I first heard of the Black Hole Bag from a friend who was packing for Turkey and couldnít find hers. She called to ask if I had one she could borrow. I didnít, and she explained that she wanted one to pack in her luggage so she could use it to bring back a Turkish rug. She eventually found her Black Hole Bag and succeeded in her shopping goal.
If I were to guess, I would say Patagonia named their Black Hole Bag for the simple reason that it fits far more than it appears it would. When this bag arrived at my doorstep, I wasnít confident it would be big enough for my month long ski trip to Europe. I immediately started packing it in my living room just to be sure. After the ski boots, ice, axe, crampons, helmet, harness, and other backcountry ski gear was loaded into it, I realized I would still have room for the clothes I needed, and even extra clothes that I didnít need but would bring anyway (a bad habit of mine).
Here are a few reasons as to why I like the Black Hole Bag:
1) This bag has rounded edges and a soft rectangular shape. Therefore, you
can place your big stuff in the big spaces, and fill in all those gaping spots with more items. It worked well for my ski trip and I was still able to place another (empty) backpack in it for later use.
2) There are some bomber handles on the lengthwise parts of the bag, so if youíve got a bit of weight to maneuver, two folks can share the load. These handles also make it easy to pick the bag up from one end.
3) If your weight isnít too unbearable, you can use the shoulder straps and waist belt
and carry this load like a backpack. The shoulder straps are adjustable and removable. I prefer to place them inside the bag for check in at the airport.
4) Inside there is a mesh zippered pocket to help you keep an eye on the important smaller items that could be swallowed up in the bag.
5)The Black Hole Bag also has an external pocket that zips for organizing your maps, train tickets, or for keeping a few energy bars nearby.
6)There are compressible straps on the outside of the bag. This helps in reducing the extra space you donít need and securing the space that you do.
7)It is weather resistant, water resistant with double-layer construction.
If you are petite in height and put a lot of extra weight in your bag (yes I HAD to bring back two bottles of French wine in my ski boots), carrying it can become a bit more of a challenge. I did find myself doing the old woman walk, bent over at the waist when I really loaded it down. But hey, the souvenirs were worth it!
Overall, the Black Hole Bag worked very well for my trip (along with a ski bag). Although I had considered luggage with wheels, I was glad I had this bag, as I encountered stairs everywhere and the backpack option made it quicker to get around when I had short train connections to make.