Travel & Tech Reviews

EBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible Junior Backpack Review

Is this the best travel backpack of 2019? Check out our review below. Find this product on Amazon here. Note that we got this for $70 on a Black Friday sale but it does fluctuate greatly!

Check out my long-term review of this bag here.

If you’re looking for a different version of this backpack, here’s the regular sized Weekender and the wheeled version.

Overall Thoughts

This is a good quality, sturdy backpack that holds everything you would need for traveling. It was a great choice to take on a two-week trip to Thailand and Hong Kong that involved a lot of ferry rides, planes, and bus trips.

I feel that this bag would be best used as the main bag for a weekend trip or the carry-on for a longer trip.

Pro: Convertible Strap Options

This bag is great because it packs like a suitcase and carries like a backpack! You can also use the included strap to make it into a messenger bag. There’s also a hip strap and sternum/chest strap in case you are carrying a heavy load over a long period of time.

Pro: Comfy Handles & Materials

I’m a sucker for soft materials. The mesh straps and soft handles of this bag are a really nice touch and a far cry from the Jansport backpacks of the world. The straps feel breathable and airy so they don’t make you sweat.

Pro: Easy to Pack

Since this backpack’s main compartment opens up hamburger-style it’s easy to open the flap and pack bigger items like headphones and packing cubes inside. The mesh pocket is great for small clothing like panties or anything you don’t want bumping around in the main compartment. The front pocket also opens up more than halfway so it’s easy to pack things like glasses’ cases in there.

Pro: Lockable Zippers

While I’m generally not traveling anywhere worrisome, it does make me feel better that you can lock the main compartment zipper so your wallet doesn’t magically disappear.

Pro: Can Expand for Overpackers

This bag expands 1.5″ with an expandable zipper. This means that you can stuff this thing pretty tight and it won’t give up!

Pro: Back Laptop Pouch

While I didn’t bring a laptop on our trip, we put a picture frame and calendar in this pouch and everything stayed flat. It fits up to a 19″ laptop with adjustable cinch straps, and since it’s right up against the back part you can feel secure that nothing will get bent or squished.


This bag has at least a dozen pockets. I’m a generally organized person but even I was overwhelmed by the number of pockets. It took me a while before I figured out my system for using this bag. I decided that SUPER IMPORTANT items such as my phone and passport would go in the top zipper pocket in the front aka the “forehead”. Bigger items like my headphones went inside the main compartment. In-between items went in the front large pocket such as my crossword puzzle book. The small front pocket was good for holding charging cables and pens.

Con: Floppy Water Bottle Holder

We all know the key to a great beach vacation is staying hydrated! Unfortunately the water bottle holder is fabric and pulls out of the front side pocket. This means that when you put a bottle in it and move around it flops with every step. I didn’t feel like my bottle was secure and the flapping was annoying! I ended up just putting the bottles inside the bag.

Con: Doesn’t Fit Under the Plane Seat

This was the biggest disappointment for me! I’m the type who likes to have all their items easily accessible under the plane seat rather than fighting it out to get overhead bin space. When I tried to stuff it under the plane seat, it fits when half full, but not comfortably! See photos below, for reference I am 5’5″ with short legs.

Are You Ready to Buy the Mother Lode Yet?

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    May 11, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Love this bag! I’ve been using this for month long trips for about 5 years. This size is great for us shorter folks. Everything fits in it and since I don’t check anything, going through customs is a breeze. I do recommend using packing cubes with it. I just pull one packing cube out that holds all my long haul air trip items and store the pack in the overhead. Like she says, it goes on sale often.

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      May 11, 2019 at 7:56 pm

      Great idea a out the packing cube! I like to have a mini bag for the flight so I can put this one up, I usually use a purse but I like your idea better. Thanks!!

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