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The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L is a classic travel bag that takes your carry-on capacity to the max, but it’s not the most comfortable option out there. View Our Full Review:

0:55 – Material & Aesthetic
3:01 – External Components
7:35 – Inside the Pack
11:02 – Durability & Testing
13:05 – Pros & Cons
13:44 – The Verdict

They say you can’t beat an original. Or can you? The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45 Liter was one of the first bags on the market to encourage one-bag carry-on travel. Now that the concept has become an entire movement, does this classic live up to the legend and outshine its modern successors? You guessed it—you’re about to find out.

First things first, the MLC in this pack’s name stands for Maximum Legal Carry-On. It’s designed to be one of the largest bags that you can take with you on a flight—a concept that works a bit better on U.S. airlines that allow for larger bags and not quite as well in Europe and Asia.

We’re not big fans of large bags that try to be a backpack, messenger and a duffel all at once, especially when the backpack harness system is not optimal. We understand what Patagonia was going for with the Black Hole MLC 45 Liter, and it could work well for you if you’re looking for a large carry-on pack. After all, it is one of the original bags that kicked off the one-bag movement. All things considered, however, there are better and more comfortable options on the market for bags of this size.

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In this video, Tom Wahlin of Pack Hacker reviews the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L, a max legal carry-on travel bag.

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

  1. I would like to know your opinion on the 26L? I haven't been able to find a review on it, but I love the mission of Patagonia Co. so Im looking to purchase the Black Hole 26L MLC and the LW Travel Tote. Im a professional dancer and I live out of my suitcases, but Im trying to minimize to one. Right now, I carry a medium sized suitcase, a carry-on, a backpack, and a guitar wherever I go. Becoming a minimalist and traveling with less is essential. Taking advice from you all at Pack Hacker has been helpful. I really appreciate your information & reviews.

  2. I’m looking for a waterproof/resistant bag which is used daily for gym & work but is the “MLC” design for weekend trips abroad.
    I’ve looked at
    – Osprey Transporter Carry on 44L
    – Thule Subtera
    – Patagonia MLC 45L
    Can people who have used any of these give ideas which is best?

  3. Tom solid video reviews!
    I had this bag last winter on one of my many trips to Asia…used it once and got rid of it. Way Too bulky. Looks like I packed way more stuff than I actually did…Weather its a full load or a few items, it’s just bulky and doesn’t pack right! If I didn’t give it away to my friend I was gunna get 4 compression straps to compress the body down…
    Love Patagonia products… sorry Patagonia- shitty design.
    Skip it.

  4. Hey Tom! Love your videos! Is there any chance of you reviewing the Standard Luggage Carry-on backpack? I live in Brazil and I'm going to USA at the end of the year and I'm considering buying either the Standard Luggage or Aer Travel Pack. It would be nice to hear what you have to say about it =)

  5. Do you recommend a similar, but maybe smaller alternative (35-40L) that is more messenger oriented/less backpack. The reason is I prefer to messenger or briefcase style, and only use stashable backpack straps if distance required. I like the clamshell design and tech sleeve design of this bag but understand why it could get too unwieldy. Thanks!

  6. You all should review anything Mystery Ranch (like the Urban Assault or 2 Day Assault), and anything from Hill People Gear, like the Ute or Terrahumara

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

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