When we sold our home and bought a boat to live on we knew that we would be traveling a lot. My husband Shane and I believe in having high quality tools to help you through uncomfortable situations. Having proper luggage is the tool we needed for travel. The Patagonia Black Hole Duffel has fit the bill for us.
I wrote a blog post about one of my favorite purchases I made for the boat. There is maybe two other purchases I made that I have a similar love for. This is one of them.
Making the Decision
First of all, you should know it takes me years (sometimes literally) to make a decision on purchasing even the smallest, inexpensive thing. My major concern is collecting junk I don’t use or might break. When I was pregnant with Wyatt I committed to reducing our waste. I documented the whole thing on our family Youtube Channel. I despised clutter and found someone else who shared my same love for a simple household in Bea Johnson. Her book and work in Zero Waste Home still influences my consumption habits nine years later.
Before I tell you about the tool we went with and why I will never buy luggage again, I want to share my process for my purchase decision.
First, I thought about the constraints I was dealing with.
- We’d be traveling every week.
- Our travels would primarily be by car.
- In our car we also would have dry bags of water gear, skateboards, a scooter, helmets, and other bulky things.
- When not traveling, there was almost no space to store the luggage.
- I already had plans to travel by plane.
- Often when we travel by plane Shane carries a skateboard and a laptop bag.
Then, I researched what type of luggage would be best for extensive travel for four people. Whereas, when not traveling the luggage needed to be almost invisible. My assumption was that there was some form of innovative luggage I hadn’t heard of before. I found a few articles the featured roller bags that could shrink down to their frame, or bags with no frame. Ultimately, I liked the idea of having no frame or wheels. Afterall, our immediate needs were for road trips. Plus, Shane and I had traveled with backpacks successfully for most of our 20s, so we know that backpacks work.
Who wants to real down into a backpack to grab out their clothes, especially with a family? So, I looked for bags that could act like a backpack. There are a number of duffles that function as a duffle and backpack, such as the bag from Topo Designs.
Patagonia had amazing reviews and so many videos about how to use it properly. I ultimately went with Patagonia. The REI in Seattle carried the size and color I wanted, so it was available immediately. Plus, it was at an attractive price point for buying two in comparison to other high quality duffles.
I added two compression bags per person to make finding clothes and unpacking and repacking easier. Finding the compression bags back in July of 2021 was another thing! The world was starting to travel again, making travel related purchases hard to come by. I purchased the last ones at The Container Store! They have held out over the last year of weekly packing and repacking for our family of four.
The Patagonia Black Hole Duffle
For a few details. We use two of the Black Hole Duffle 55 liter versions in Navy. There are two zippered pockets. One made of mesh on the top flap of the bag. The second is inside the “black hole” with a zipper that also makes the pocket accessible from outside the bag as well. That pocket was handy for keeping quick access to chargers or flip flops.
The nice thing about duffles is that you can reasonably use the Patagonia Black Hole Duffle as a carry-on too. It really does feel like you can pack everything you would need into its 26.7 x 15.7 x 11.8. inch size. I’m 5’2 and it was comfortable for me to wear on my back walking through the airport. However, you can also use it less than full and still wear it comfortable on your back. So long as we’re healthy and capable, I can’t foresee a reason why we would ever need to use rolling luggage again.
Saving space onboard our boat was easy. The folding of the duffle into a little pouch took a few tries, and maybe a Youtube tutorial in the beginning. Since then it’s super easy. Traditional luggage takes up so much space. This folds into a little pouch.
Patagonia builds products to last! I love that the zipper is heavy duty, it uses plastic instead of metal (ideal for storing on a boat), and that the ripstop helps keep our clothes dry when we’re running from the marina to our car.
I’m grateful for the people who created solutions to common frustrations in traveling and being active outdoors. Especially when they have invested time and money in making the product thrive in its intended use.