Home TripsAll Over the World Backpack Review – eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Backpack Review – eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

by Bonnie
eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Before our 2017 trip to Italy, Grant and I both got new backpacks. I am excited to share my thoughts on my bag, the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible.

First, why new packs? We had both been traveling with the LLBean Continental Rucksack for several years. While that was a great pack, we were ready for something a bit bigger and with better organization, as well as the ability to handle a laptop. After much research and deliberation, Grant decided on the Lowepro Highline BP 400 AW and I chose the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible.

Read Grant’s review of his pack here.

Below, I break down the features of my new bag and share my thoughts on this pack.

The backpack may be a little bit and boxy, but it carries nicely and has great organizational features!
The backpack may be a little bit and boxy, but it carries nicely and has great organizational features!

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Features of the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

  • Carry-on size
  • Laptop compartment
  • Lots of organizational details
  • Expandable
  • Carry as a backpack or a duffel
  • High-quality construction

Main Compartment

A zippered lay-flat main compartment was a must-have in my new bag. This pack takes that feature and puts it on steroids! The main compartment zips open just like a normal carry-on suitcase.

Inside the main compartment, you will find compression straps to keep everything in place. There is also a fold-down “shelf” that you can use to divide the main compartment into two smaller parts.

The main compartment of the eBags TLS MotherLode Weekender Convertible is spacious.
The main compartment of the eBags TLS MotherLode Weekender Convertible is spacious.

I did not use the shelf, as I had everything packed into eBags Ultralight Packing Cubes. I used one large, one slim and two small cubes. They fit into the bag perfectly and made packing a breeze!

Also in the main compartment is a small zippered pouch for items you do not want floating around. This is perfect for small items that you need to be able to access quickly. The pocket snaps on, so you can easily remove it if you need to move those items into a purse or daypack.

A zippered mesh panel allows you to divide a few things out from the main compartment. I used this for my raincoat and flip-flops, along with a few other items.

This main compartment is also expandable – something that can be both exciting and terrifying! I love the idea of being able to expand “just in case” it is needed. In a backpack, however, I don’t like the idea that my pack could become heavier as I travel. Overall, it is a nice feature, even if you don’t use it.

Front Compartment

There is a separate front compartment with a U-shaped zipper. I packed the eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit, along with a few other items, in this part. This location was easy to get to for pulling my liquids out as I went through security.

In the front compartment I packed the eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit, a daypack, a travel pillow and a rain cover for the backpack, with room to spare!
In the front compartment, I packed the eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit, a daypack, a travel pillow and a rain cover for the backpack, with room to spare!

The front flap of the compartment has three zippered pockets and a place to store a couple of pens and a small notebook. I easily placed my iPad Mini into one of those pockets. I liked that the iPad was easily available to me, but not on an outside pocket where it would be easy for someone else to get to!

Extra Compartments

There is a small front zippered pocket where you could store a boarding pass or maybe a small book. This was great for things that I needed to put my hands on quickly while in the airport or traveling to/from the hotel. It is even big enough for the iPad Mini, though it’s not a very secure space.

The top compartment is perfect for glasses, keys, tissues or any other small items. It also provides a good place to put stuff when going through security.

perfect for sunglasses, keys, tissues and anything else you might need to access quickly.
The top compartment is perfect for sunglasses, keys, tissues and anything else you might need to access quickly.

Laptop Compartment

The laptop compartment is on the back, exactly where it should be for security. There is a “laptop sling” that securely holds the laptop in place within the compartment. This allows you to position the laptop at a location that is comfortable for your body size. It also provides an extra layer of security, in that it is one more thing to “undo” to get to your laptop.

The laptop compartment has a unique laptop sling that allows you to position the laptop at a spot that is comfortable for you. It also provides an extra layer of security for the laptop.
The laptop compartment has a unique laptop sling that allows you to position the laptop at a spot that is comfortable for you. It also provides an extra layer of security for the laptop.

Our 13” MacBook Pro easily fit into the laptop sling, even while in a sleeve.

Other Features

Other features of the bag include packable backpack straps – a plus for if you should decide to check the bag. If you prefer, it also comes with a single shoulder strap to carry the bag like a duffel. The waist belt is removable, so I immediately took that off. There are three padded handles (front, side and top) so that you can easily pick up the bag.

There are four compression straps outside the pack. With compression straps both inside and outside, you should never have to worry about your pack being too big!

The backpack straps tuck away nicely if you don't need them. This would be especially useful if you need to check the bag when flying.
The backpack straps tuck away nicely if you don’t need them. This would be especially useful if you need to check the bag when flying.

Additionally, I did not have any issues fitting it into the overhead bin on the plane. In fact, as we were boarding the gate attendants made the announcement that carry-on suitcases would have to be gate checked. Thankfully, since I was carrying mine as a backpack they didn’t question it at all. That is just one reason I love carrying a backpack!

The packable water bottle carrier is just about useless. The construction of it does not provide security or stability. It will fit a water bottle easily, but it will flop around as you walk. It works in a bind but probably won’t get much use from me.

Construction

The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is made of 840D Twisted Filament Polyester. While not necessarily waterproof, it is a thick enough material that your stuff should stay dry in light rain. I will always carry a rain cover with me just in case though.

The main compartment of the eBags TLS MotherLode Weekender Convertible is full of organizational features.
The main compartment of the eBags TLS MotherLode Weekender Convertible is full of organizational features.

The interior is 210D orange nylon lining. I’m sure you won’t have too many items packed inside that would camouflage with the bright orange lining! It may not be the most popular lining color, but at least your stuff won’t be hidden as you unpack.

All zippers are strong and sturdy. I did not have any issues with zippers sticking or falling open. The main, front and top compartment all have double zippers that accommodate a luggage lock.

Packing for Eight Days in Italy with the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Packing for an overseas trip is always difficult, especially in the Spring when the weather is variable. Add on that we wouldn’t be able to do laundry and didn’t know our exact daily itinerary and packing was that much harder.

Still, I managed to keep everything fairly close to “normal,” other than going a bit over-weight from my goal.

What I Packed

Clothes

Other Gear

What I Wore on the Plane

On the plane I wore KUHL Kliffside Convertible Pants, a long sleeve button up shirt, ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Hipkini, Smartwool Women’s Hike Ultra Light Socks (slightly thicker than the Coolmesh socks mentioned above), and Vasque Women’s Talus Trek Hiking Shoes, which are great for lots of walking (and they are waterproof)! These items provided lots of comfort on a long flight. And since we didn’t get a shower after landing, it was a great outfit for our first day in Italy.

We're ready to go to Italy! Comfortable clothes are a must when traveling.
We’re ready to go to Italy! Comfortable clothes are a must when traveling.

Overall Thoughts on the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

The organizational components of the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible are exactly what I was looking for! I love how easy it is to open up and find what you need in the bag. The extra compartments provide multiple locations to tuck stuff away that you don’t need often.

I did end up packing more than I normally would for this trip. We usually would do laundry after 5 days or so. We did not have that option on this trip since it was a school trip with a very tight schedule. That said, there was plenty of room in the bag for everything I packed. I even had extra room after adding a few small souvenirs.

While a bit on the heavy side since I overpacked, the backpack was still easy to carry and easy to move around with. The straps were comfortable and I felt everything was secure at all times.

My one complaint about this bag is that it really is more of a suitcase that has backpack straps than a true backpack. Basically, it is a bit bulky and boxy for a backpack. The great organizational features and the price, however, more than make up for that.

Ultimately, I highly recommend the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible. I bought mine on eBags during a sale and got a great price!

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Traveling overseas on a weeklong trip with the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible: a carry-on bag with lots of organizational details.
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16 comments

Avatar
Pam February 21, 2018 - 9:14 pm

Thank you for a great review on the bag. I enjoyed the review and decided to order my own. I can’t wait to take it to Zambia in June.

Reply
Bonnie Sinclair
Bonnie Sinclair February 21, 2018 - 10:03 pm

So glad I could provide a helpful review! One of my favorite things about this bag is that it is big enough for a trip of a week or longer (if you pack right), but small enough for a weekend getaway. I actually have used it much more often than I originally expected to. I hope you love this bag as much as I do!

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Avatar
Elizabeth April 26, 2018 - 3:51 pm

I am on the verge of purchasing this bag myself. I am going overseas this fall for 7 days where I will be running in three road races and exploring Paris. My question to you… do you think this bad would fit under the seat? I am think if it does that I could use it as my “personal item” and then take my small carry on suitcase. That should allow me the room I need to pack all my race items PLUS every day clothes. Thoughts?

Reply
Bonnie Sinclair
Bonnie Sinclair April 26, 2018 - 9:58 pm

This is a full-size backpack. so I doubt that it would fit under the seat. If it is not fully packed it might fit, but even then I think it would probably be difficult. I can really fit a lot of stuff in this pack, so you might be able to fit everything in it, especially if you expand the bag. If I remember correctly, Ebags does make a bag that is designed for under the seat, but I have never used it.

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Scott September 20, 2018 - 10:50 am

Great review, thanks for your thoughts. I just purchased one of these bags based on my experience travelling internationally for the past four years with the Ebags TLS wheeled Carryon. While I enjoy the TLS wheeled carryon size and layout, I felt the backpack style made more sense. My wife will now use the wheeled carryon allowing both of us to get a week’s worth of items between the two bags when traveling together. I agree with you on the backpack being more of a suitcase with straps. If I’m heading up the Appalachian trail this is not the pack I’ll be using. 🙂

Reply
Bonnie
Bonnie September 23, 2018 - 3:38 pm

Thank you, glad you enjoyed the review. There are certainly times when having wheeled luggage is nice, but most of the time I find carrying a backpack to be much more efficient and easier. You are right – this is definitely a travel backpack, not a hiking backpack.

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Rachel September 26, 2018 - 11:47 pm

Thank you for the review! I’m considering taking it on a 2 week trip next year and using it as a carry on. My only concern is it’s listed as 22” and some of the international carry on requirements are smaller than this by half an inch. How squishable is the bag? Like, if asked to put it in the carry-on sizer, could it possibly pass?

Reply
Bonnie
Bonnie September 28, 2018 - 6:43 am

As long as it is not completely stuffed, then yes it should fit. I have taken it on an international flight as a carry-on without any difficulties. Also, my experience is that if you’re wearing it as a backpack as you board, the attendants are less likely to question the size.

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Angie February 18, 2019 - 10:25 pm

What water bottle did you use (if any) with this backpack?

Reply
Bonnie
Bonnie February 24, 2019 - 12:50 pm

I have carried a Contigo stainless steel screw-top water bottle occasionally. I have also carried a disposable plastic water bottle at times. As mentioned in the article, the water bottle pouch isn’t great, but it does work in a pinch.

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Lynne March 26, 2019 - 2:09 pm

What did you do with the straps they are so long .

Reply
Bonnie
Bonnie March 26, 2019 - 6:38 pm

For me, the straps are not so long that they are a problem. I suppose either it just doesn’t bother me or I’ve got it adjusted a bit different than you. I have had this problem on other packs though. You can either knot the ends to shorten them a bit or cut them and then burn the ends to prevent fraying.

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rick a leadley April 10, 2019 - 8:27 pm

I know you said it was not waterproof. We are traveling for 2 1/2 weeks to switzerland. would you recommend a rain cover or spray it with 3m waterproof spray

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Grant
Grant April 11, 2019 - 5:41 pm

Rick, Bonnie uses a Mountainsmith pack cover when we travel (https://amzn.to/2D96Hdr). A small should be able to handle the pack just fine.

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Cat Jones November 5, 2019 - 9:49 pm

Great review. The best I found online. One other thing I noticed – the little silver loops match up so you can put a lock through the zipper and the loops. (I was trying to figure out the purpose of various straps and hooks). Also the big strap on the front, did you ever use that?

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Bonnie
Bonnie November 7, 2019 - 6:07 pm

Thank you! I have traveled with this backpack many times now and I still love it. In terms of the “big strap on the front,” if you are referring to the waist strap, I took that off immediately and don’t even know where it is now. I’m sure I have it somewhere “safe” in case I ever need it.

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