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on March 18, 2015
I ordered two of these bags for a family trip last summer. We went on a two week trip to France to visit friends. I love efficiency packing, and the challenge of packing for a 2 week trip in only carry on bags is actually my idea of a good time. Using packing cubes, I was able to do that without an issue. Had the weather been remotely normal for August in France, I would have been golden...but unseasonably cool temps and lots of rain necessitated purchasing a few more items of warmer clothing for myself and the kids than what you see pictured in the original pack (see photos). I was able to fit the clothing I purchased there in the bag, so the bag would have accommodated the full requirement of clothing, it was only my initial packing that was inadequate, not the bag itself.

I packed a single bag for myself and our two children (ages 3 and 1). The second bag was my husband's. Mens clothing always takes up more space, so he needed an entire bag for himself. I've attached photos of the contents of the bags, as well as how it fits on me. I'm 5'7" with a small frame. I didn't take a photo of my son's clothing before I put it in the cube, but it was comparable to my daughter's kit and also fit in one small packing cube. I was able to pack 4 small cubes (2 for me and 1 for each child), 3 mesh pencil cases packed with underwear and swimsuits, toiletries and makeup, laundry supplies, a hair towel, 3 pairs of shoes, an extra scarf, belt, travel hair dryer, journal, and travel documents. I also folded a tote bag into the backpack, and I used this as a go-to bag on the long flight. Diapering supplies, snacks, and blankets were kept in the storage compartment of a Kelty child-carrier pack. Since that pack had to be stored overhead, I pulled out my tote bag, took a few supplies from the Kelty pack, and moved them into them into the tote, which fit nicely under the airline seat with easy access to these immediate supplies. When on the move, we were able to remain hands free.

The versatility of carry options allowed us flexibility as to how we carried the bags and our children. I cannot tell you the peace of mind that came with truly having everything I might have needed in the cabin with us. Comfort-wise, this bag is not as comfortable as a true backpacking backpack, but I don't think its reasonable to expect that and to have the flexibility this bag provides as a piece of true luggage. It's a trade off, and well worth it. Having hands free on a long trip was a godsend, and the lack of retractable handle-associated hardware really frees up a lot of space inside the bag, in comparison to a roll-aboard style carry-on. Imagine navigating international airports with two little ones and the associated toileting/diapering/eating...handsfree is a must.

I've also used this bag and filled it up for just myself for 4 day trips to weddings. In those instances, the focus is less on efficiency and more on having everything I need for different events/activities/+more beauty supplies than I use in my everyday wear. From reading other reviews, it seems that the company backs its prodcut to the hilt. I am confident these will get a lot of use in our household, and be durable enough to see our kids through their first "grown up" trip across the pond, years down the road.
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on May 26, 2011
Debated back & forth on whether to purchase this or the Rick Steves convertible backpack for my son's 3 week trek through Europe. Saw the other seemed to have quality issues, so I took a chance on the ebags Mother Lode Weekender, as I was impressed with their lifetime warranty. The twisted poly material seems very durable (looks in appearance like ballistic nylon, but smoother), and the black makes for an attractive bag. Seams are well reinforced, and there are lots of carrying options. Padded straps are very comfortable. Didn't realize when I ordered that it came with a separate padded strap that you can attach to carry over your shoulder if you choose. Also didn't know that it had an expandable zipper option, which is what I was hoping for. Outside pocket is also very deep, so plenty of room for packing. Lots of large & small storage compartment areas (even a pull out water bottle holder) - possibly more than one would use, but good to know they're there, as are the built in dividers. All that can only help keep one more organized & make it much easier to get through security. Four outer compression straps can really cinch down your pack. Plenty of room for his 15" laptop, if he takes it, although that would add to the weight. The only concern I have would be whether the heavy plastic clips will withstand the test of time, but I imagine if not, the warranty will take care of that. There's a great video on the ebags website that shows you how to best utilize all the compartments/features.
Follow-up: One year later - we have used this bag on a few different trips (I borrowed it when my husband & I went to Italy last fall. We took that, 1 small rolling bag & a drawstring bag for a 10 day trip & were set). The backpack really is well made; I was very impressed & have recommended it to others without hesitation.
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on April 4, 2012
My mission for the perfect traveling bag started 4 years ago. Yes, it was a long one but I was not about to buy 4 bags, compare them all, then go to the post office with the returns.
Please bear with me. The back story is important here.
It began with a medium sized 4wheeled bag for my wife and a medium 2-wheeler Burton for myself. She liked the ease in pushing her stand-up luggage over the airport's smooth floor but once out in the real-world her bag was more easily pulled using just 2 of its wheels. Which was actually 90% of the time. During its 4th voyage, while traveling over pebbles to a oceanside hotel one of its cheap plastic wheels started to malfunction. It never rolled smoothly after that day but we did use it for the return trip home. Well, it was still under warranty but they would only repair it if I sent it back to them. That would be $10 for a cardboard box from staples and probably another $30-$40 to mail it back- To repair a $80 used bag?
In the mean-time, my Burton luggage rolled-on like a tank due to its skateboard type wheels which always survived the baggage handlers, but alas- on its 5th trip, one of its zippers simply disappeared. Discovered this at baggage claim where I made a damage claim. The airline offered me a new bag of equal size which I promptly rejected because It wasn't even close in quality to mine. The problem was taken care of using a zipper repair kit ordered here on amazon.
Both of these bags juuuust make the size limit for carry-ons. Which, for me is more often bad, rather than good. Reason being... It was a huge hassle trying to find room in the overhead compartments of economy class (I prefer to spend the money on trips to exotic locals).
So, we decided to leave our wheeled luggage at home and travel with backpack luggage made for active people. I started looking for pack that had a rectangular shape with a flat bottom and deep sides for maximum capacity, and it should have compression straps to cinch it all in to fit in those overheads.
When I first saw the eBag MotherLode I knew it was large enough to handle a week's vacation worth of clothes. You see, over the years I've learned that less is more and I believe most frequent fliers come to this realization eventually. Instead of bringing alot of clothes, just utilize a washing machine or the hotel's laundry service.
This bag can easily hold my 10 day load;
1 pair casual cotton pants
1 pair blue jeans
1 dress slacks
2 casual long sleeve
1 dress shirt
2 t-shirts
1 nice pair of black shoes
2 wool socks
2 wool briefs
(lightweight wool underwear is simply amazing for travel. You can clean it in the sink at night and it will be dry by morning. It's itch-free and anti-odor as well. I've found the best to be made by Icebreaker.)
Sounds like too little? Not really because i fly wearing loose-fitting casual pants, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt underneath, socks and casual shoes.

Back to the bag. It looks like a backpack but packs like luggage. The zipper goes around 3 sides so you can pack comfortably. There is a fabric divider which will keep things from clumping at the bottom of the bag when it kept in a vertical position. I put my shoes in plastic bags and packed them in the "south" of the bag with my pants and heavier items while my shirts go in the higher level with the light stuff. Of course, the zippers can be locked.
Besides the large main compartment, there is a zipper which opens to add another 2 inches of capacity. I've never had to use it and i imagine that if I did, this bag would become just as large and unwieldy as wheeled luggage. But it's good to know that if i need the extra space to bring back any "great finds", I can load it up and check it in.
Next up, the laptop compartment which I do not use because smartphones are just as helpful in a wifi equipped room. And I do make sure my hotel had wifi before I book it. So I use this easy to access area to hold a book or two. This pocket can also be locked.
Then there is a small dual zippered area on the top front. Looks like it's been made seperate to hold used socks/underwear or light shoes. I do not use this pocket at all because it opens way to easily, so I keep a small tsa lock on it at all times.
We now move on to the second largest compartment. Here you can keep everyhting else that you will need like cameras, chargers, electric shavers, books, etc... Very good size for a secondary area. Along the inside of the flap there is a cell phone pocket, and small mesh pocket, and two zippered pockets for documents and wallet. Can also be locked.
The next zipper is vertical and secures a pocket along the outside of the pack. Here is another good place to keep a book. Specifically the one you will need easy access to. This area is not lockable.
There is another small zippered pocket off to the side in which is stored a bottle holder cinch sack which you would use while actually carrying the pack on your back as it sticks out too far to keep a bottle in here while doing anything else. Not lockable.
This brings us to the final compartment on the back of the pack in which hides the carrying straps which can be attached very quickly and easily and are very well padded and make carrying this pack around very pleasant, even for long distances. If you feel the desire to run you simply attach the chest strap (included, along with waist strap and a shoulder strap) which enables the pack to stay the course. It's zipper can be locked as well.
Oh, and there is a carrying handle on top and one along the side and a "pick up strap" along the bottom end so that you dont have to touch the bottom of the bag when lifting in that manner.
I do believe I've covered it all.
Mission accomplished.
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on November 20, 2010
I just took a trip for five days and wanted to stick with carry-on and avoid checking fees. Everything fit into the bag perfectly with room to spare, I was able to easily fit two large souvenir mugs and some extras I'd picked up on my trip. I was able to pack things neatly since the bag has a divider in the main compartment which really helped when my bag went through the X-ray.

There are so many pockets and compartments, there were a few that I hadn't noticed until I was packing and still one more that I didn't notice until about halfway through my trip. There were a couple of times when I was trying to find "just the right spot" to pack something and I just started opening pockets and found the perfect place for everything.

The dimensions were almost exactly the maximum dimensions for carry-on luggage, but I think that was based on using the expansion zipper because my bag fit perfectly into the overhead with room to spare.

Finally, I really love how lightweight the bag is - I am a 5'1" woman and I didn't want to be hauling around a bag that weighed too much (plus there is the weight limit for carry-on luggage). I was amazed when I weighed the bag after I'd packed everything I needed.... everything weighed just under 15 lbs! The bag wasn't so comfortable that I'd go backpacking in Europe with it, but it was great for the maneuvering I had to do through the airport and the airplane.
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on January 24, 2012
I bought this bag about a year and a half ago from ebags. I have been to San Francisco, Thailand, New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago with this bag. It has held up like new. I love all the organization compartments and the different ways to carry the bag. I don't know if you notice this but the zippers can be locked. I bought some non TSA brass locks for stuff I wanted secure. With so many compartments it is very easy to misplace stuff. It did take a couple of days to get used to where to put everything. This is like the swiss army of carry on bags because it has so many roles. With the increased fees for checked bags I find this bag to be a great deal to stuff as much travel stuff as possible. I have never had a problem placing the bag in the overhead bin on any airline even when the bag was fully expanded. Do your self a huge favor and go to the ebags website or youtube to look at the features of the bag which are indeed ingenious. The bag comes in at 3 lbs, 15 oz which is great especially when you fly over seas where the carry on bag limit can be restricted to 15 pounds! I have never seen the weight restriction imposed. If the airlines start to enforce the limit or lower the weight then it is great to be to squeeze every little ounce if you have too. Buy this bag if you travel or plan on traveling. I hope this review helped because just like you, I read what you review when I buy something.
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on April 3, 2013
The reviews for this product were so good that I was sure I would like this bag. I purchased it for a trip to Italy where we were traveling light and taking only a carry-on.The bag is functional and attractive but, for me, very uncomfortable to carry. It weighs 4# empty which doesn't sound like much but in reality, it's a heavy backpack. My husband used an old Jansport we've had for years and in comparison, his was featherweight. Even with the shoulder pads, it dug into my shoulders making it uncomfortable to carry for any length of time. The waist band did not seem to help the shoulder pressure.

I could have dealt with those limitations, chalking it up to lack of upper body strength until we arrived in Florence. We had to walk 3 blocks to pick up our rental car and it was raining. Not pouring, but a nice soaking rain. And soak it did. It never occurred to me that the bag wasn't water resistant. I did not expect it to be water proof but I did expect it to shed most of the water. Most backpackers hike in all kinds of weather. Instead, it soaked up every rain drop out there and by the time I was able to open it to unpack, all my clothes were wet as well as my laptop and Kindle. I had another eBag item, the Villa Crossbody Bag in the mesh zipper compartment inside the backpack. That bag also got wet, the dye ran and it stained the mesh on the compartment. I was grateful that no clothing was stained! In comparison, my husbands Jansport shed every drop and all his items were completely dry.

I am disappointed in this bag and cannot recommend it. If I had it to do over again, I'd look at a second Jansport.
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on September 19, 2012
I recently returned from a two week trip to Europe where I brought this bag and this bag only. This bag is beyond fantastic (I am STILL raving about this bag to everyone). It fit as a carry on for all of my flights, including my flight on Ryanair, which was one of the main reasons why I bought this bag.

Without even expanding the bag, I was able to fit:
2 weeks worth of clothing
3 pairs of shoes
a rain coat
2 weeks worth of toiletries
my Nikon D700 + 2 lenses + extra battery, charger, etc.
my camera bag/purse
my dSLR Joby
random stuff (iphone charger, etc.)
a small makeup bag

Was it the lightest thing ever when it was fully packed? No, but definitely manageable. To give you perspective, I'm female, 5'2" and did not have any issues lifting this bag or carrying it, even after having to walk 30 minutes from the subway to my rented flat.

Due to its backpack style, it makes traveling extremely convenient. Case in point: while in Europe, I encountered many cobblestone pathways and buildings without elevators. Having a backpack style luggage definitely saved the day. Just try to imagine dragging your wheely suitcase on cobblestone and then up 4 flights of narrow stairs.

Unlike traditional backpacks though, it opens like a suitcase, making accessibility key. This bag also has numerous pockets that are great for random things that you don't want misplaced. It also has a "hidden" laptop compartment in the back, which can also be locked. The main compartment can also be locked as well (you do need to buy your own locks though).

The best part, in my opinion, are the outside straps that allow the bag to be cinched down as a whole. It was because of this (I pulled it down as much as I could), that allowed my bag to be considered a carry on for Ryanair and I didn't have to pay the $100 luggage fee.

Hands down, best piece of luggage I own.
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on May 2, 2015
I bought this specifically because I am trying to pack lighter whenever I travel. Recently I took a 5 day, 4 night trip to Florida and was able to fit everything I needed in this bag! I also used slim packing cubes to keep things organized. You can see what I packed in the pictures I posted (along with my dog sniffing everything)
My only complaint is that the backpack straps are secured with plastic clips, since I am using this as my sole "suitcase" it gets kinda heavy so I would prefer the clips be metal so they don't eventually break. That will, however, be an easy fix (a couple metal carabiners should do the trick!)
I really love all the awesome compartments, nooks, and crannies to store things! I cannot recommend this enough, especially if you are looking to travel light! If you want to see all the details of this bag, the eBags website has a video that shows everything.
Love it!
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on July 4, 2011
I haven't traveled with this backpack yet, but plan to in 5 months. As soon as I purchased it I packed it with everything I would take on the plane, and this bag is going to work wonders! Lots of room, lots of pockets and high quality. I love the zippers, as they smoothly zip and unzip without any snagging. I've tried it with the back pack straps, shoulder strap, and carrying it as a traditional bag, and actually for temporary use, I like using the shoulder strap. I think the shoulder strap works fine if your bag isn't too heavy. I'm packing the least amount of items possible and my bag will be very lightweight, and the regular shoulder strap works just fine for short distances or while standing in line etc. I purchased a Rick Steves Toiletry bag (small) and it fits perfect in that top zipper compartment where you can also put TSA liquids. I like to have immediate access to my toiletry bag while traveling, and this fits the bill. I also love how the bag cinches down really well with the 4 straps/buckles. I was initially going to purchase the Rick Steves convertible, and after looking at the videos of both products, it didn't take long at all to figure out which one was more superior. I also looked at the Osprey Meridan and the Eagle Creek Switchback, and I ruled them all out, and chose the Mother Lode. The thing with the Osprey and Eagle Creek models, is the fact you have to take the day packs off to make them "carry-on" legal, and I'm not so sure I want to keep removing and reattaching the day pack when I get on and off the plane, as you can't carry both on your back at the same time. Going through all the scenarios in my head, I decided against those types of packs and providing myself with a frustration free airline trip by using the mother lode. I love this backpack!

July 26, 2012 (UPDATE): So far, I've taken this backpack on a greyhound bus across the country, and on several airlines. It still looks new, and nothing has frayed or broke. I carry everything I need in this backpack. I carry 4 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a variety of socks/undies, all my toiletries and first-aid kit, a universal backpack stove, MSR mini-works water filter, and purification tablets, dehydrated food, sea to summit towels, inflatable pillow, sea to summit collapsible bowls/cups, rick Steve's micro-fabric daypack, kelty rain jacket, 2 nalgene collapsible water containers, light sleeping blanket, in-flight inflatable neck pillow, money belt, RFID neck passport holder, joos orange portable solar charger(stored in the rear laptop sleeve), and a few other miscellaneous item. I pack these items in the event I get stuck somewhere, I'll be able to filter and sanitize any source of water, and eat. I also purchased two (2) handle cushions that really make the handles very soft and cushions where you can carry the bag for an extended period of time and it will not hurt your hand.

I also purchased 2 clinching straps that I wrap around the entire backpack for bus travel, as this bag is too large to fit inside of a greyhound bus overhead. The straps keep everything secured while being shifted around or thrown around by baggage personnel.

Next year, I will be traveling to Europe and this bag will be getting a work out. I wouldn't trade this bag for any other on the market. When I return from my Europe trip, I will leave another update. Oh, and this bag felt just fine using the sternum strap walking for distances. I actually didn't use the hip belt yet. But, I also like the shoulder strap a lot too for short walks in the airport or bus terminal.

UPDATE 12/5/2013

I arrived back from my Europe trip a little over a month ago, and this backpack held up the entire trip. What amazed me is the fact the zippers on this backpack are extra heavy duty, because there were times I had this thing stuff to high heaven and none of the zippers busted. I was on trains, buses, trams, ferries and airplanes for almost 6 months from as far north as London to the south in Croatia. I packed mainly summer dresses and had all my emergency supplies (bug out bag contents) with me too, including some food and cooking supplies just in case I got stranded or something. I had everything I needed and believe it or not, I used everything I brought along. And it was a lot believe me. But, I had no issues carrying this on my back as long as I packed it correctly. Just make sure the area touching your back doesn't have anything protruding out that will put pressure on your back or lower back. Once that's taken care of you're good to go.

This backpack really shines when you need to maneuver up and down stairs and in small passage ways. Above all, being able to carry this bag on the plane is the upmost important attribute this backpack has and I wouldn't trade this in for anything.

*there were some regional planes where this bag was too large to carry-on, but I just checked it in the holding cabin as I walked on to the plane, and claimed it as I walked off. So, no baggage claim at the carousel was necessary at the airport.

If you're on the fence, buy it, its well worth it!
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on January 6, 2012
I was deciding between this bag and the Osprey 46, as I'm planning a 3-month trip around Asia and want to limit my luggage to a single carry-on. After a lot of deliberation, I ended up sending this bag back and keeping the Osprey, even though this bag has a larger capacity.

The things I liked best about this bag were the many thoughtful details, in particular the many pockets, pack-away water bottle holder, ID window, expandability, and the divider shelf in the center section.

The things I didn't like as much about it were the weight (it was noticeably heavier than the Osprey), the waist/hip belt - it was oddly connected in a way that felt like an afterthought, the slightly less comfortable backpack straps, the way it didn't hold its shape when I was doing test-packs (the sides just kind of collapsed; this could be a positive, as the pack will collapse easily when not in use), and the fact that it didn't hug my body as well as the Osprey, which felt more balanced. It also just doesn't look quite as cool.

I don't really feel that I would have gone wrong had I chosen to keep this pack and send the Osprey back, especially if I were planning on take a shorter trip, or if I were using it primarily for weekend trips out of town. For things like that, I think this pack would be perfect, and in fact probably better than the Osprey, which just has one main compartment, two zipper pockets accessible from the outside, and one mesh pocket on the inside.
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