Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L Review | Max Legal Carry-On Travel Bag

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L Review | Max Legal Carry-On Travel Bag

– The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45 Liter, or Maximum Legal Carry-on, is designed to be one of the largest bags that you can take with you on a flight. Works a little bit better on U.S. airlines that allow for larger bags, not quite as well in Europe and Asia. I’m Tom, the founder of Pack Hacker, where we use our expertise
and real world experience to provide practical resources and honest opinions, guiding you towards smarter travel. So if you’re new to the
channel, consider subscribing. This bag is in the camp of one of the original bags that encourages
one-bag carry-on travel, so excited to how this stacks up compared to other backpacks and bags that we’ve been reviewing
recently on the channel and over on the website. Let’s jump in and check it out. (upbeat instrumental music) The main material of this bag is a 100% ripstop
polyester with TPU laminate and DWR coating for
added weather resistance. We like that Patagonia has moved to 100% recycled material, and the TPU on the bag gives it a bit of a rubbery and tarpy feel. At the time of this review, The Black Hole MLC 45 Liter carry-on is available in three different colors. We have black, Hammonds
Gold and sage khaki, available over on We have the Hex Grey that doesn’t appear on the website anymore. However, Patagonia is always playing with colorways and styles. If you look at some of the other Black Hole products in the line, like the packing cubes
or the smaller duffel, they have a lot of colors available, and the colors are always changing up. So we wouldn’t be surprised if Patagonia rolled this out in more
colors as time goes on. We’ve definitely seen it in
other colors in the past. From a branding perspective, there is a pretty large Patagonia logo going down vertically on
the front of the pack here. There’s really no mistake that you are wearing a Patagonia bag
when you have this thing on, and then there is another logo on the wearer’s left shoulder strap. That’s just the standard
Patagonia colored logo. We like where this one is
placed and the size of it. However, on the front, we think that this is a little bit large and kind of screams at
you a little bit too much. In our testing we didn’t receive too many positive compliments on the look. We decided to throw it out
to our Instagram audience and get their take on
the way the bag looks. So if you wanna be
involved in future polls, be sure to head over and follow us @packhacker on Instagram. To wrap up the rest of the materials, we have a durable water-repellent coating for additional weather resistance on the exterior of this bag. We have Duraflex hardware used on places like the sternum strap where the straps attach to the bag, as well
as the strap adjusters. And then we have Japanese YKK zippers. We especially like that a number 10 really big YKK zipper has been included for the main closure of the bag. Let’s kick it off with the harness system, or rather the more duffel bag-like carry that these straps provide. The straps themselves are comfortable, and they have a bit of a curve as well, to add to the ergonomics, just to fit your body a little bit better. Below these two nylon loops, one where the logo is, we have a sternum strap with
a thin PALS-like webbing where it attaches with
some plastic hardware. Typically we like to have sternum straps that attach a little bit more permanantly by buckle of something of that nature. But these plastic clips
have done pretty well so far in testing. One funky thing on this bag is that the strap adjusters at
the bottom are reversed. So instead of pulling these straps down and towards your back to tighten, you sort of pull them
up towards your chest to tighten straps up. And that’s okay, that’s
a little bit different than what we are used to. The one negative that happens is that if you use these elastic keepers and kind of tighten it up and try to manage some
of that excess strap, the rest of the strap can kind of flap around near your chest
and just kinda get in the way. So definitely something to note. A little bit different here than the standard pull back to
tighten on other bags. This area at the bottom can kind of weirdly stick into your
back and hips as well, especially these clips on the side, as well as at the bottom here. It kinda gets bunched up if you don’t have a laptop in here holding that space a little bit more, and if you don’t have this
thing fully packed up. It can kinda stick to your lower back a little bit weirdly as well. The straps here are easy to
unclip and stow away quickly, if you wanna carry this
bag in briefcase mode or messenger mode with the shoulder strap. Overall, we think this bag is pretty blocky in messenger mode. It’s big, not necessarily
comfortable to carry. And if it’s full, it’s gonna be kinda this giant rectangle
on the side of you. And if it is empty, it’s gonna kind of contour to your body and curve around, providing a weird look
and an uncomfortable carry to go along with it. We think that this is suboptimal and not the best experience. However, your mileage may vary. We’d love to hear in the comments below if you like carrying bigger bags like this in messenger style. On the harness system
there’s really no frame sheet on the back to speak of here, really nothing that gives the bag additional structure, unless you have a laptop inside of here. We get why duffel bags and
duffel bag/backpack hybrids are designed this way. However, with the Patagonia MLC 45 Liter, it is kind of like a giant rectangle, and we think a little
bit of structure added could go a long way for this bag. Wrapping up the back panel, we have a luggage pass
through slash pocket going on in the back here. So if you unzip the bottom part here, that’s a luggage pass through. If you keep that zipped up, it can be used as a quick drop pocket close to your body when you’re wearing this in messenger style mode. And if you are gonna use this on top of a piece of luggage, say, you have a roller bag and your partner has this, or vice versa, something like that, you just wanna make sure
that that roller bag is big enough and has
enough structure at the base to support this thing, because it’s a massive bag and, again, pretty much
no structure at all to it. There are two handles, one at the top and one at
the wearer’s right hand side. We’ll definitely take a handle any day, and it makes traveling with
these bags a lot better. If you want an example of a company that does side handles really well, check out the Evergoods CTB 40. They actually have these
aluminum stays on the side that support and structure the bag as you’re carrying them
from the side handle. And they’re also really low
profile when not in use. I think Patagonia could
learn a thing or two from Evergoods on that. Next up we have a bit
of a side pocket here. At first we thought it
was for a water bottle. However, it’s just for a luggage tag that you can quickly pull out. You can put any information in here. Not really sure if anybody
that finds this bag is gonna know where to look for that, but it is there. And originally we kinda
wanted a water bottle pocket, but since this is the MLC design where everything is
just as big as possible, we kinda understand why they didn’t include one with this bag. But really we don’t think this luggage tag is super useful, and it’s not very intuitive if somebody was gonna find your bag. Another side handle could’ve
sufficed here as well. And lastly we have a row of
PALS-like military webbing going on the top and the
bottom front of the bag here. Now this isn’t really standard, the way that Patagonia has sewed this on. It’s more like little tiny loops rather than flat across, but it’s good for attaching
additional accessories or a carabiner if you wanna hang anything on the outside of the bag. Starting with the front we have a small vertically zippered pocket here, horizontal if you’re wearing
it in messenger mode. We pretty much find ourselves just dumping anything that we
needed to dump in quickly into this pocket. Great if you’re at the airport, you wanna put your wallet, your phone, your keys in there as you’re
going through security. Directly behind that we have a compartment that is pretty large, give you access to a bunch of different organization options inside. On the flap there are three liner pockets at the back that go down
about the entirety of the bag, and they are equally sized across the bag. In the front of those two pockets, there are two mesh pockets on one so you can easily see
what’s going on inside, and then on another there
is a smaller liner pocket. And on the front of that liner pocket, we have three places for
pens, pencils and styluses. And to the side of that
there is a padded pocket that appears to be perfect
for a smaller flip phone or something of that nature. Okay, that is a lot of
organization going on in the front flap. Behind that in the main compartment, obviously there is a
big space for anything you wanna put in here, maybe just like a jacket or something that you wanna shove in quickly. And behind that there are
two velcro liner pockets that go down the entirety
of the bag as well when it’s sideways. We like the velcro here on these pockets. However, with those
velcro strips so small, that can be hard to
quickly match the hook side with the loop side of the velcro if you’re in a hurry, depending on how the
liner has shifted around. Overall we dig all the
organization going on in this pocket. We just wish it zipped
down a little bit further, so we could get better access to the organizational pieces inside. Moving on to the back of the bag, we have a pretty large
opening for laptops here, and this is going down, again, vertically if you are in backpack mode, horizontally if you’re in messenger mode. There is padding on the
back and the front of this. Again, no frame sheet for
that additional structure. A lot of the stiffness
of the bag is gonna come directly from your laptop. But it is just a big, cavernous space that can fit larger laptops as well. Additionally, there is
a false bottom here, which means that the laptop
is a little bit suspended compared to the bottom of the bag. So there’s a little buffer, a little padding there to help protect from unexpected drops. Now opening up this main compartment, we are greeted with this
big number 10 YKK zipper, and we like that that’s there
for additional durability. On the right hand side we pretty much have a giant bucket with
a mesh zipper on the top. So you can just load this up with clothes, Folded and rolled sweatshirts, everything, just kind of pack it out. But again, packing cubes
are gonna help with that additional structure here. Any packing cubes will really do and add some structure to this bag. However, you could use
the Patagonia Black Hole packing cubes if you wanna keep everything in the same visual family. And those are a little bit stiffer, which again will help give
this bag some structure. Check out our full review
on the Black Hole Cubes if you wanna learn more
about how they work. The top flap, although shallow, offers some additional
organization as well. On the front there are
two mesh divider pockets that are good for socks and underwear, things of that nature that
are flatter and smaller. And behind that, there
is another large pocket that goes across the entirety of the top flap of that bag. Again, good for flatter items. Maybe you wanna throw some
dress shirts in there, things that just wanna remain separate from the rest of the items in your bag. At the time of this review, Mark and I had been testing this bag for about one month in Detroit, Michigan. On the durability end, there are a couple small things to point out. We have some loose threads
on the small front pocket, and then we have some of
the TPU on the outside has started to scratch in a couple areas. We’ve seen this on a lot of
other bags with this material, so definitely expect that as a pattern in this kind of material. It will affect weather
resistance over time if it continues to get scratched up, so if you’re hard on it, that TPU and DWR will start to scratch off. And now, overall, on
that material as well, we would just prefer to not have any aesthetic blemishes
on it to just begin with. I mean, we’ve only been
using it for a month. Overall, we wish that was a little bit better right off the bat, especially with a bag of this price point. In usage, this thing is really a beast. You kind of need to
create your own structure with this bag, with packing
cubes and items inside. If it’s not full, we found the carry to be highly affected. When we loaded this up with clothing and other travel-like items, we found the structure to be pretty good. However, if you wanna bring
this to the grocery store and load it up with items of different sizes, shapes and weights, it’s just gonna be a mess. It’s not comfortable to carry and the bag just kinda
goes all over the place because it’s really floppy. Between the different carry modes of duffel, backpack and messenger, we didn’t really find any of these modes to provide the comfort that
we would like in a bag. Sometimes bags that are trying to do all these different
styles are a bit too much, especially at this larger size and this rectangular shape. If you wanna get a larger duffel, say, something around 50 or 60 liters that you can just abuse
and throw things into, and check when you bring a
smaller carry-on on the plane, that definitely works as well. But this kind of rectangular shape sort of sits in the middle
of both of those two styles. We think this is a bit
tough for urban travel, especially on the plane. And bags like this are
usually better checked. So to wrap this thing up
with some pros and cons, the straps are comfortable and ergonomic, even though the rest of the harness system doesn’t really support them. There’s some nice organization options in the front pocket. The max volume carry-on works well for a lot of airlines, especially domestically here in the U.S. On to some of the cons. There is very little bag structure that provides a floppy carrying experience if it’s not perfectly packed and loaded. The TPU material scuffs
and scratches easily, affecting the weather resistance overall. Lastly, this bag is
not optimized for carry in backpack mode, messenger
mode, or briefcase mode. We’re not the biggest fans of large bags that try to be a backpack, messenger, and a duffel all at once, especially if the backpack
harness system is not optimal. We get what Patagonia is going for here, and if you’re looking
for a large carry-on, it could work for you. This is one of the original
bags that kicked off the one bag movement. However there are better,
more comfortable options out there on the market
for bags of this size. So there you have it, our review of the Patagonia MLC 45 Liter. Be sure to let us know
in the comments below what you think of this bag. We would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for keeping it here at Pack Hacker, your guide to smarter travel. We’ll see you in the next video.

13 thoughts on “Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L Review | Max Legal Carry-On Travel Bag

  1. They need to stick with their flag ship Black Hole Duffels! Those are a beast.

    As far as the airline's lost and found is concerned, they don't recommend luggage tags, however they do recommend you lay a 8-1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper on top of your packed clothing with all your flight information, To and From with flight numbers, your name and cellphone number and name and address of your hotel or wherever you're staying.

    I've been doing that for several years now, if I "have to" check a bag. However, I only put identification tags on carry-on bags like you demonstrated.

    Thanks again for another thorough video!

  2. I have the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45. This style of backpack duffle at this size was a mistake for me. Not comfortable in any carry mode. I might like the 30L size better.

  3. I've got quite a few issues with this design tbh.
    – A 45 l bag will get heavy – the harness system really doesn't look like it'd be at all supportive enough for any length of time. Not even an option for a hip belt?

    – The laptop compartment is at the bottom of the bag if you set it down flat. That makes me nervous. 45 l can get REALLY heavy.

    – The backpack straps are located on the same side that'll be in contact with the ground if you're out and need to access the main compartment. No thank you.

  4. You should compare this to the Patagonia Tres MLC 45L. It has a very similar design, but I personally like the material and look much better.

  5. Can I make a suggestion? In some of the other videos the Instagram poll result is summarised briefly instead of just being displayed on the screen. It would be great if this became standard practice, as it can be difficult to see the results on a small screen. Either way fantastic review as always

  6. Damn, I want to like it so much, especially now that it's 100% recycled. The floppiness and no water bottle holder kills it though.

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