eBags Mother Lode Wheeled Duffel Bag Carry-On Suitcase, 21-Inch

Last updated date: May 12, 2020

DWYM Score

8.7

eBags Mother Lode Wheeled Duffel Bag Carry-On Suitcase, 21-Inch

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We looked at the top Suitcases and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Suitcase you should buy.

Editor's Note September 17, 2020:
Checkout The Best Suitcase for a detailed review of all the top suitcases.

Overall Take


In our analysis of 94 expert reviews, the eBags eBags Mother Load Wheeled Duffel Bag Carry-On Suitcase, 21-Inch placed 14th when we looked at the top 15 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Perfect for a weekend getaway or an extended trip out of town, this duffel is built to last a lifetime, heck, we even guarantee it. The eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21" Wheeled Duffel is where hardside meets softside luggage. With a hard shell on the backside for supreme durability coupled with the organization of softside luggage on the front of the bag, this duffel is truly the best of both worlds. Plus, the easy-access front pocket allows you to quickly pull out a sweater mid-flight when it's freezing?or lets you access anything at a moment's notice without having to unpack the whole bag. Easy access front zip compartment with compression straps and interior mesh zip pocket: Upper compartment is 21" x 14" x 3.5" and lower compartment 21" x 14" x 5.5" with a zip expansion for an extra 1.5". 2 exterior quick-grab zip pockets. 2 front feet for a tip-free design (even when fully packed). Top, bottom and side carry handles. Telescopic handle adjusts to 3 heights. Product Dimensions: 9 x 21.5 x 15 inches.

Expert Reviews

Expert Summarized Score

8.5
11 expert reviews

User Summarized Score

9.2
5,462 user reviews

What experts liked

It has a nice attachment buckle on the outside where I often attach my toiletries bag. The bag is very convenient. The hardback of the bag is of great use, especially when you have to pass through the slushy snow. The bag is very durable for carrying it around. It suits anyone who travels back to back often. If you want to keep a bag that lasts long with no trouble, this could be your pick.
- Best Luggage
First of all, it's a great size. It's skinny enough to fit into all the overhead bins we've ever encountered, but it also expands to accommodate the extra souvenir or two when we come home from vacation. Secondly, the wheels on these bags are easy to roll. They are more like wheels you would find on inline skates than cheap plastic wheels on some other luggage. They don't get caught up, and the rubber makes them easy on any terrain.
- Along For The Trip
Peter Cobb, co-founder of eBags.com, said the site’s top-selling carry-on, the Mother Lode TLS Mini ($180), has multiple interior compartments, and a “shelf” that can be adjusted with Velcro to keep shoes separate.
- The New York Times
Almost 5,000 reviewers have given this best-selling wheeled duffel a 4.6-star rating on eBags' site — safe to say it's a crowd favorite. It's super compartmentalized — much more so than your average one-compartment duffel — with two main packing sections, a divider, and plenty of auxiliary pockets, too. The two wheels are quiet and smooth to roll. The four external compression straps will make sure your contents stay secure. And it's available in eight colorways, so there's sure to be one for every traveler's style.
- Travel and Leisure
This crowd favorite is tough, light weight and incredibly useful. With tons of compartments-2 main packing sections, a divider, tie down staps and zippered side pockets-it's highly functional.
- Sher She Goes
This bag is much cheaper than many other “premium” bags. With the number of coupon codes online, you can sometimes buy this bag for less. This is a 21″ bag so it fits easily in the overheads. The interior is bright orange making it easy to find your contents. The main compartment has a movable divider and there are two flat pockets on the lid.
- Travel Codex
The eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21 inch Wheeled Duffel, as the name implies, comes with wheels. Great wheels in fact. One look at those wheels, one spin across the pavement and you can tell these are some durable and well-built wheels. A necessity when trundling along city streets, cobbled lanes, and train stations. And, did I say these guys are quiet. As the eBags TLS Mother Lode Mini 21″ Wheeled Duffel rolls through the airport I would describe them as near whisper quiet.
- Arnie & Jo: On The Go!
A great mid-range carry on luggage bag. This bag has a retractable handle to make transportation of the bag much easier, match this will a pair of smooth rolling wheels and they make the perfect pairing. The main compartment of this carry on luggage can be unzipped to expand giving you extra space, perfect for packing in those souvenirs from your trip! The expansion offers you an extra 33% space.
- Easy Travel For You
Extremely well-made with a solid, durable feel all around. The zippers are sturdy with a smooth, snag-free pull. The exterior is a highly quality twisted poly material that feels designed to take a real beating. eBags was wise to include a few minor (but much appreciated design touches) as well. For example, the bold orange interior liner makes finding lost bits of gear, loose change, and other valuables a snap. The adjustable interior shelf (also available in other eBags luggage) is a smart design touch, allowing travelers to customize the central part of the bag as they see fit.
- Vagabondish
A small feature, but one which reveals the amount of thought which went into the bag’s design: there’s a thin rubber coating on the trolley handle (in the photo below, it appears as light grey). It provides a nice tactile sensation every time you use it, and of course is a bit softer than the molded handle. I tested the telescoping mechanism a number of times and it operated flawlessly; of special note is the handle’s three positions, the longest of which is a full 45.5 inches – the tallest of users won’t have issues with the bag striking their heels when striding through an airport!
- Practical Hacks

What experts didn't like

It would have been great if it had a handle on the side. It is difficult to carry them down the stairs.
- Best Luggage
The TLS Mother Lode was easy to dismiss right away. Its wheels chattered over every surface except deep carpet. Flanking it are four outside buckle straps that block the zipper, which makes it difficult to get things in and out of the bag. Before you can pack the bag, there are two fiberglass rods that you need to install yourself. And it has no garment bag.
- New York Times Wirecutter
The bag is sturdy, but this comes with a trade off in weight. This bag is slightly heavy to begin with (at eight pounds).
- Travel Codex
No backpack straps.
- Easy Travel For You
The inclusion of stowaway backpack straps would also be ideal, as minimalist travelers will attest that switching between backpack and roll-aboard luggage is a must-have feature. The flip-side is that these features add weight and bulk which is a difficult design challenge for such a small bag.
- Vagabondish

An Overview On Suitcases

Even on your most uncomfortable economy flight, take heart in the fact that your luggage is probably having a worse time than you are. From the punishment of the initial packing ritual to the inevitable bumps and bruises administered by the baggage handlers, your suitcase bears it all without a complaint — if it’s made of quality stuff.

So how do you choose the right travel companion for your next trip? First things first: Consider the contents. Is this luggage going to be used for a short, solo trip or long family outings? If it’s the former, go with a compact carry-on bag. For the latter, you’re going to need an actual suitcase, the kind that will likely be checked in and stowed in a separate compartment during your flight.

Don’t fully trust the name given by the manufacturer, either. Many so-called “carry-on” bags may get rejected as such by some airlines, especially when they’re overstuffed. Check the dimensions: The standard size limit for carry-on luggage on most US airlines is 22 by 14 by 9 inches. For checked baggage, the general limit is 62 linear inches (that’s length, width and height added together). Whatever you’re choosing, make sure that it’s a bag you can move by yourself if you have to. Ideally, that includes the ability to lift it overhead at least once to stow it in an overhead compartment.

The next thing you’ll want to consider is structure. Luggage materials fall into two main categories: Hardside or softside. Hardside luggage is made of aluminum or polymers that offer lots of protection, making them the default choice for larger suitcases that will see lots of handling (and might need some extra security). Softside luggage is usually made from high-quality nylon or polyester, possibly with PVC panels or other reinforcing material to protect the inside. It’s more prone to scratches and wear, but offers a bit of flexibility when you need to stretch the capacity. This material is obviously lighter and most common for carry-on luggage.

Whatever the material, the details make a lot of difference. The first thing to check is the zippers. The most common types you’ll see on luggage are coil zippers or chain zippers. Coil zippers are typically made of nylon or plastic, and while they’re flexible and can “heal” if the zipper slips, they’re generally less durable and easier to tamper with. Chain zippers, as the name implies, are made with interlocking metal or plastic teeth. They’re more secure but a bit less flexible, and generally more expensive. Whichever the type, a good perk is a “closed-end” zipper style that can be opened from either end of the suitcase. Not only is this more convenient, but it also ensures that you can still open your luggage if one end breaks.

Just as you might with a used car, you’ll want to check the wheels. Spinner wheels are generally considered to be the best option for frequent travelers. They have a versatile mounting that allows them to rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to maneuver more easily in crowded airports. Just bear in mind that they can also roll off more easily when unattended. For that reason, those who travel in areas with a steep incline might go with a good set of fixed wheels.

Other factors to consider include the handle. In the best-case scenario, it will be retractable and built into the body of the suitcase so it’s harder to break or bend. And of course, you’ll want to consider the layout of the interior: Are there enough pockets for all your smaller items? Is there a separate compartment for dirty clothes? How much can you reasonably pack in?

For some of these questions, you’ll need to ask around, or check the reviews online. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the details! A good traveling companion is hard to find.

The Suitcase Buying Guide

  • One great perk of many modern suitcases is a USB charging port. They’re typically attached to a power bank so that you can juice up your phone on the go. While this can be a lifesaver on long layovers, make sure you can get a suitcase that allows you to easily remove the battery. Lithium-ion batteries can pose a fire hazard, and many airlines may require you to carry the power bank separately for that reason.
  • Want a little extra peace of mind? Luggage tracking tags are another high-tech innovation that travelers can take advantage of. They’re tiny tags that you can insert into your suitcase and track by way of an app. The batteries on these tags are usually much smaller but double-check with your airline to make sure they’re compliant with all current regulations.