eBags’ TLS Mother Lode Weekender is the perfect travel bag for a weekend getaway. It has everything you need to make your trip go smoothly, from comfortable padding and leak-proof construction to an interior that looks out of this world.
You’ve undoubtedly come across the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible if you’re a regular traveler on a budget. It’s a well-liked bag from the Colorado-based online company specializing in travel bags and accessories. The Mother Lode is designed to carry everything you need for travel without having to go to baggage claim. It also “packs like a suitcase, carries like a backpack,” according to eBags. We spent two weeks in Detroit and Minneapolis evaluating the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, and we’ve got all the information you’re searching for.
Aesthetics & Materials
The eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is like a large travel backpack, precisely what it is. Although eBags doesn’t specify it on its website, the primary material looks to be approximately 1000 denier polyester on the black version of the bag, which is a suitable thickness for a pack of this size. On the other hand, polyester isn’t the most durable material compared to ballistic and ripstop nylon—but it’s cheap!
Several large silver zipper pulls on the outside hat jingle a lot. We believe they’re a touch over-the-top in terms of appearance, but they’re noticeable.
The eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible might seem huge when completely stretched. To be honest, we’re not crazy about how this bag appears. It has a “back-to-school” sense that we don’t care for. But, hey, that’s just us—and don’t forget, this bag is roughly a third of the price of some of the more “stylish” travel bags on the market.
The eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is now available in the Solid Black color we’ve been testing and five more colors: Eggplant, Heather Graphite, Sage Green, Sinful Red (yes, you read it correctly), and Tropical Turquoise. Out of all the various colors, we believe the black looks the best—simply, it’s more polished and professional. In our perspective, the others seem to be a little cheap, but your mileage may vary.
There’s a substantial gray embroidered eBags logo at the bottom of the bag and many eBags logos on the zipper pulls for branding on the Mother Lode.
The remainder of the materials on this item includes lockable Zoom Zippers on the outside and polyurethane for further weather protection.
YKK buckles are used on the compression straps, and they are very simple and gratifying to fasten. It’s always nice to have something extra.
Overall, the materials on this bag are “acceptable,” particularly when compared to most of the bags we examine. However, as a consequence, the bag has a shabby appearance. Given the pricing range, this isn’t a deal killer for us, but it is something to be mindful of.
Components from Outside
Let’s move on to the outside components, starting with the harness system, which isn’t exactly this bag’s most vital feature. Although the shoulder straps offer some excellent padding—they’re strong and dense with foam—we’ve found it unpleasant under heavy loads.
Plastic hooks for connecting accessories and a rail for the sternum strap that is disguised by a flap of cloth are among the other components. We appreciate that the sternum strap has some flexibility when worn—not it’s simply a complicated piece of webbing across your torso owing to the elastic.
Although the strap adjustments are simple, we wish there were some elastic loops to keep the extra strap in place.
Returning to the discomfort we described before, we’ve discovered that when the bag is completely laden, the plastic hardware may stick into your back and become unpleasant after approximately 10 minutes of usage.
We can provide some more information since we had two testers look at this bag. Tom, who observed the difficulty, had a little broader frame than Mark, who had no such issues. In other words, your experience may be influenced by your body type. Traveling with this bag would be impossible for Tom, because the only other bag he’s ever had this problem with is the AmazonBasics Carry-On, which has a very identical design.
On the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, a removable waist belt is an option, which is pretty much a requirement with a bag this size. On the other hand, the waist belt s rather flimsy, with little support and no cushioning. Given the scope of this bundle, we were looking for something more significant.
If you want to maintain a low profile while boarding an airline or train, you’ll love the fact that the whole harness system of this bag detaches, enabling you to shove it into a hidden space on the top of the pack.
When you peek inside the zipper pocket, you can see the reinforcement on the straps at the top—we’re suckers for that type of detail. The eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible includes two extra clips on the wearer’s right side that may be used to use it as a duffel or shoulder bag. This is a massive bag in that mode, particularly if it’s enlarged, but it’s always great to have alternatives. We won’t be utilizing this functionality anytime soon, however.
The Mother Lode has three cushioned handles: one on top, one on the wearer’s right side, and one on the back. These handles have the ideal foam density and are completely graspable (we just used the word “perfect” twice, which is unusual around here).
We enjoy how the laptop frame sheet provides the bag some shape and makes it easier to handle. When you take other bags, the extra cloth might sometimes flap about. However, whenyou take up this pack, and it has enough structure that it seems robust.
The eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible may be expanded and compressed in two ways. One alternative is to use the four straps on the exterior. On the other hand, the zipper expansion function adds 1.5 inches to the inside of the bag, allowing you to put more within. The compression straps may then be used to fine-tune the compression, whether the zipper is wholly zipped or fully unzipped. Once you’ve got the zipper where you want it, they are utilized to fine-tune the compression.
There’s a hidden pocket on the exterior hat, stores two more external components: the water bottle pocket and the baggage identity tag. We do have some ideas on these elements (which should come as no surprise).
Because the water bottle compartment is weak and lacks stability, your water bottle will likely flap about on the bag’s side, which isn’t ideal. On the other hand, we enjoy the adjustable drawstring at the top, which fits a variety of water bottles.
Although it might be tough to get that card exactly inside and positioned adequately inside the pocket, the baggage tag is visible from the outside of the Mother Lode, which we adore. However, anybody who comes upon your lost suitcase should have no trouble finding it once it’s in there. (However, you’d never lose your essential travel bag, would you?)
Inside the Bundle
Beginning with the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible’s front pocket, this portion has a diagonal zipper that opens up to reveal a moderately sized stuff pocket. A seam runs parallel to the zipper at the same angle, giving the bag a more consistent appearance and increasing the flexibility of this compartment.
The polyester fabric folds over the zipper coil for a great smooth appearance, but it nearly sounds like you’ll tear the bag as you zip and unzip it. It’s understandably irritating, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
A large horseshoe-shaped zipper opens up to a thin-but-wide compartment just behind that pocket. Except for a keychain with a metal clip for your keys, there’s nothing here. We adored this feature till it was down the next day. We didn’t like it as much after that.
Broken Key Clip eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible. Although the orange inside seems a little cheap, we enjoy it since it makes everything inside easier to see, particularly if you have dark-colored gear.
Although there isn’t much in the pocket itself, the rear flap does provide some excellent organization. There are two layers of zippered compartments that go from the top of the flap to the bottom. Although this isn’t the case on the outside of the bag, we enjoy that the zipper pulls are on opposing sides of each other to keep them apart.
A mesh pocket on the inside provides some 3D functionality, while the additional fabric on the edges allows you to pack more oversized objects. There’s also a very elastic pocket on the left-hand side for longer, more minor things, anda pencil or stylus pocket. This compartment is ideal for flat/thin goods and little tech devices that you want to keep tidy, but you won’t want to (or be able to) place anything too substantial here.
Right above that outer U-shaped pocket is what eBags refers to as its “forehead pocket,” which is a new name for us but one we’re willing to accept. When the pocket is empty, it seems to have a vertical-opening zipper, but when it is completely loaded, the zipper appears to be more horizontal, if that makes sense. This is a gigantic quick-grab pocket for stowing stuff when going through airport security or for anything you need to get to fast.
The laptop compartment of the Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is accessible through a substantial U-shaped zipper on the rear. Because the compression straps impede it, you’ll have to remove them to obtain full access to the zip. It’s also worth mentioning that the bag has self-locking security zippers. Small metal rings may be found on various bag parts; just thread the zipper through the ring to secure it. This serves as a good theft deterrent, but it’s far from impregnable.
This bag’s total laptop compartment takes up almost the whole rear panel. There’s an elastic keeper on the inner strap—which would have been excellent on the external straps we discussed earlier—and a bag (actually, more of a laptop hammock) to hold your laptop.
The main compartment with two zippers is accessed by opening the compression buckles on the wearer’s right-hand side. A beautiful mesh divider pocket on the top flap is perfect for flatter things like T-shirts, socks, and underwear, or anything else you want to keep clean at the top.
IOn the other hand, in the main compartment, a lot is going on. Because it’s practically hidden between two zippers, there’s a little removable bag on the top that’s excellent for goods you want to keep safe, like your passport or liquid toiletries. This feature has been a massive hit with us.
There’s also a liner divider pocket in the main compartment, dividing your garments into left and right sections. This is particularly beneficial if you’re not using packing cubes, however with a suitcase this big, we still like to use packing cubes. If you don’t want to use the divider, just unbuckle the little YKK buckles and lay them flat, which is quite convenient.
Compression straps are on either side of the divider, and we enjoy that you can quickly remove them by pushing down on them. If you’re packing a lot of clothes, these straps will come in handy.
Finally, several clips on the side of the bag may be used to keep packing cubes, camera cubes, or other eBags accessories in place.
In the end, we believe this primary pocket has just the right amount of order. It’s not overpowering, and it won’t get in the way if you don’t use it—but if you like internal structure, you’ll be able to make good use of everything.
Testing & Durability
We tested the eBags Mother Lode Weekender Convertible for roughly two weeks between Detroit and Minneapolis, Minnesota, including one airline travel, at the time of this review. Overall, we’ve had a mixed experience with this bag.
There’s a lot of creative thinking going on with the design, but the bag’s appearance and feel don’t strike us as particularly unique. Although the list of characteristics is comparable to those of other bags, we didn’t feel as if they came together holistically as we have with other bags.
The messenger carry strap came out of the package damaged, and the metal keychain broke the day after we did our video review, so we have to be cautious about durability. There are a few loose threads, but after two weeks of usage, we have nothing substantial to report.
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