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Ebags Professional Weekender or TLS Mother Lode Weekender Junior?

Hello everyone,

I am trying to decide between the two bags in the title and was hoping someone who owns one or the other could chime in.

I'm a 5'6" 60 year old female, 145lbs and looking to carry luggage mainly between airports, hotels and trains in Europe. Weight limit on several airlines is 8kg for carry on. LOT and Eurowings. I have a nice, small convertible rolling backpack, but that weighs about 7 lbs with nothing in it.
I'm not going to carry a laptop, so not concerned with the best option for that. It needs to be reasonably comfortable for carrying on my back, sometimes for a half hour to an hour.
Am open to other options, if under $100.
Looking for something with water bottle holder and easy access pocket and waist belt, since my back isn't the youngest anymore. :)

Thanks in advance for any help!

Posted by
1957 posts

I'm in a similar situation and have had my eye on the latter, so I hope the forum has some opinions to share --
the former seemed to look like it has more slots/pockets than needed for leisure travel.

Posted by
26 posts

I'm a little concerned about no visible padding on the back of the mother lode.

Posted by
1179 posts

I'm a little concerned about no visible padding on the back of the mother lode.

Years ago bags didn’t have the padding they do now. We compensated for it by placing soft items next to the back of the bag. Hard pokey things were placed near the front of the bag. It works.

Padding adds bulk, weight, and makes the bag stiff. It usually isn’t needed for lighter loads.

I also want to challenge your $100 limit. It’s hard to get a great bag for that price. There’s a much larger selection at the $150 price point. You can get some great deals on bags. That said, going cheap will cost you in comfort and weight. Lighter and stronger materials are more expensive.

Posted by
1179 posts

BTW I’m not a big fan of eBags. I find their products to be heavy and also cheaply made. The weekender jr is 3.5 lb for a 40 liter bag. The professional is 3.7 lb for a 30 liter bag (heavy!!)’

How about a the following high quality bags

  • Osprey Farpoint 40 liter (3 lb) $137
  • MEI Voyageur 45 liter (3.5 lb) $145
  • Eagle Creek Expanse Hauler 45 liter (2.1 lb) $109

Other bags

I’d also suggest looking on eBay if you want to save some money. I’ve found some great lightly used packs there. Just do your research.

Posted by
1277 posts

I took Rick's classic back door bag to Mexico, and the lack of frame beat the heck out of my lumbar. I upgraded to ospreys Fairview 40, their female specific version of the farpoint. I was interested in that style because of having had surgery and radiation for breast cancer.

That bag is really comfortable and would meet yr needs except for a decent water bottle holder. I kept my bottle in my cross body purse .

I wore it for more than an hour sometimes including standing on subways and it remained comfortable and not hot even over just a T shirt. The way the outer compression works, all of the zippers are covered.

Posted by
5517 posts

I have mother lode and really like it. In fact I bought more as Christmas presents for family I liked it so much.

Osprey Fairview is a good recommendation. For the ebags choices - the Motherlode junior bag is better because of the length. I am a little shorter than you and close to your age. I find a bag shorter than 20" easier to wear. Ebags also has an etech 3.0 bag you can check out. Try to stay within the 40 liter range for your body size. 45 liters - that extra 5 liters can make a difference!

Problem with ebags etech 3.0 is the size. I wish ebags would make a junior version of it.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and opinions! I'm taking a look at some of the other packs, though some are too large. I want to stay in the 19-20 inch height, at the most.
Can anyone who owns the mother lode junior please comment on how comfortable it is to carry?

I'll go and see if our REI has the Osprey Fairview to check out in person.

Posted by
842 posts

FYI, the Osprey Fairview comes in two sizes, xs/s and med. choose based on your torso length. If you live near a smaller REI, you may want to call first to see what they have in the store. The smaller stores don’t always have both sizes in stock.

Posted by
501 posts

I recently purchased the Motherlode Jr and found it very comfortable to carry on its one trip so far. I’m 5’4”. That trip was to Florida, so not a ton of walking with it on my back. I’m taking it to Switzerland and Italy this summer, so that will be a better test. Total weight when I pack it is about 15 lbs.

When I bought it, I compared it with the Osprey Farpoint. I liked the Osprey, but I found that my stuff packed better into the Motherlode Jr. I agree that it feels a little heavy empty, but functionally it works well for me.

My husband (5’11”) has had the full-size Motherlode Weekender for years and taken it on tons of trips, both vacation and business. He loves it.

Posted by
1678 posts

I have both a Mother Lode full size and junior. I have only traveled overseas with the full size bag. It is a little bit tall for me (I'm 5') but it is sufficiently sized for a 3 week trip with room to add souvenirs. The longest I have carried it is about an hour (walking from hotel to train) and it was comfortable enough. The only drawback is the backpack clips are made of plastic, and if your bag is heavy (near the end of the trip for me) the clip can give way. I solved that with some small carabiners for extra reinforcement. I never use the water bottle holder (it isn't configured in a convenient spot for me) so I cut it out of the bag so I could use it as and extra storage pocket. I use the laptop slot (the part that rests against your back) to store paperwork and other flat items (extra ziplocks, sometimes my jacket). I've never used the waist belt. After five long trips the bag is holding up well, though I picked a light color and it is starting to show some dirt/wear from being a checked bag.

I bought the junior sized bag thinking it would be more friendly to my frame. I'll have to reconfigure my packing cubes and will definitely not have the expandable space for anything accumulated along the way. I have a packable extra bag so that will have to suffice. The Professional Weekender looks (to me) like there are too many little pockets compared to the Mother Lode.

Posted by
949 posts

The inexpensive eBags travel bags have been extensively reviewed by experience travelers and one-baggers. Many youtube clips, too. If I recall correctly, their weakest link is the connection for the shoulder straps. If that fails, you could be in a difficult situation trying to repair or compensate. Other than that, they are well-regarded for sub-$100 bags. BTW—you can often locate a promo code for eBags that takes the price down to $70.

Your comment about wanting a waist strap because of your back prompts me to suggest that only great suspension systems will transfer mass from your should to your hips. The strap on the Motherlode, and similar entry level bags, is for stabilization at best or, at worst, serves no function at all. Brands like Osprey have backpacking in their DNA and usually have superior suspension systems designed to allow the user to carry full loads easily and securely.

There are almost 8,000 positive reviews for the Motherlode on the eBags site. If you spend a few hours on the intertubes, you will find many real world reviews that point out the weaknesses and flaws of any unit you are considering. It’s not difficult to find an excellent bag but it’s tedious.

The choice is yours, of course. If you are expecting to use your bag for more than a trip or two, I strongly urge you to invest in better gear. However, there are trade offs at every point. for instance, some of the Osprey bags do not have stow-away suspensions. On my recent Rick Steves Best of Scotland trip, I counted 10 RS bags and most of them had been used successfully and enthusiastically on two to six RS tours.

Posted by
26 posts

I can't quite figure out how to quote here, but want to thank everyone for taking the time to post!
Very helpful to see the experiences with the different models!
I have time to look at different options until early July.
My daughter is also looking, but will probably just take one of our old larger daypacks, as she found she
packed way too much for last years trip and only wore half of what she lugged around.

For the trip to Europe, I'm planning to just carry whatever pack I decide on, pack very light
and not have a second item. I have quite a few light travel clothes that I can handwash and dry easily over night.
I will pack a cross-body bag that I will use as a personal item on the way back, if I end up buying anything.
It's 16x12x4 and should hold a few things, if needed.

Posted by
154 posts

I've owned a lot of EBags merchandise, and currently use the Weekender Junior for the occasional short trip. Packed properly, it will fit under an airline seat, which is a plus on a crowded flight.

I've always been impressed with EBags durability, but the comments on weight are spot on. They uniformly seem to be heavier than comparable bags, which depending on what kind of shape you're in, can be a big deal if you don't pack light. And some of the bags, particularly the "business" bags, are so overpadded that usable space is minimal. Further, some of their business packs only open on two sides, which makes access difficult. I had to return one of those for that reason.

For me, (5'8"), the Weekender Junior is just fine for a short trip, provided I don't overpack. And the bag is pretty durable, so not a bad purchase at this price point, especially if on sale, which is fairly often.

Posted by
1179 posts

I appreciate bogiesan’s post on eBags as it echos my own personal experience. I liked my own eBags weekender until the seam blew out.

Or maybe I should say until the seam tore out. It turns out that eBags saves money by skimping on seam margins. So when the seam blew out it tore the fabric. Fixing the bag would have cost more than 50% of what I paid for it. It was at that point I decided to pay a little more and get a bag from a better source.

That’s when I found out that better bags are designed to have better suspension systems. My new bag (LL Bean Quickload Convertible) was way more comfortable than the eBags weekender. It was also 1.3 lbs lighter but with the same features. Ironically, the Quickload held up under extreme abuse. It worked well while being dragged through the African bush. Conversely, the eBags blew out under normal domestic use. I would have saved more money by buying a slightly more expensive bag in the first place.

Moral of the story: seam blowouts are pretty serious problems, especially on travel. A bag that has a history of seam blowouts and strap failures should be avoided.

Posted by
1179 posts

They uniformly seem to be heavier than comparable bags, which depending on what kind of shape you're in, can be a big deal if you don't pack light.

In this case the weight has another issue. The OP is up against an 8 kg weight limit. So the bag weight takes away from bringing an extra shirt etc.

Posted by
26 posts

Too bad some of the bags mentioned here are no longer available.
I'm off to REI now, to see what they have...

Posted by
1179 posts

Too bad some of the bags mentioned here are no longer available.

The Quickload and the Essential Carry on are no longer made. They may come up (very occasionally) on eBay.

That said, neither bag has an internal frame. They wouldn’t be the best choice for someone with back issues.

Here's a couple of other bags just to spin your head more.
Eagle Creek - migrate 40 liter duffle
Ebags.com - The North Face - base camp duffel - size extra small.

Posted by
3713 posts

You might consider the smaller version of this Tortuga backpack.

Or this Tortuga expandable one.

This Eagle Creek backpack is lighter.

This one might be another EC option.

Backpacks are being designed for women these days, but It seems like the waist belts disappear on smaller or lighter bags with some brands. And as with rolling bags, extra pocket structure and zippers can add extra weight.

Posted by
60 posts

I bought eBags' 2.0 Weekender Convertible about 2 years ago and love it. It holds a huge amount and isn't heavy when empty.

That said, I am 5'4" and have had back and neck problems from a car accident. I was fine with it on my back (and carrying stuff for a 2 1/2 week trip during October-November) for short periods but it did wear a bit on the longer stretches.

Not sure if you're looking to travel very quickly but eBags has fantastic sales if you catch them. I also use eBates, which gives me even more money back on the purchase.

Good luck!

Posted by
60 posts

p.s. - I also wanted to add that I purchased a PacSafe Vibe 20 Antitheft 20L backpack last year. It's fantastic. It has pouches on both sides of the bag, for your water, umbrella, etc. Plenty of room inside, as well as an RFID blocking section for your passport, credit cards, etc. Thick, durable straps. Not sure if you can secure it around your waist but my 75 year old mother used this pack while traveling abroad last fall and had no issues.

I'm taking it with me when I travel next month. It will be my personal item on the plane and my daypack while out and about.

Posted by
94 posts

I have the Mother Lode Junior and absolutely love it. I'm 5'6 and it's the perfect size for me. Very easy to stay organized with it and it's comfortable on my back.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks, everyone!
I have until early July to try things out, and wait for good sales. Though I suspect there won't be many sales in spring and summer, when people tend to travel more. :)
REI will have their 20% off coupon next month, so I could use that on something they carry.
People were right that a smaller REI might not have the smaller Osprey Fairview. Ours only has the 55 Liter in the store, but can get it in.

Posted by
1179 posts

Though I suspect there won't be many sales in spring and summer, when people tend to travel more. :)

I’ve found sales over Memorial Day, unfortunately. It kind of disturbs me that a day to remember the war dead was turned into a sales event, but there you go. Start looking the Thursday/Friday before. These are usually weekend sales.

You could also try Zappos. They have free shipping both ways so it’s easy to order a pack, try it on for fit, and send it back. They carry the Fairview, as well as the Deuter transit 40 and Pacsafe. Filter on backpacks -> Multi Day Packs (33-69 L)

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks for the tips!
I try to not do the buy/try/return too much, since I think it's a waste of resources.
On the other hand, many items are only available online, so the customer has no choice.

Many years ago, in the 80s, I bought a convertible pack at a travel store in Germany,
for a one year trip around the world.
Unfortunately, it was lost between several moves. Otherwise, it would probably still be usable.
Served me well back then and for several other long trips, but was probably heavier than anything
they make nowadays. :)

Posted by
1179 posts

On the other hand, many items are only available online, so the customer has no choice.

Yup. Try getting a decent pair of snow boots in San Jose. REI carries pack boots but you need to go online for dress boots.

Posted by
87 posts

The mother lode does not have a useful hip belt. It won't take any weight off your shoulders. It is okay for short walks. I just used the Osprey Porter 46.
It is very lightweight, the hip belt really takes off the weight from shoulders. It does not have a water bottle holder. But you could get something that would hook onto the bag. I also had the detachable Daylite daypack. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I would not use the day pack again. It is not needed, and not really a great design, it is deep and narrow, when attached to big bag, it sticks way out in the middle, moves center of gravity away from your back. Also, it is not easy to attach/detach daypack quickly. The main bag will compress so far down, that you can take plenty in the Porter. Also, airlines like Easyjet will not allow two bags, combined the daypack when filled won't fit in overhead. When the Porter 46 is packed full, it is not that easy to stuff shoulder straps and hip belt into their hidden compartment.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks for the useful tips!
The porter 46 is a little too large for some of the airlines I'll be flying, but I'll check out the smaller version.

Posted by
2927 posts

I've been eyeing this bag:
TucanoTugo Medium Travel Backpack
Although it doesn't have a waist strap per your requirement...My use is slightly different than yours, but thought I'd throw it up as an option. I love the measurements as it will fit the smaller airlines like Spirit and Frontier...didn't check Ryanair, etc.

Posted by
1179 posts

I'm not sure I can do 20L yet, but maybe!

Except that it isn’t a 20 liter bag. It’s deceitful advertising.

The external dimensions are 15.75" x 11.81" x 5.91". That’s 1099 cu in. That translates to 18 liters. It weighs 2 lbs. Compare against the 16 liter Patagonia travel tote which weighs 14 oz.

Always calculate the volume using the external dimensions of the bag. That’s your true maximum volume. Usually the volume is less due to construction techniques. Many times the manufacturers take the volume of each pocket, add them up, and claim that as the total volume. The problem is that the bag, once zipped, is a closed system. If you fill up an inner pocket then that will take away available space in the main compartment.

As a less experienced one bagger, you may be able to handle 30 liters on the first try. It’s a lot harder to get things under 20 liters first try. I can do 16 liters but it took some experience to get there.

Posted by
26 posts

Currently I'm thinking no less than 35L.
I can always pack less and cinch it down, and have a little space for extra on the way home.
Since I have to stay within the 8kg limit, for a couple of airlines within Europe, I can't pack too much anyhow.

Posted by
1179 posts

Since I have to stay within the 8kg limit, for a couple of airlines within Europe, I can't pack too much anyhow.

You can pack quite a bit with that allowance. The key is to reduce useless weight. Heavy bags, heavier packing cubes, full size toiletries, extra packaging all are useless weight. Taking too many “just in case” items that you never use is useless weight. I’d even put heavier clothing into that category because lighter clothing can do the same job. I’d also put things I used but didn’t really need on that list. For example, I might bring an extra dress and use it. But if it was a second dress I didn’t really need it.

Posted by
87 posts

The Osprey Porter 46 easily fit on an Easyjet overhead compartment when it was totally stuffed, including the daylite daypack which I had to stuff inside the main bag. I don't think there are too many planes it won't fit on.

Posted by
26 posts

Maybe the listed measurements were wrong? I'm looking for a bag no taller than 19.5 inches, because that's safe for pretty much all European airlines.

Posted by
181 posts

I use the Weekender Junior backpack from ebags, and I'm about your size and age. I find it holds quite a bit, especially when using the packing cubes, and it's pretty easy to carry around and get it into overhead compartments. One small tip -- just be careful not to overpack it because it can then get a bit heavy which puts pressure on your knees when walking more than a few blocks with it. One more advantage of its smaller size - it will keep you from stuffing in too much stuff which then makes it heavier. It's also very sturdy and has held up nicely to several trips.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks!
Do you happen to know how much yours weighs, appx. when packed to the point where it still feels comfortable for you to carry?