When eBags asked me if I’d like to review the Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible, a piece of luggage that works as a backpack and/or a suitcase, I was intrigued…and unconvinced.
I mean, where are the wheels? The hard edges? How was I going to lift this thing?
But I’ve since found that, for its capacity, size and versatility, it’s pretty darn brilliant.
The Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible is 22″ high (roughly the same size as my well-worn Victorinox rolling suitcase), weighs about three pounds empty, and has a seemingly endless capacity to hold everything I own. There are zippered compartments aplenty, and in packing for my city vacation, I kept thinking of big/little things to bring — and finding big/little places in which to stow them.
Please note that if you aren’t a sherpa by trade, it’s important to resist the urge to pack everything you own, because (unless you have a manservant for this kind of thing) you’re the one who will have to hoist, shoulder and schlep this puppy. The Weekender is too large to comfortably keep with you at an airline seat, so I’d recommend either checking this bag or winging it into your overhead compartment.
There are a few ways in which to carry the Weekender Convertible:
There are two padded straps that zip in and out of a panel in the back, allowing you to wear it as a standard backpack. If you put the bag on this way and find that it’s starting to tip forward from the weight of all your earthly possessions, try just one strap for awhile and you should regain your equilibrium. If you choose to go with both shoulder straps, though, you have the option of using a strap that fastens around your waist to give you an extra measure of stability.
NOTE: The backpack straps are a good idea if you have an uninterrupted stretch of movement (e.g., a very long walk though an airport) or have to go up and down inclines.
You also have the option of a long, adjustable padded strap that can be clipped onto the side of the bag, allowing the Weekender to become a shoulder bag. This option is my favorite, as it enables me to easily find my balance. When you’re done with this strap, you can unclip it and stow it in its own zippered compartment.
NOTE: The side strap is a useful option when you know you’ll have to make multiple stops, and when walking on crowded city streets. The latter might seem counterintuitive, but it’s helpful to be able to tuck the bag into your side or in front of your body when moving past people or when turning. I tested this theory while walking along a New York City street, once wearing the bag as a backpack and then with the shoulder strap, and in both cases stopping at the outer edge of the sidewalk to look around and get my bearings. When I wore it as a backpack, I accidentally bumped into people — twice. When I wore it with the shoulder strap, I was able to keep the bag out of the thoroughfare and avoid bumping into anyone.
When using the side strap, I appreciated the padded side handle; using this in conjunction with the side strap allowed me to take a little weight off my shoulder now and again. (This was especially welcome when a walk I’d thought was five blocks turned out to be 10.)
There are also cleverly-placed padded handles at the top and towards the bottom, which make it easier to pick up the bag and stuff it into an overhead compartment or car trunk.
Two other things I like about this bag?
A zippered pouch inside the bag’s main compartment is removable, allowing me to more easily stuff it with fiddly bits of things, or even use it in another part of the bag.
A zippered compartment at the very top and front of the bag is perfect for storing my passport pouch, tickets, driving directions, or even a snack. When full-packed, the bag sits up pretty firmly on its own, making this pocket especially easy to access.
There’s also a pouch at the back that fits a standard 13″ laptop. Depending on how heavy your laptop is, however, this can be a little tough on your shoulders and lower back, especially if you’re carrying the Weekender with the shoulder strap or by the handle. Personally, I prefer to carry my laptop separately so that I can keep it and various cords safely with me at all times, but I do see the beauty of having the option to travel with just one bag.
VERDICT on the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible:
It’s soft, squishy and easy to store, but tough enough to handle being thrown in and out of vans, cabs, luggage compartments and more. The plastic clips are strong, resist chipping and hold tightly to their straps.
It comes in a variety of non-black, easy-to-spot colors (like the Tropical Turquoise number I’ve got goin’ on), and the bright interiors make it easy to find things you’re looking for.
It holds a great deal more than you think it will, but gets heavy pretty quickly; unless you’re very tall, broad or especially strong, I’d still keep the packing to a minimum and consider this an ideal bag for short trips.
To order your own:
My Weekender Convertible was provided to me by eBags for the express purpose of this review,
but all opinions and observations are my own, based on taking the bag on three different trips.