Affordable, versatile, light and roomy… four characteristics I always like to see in a piece of luggage. The eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible — a backpack that converts to a handheld bag or shoulder bag — has all of these dreamy traits and more.
The spacious bag weighs 4 lbs and measures 22 x 14 x 9 inches, which means that it meets domestic airplane carry-on requirements. It’s called a “Weekender Convertible,” yet this backpack has enough bells and whistles — and packing space — to fit several days’ worth of clothing for savvy travelers. Online reviews on eBags.com report that users brought along this bag as their “main suitcase” for multi-week trips through Europe! I used it as one of my carry-on bags for a three-day trip to the Florida Keys, plus a six-night Caribbean cruise.
Note: In theory, this should be your “main” carry-on bag, not your additional “briefcase,” “purse” or “personal item” that most domestic airlines allow these days. I tried to mask it as my “smaller bag” in addition to my rollerboard, got busted trying to carry both on the plane, and was made to gate-check my rollerboard.
Still, for road trips, cruises, multi-week tours, or any trip where you’d find hands-free luggage helpful, I’d highly recommend the Weekender Convertible. You can pull out the shoulder and waist straps to comfortably carry a fully packed bag as a backpack, or attach the wide shoulder straps if you want to carry it as a shoulder bag. There’s a wide handle for carrying it in one hand, too.
I’m a big fan of Weekender Convertible’s multiple pockets. On the main outside section alone, there’s a small zippered pocket at the top for easy access to boarding passes, ID or a small wallet; a larger zippered section that folds down to reveal a travel organizer for pens, phone and such – plus three more interior zippered pockets; a recessed zipper pocket that I almost missed because the zipper sits in a seam — I used this section to store my Kindle; and, finally, a stash-away water bottle holder — unzip to reveal the pouch only when you need it.
Inside it keeps getting better: the bag unzips butterfly style like a typical “suitcase,” so it’s super easy to access your gear and clothing (i.e. you don’t have to reach down to get your stuff from the top of the backpack). The main compartment has a fold-down shelf so you can keep items separate, say, if you’re sharing with someone else, or you want to keep “dressy” clothes sectioned away from “casual” clothes. The top part of the suitcase has a mesh zippered cover, to further organize your clothing and gear; I like to store dirty clothing in that section.
Still more to love: a laptop sling that cradles your laptop between the back-foam panel and the contents of the bag; a 1.5-inch expansion zipper that adds 10 percent to the total capacity when it’s fully unzipped; and compression straps that help a partially filled bag’s contents from moving around so much.
The eBags.com website page for the Weekender Convertible does a great job of showing all of the features via photos and video. This versatile bag retails for $99.99 (though it’s sometimes discounted online at eBags.com). The range of colors of this bag is vast — I’m partial to the Tropical Turquoise pictured above!
Also along for the ride on my recent Florida/cruise trip were three eBags Packing Cubes. These lightweight cubes come in various sizes with mostly mesh covers so you can spot at a glance what’s inside. Inside the small cube I stored my chargers, plugs and point-and-shoot camera; the medium one held my bathing suits, sun hats, visors and other beach attire; the large packing cube was great for all of my rolled T-shirts, jersey skirts and summery dresses.
For anyone like me who likes to stay organized on a trip, I highly recommend these affordable cubes for a practical packing system. A three-piece set retails for only $29.99 on eBags.com. These, too, come in a multitude of bright colors, including Grasshopper, pictured above.
eBags provided me with a Weekender Convertible and Packing Cubes for purposes of editorial review.