eBags TLS Mother Lode Bag Review

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Backpack Junior & Wheeled Duffel

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I am reviewing the eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel and eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior

All 4 of us each had a mission a year before we left on our trip. Our goal was to find 2 Carry On Bags EACH that suited all of our personal needs.

In this review I will only be discussing my bag choices.

I researched bags for an entire year. Do you know how painstaking that is? A year!

I had specific needs that I’d been searching for:

  • Sturdy and well made
  • Compartments and Organization
  • A Backpack as well as a 21″ Wheeled Carry On
  • Pleasing to MY eyes since I had to look at it for at least a year
  • Big enough to hold everything I needed

I fell in love with eBags TLS Mother Lode series of bags. They seemed like the perfect size and durability. I loved their aesthetics (so pretty) and Graphite Heather was so appealing to my eyes – I was in love. There were loads of pockets and options and the inside of the bags were orange so things would be easy to find.

Click on each photo to see the photos, Pictures and all the dimensions and such of each bag:

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior
eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior
eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21" Wheeled Duffel
eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel

Aren’t they pretty?

Well, I looked at a gazillion different bags from all shapes, sizes, patterns, companies, etc. and these 2 bags just couldn’t be beat in my opinion.

I picked the Junior backpack instead of the larger one so I’d have a better shot of it going under the seat on planes and trying to squeeze two large carry on bags past the flight crew on planes is always interesting and a game of smoke and mirrors.

See, our goal is to never pay for baggage fees. Ever! We’ve never had to pay in years so we figured we could see how well we do as a family with 2 big bags each. At the very worst, at the gate they offer to check bags, for free, when the flights are full. BOOM SCORE!

I purchased them both and couldn’t wait for them to arrive.

Remember, these bags were to carry ALL of my personal possessions since we sold and gave away everything we own. This was it. These bags had to take care of me and all my stuff – and cram as much in as possible at the same time.

I was really proud of myself and my choice. I knew I had found the Perfect bags to travel around the world.

After traveling to 4 Countries over the past 2 months I think I’m pretty qualified to give a real review of these two bags.Review of eBags TLS Mother Lode Bags

eBags TLS Mother Lode PROS:

  • Durable and Well Made Materials – The Zippers have withstood banging, stretching, more banging and even scratching on curbs. The wheels on the Wheeled Duffel are very sturdy. They roll smoothly and when bouncing around on cobble stones, park paths, through poop (Horse and Dog varieties), and in the rain on slick surfaces.
  • Organization – there are so many compartments and ways to organize your belongings in an easy to find way that makes sense.
  • Never tips over and you can SIT on it! – When my Wheeled Duffel is packed to the brim – it never tips over. I can even sit on it without causing stress to the bag, zippers or insides. Isn’t that awesome? They have special fiberglass rods that you place inside this bag for this very purpose. You obviously can’t sit on the weekender backpack but it doesn’t tip over either. That was a BIG complaint I had about my previous backpack.
  • Easy to maneuver – The Rolling Duffel is easy to roll or push, make a quick turn or go over a big curb without tipping over. The Backpack fits comfortably on my back and the chest strap helps keep it in place when we’re walking all over town with our bags in tow. I’ve never used the interchangeable carry on strap which can make your backpack a duffel but it’s a great option.
  • Eye Catching – My bags look great!
  • Handles and Straps – They are great. Easy to hold and durable. The backpack straps are also well padded and fit comfortably on my shoulders.

eBags TLS Mother Lode CONS:

  • HEAVY!!!!! – I don’t know why I didn’t even take this into consideration when selecting bags. Perhaps I was blinded by the look and features of the bag or I really underestimated how heavy a few pounds were. The eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel is 8.11lbs – that is HEAVY when a carry on is supposed to be no more than 25lbs in total packed! The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Junior is also heavy at 3.5lbs. You take for granted how much this actually weighs along with the impact it will have on you not only lifting them above your head to put in the Baggage bins above you but also just picking up to get on a train or on the storage carts. And the backpack. The extra weight on your shoulders is felt, believe me.
  • Too Many compartments – I thought that this would really help me keep the crazy amount of things I was bringing (first aid, nail files, supplements, a door stop, locks, kleenex, etc.) organized and in their place. I was all about keeping things organized BUT, each compartment actually takes up space. For example, the Laptop slot in the Backpack is wonderful, until you put your laptop in it. The space in the main compartment is now minimized because of this. I’d rather have less compartments and more general space to put my compression bags. I had to keep too many things loose in the compartments to make them fit. Basically, any compartment you put something into takes away space from any other compartments in that area. I would prefer to have compartments that are separate if I’m going to have them.
  • Non-stretchy Fabric – Don’t get me wrong, the fabric is study and beautifully made BUT, when you want to stuff a bag you want it to stretch a bit, or at leas I do. This fabric is not meant to be stretched so if you need to stuff it to the brim think again!
  • Junior Backpack doesn’t rest on Wheeled Duffel – WHY? These bags are part of a set so why in the world is there no strap to slide the Backpack over the handle of the Wheeled Duffel? When my back needed a break I had to jerry-rig my backpack to the handle and with all the cobblestone streets I went over it would constantly tip and slide. UGGGHH.

My Advice

If you are looking for an sturdy, beautiful and reliable set of luggage for short trips and don’t need to pack your life in it – then get these bags. They are well made and will last a long time. My bags have barely any wear and tear and they’ve been banged around – a lot.

If your goal is to travel for months, or longer, at a time, then don’t get these bags. They will weigh you down over time and for a jet setter they are way too heavy and inconvenient.


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