As the weather continues to warm up and school lets out, more and more of us will be hitting the road for work and pleasure. If your next multi-day trip away doesn’t involve a tent and sleeping bag, the Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible from eBags should probably be on your shopping list. Why? Quite simply, it’s an incredibly versatile piece of luggage that does far more than you would expect, especially at a price point below $100.
Overall (fully expanded), the bag is 22″ x 14″ x 9″, for a total capacity of of 3651 cubic inches, with a weight under four pounds. But it’s as though it was designed by the same people that do the interiors of motor homes – not a single inch of that space is wasted, and it will take you a while to discover all the different storage options. The main compartment has a handy divider that attaches with small buckles. Use it to keep clothing items separate, and prevent shifting while on the go. Each side also has a tie-down with two different height settings, so you can can pack in layers. I used them on the low setting to keep my pants in place, with shirts packed on top, so I arrived with wrinkle-free clothing. On the way back, I used the high setting, and snugged everything down to keep my bag (now packed with dirty clothes and some gifts) as small as possible.
Inside the lid is a generous mesh compartment with a zipper that allows you to fully open it, so you can lay items in there, rather than stuff them in. Pockets are everywhere. A zippered pouch snaps inside, for small items you want to pack in the main compartment without getting lost. There’s a top compartment that holds the shoulder strap, with extra room for items you might want easy access to. A small zippered pocket on the side contains a drawstring pouch for your water bottle or similar item, and has a window for your ID tag. The front has another nicely sized compartment for more easy-access items, plus a short strap with a clasp for securing your keys. Two zippered pockets that would accommodate larger paperbacks are complemented by a smaller mesh pocket, a phone/MP3 player pocket, and a narrow pocket for a pen or stylus. On the very outside of the front is a nearly hidden zippered pocket for travel documents.
There’s more. A zipper on the back opens to reveal the backpack straps. Like the shoulder strap, they’re out of the way when not needed. Right above that is another zipper, which leads to the laptop compartment. An ingenious “Laptop Sling” will accommodate laptops and netbooks up to 11.75″ wide, and 10-19″ long. The adjustable sling allows you to get the perfect fit, then just buckle/unbuckle as needed. Other features include four external compression straps, lockable zippers (most with pull tabs too), and three handles for easy carrying and safe lifting from any angle.
Packing for a business trip, my wife at first had doubts that I could fit in my laptop and four days worth of clothing, but it turned out I had room to spare. And then some. Lilliputian toiletries down the middle, socks and underwear filling in the gaps on the sides, I could probably squeeze a week’s worth of vacation clothes in, after expanding it via the extra zipper. The commuter flight I took had a $25 bag fee each way, so the Weekender Convertible would pay for itself after two trips. Walking through the airport, I wore it like a backpack. Waiting to board, I stowed the backpack straps and carried it like a briefcase onto the plane. My only complaint was that the shoulder strap could have used a bit more grip, as it had a tendency to slide off my shoulder. Like the backpack straps, it made up for that with sufficient padding for extended use.
This is one of those reviews that truly caught me off guard. This bag is an awesome combination of capacity and convenience. Everything appears well thought out, and the materials and construction look like they’ll stand up to plenty of miles. Even for car trips, we’ll probably replace our well-worn duffel bags with the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible bags. We can each choose our own color, and thanks to the stowable backpack straps, I won’t get stuck carrying them all. eBags.com