Review: eBags Mother Lode Weekender and Slim Packing Cubes

A few weeks before Andy and I left for our trip to Turkey, I was asked to review the Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible, a suitcase/backpack from eBags, and some of their slim packing cubes. Since I seem to have an obsession with luggage, I thought this was perfect. And even though it’s called a weekender, I thought I’d really test it out by taking it on our two week trip to Turkey followed by a long weekend in Italy for the TBU travel blogging conference.

The Weekender Bag: Pros

The first thing I noticed about the bag was how many pockets it has. I love pockets! I always have a bunch of smaller items that are easier to store in a small pocket. This allowed me to put clothes in the main compartment, and then I could put things like my phone cord, camera battery charger, small notebook, brush, and laptop cord in the smaller pockets. It also has one of those handy little hooks for your keys so you don’t forget where you put them at the end of a trip. There are four compression straps on the outside, and each major outside zipper has loops for luggage locks.

The feature I was most excited about was the separate sleeve designed specifically for a laptop. It even has a strap to hold it in place inside of the pocket. I was too lazy most days to strap it in and my laptop was still just as secure. I loved not struggling to fit my laptop in with a bunch of other stuff.

The main compartment of the bag has a little divider in the middle, which was convenient for separating my clothes from Andy’s. About halfway through the trip, Andy ended up having all of his clothes in his bag, so I was able to unclip the divider and lay it flat. Nice to have if you want to be super organized or if you have two people’s things in the bag and want to keep them separate, but easy to move if you don’t want to use it.

I really like backpacks as opposed to wheeled bags because I think they give you a lot more freedom. You still have both hands free while walking around with your luggage, there’s less chance of knocking into someone with your bag, and they’re easier to handle on stairs or cobbled streets. But this bag was shaped and structured like a suitcase while still being a backpack. That meant I was able to find what I was looking for much easier than with a normal backpack. It also meant eBags didn’t waste an inch of carry-on restricted space.

The bag’s measurements (22″ x 14″ x 9″) fit most airlines’ carry-on restrictions, yet it’s around 54 liters, almost 60 liters when fully expanded! When I saw this on the tag, I thought there was no way I’d be able to take it as a carry-on, but after checking in for four flights on Turkish Airlines, no one questioned me and it fit in the overhead with no problems.

The backpack straps were comfortable and easy to adjust. The bag has a zipped panel on the back so you can hide the straps, which is perfect if you’re flying and want to check the bag. Hanging straps can get caught on any number of things in the bag’s journey from the check-in counter to the airplane and back to you, so I thought this was a great feature. (I did have to check my bag on our German Wings flight from Rome to Stuttgart because my friend Katie brought me a jar of peanut butter, which is considered a liquid.)

The bag came with a detachable padded shoulder strap. I didn’t use it because the bag was too heavy to carry around with just a shoulder strap, but if you are really using this bag as a weekender and only have two or three days of stuff in it, the shoulder strap would probably work just fine. The bag also came with a small pouch that snaps into the main compartment, perfect for toiletries.

The Weekender Bag: Cons

It also came with a detachable waist strap. I didn’t like it because it was just a simple nylon strap. It didn’t have any padding or offer any real support. A full bag can get heavy if you have to walk around with it a lot, and a good waist strap helps distribute the weight of the bag so it’s not all on your shoulders. But on trips where I’m not walking long distances to get to the hotel, or if I really only packed for a few days, it wouldn’t bother me.

I also wished it had a rain cover. Andy and I got caught in the rain several times with our bags, and since my laptop was in my weekender, I was a little worried about it getting wet. But the material is fairly thick and my laptop was fine. Having an umbrella helped ease my paranoia, but a rain cover would’ve been a nice bonus.

The Slim Packing Cubes: Pros

I had never used packing cubes before so I was a little hesitant. I’m the type to shove things into whatever little corners are left in my backpack, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the orderly nature of the cubes. But I loved them! There were three different sizes, so we ended up fitting 10 pairs of Andy’s underwear in the large one and 13 pairs of my underwear in the medium one. In the small cube I put my make-up, some medicine, and other miscellaneous non-liquid bathroom items. All three cubes fit perfectly into the outside pocket of the bag. It was a good way to keep clean underwear separate from dirty underwear, and we could easily assess how long we had until we needed to do laundry. (Yes we did laundry on our honeymoon.)

The Slim Packing Cubes: Cons

None! I really liked these, no negatives to report.

Really long weekend

So how much was I able to fit in this so-called weekender bag? A lot more than you’d ever need for just a weekend! Here’s what went in the bag at the beginning of the trip, before things got shuffled back and forth between my bag and Andy’s:

19 T-shirts
4 long-sleeved T-shirts
2 pairs of pants
2 bathing suits
13 pairs of socks
10 pairs of Andy’s underwear in the large cube
13 pairs of my underwear in the medium cube
1 bra
small cube with miscellaneous items in it
2 liquids bags
hair brush
small notebook
laptop and its cord
external hard drive
camera battery charger
2 phone chargers

All this when it was not fully expanded, and there was still a little wiggle room. Overall, I love this bag!

The bag and packing cubes were complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

>>Check out the eBags Weekender and the packing cubes on Amazon.


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