The best part of being a climber is that you have a reason to travel a lot. I’m always looking for a new solution to the pain in the ass that is hauling around ropes, hardware, climbing shoes, and enough technical clothing to handle the wide range of conditions you often experience on a climbing trip.
I got a chance to check out the Black Hole Wheeled Duffel in the 45L size. This is really more of a carry-on-size suitcase for a weekend of travel. To me, though, it’s way too small to be very useful. And, at $299 it seems way too expensive, too. Though some people, especially the most frequent business travelers, might appreciate having a luggage piece of this size on wheels, the frame adds too much weight and bulk.
Instead, for a 45-L duffel, I would recommend the $99 45L non-wheeled duffel size. For a 45-liters worth of clothing or gear, you don’t really need wheels. In addition, the lack of wheels make the duffel easier to squash into the back of a packed up car or the overhead bin on an airplane.
That said, I think a big, fat roller duffel is mandatory for getting around airports and to the your destination. I have taken international trips without wheeled luggage, and I think it sucks.
Therefore, the 100L Wheeled Duffel justifies its size, weight and price ($349) by having the capacity to hauling around all your climbing stuff when going abroad. When I go on trips, I usually carry on my climbing pack (stuffed with clothing), a laptop bag, and then put all the ropes and other climbing gear in a big roller, as well as sleeping bag, down coats, and more technical apparel that I won’t need while in transit.
Sizing issues aside, what I really like about these Patagonia Black Hole duffels is that they are totally bomber and offer a lot of weather protection—which you never know if you need, but is definitely nice to have.