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Ebag Mother Lode and Mother Lode Jr.+ Site wide sale at Ebags

I just saw these backpacks are on sale (70 % off on the Ebags website) and I was curious as to opinions on which to get should I buy one. I’m trying to pack lighter as travel more, but wonder if the junior model may be a bit too small for say a week to ten day trip. The other factor though is my height. I’m 5’ 4 1/2 (always include the 1/2” :)) and about 125 pounds. Would the regular ML be too big? I brought home a Cotopaxi 35 and returned it bc it just felt too bulky on me. I don’t know if it was the type material or what. Thought I may give this bag a try. Thanks for any insight you have!

Posted by
105 posts

I have both the Mother Lode and the ML Jr. and I am the same height as you.

The full size ML is huge. My husband who is over a foot taller than me uses that one.

The ML Jr. packs enough. I have a 21" roller from eBags and the Jr fits the same amount of stuff in a smaller bag. Primarily because the roller and handle mechanism take up so much space. I had the same concerns as you and have found the jr. to be enough.

I do want to note, I think these bags are a bit on the bulkier side. I don't know how it compares to the Cotopaxi though. I like eBags in general because of the lifetime warranty. They are pretty good about honoring the warranty.

At the discounted prices, I think the eBags are a better deal than anything else at that price.

Posted by
345 posts

Thanks Mariam for the information. I was just reading on Reddit about folks saying the EBags ML and MLJ were heavy on the shoulders when full. Some have even added a self designed hip belt to address the issue. I don’t know how much walking they were doing with it compared to what I anticipate, though.

I’m such a sucker for a good sale, but don’t want to spend on something I may not be totally satisfied with. I appreciate your help. The regular size I believe is going to be too long, so if I get one, I’m definitely leaning toward the Jr.

Posted by
2532 posts

I use the jr most often and am also short. Unzipped, the jr has just about the same capacity as the RS convertible carryon has when it is zipped. So now I only take the RS convertible if the weather is going to be bad or I otherwise need to carry some bulky items. The ML jr is just right for optimistic smart packing, and I like the eyebrow pocket on it better than the beerbelly pocket on the RS.
Use the sternum strap and you are good to go.

Also, a small iPad fits in the slash pocket and a small macbook fits sideways in the laptop slot if needed, which adds up to a better weight distribution than the outside pocket on the RS, which wasn't originally designed for laptops b/c it predates mobile computing. That pocket on the RS was originally for your coat or sweater.

Posted by
7404 posts

I have the ebag Motherlode Jr. and used to use it for domestic trips. I am 5’8” tall.

Pros: It’s a nice-looking bag and held up well. Lightweight. Mine still looks new. It was easy to pack. I didn’t need the protective laptop sleeve area, so I carefully cut a small slit and tore out the unneeded extra padding divider.

Cons: Our family would pick us up at the airport - two flights to get there. By the time we arrived at their home, my shoulders were hurting from taking the pack through the airports and out to their car. I do pack light - domestic or international. There’s no decent waist/hip support, and wow, that does make a difference!

I do have the Cotopaxi 35L and currently have it on another international trip to Europe. Since you tried the Cotopaxi, one feature I noticed when comparing the two bags is that the Motherlode is wider (by 2”) than the Cotopaxi. I preferred the pack to not stick out as much, besides the better waist/hip belt, etcs.

If you have an REI store or something similar near you, go there and ask for recommendations and try in the store.

Posted by
460 posts

I'm about 5'3 1/2 and purchased the ML Jr. about two years ago. It packs beautifully and is well laid out. But, as others have mentioned, it gets quite heavy on the shoulders, especially if you have to walk through a large airport. Despite high hopes for it for international travel, I've decided that I will just use it for road trips or perhaps on nonstop flights. However, the price right now is really good so it might be worth the gamble.

I think the regular size Mother Lode would definitely be too large.

Posted by
2469 posts

I have both and I am much shorter than you. As noted it does pack bigger but I also don't stuff it to the gills from the start - on departure I never have the expansion zipper opened for example. Also I removed the internal laptop sleeve and use that section for stowing things like my plastic bag selection and sometimes my rain jacket folded flat. Neither is built for "backpacking" in the sense that you wouldn't want to tote it for 10 miles for sure - but I don't ever walk that far with my bag. One of the cons is the clips for the backpack strap are made of plastic, and I did have a fatal error on one trip with that. I now use carabiners to reinforce the connection.

I used the junior one for a short trip to Iceland as it worked with the carry on size restrictions there. It was fine though I had winter clothes so it was a tight squeeze, otherwise it was fine. The current larger one has been on 5 overseas trips and the prior one I had on 3 and they held up pretty well, though it does need a scrub after a trip since it's a light green color. I believe they have changed fabric type since I purchased mine though, so I'd look carefully at the reviews for comments on durability. EBags used to have a good warranty program and I used it to completely replace a bag with a broken external strap. Not sure they still do that though.

For the price, consider buying both and returning the one you don't like (though they do charge for returns so that might not be your preference).

Posted by
1253 posts

If you want to use a backpack, I recommend that you buy one with a proper hip belt. It will reduce the stress on your back and shoulders. Lots of good ones: Osprey, Cotopaxi, SOC, etc.

If you still want the ebags, the Jr. is more than big enough. If you overpack it, you can exceed the carry-on weight and size limits. These bags can really puff up. And you will have difficulty lugging it any long distance without the hip belt.

Posted by
450 posts

I’m glad you asked because I’ve had my eye on this sale also. Did you see the Mother Lode DLX? That model has a removable waist belt. I’m still interested in the Jr. as well, though I really wish it had a waist belt. I may order both from Amazon so then return as needed.

Posted by
345 posts

Thanks for the heads up Meg, no, I didn’t see that one. Hmmmmm, that’s interesting! I may just take the plunge and order both, too, with the belt attachment now involved. That way I can truly compare. I also may go back and retry the Allpa 35. REI has their anniversary sale starting on Friday. Just another excuse to go shopping lol. The cost of the Ebags is a definite draw, though. Saving a hundred dollars on a bag for me rn might be hard to pass up. Thanks for the post.

Posted by
460 posts

Meg, thanks for the info on the ML Dlx. It is about the size of the regular ML (so larger than I'd like) but with the waist/hip belt I wonder if this might make it comfortable enough for me to use. Hmm, might just have to buy it and find out.