Review: eBags Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack | Convertible Carry-on Luggage

When we got married, we did that thing where we bought a luggage set at Kohl’s (in the United States) and we only knew one thing about how to shop for a piece of luggage–it shouldn’t be black! That’s because it’s easy to lose on the baggage claim belt. There was a time when everyone had a black bag. Luckily, nowadays luggage brands have caught onto this problem and make lots of colors. The bag I’m talking about in this post is no different because they have six colors to choose from.

Jessica with eBags Mother Lode bag

This is an item that was gifted to me, however all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links which means this website may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links.  More information in the footer.

My newest bag is the eBags Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack. We also own two of the Mother Lode 21” Rolling Duffel and the Mother Lode Travel Backpack (which used to be called the Weekender). Why two of the Rolling Duffle? Because…well…we wanted to match! Lol Cringy for some, I know! We’ve been using the eBags brand since 2013 when we took our first trip to Europe after college. And we are using the same bags!

The quality is there. That’s the number one thing I want you to take away from this post. This is the first time we’ve had the pleasure to work with eBags and yet, I’ve been telling people for a good 5 years that if they need new luggage, to check out this brand. I’ve stuck with the Mother Lode line, but Sean’s expanded his suitcase staple to a new line which you’ll read about soon. Since we bought our original pieces in 2013, we’ve been on dozens of flights, so many train rides, and taken the bags on all kinds of terrain. My bag is still in a like-new condition…I can’t even believe it.

Convertible carry-on luggage

That’s why, when I wanted to have a little more flexibility with my bag and saw that eBags launched a rolling bag that doubled as a backpack if you need it, I reached out. Here’s my thinking: When we (eventually) get to the Cinque Terre, I want to stay the night and don’t want to take my rolling bag up and down the steps. And I knew that wouldn’t be the only time I’d feel that way. In fact, when I go to London, I get SO MAD because many of the Tube stations don’t have elevators or escalators. When I go to a conference, I need a good amount of stuff, so I’d like the option to throw it on my back in those times.

However, I have tested it around Amsterdam and let me tell you, I LOVE being able to have my 22” carry-on sized bag on my back when I’m on my bike, then switch it to a rolling bag once I’m off.

Let’s dive into the review, shall we?

eBags Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack

A review of the eBags Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack

This 22” convertible suitcase can be a rolling bag or a backpack. That versatility can be key in certain situations, and as I said earlier, it’s already come in handy for me! When staycations are the go-to in travel and you get around by bike, the backpack feature is so nice. Sometimes you know that just a rolling bag is totally fine, sometimes a backpack is totally fine, but if you didn’t have to choose…how awesome would that be?

Also, this is carry-on size for many airlines, but the nice thing is that if it’s on your back, they are less likely to ask you to check it at the gate. There’s something about the visual of the rolling bag of a certain size (like a 22”) that just screams “CHECK ME!”. Maybe they just look along the floor looking for bags and not at people’s backs. Who knows. But I know I get a little annoyed when I go through the trouble of packing for a carry-on, going through security, only for my bag to be taken away, so all the tricks I can do, I will do (assuming it is the right size and all).

Is the Mother Lode the slickest looking line? Nope. But I think it was one of the first which is why we have the other pieces. Because I knew exactly how I pack my other eBags, I knew this would be no different. When you travel as much as we do, efficiency when packing is key. It’s best to know exactly what you can and can’t take depending on the bag. Once you get used to that and how it all fits, it’s annoying to change.

The size is on the larger end of the carry-on allowance for most airlines, so you can pack plenty inside. For reference, I pack shoes, toiletries, straightening iron, etc, in the front pocket and clothes in the big part. Liquids can go in the smaller “forehead” zippered area on the top front of the suitcase. You can use packing cubes, just know that because there is a handle to grip for the wheeling bag part, you lose a little bit of space inside. But, that’s to be expected on any bag with a telescoping handle.

Would I recommend this bag? Yes, if you want the flexibility it gives, it’s a great bag to have.

eBags 3 kinds

Mother Lode Rolling Travel Backpack vs Mother Lode Rolling Duffel

This biggest difference between this rolling backpack and my long-time favorite of the rolling duffel is the structure of the back panel. The rolling bag has a super tough molded, almost hard shell-like back panel and the one in the rolling backpack is fabric on the exterior (so you can hide the detachable straps if you’d like) and inside there is a stiff panel to create a good amount of rigidity. Because of the lack of the hard shell on the exterior of the Rolling Travel Backpack, just be a little nicer to it.

The wheels are still super solid and strong with the front handle/stability stand on the bottom of the bag still offering a well-balanced, easy to roll bag makes it easy to stand on its own.

The bag looks very similar to the rolling bag on the outside by the interior is designed exactly like the original Travel Backpack from eBags. That means, while you still get the standard (and helpful!) bright orange interior that opens like a suitcase, you also get the non-removable tie-down straps, and the flexible shelf that you can unclasp and lie flat if you don’t want a shelf.

The other side of the open bag is a mesh zippered area that spans the length and width of the bag to keep things flat or just separate from the other clothes. This zipper does not open to the front compartment of the bag like it does in the rolling bag.

On the very front, there is the standard small flat zippered area for quick access and behind that, the bigger portion of the front side of the bag offers a large amount of storage but also a lot of organization!

For some reason, they didn’t include the D-ring on the side of the bag to attach a luggage lock to, but the holes in the zips are big enough to add a lock through the zipper pulls themselves.

The rolling backpack has a water bottle holder!! Finally! This is a necessity these days for carry-on bags and it makes me so happy that they did this.

You’ll find the handles are in different places on these bags than the other models. This new rolling backpack had a handle on the bottom front of the bag, on the top, and on the side. These handles, I’m assuming, are the outcome of user feedback because the new placements are perfect for loading and unloading in the overhead bin, and the side handle…well, I always try to grab for one on the Rolling Duffel even though it’s never been there.

rolling travel backpack handle hideaway

Pros of the rolling backpack

Water bottle holder because, yes, every bag should have one–especially a carry-on bag.

It’s convertible which makes it perfect for so many situations.

Great build quality with the wheels and structure of the bag so you won’t worry about what’s going to break or fall off.

About 2” of expansion available for all the goodies you want to bring home.

Well-thought out handle placement for ease of use and ease of loading and unloading from the overhead bin.

There is a sternum strap which makes carrying the bag on your back more comfortable.

Cinch straps on the interior and exterior of the bag to give maximum space.

Comes in many colors like: Navy, Garnet, Indigo, Heathered Graphite, Army Green, and Black.

Because it’s mostly a soft-shell bag, it has more flexibility with how much you can squish inside.

Cons of the rolling backpack

The fabric on the back can scuff a bit easily if it’s rubbed against something abrasive.

It’s not the most comfortable backpack. I’d consider this a rolling bag that you can use as a backpack when needed and not the other way around.

You can’t roll the bag when the backpack straps are in place because the tails to the straps drag on the ground and get stuck in the wheels. You have to take those few seconds and put the straps away.


eBags Mother Lode convertible luggage

With all of that said, I will continue to recommend the eBags brand and I hope to get the chance to use more of their products. This will be my go-to bag when I need more versatility than my rolling bag will offer. I appreciate the updates to the handle design and the addition of the water bottle holder…it really levels up the Mother Lode line a bit.

If these features match what you are looking for, then I think you’ll have a long life together! Remember, I’ve had my rolling duffel since 2013…and I traveled over 100 days a year for a while and was my bag 95% of the time (I only switched when the Travel Backpack was the only thing that fit the airline requirements). And it’s still going strong!

If you do end up getting this bag or another eBags suitcase, let me know! I’d love to hear that you are planning ahead for travel 😉

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