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.
Below, I break down the features of my new bag and share my thoughts on this pack.
(Disclaimer: When we link to places you can buy our stuff or places we stayed, we are using special codes which earn us commissions on the sales at no additional cost to you. Please see our Review Policy for more information.)
Features of the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible
- Carry-on size
- Laptop compartment
- Lots of organizational details
- Carry as a backpack or a duffel
- High-quality construction
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Our 13” MacBook Pro easily fit into the laptop sling, even while in a sleeve.
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!
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.
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 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
- 3 convertible pants – my favorites are prAna Sage Convertible pants and Columbia Women’s Aruba Convertible Pants (2 pairs)
- 1 pair REI shorts
- 1 pair yoga pants (for lounging at the hotel)
- 4 long-sleeve button-up shirts (the Columbia Saturday Trail III is one of my favorites)
- 1 short sleeve button up
- 1 short-sleeve polo (I just picked up this one from Columbia)
- 2 short-sleeve moisture-wicking t-shirts (Nike Dri-Fit is one of my favorites)
- 1 fleece (similar to this Columbia fleece)
- 1 zip-up cardigan
- 1 scarf – great for a light-weight wrap or to dress up your outfit
- 4 pairs socks (Wrightsock Women’s Coolmesh are my favorite light-weight hiking socks )
- 4 bras
- 7 pairs of underwear (I loved this new pair from ExOfficio)
- 1 raincoat
- 1 belt
- 1 cap (this one from Columbia is my favorite)
- 1 pair Teva Women’s Olowahu Flip-Flop – my favorite flip flops ever
- First aid kit
- Ziplock bags – misc sizes (snack, sandwich, quart, gallon)
- Toiletries (packed in the eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit)
- iPad Mini
- Apple Watch charger
- Inflatable Travel Pillow
- Backpack Rain Cover
- Packable Backpack/Day Bag
- Refillable Water bottle
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.
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!
We use Skyscanner to find deals on flights. Skyscanner has a great interface and compares tons of airlines for the best pricing and routing. That said, it does not always have every airline and some airlines will have better deals on their website. Still, Skyscanner is a great place to start.
Click here to search for a flight.
We typically stay at Hilton properties, so we use the Hilton website. We can find good Hilton Honors discounts or AAA discounts for a hotel there. We make great use of our free night certificates from our Hilton Honors American Express.
If there are no Hilton properties available, we use TripAdvisor to read reviews and book the hotel. We find we can get the best price that way.
Click here to search for a hotel.
We use Vrbo for the times when we have rented a cabin for a weekend getaway, like this cabin in Townsend, TN, or needed to rent a house for a large family vacation. We had a great experience with them in terms of refunding deposits when COVID hit and will continue to use them.
Click here to search for a vacation rental.
As a general rule, we book with Hertz for rental cars. We have had nothing but good experiences with them. Plus, we really like unlimited mileage and not worrying about crossing state lines. We have even rented from Hertz overseas in both Slovenia and Croatia.
Click here to book a rental car.
We have found some amazing prices booking a cruise through Cruise Direct. We have saved a lot of money on our cruises compared to what we found elsewhere, making a last-minute Bahamas cruise even cheaper.
Click here to book a cruise.
We highly recommend Outdoorsy for RV rentals. We rented a camper van for a week to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut and Custer State Park for the Buffalo Round-Up and had a blast. The program was easy to use and we really enjoyed the freedom of having a camper van for that trip.
Click here to rent an RV.
We don’t often book tours. Typically, we like to do stuff on our own. That said, there are some experiences you just can’t have any other way. So, when we do want to book a tour, we always check Viatour first.
Click here to book a tour.
We make extensive use of both Good Sam and AAA on the road. Good Sam is normally regarded as a discount card for RVers at campgrounds and Camping World but anyone can use the 5 cents off a gallon at the pump at both Pilot and Flying J.
Click here to get a Good Sam membership.
We have had AAA as long as we have been married and it has more than paid for itself in discounts at hotels, aside from the peace of mind of having roadside assistance. Add in paper maps and the ability to get an international driver’s license and it is more than worth it for any traveler out there.