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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2013

Gear Review: Patagonia Black Hole Daypack

Durable, efficient, comfortable, surprisingly roomy, this pack survived 200 trail miles and 200,000 air miles and landed its spot as "best all-around."

by: Nancy Prichard Bouchard

Patagonia Black Hole (Ben Fullerton)
Patagonia Black Hole (Ben Fullerton)

Pack Central
See all 2013 Backpack reviews
 [best all-around]
“If I could have just one daypack in my life, this is my pick,” says our tester, a world-class big-mountain skier and wingsuit flyer who toted the Black Hole on a round-the-world adventure from Baffin Island to South Africa to China and beyond. “I used this pack constantly in the front- and backcountry and it was at home everywhere, from planes to hotel rooms to the side of Baffin’s Ottawa Peak.” It blends the durability and streamlined efficiency of a climber’s haulbag with a molded backpanel and padded shoulder straps that can comfortably carry loads up to 20 pounds. The lid’s U-shaped zipper provides unfettered access to the main packbag. On top, a low-profile—but surprisingly roomy—zippered pocket almost magically makes a headlamp, guidebook, and binoculars disappear; the discreet, accordion-style expandable zippered front pouch swallows wallets, boarding passes, an iPad, and maps. An interior organizer panel lets you keep small stuff like an iPod, keys, or a phone secure, and the padded laptop sleeve doubles as a hydration reservoir pocket. The 1,200-denier polyester fabric with TPU-film laminate and DWR finish thwarted every snow- and rainstorm our testers encountered. The zippers aren’t waterproof, but they’re protected by hood-like waterproof flaps.

And the material is darn tough: One pack survived more than 200 trail miles and 20,000 airline miles with far fewer signs of wear-and-tear than our tester. “Lay the Black Hole in the sand and it stays clean. Lay it in snow and it stays dry,” he proclaims. Ding: The webbing waist strap helps stabilize the load, but doesn’t provide any weight-bearing support. $149; 2 lbs. 3 oz.; 35 liters; 1 size;

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star
Aug 02, 2014

I've owned this pack for a year or so, and while I like the pack and agree with most of this review, I have a few areas I think could be improved upon:

1. The zipper under the flaps can be a pain to open. The pull tabs are too short, and my zipper often hangs up on the inner fabric.
2. The lid is apparently not waterproof (or so I've read). It doesn't use the same fabric as the pack, opting instead for a Cordura with attachment loops. Big mistake IMO, since the lid will take the most direct hit in the rain. I would prefer a lid of solid material like the rest of the pack, and perhaps even ditching the lid pocket (which is handy) to eliminate that zipper and increase water resistance further.
3. The angled bottom of the pack drives me crazy! It slopes upward towards the outer part of the pack, so when you set it down, it often tries to fall away from you. I see no advantage to the angle, which also eliminates a little internal volume.
4. The top handle, which is quite nice, a sort of plastic-coated strap, likes to hang down and can sometimes pinch between your back and the pack. Because the strap plastic is pretty stiff, this is quite uncomfortable.
5. The internal organizer could use one or two more of the slightly larger pockets. To me it always feels like I have extra of the (many) tiny pockets and need another "big" one.

I still like the pack quite a bit, but there is room for improvement. That angled bottom probably bothers me the most because being a top loader, you usually want the pack upright when getting into it.

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