Rubberized duffle bags aimed at outdoor pursuits date back to the '70s, but it wasn’t until Patagonia launched its Black Hole version in 2004 that the durable duffel became a status symbol among modern adventure travelers. (For those of you rushing to the comments section to remind us that The North Face introduced its Base Camp Duffel years earlier in the 1970s, you’re right—but that bag didn’t rise to a level of mainstream ubiquity until Patagonia’s Black Hole paved the way.)
The latest addition to the Black Hole line is the revamped MLC collection, which is headlined by the Black Hole MLC 45L. It's a clamshell-style bag that can be carried either as a backpack or over the shoulder. The bag also features multiple grab handles, lots of organizational pockets, and a small strap that allows it to be slotted over the roller handle of any wheeled luggage. Conveniently, the MLC 45L is sized to meet most carry-on size requirements, too.
In addition to the MLC 45L, the expanded Black Hole collection also includes a smaller 26-liter panel-loader ($199) version of the travel bag, a rod case ($239) with adjustable dividers designed for safely transporting fly rods, and a roll-top packing cube ($65)that might be the collection's sleeper pick here.
While each of these bags are noteworthy from a lifestyle travel perspective—Patagonia's backpack-duffel hybrid joins a growing category of travel bags that put versatility first to give travelers flexibility on different kinds of trips—it’s the material they’re made out of that makes them distinctly Patagonia. The TPU used to coat the rest of the Black Hole line can be tough on the environment, which is why Patagonia has been working directly with factories on ways to recycle it. The new MLC line features an industry-first recycled TPU, and everything on the bags from the webbing to the coatings is recycled. According to Patagonia, the only materials on the bags that aren’t recycled are the buckles and the zippers.
If your future plans include travel, whether it be a weekend at a cabin or a one-way to foreign lands, these new Black Hole MLC bags are worthy companions.