The Patagonia 23L Black Hole Pack is a versatile and tough little backpack that can be used for a wide variety of activities, from taking your laptop to a meeting to carrying essentials on a day hike. I nominated the Black Hole as the best-on-test bag for commuting.
- Easy access
- Haul handle
- Padded laptop and tablet compartments
- PVC-free construction
- No hidden wallet/passport pocket
- Paler colours may dirty quicker
The name Patagonia have given this pack, which to me implies that things disappear once they enter it, is a disservice – because, actually, for a small bag, the Patagonia 23L Black Hole Pack has a lot of capacity for organization.
For starters, it’s designed to carry a computer and tablet safely, which it achieves effortlessly. But there are also internal pockets, for safely keeping things where you can put your hand on them quickly.
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Plus, big, stretchy outside water-bottle pockets on each side double as storage space for a lightweight rain jacket, or as somewhere to stash treats from the farmer’s market.
The Patagonia 23L Black Hole Pack is good for day-to-day commuting, but also for hiking and biking on trails. As well as a tough, weather-resistant and lightweight exterior, the Black Hole’s outer fabric is a shiny PVC-free laminate that’s unbelievably wear-resistant, and the laminated face repels dirt and sheds water.
• RRP: $129 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Weight: 580g /1 lb 4.5oz
• Volume: 23L / 1,404 cu in
• Sizes: One size
• Colours: Smoulder blue / Pumice / Black / Purple
In the field
After a year of using this pack to haul my laptop and other gear on monthly domestic and international trips, using it on regular commuting journeys to my local co-working space, and taking it out on the occasional hike, the laminate still looks as good as new. My pack is black. Presumably, if you buy a lighter color like Pumice, the recycled polyester ripstop on the women-specific shoulder straps and recycled webbing haul handle will get dirty a bit quicker.
The lightly padded sleeves inside the main compartment are big enough for a 15” laptop and a tablet. The tablet sleeve has a microfiber face that kept it from scratching the glass on my iPad. Internal organization pockets held my charging brick and cords as well as my keys. I use the front pocket, which accordions, to carry stuff I’d otherwise have in my purse.
While the Patagonia 23L Black Hole Pack doesn’t have a handle at the nape of the neck, the front-mounted haul handle make it easy to grab off the floor or off the overhead rack on a plane, train or bus.
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