I’ve been using the eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible since late 2014.
On my first trip with it, around Lebanon and Egypt, two problems were clear: (1) at 3 lb 15 oz, the bag is too heavy, and (2) the convertible shoulder straps are terrible, leaving painful marks on my shoulders when I carry it for long periods.
I’ve looked on and off for a replacement, recently stepping up my effort. I’ve sifted through many manufacturer sites, luggage and outdoors stores and websites, and blog reviews. All have left me disappointed.
There are lots of great options in the medium size (30-40L) range and I love my old, trusted Jansport Odyssey from pre-laptop sleeve days.
For one bag travel I am not so good as I was a decade ago at packing light, so what I want is something a tad larger with the same functionality.
Stepping up to large backpacks (45-55L) you enter a realm of both the boring and the gimmick.
What I Want in a Travel Backpack
I’ve got a candidate that looks good on paper. Delivery will take a week in the color I want, so until then, here are my requirements for a travel backpack:
- Looks like a regular backpack
- Not a tactical pack, since I already go to places where people suspect I am military
- 45-55L capacity
- No more than 23″ high for carry-on purposes, so not those towering hiking packs
- Under 3 pounds, or at least under 3.5 pounds
- Permanent, affixed shoulder straps, no clips, o-rings, etc.
- NOT CONVERTIBLE to shoulder bag, carry-on, etc, this leads to terrible shoulder straps
- Few dangling straps, though I can cut those off like I did to my Jansport
- If if has a hip belt, then ideally it shall be removable, or at least easy to hide or cut off
- No or minimal laptop pouch, so the padded sleeves doesn’t take up half the pack
- 2-3 versatile compartments, but not tons of space-consuming organizers, water bladders, multimedia pockets, etc
- Available in colors other than black, because black is boring and I have a theory that it is more targeted for theft
Something Like This
To give an idea, something along the lines of the discontinued High Sierra Classic 2 Series Rappel 50 Frame Pack is what I am after. A few vendors have it on Amazon.
Newer High Sierra models unfortunately violate many of my requirements. The one time I had a piece of High Sierra luggage I did not like the functionality or workmanship, so this one is a backup if my first choice does not work out.