- Fully carry-on compliant
- No need for separate packing cubes or travel organizers
- Rugged and well-made, with a strong material on the outside.
- No hip belt and the shoulder straps are a little thin
- The back lacks a padded mesh for airflow and comfort
- The laptop compartment isn't very well padded
If you’re looking for a backpack that is carry-on size and has a lot of organisational features, then the eBags Mother Lode might just be a great choice for you.
While my main backpack is still the Osprey Farpoint 40, I recently tested the eBags Mother Lode for this review. I came away with very positive impressions, although it does have one minor weakness.
Ebags Mother Lode features
The backpack has one large main compartment, which has an optional divider wall that you can put up to split this large space into two halves. There is also a pouch for small items that you can attach or detach from the main compartment.
I like the versatility that this provides. Other competing backpacks offer just a main compartment without any further features, so this is definitely a plus.
On the front, there are two zipped mini compartments for small items, one of which also has a foldable container for a water bottle. There is also an integrated travel organizer with mesh compartments and a place to securely put a smartphone.
On the back, you have a laptop compartment. This is designed in such a way that even if you don’t use it to store anything, you don’t lose any space. (It basically shares space with the main compartment.)
There is a sling or a kind of hammock inside the laptop compartment that you can adjust to fit any size laptop. This works well, though I do slightly prefer the more fitted padded laptop compartments I’ve seen on some other bags.
Is eBags Mother Lode carry-on?
Yes, it is carry-on size. You will be able to take this on board without checking it in, saving you time and money.
Not all airlines use the same carry-on size standards though. The Mother Lode will work in 95% of the cases but there are some strange outliers.
Ultra-budget airline RyanAir has more stringent size limits for instance, necessitating a check-in. Then again, you probably shouldn’t fly with RyanAir anyway as it is a horrible dog of an airline – and the crappy bag size limits are entirely part of its crappy business model. But I digress.
Generally speaking, the eBags Mother Lode is fully carry-on compliant.
Pros and cons of the eBags Mother Lode
The organizational features of this backpack I think are fantastic. You can store things very smartly without having to rely on separate packing cubes or travel organizers.
The bag is also quite rugged and well-made, with a strong material on the outside. I’m not sure if I totally love the slightly utilitarian design and the eBags logo, but I do like it enough not to worry about it. Certainly it’s not the worst-looking carry-on backpack around. (If you ask me, that award probably goes to the original line of Tortuga backpacks.)
The one major downside? The back harness is a little basic, at least if you plan to take this bag on an adventurous trip. There is no hip belt and the shoulder straps are a little thin and cannot be fully adjusted, and the back lacks a padded mesh for airflow and comfort.
In the video below I show you the differences between this backpack and the Farpoint 40 which is designed more with adventure travel in mind.
Of course, all of that is totally fine if you only intend to carry this backpack around airports, bus stations, and so on.
But if you expect to be wearing it for longer periods of time, I think it’s less ideal. I wouldn’t take the eBags Mother Lode on a long hike or trek, for example. Then again, that’s not what it’s really designed for.
I recommend this bag in particular for weekend trips and urban travel. It can also serve as a decent round-the-world or backpacking bag, with the somewhat lightweight harness as the only major drawback.
The best elements of the eBags Mother Lode are the many pockets, zippers, and detachable organizers. It’ll be hard to lose anything with so many different storage spaces.