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The Portable Hole creates an extradimensional space that is 6 feet wide in diameter and 10 feet deep. It can be folded to the size of a handkerchief, weighs effectively nothing no matter what is carried in it, and has no weight limit as to what can be put inside of it. It requires one action to spread it on the floor and access it. The description says nothing about being able to damage or cut the hole with typical weapons. Beings in the hole can breathe for 10 minutes before beginning to suffocate, with no mention going towards how many creatures are in the hole.

The Bag of Holding contains an extradimensional space that is 2 feet wide in diameter and is 4 feet deep. It is about the size of a regular carrying bag, weighs 15 pounds regardless of what's put in it, and has a 500 pound weight limit as to its contents. It requires one action to reach into the bag and pull something out. The description also mentions that if the bag is pierced, such as with a sword, the bag will rupture, and all its contents will be ejected into the astral plane, with the bag itself being rendered unusable. Breathing creatures inside the bag can survive up to a number of minutes equal to 10 divided by the number of creatures (minimum 1 minute), after which time they begin to suffocate.

With all of these factors taken in, it seems like the portable hole is in every way better than the bag of holding - bigger, more easily carried, even allows breathing for longer apparently. Yet all I hear from adventurers these days (at least those in my group) is "can we have a bag of holding? Can we have a bag of holding? Can we have a bag of holding?" I'm sorry, but I'm stumped -

How is the bag of holding in any way better than a portable hole, other than its iconic nature in the history of D&D?

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Advantages of the Bag of Holding:

  • Removing items costs an Action, whereas with the hole you have to actually climb in to get something. Drawing an item from the bag in combat is reasonable (if expensive); from the hole, not so much

  • The bag is less suspicious. Unless you draw something that obviously would not fit, a Bag of Holding just looks like a bag. A portable hole is going to look highly magical when in use.

  • Needs less space. The bag is just the size of a bag; the Portable Hole requires a 6ft diameter space to open up against. Not very practical in the crowded space of a dungeon.

  • Not as hard to get. The Bag of Holding is an Uncommon item, the Portable Hole is a Rare.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nitpick: The hole is 6x6, not 10x10. Still, not something you can open in 5' corridor. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel Jan 26 '18 at 6:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I somewhat disagree with the second bullet. A portable hole can be folded up to the size of a handkerchief and wouldn't look conspicuous unless it was attached to something. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Jan 27 '18 at 1:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the suspicion is indeed in using it. I think the bag of holding is preferable if you want to frequently get stuff out of and/or put stuff into the bag? Maybe the portable hole is better for long-term storage, but in my understanding that's not the only use case. \$\endgroup\$ – daboross Jan 27 '18 at 2:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich what daboross said; it's suspicious when open. The Bag usually isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 27 '18 at 18:02
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The hole is slower to use and more vulnerable to enemy interference. It may take only an action to spread it on the floor… but then you have to jump down into the hole to reach its contents, let alone find exactly what you're looking for, then climb out, then use the item. Meanwhile enemies are stabbing you and/or jumping in there too to steal your stuff.

By comparison, the bag is quicker and more secure than the hole. It magically brings whatever you're looking for to your hand with a single action — the hole has no such convenience feature.

Capacity, exterior bulk, speed, and convenience are all tradeoffs. When you have time and security, the hole is better, but when time and safety are scarce, the bag is far better.

This is assuming too that the choice is even relevant. If you find a bag of holding, there's usually no genie nearby to ask for it to be swapped for a portable hole!

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    \$\begingroup\$ you mean the enemies will fold the hole up in the meantime, with you inside? \$\endgroup\$ – ilkkachu Jan 26 '18 at 11:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ilkkachu: Well, they could try. And if they manage it, you're in serious trouble. Notably, other players may injure themselves laughing. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dallman Jan 26 '18 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ikkachu Ouch, I hadn't even thought of that danger. Yes, that's something to worry about. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 26 '18 at 18:15
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You can use an action to unfold a portable hole and place it on or against a solid surface, whereupon the portable hole creates an extradimensional hole 10 feet deep. The cylindrical space within the hole exists on a different plane, so it can't be used to create open passages. Any creature inside an open portable hole can exit the hole by climbing out of it.

When it comes to D&D, DM'S in discussions of mechanics have to on the fly come up with snap decisions. Now its perfectly OK for them to just rule one way or the either on a whim, but any DM thats been around awhile will most likely use the wordings either to their or the party's advantage.

Ex. The portable hole says its 10 feet deep but offers no further written description of how much space it has on the inside beyond that. A DM could rule the hole is literally just a six by 10 feet deep hole in which case its volume is ridic lower then the bag of holding.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 6 feet diameter, 10 feet deep is smaller than 2 feet diameter and 4 feet deep? What metric are you using to determine the size of a bag of holding? \$\endgroup\$ – inthemanual Dec 18 '18 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @inthemanual: 2 feet in diameter and 4 feet deep are only the outside dimensions. (This is also supported by the 3.5e version of the item, which explicitly says those are the outside dimensions (and the inside is bigger). Obviously, it doesn't prove the same is true in 5e, but it substantially strengthens the case.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 18 '18 at 2:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2 "The bag can hold up to 500 pounds, not exceeding a volume of 64 cubic feet." A 6 foot diameter, 10 foot deep cylinder is significantly larger than 64 cubic feet. \$\endgroup\$ – inthemanual Dec 18 '18 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your right I completly pulled a dumb and thought of the hole simply as 10 feet deep hole has I think close to 200 more volume then a bag of holding? That being said bag of holdings wording still makes it (In my humble opinion) a better storage item then the hole , theoretically it would take 3 actions to pull an item out of the hole (one to place the hole, one to climb in , one to climb out) unless you want to dump everything inside the hole outside all at once and adhere it to a big enough surface above you. Bag of holding requires a single action to pull out any item. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Coonradt Jan 21 '19 at 6:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ A circle with a 3 foot radius (6 foot diameter) has an area of roughly 28.3 square feet; the volume of a portable hole is 283 cubic feet. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Mar 25 at 12:27
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Portable holes are more versatile than a bag of holding. Especially when it comes to dungeon traversal. It says you need a 6' x 6' area to open it, but it doesn't specifically state that you have to use a floor.

Stick it on a wall. Most dungeons are tall enough for a medium creature to easily traverse (medium creatures being at least 5' tall.)

An example of traversal is getting party members into the hole, sliding under a locked door jam, and the person inside just needs to make a DC 10 Strength check to pop out.

Another use for portable holes that you can't really use a bag of holding for is portable alchemy/resting areas, and also as traps. Any gnome or wizard can cast illusions on the top of a portable hole, and make it look as if the ground or walls are uninterrupted.

The third thing the portable hole has above the bag of holding is purely space. It has ~282 cubic feet of space inside. Yes 282 cubic feet, which is bigger than any bag of holding even the type 4 variant which holds 250 cubic feet of stuff, but weighs 60 lbs.

Now for the fourth thing the portable hole has is that there are no weight restrictions. Case in point: 10k silver coins would fill a very small treasure box and use up almost half of the weight a bag of holding would be able to hold, but fill up less than 1/10 of the space inside (64cubic foot variety.) Whereas the same treasure chest would just fill a tiny space in the massive portable hole.

If I were to have a choice of either I'd probably go for the portable hole just for its utility. If I were to pick one for in combat utility than it'd either be the bag of holding or a handy haversack. Still for nearly everything else the portable hole reigns supreme.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mar 24 at 22:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is only one variety of bag-of-holding in 5E. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Mar 25 at 12:25

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