love with straight away. But the Patagonia black hole travel bag is marriage material right off the bat: we just can't fault it. It's a versatile, durable, functional pack designed to accommodate a variety of travel and everyday uses - and you can bring it up a hill and it won't look too out of place.

With its rugged construction, ample storage and thoughtful features, we've been using it solidly for around 3 months and it's not once let us down. It covers everything to office use, shopping, weekend travel, and day trip picnics, so let's get into some details of what makes this bag so great.


  • Highly sustainable and ethical brand
  • Functional and versatile design
  • Comfortable carry


  • Large upfront investment
  • Features
  • Construction
  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Sustainability
Volumes25L, 32L
MaterialsRecycled polyester ripstop with weather-resistant, recycled TPU-film laminate
SizesOne size

Design and Build

Side view and waterbottle pocket on the Black Hole

This thing is built like a tank. It's made from 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU-film laminate and a non-toxic durable water repellent (DWR) finish. In plain English, this means it's both environmentally friendly and incredibly resistant to rain; although it's not a fully waterproof bag complete with taped seams, it's pretty close and does survive the odd downpour. The ripstop fabric is tough and capable of withstanding abrasions: by now, we've usually put a hole in at least the mesh pocket, if not the main fabric of a bag - but the Black Hole has stood up incredibly well, and looks as good as new on its 100th day as it did on its first.

Black Hole zipper detail shot_material shot

The 32-litre capacity is the Goldilocks of bag volumes - not too small, but not so large you'll fill it with things you don't need. It's well-suited for daily use, weekend trips, or as a hand-luggage for flights, and it happily stashes away in an overhead luggage rack on a train too. The main compartment is spacious, with a large horizontal style opening that allows easy access to your gear; it's not quite clamshell, and nor is it a vertical zip, but the cuts into the bag about 2/3 of the way up it, at an angle - a great design which allows you to see everything inside properly for easy packing.


the top 'dump' pocket on the Black Hole 32

We love this bag for its minimalist but highly useful approach to compartments. You'll find just one main pocket, but it's in the lid of the bag, making it handy for things like chargers, phones, passports and keys. It's large in capacity but well designed for easy access from the top, without having to scrabble around inside. We'd call it a dump pocket. In the main compartment, there is just a zipped mesh pocket at the back of the bag, which we've found useful for things like jewellery or notebooks. There is no faffing with pen pockets here, or tiny zipped compartments which can store a handful of almonds and little else.

Laptop and magazine pocket at the back

Right at the back panel of the bag you'll find a padded laptop sleeve that fits most laptops (and a magazine or two) quite happily. We forgo the laptop case whenever we use the Black Hole: it's padded enough and has enough rigidity for you not to need to worry about your laptop getting damaged, even in transit. Twin mesh pockets on either side of the bag allow for water bottle or travel mug storage which happily, is deep enough to stop them coming out even when you're swinging the bag off and on.

Comfort and Portability

Fliss wearing the Black Hole 32

Patagonia has designed this backpack with comfort in mind. The shoulder straps are padded and ergonomically shaped to distribute weight evenly, making it comfortable to carry even when fully loaded. We've found loads of around 10KG (diving weights and wetsuits are heavy!) are still comfortable when lugged about over a few kilometres, but more common 5-6kg loads can be carried all day with premium comfort. The back panel is also padded and features a mesh lining to improve breathability, which is particularly useful during long days of travel or hiking.

back panel on the Patagonia Black hole 32

The backpack includes an adjustable sternum strap to help distribute weight over the shoulders, but do note that a lack of hip belt makes this bag more suitable for travel and short trips than for longer hiking. The grab handles on the top and front make it easy to carry the bag in various ways, adding to its versatility. There are also webbing straps on the front should you wish to attach an elastic drawstring for extra gear storage.


Black hole on its travels in south london

The Patagonia Black Hole Backpack comes in a variety of colours, from understated neutrals to vibrant hues. We love the bright red version but if you need something more professional, there's always black, of course. If you're worried about this sort of thing (which, all things considered, we usually aren't) the design makes it an attractive option for both urban and outdoor settings. The aesthetic is modern, pretty minimalist and highly functional.

Sustainability and pricing

Black hole having a fun time on the tube

Patagonia have done a great PR job over the last few years in terms of advertising their approach to sustainability. And we can hardly accuse them of greenwashing because the facts show that they're one of the most ethical brands to buy from, both from the perspective of the planet and its people.

The Black Hole uses a fully recycled fabric, is PFC-free, and is made in a Fair Trade Certified factory, which means a premium is paid for gear produced in those factories. That extra money goes directly to the factory workers, who are among of the lowest paid and most exploited people in the world. The Fair Trade program is also about promoting safe working conditions, environmental protection, sustainable livelihoods, and community development funds.

Patagonia also repairs its gear. You can request this through its repair portal, send it off, and the item will be repaired. If it can’t be, it’ll either be returned to you or repurposed and recycled.

All this, by the way, is why Patagonia's gear is famously not cheap. However, we think it's a fair price to pay for quality stuff that lasts a long long time, and hasn't caused harm during its manufacturing process.


Patagonia Black hole 32 product card image starred

The Patagonia Black Hole Backpack (32L) stands out as a robust, versatile, and stylish option for anyone in need of a reliable backpack which will take years of abuse. Its durable materials and thoughtful design make it suitable for a wide range of activities, from daily commutes to fun off-piste travel adventures.

How we tested the Patagonia Black hole 32

LFTO tester and writer Fliss Freeborn having a great time on a via ferrata in Corsica
©Aaron Rolph

The tester for the Patagonia Black Hole 32 was Fliss Freeborn, one of our staff writers for LFTO. Fliss travels a lot for both work and pleasure, and is always on the lookout for tools which will make this easier. She used the Patagonia Black hole - and indeed, still uses it - for three months on various weekend city trips, abroad, and for commuting. She will also get a bit tipsy and talk about how great it is, hence the rarefied 5 star rating as yet unseen from a Freeborn gear review.

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