The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Patagonia Black Hole 25 Review

A fantastically water-resistant bag that offers great versatility and performance.
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Price:  $129 List | $114.98 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Best weather resistance, versatile, easy to adjust, good organization
Cons:  Lacks laptop protection, smaller fit
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Katherine Elliott ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 21, 2018
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Laptop Protection - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Storage - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 15% 10
  • Style - 10% 5

Our Verdict

Active lifestyles, on-the-move schedules, and fast-paced workflows are all tough on our technology and equipment. Luckily, the Patagonia Black Hole 25 fills the void and accommodates it all. With light and sturdy polyester ripstop fabric and a highly waterproof and durable finish, this is a strong choice if you plan on working and cavorting in the elements and need to tote along a laptop as well. With a few surprisingly fun features, this backpack caters to the active, adventurous working individual. It's a perfect option for those seeking a water-resistant pack for bike-commuting to work or hanging out in the elements.

New Hues
Patagonia updated the colorways for the Black Hole 25, but otherwise, it's the same pack.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $114.98 at Backcountry
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$159.95 at REI
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$149.94 at Amazon$129.95 at Backcountry
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$88.55 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Best weather resistance, versatile, easy to adjust, good organizationDurable, waterproof, cool features, stowable rain fly and helmet net, lots of storage, ultra protectiveGreat organizational capacity, effective use of space, comfortable, adjustable, separate laptop side-accessVersatile, great storage, water-resistant exterior, fantastic laptop protection, comfortable paddingFunctional, plentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, inexpensive, versatile
Cons Lacks laptop protection, smaller fitExpensive, not super stylishExpensive, lacks cushioning on the bottom of the packProblematic fit, long torso, roll-down top is not stylishNot super stylish
Bottom Line A fantastically water-resistant bag that offers great versatility and performance.Our favorite backpack geared for any bike commuter, student, or traveler.Our favorite for everything from lugging around electronics to going to the gym.A perfect option for the bike commute to work or tromping around town.This highly spacious laptop backpack offers functionality and value that is unmatched.
Rating Categories Patagonia Black Hole 25 Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter Incase Icon Thule Paramount 24L The North Face Borealis
Laptop Protection (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
Storage (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
Style (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
Specs Patagonia Black... Thule Pack 'n... Incase Icon Thule Paramount 24L The North Face...
Volume (L) 25 L 24 L 17 L 24L 28 L
Weight 1.8 lbs 2.4 lbs 2.1 lbs 2.2 lbs 2.7 lbs
Number of Compartments 1 2 4 2 2
Dimensions 21 x 11 x 6.5 in. 15 x 6.7 x 19 in 19 x 13 x 9 in. 11.6 x 10. 20.5 in 19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 in.
Number of Large Pockets 2 1 3 2 2
Number of Small Pockets 5 2 14 2 9
Key Clip? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Reflective Material? No Yes No Yes Yes
External Side Pocket(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
External Water Bottle Holder? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Fits Laptop 15" 15" 15" 15" 15"
Hip belt No No No No Yes
Sternum Strap Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

One of the facts of an active working lifestyle is that you tend to become very familiar with every weather scenario that your region tends to materialize. For us, this meant testing in a high elevation mountain town in the late fall where the fickle weather can be sunny and warm one day and then rainy and snowy the next. Having a bag that is weather resistant is crucial for keeping your electronics safe and dry when commuting in the elements. The Black Hole was just the right blend of trendy and functional to accomplish this task.

Performance Comparison


Even when this pack was fully loaded  it maintained a very comfortable fit.
Even when this pack was fully loaded, it maintained a very comfortable fit.

Laptop Protection


This model didn't take home the highest scores in the laptop protection department, but one nice feature is that it also includes a smaller padded tablet or small electronic device sleeve as well as the larger padded sleeve for your laptop. One function that stood out is the buckle to secure your laptop in place in the carrying sleeve; this gave peace of mind that the laptop won't slip out or excessively move around too much while in motion. The buckle is especially handy while carrying smaller laptops in the padded sleeve.

The Black Hole laptop backpack had a buckle to secure your larger laptop and featured a smaller padded pocket for a tablet (or in our case  an 11" Chromebook).
The Black Hole laptop backpack had a buckle to secure your larger laptop and featured a smaller padded pocket for a tablet (or in our case, an 11" Chromebook).

Comfort


We appreciate the features of this pack. The straps are padded and very comfortable, which helps when the pack is loaded heavily or with cumbersome items, and there is a sternum strap for added stability. While the heavy molded back panel made for a comfy commute on most days, it did get warm on longer bike commutes and isn't super breathable. We also wish for a hip belt when carrying heavier items.

The Black Hole series by Patagonia never disappoints. Although not an award winner  this is a highly functional water resistant backpack that can also carry a laptop.
The Black Hole series by Patagonia never disappoints. Although not an award winner, this is a highly functional water resistant backpack that can also carry a laptop.

Storage


The large single chamber compartment made it easy to access and load everything from kale to climbing shoes. The interior drop-in organizer pockets help store small items such as pens and earbuds that might otherwise get lost in the bottom of the large main compartment. This contender also includes two mesh water bottle pockets on the outside of the bag, although the lightweight mesh was not as resilient as the durable fabric that encompasses the rest of the bag.

The stretchy mesh water bottle holder was big enough for a full-sized Nalgene  but just barely.
The stretchy mesh water bottle holder was big enough for a full-sized Nalgene, but just barely.

It also features a smaller semi-padded pocket for smaller items like a tablet or portable electronic device. A tube port lets the laptop sleeve double as a hydration sleeve, and there are side stretch pockets for water bottles. It fits a full-size Nalgene, but you have to cram it in there. The plethora of functions makes it versatile for all sorts of activities.

Take a look at all the fun features and storage of this pack by watching this video

Ease of Use


The feature that stood out about the Black Hole is the large webbing strap on the front that provides a briefcase-style carry. This detail is nice when loading the bag into or out of our vehicle quickly. The top-loading design makes it easy to load and pack our gear, be it books and papers or an extra change of clothes. It even fit gym shoes, along with everything else we needed for the day. The sternum strap can be clipped to any of four positions along a daisy chain on the straps, offering great versatility, but not the same on-the-fly adjustability as other designs. The bonus, however, is that the sternum strap will not slip.

The sternum strap in highly adjustable and can be clipped in anywhere along the webbing along the straps.
The sternum strap in highly adjustable and can be clipped in anywhere along the webbing along the straps.

Water Resistance


Patagonia does not list a waterproof rating for Black Hole 25, stating "The pack is not waterproof. It will be water resistant". With that said, it is incredibly water resistant. It features a TPU film laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. It will keep your gadgets dry even in the worst of simulated downpours.

This was one of the highest-ranking packs for water resistance out all the packs we tested. It has a durable water resistant coating applied (DWR)  which could wear out over time and with use (and might need to be reapplied).
This was one of the highest-ranking packs for water resistance out all the packs we tested. It has a durable water resistant coating applied (DWR), which could wear out over time and with use (and might need to be reapplied).

Style


Patagonia boasts a polished look about their products, which often suit multiple tasks. The Black Hole 25L is no different. With its sleek, streamlined design and a large single chamber compartment, it can be sported in and out of the office. Although the look made it feel a little more outdoorsy, the Black Hole 25L fits all kinds of occasions.

With its outdoorsy feel  this pack is better suited for an outdoor environment rather than an office  both functionally and style wise.
With its outdoorsy feel, this pack is better suited for an outdoor environment rather than an office, both functionally and style wise.

Value


This bag is pricey. Even though this is on the pricey side, Patagonia's Ironclad Guarantee stands behind this product, replacing it under any condition. We'd say this is a high-value backpack, despite the high price.

The pack's design made it very comfortable while biking.
The pack's design made it very comfortable while biking.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Black Hole 25L is a highly functional pack, especially for the outdoor-minded individual. It has plenty of room for all your gear and gadgets, keeps your electronics dry and organized and is in it for the long haul.

Built to withstand the elements  the Black Hole 25L is a great choice for an everyday outdoor backpack that can also hold your laptop.
Built to withstand the elements, the Black Hole 25L is a great choice for an everyday outdoor backpack that can also hold your laptop.


Katherine Elliott