Bag O’ My Dreams

Downton Abbey PBS

The ladies of Downton know how to accessorize. Hats. Parasols. Jewelry. If only I had a lady’s maid…

Lady Mary would carry an embroidered clutch. Edith? A sensible rucksack. And Lady Sybil? A lace reticule. Me? I’ve been known to resort to reuseable tote bags rather than commit to a day bag purchase.

It didn’t used to be so hard. In college we all carried JanSport backpacks. Everything you needed fit inside: calculus text-book, roller blades, a six-pack. My current work tote is a flannel number from Acme Made. It’s sleek and huge. My sister gave it to me. She’s routinely embarrassed by my handbag choices and gives me her cast-offs.

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Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible by eBags

Urban trekking requires a backpack.  Case closed.  I’ve resisted for years, choosing any number of cross-body bags instead.  So I’ve constantly mumbled and grumbled while rummaging through them looking for the one item (keys, wallet, phone) that had somehow disappeared within the depths.  Or walked around with bag wide open because my guidebook didn’t quite fit.  And then when I’d shop (a required activity during city visits), I’d lose the functionality of my hands because I was carrying multiple shopping bags.

So I relented and decided to acquire a pack, but which one?  The market’s crowded with a range of offerings in different sizes and prices.  I wanted one that was relatively stylish and offered some flexibility in terms of use – big enough to serve as a weekender but trim enough to navigate busy city streets and crowded museums with ease.

©The Open Suitcase LLCEnter the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible.  At $99.99, it’s a terrific value and comes in a wide range of beautiful colors.  I took mine for a spin through the Bronx, visiting the New York Botanical Gardens and Arthur Avenue and am happy to report it fulfilled all of my expectations.

The exterior has a number of zippered areas that provide easy access to the things you need quickly, including pockets for your cell phone, camera, and wallet.  A key clip inside meant no more unpacking the entire bag to find my keys that would have fallen to the bottom of a smaller, non-compartmentalized bag.  The straps were well padded, providing comfort and security throughout the day.  Compression straps kept the profile of the bag quite slim, as I maneuvered the delicate orchid display in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.  And the bottle pouch (that retracts when not in use) kept my water at hand.  Despite the brisk March weather outside, the orchids required tropical hothouse conditions.

©The Open Suitcase LLCHeading to Arthur Avenue, I released the compression straps and asked the Mother Lode to do what a daypack should – carry home my goodies.  I’d already purchased a 1,000-piece orchid jigsaw puzzle. I picked up a loaf of seeded Italian bread and a couple of cannoli, stuffed peppers and fresh mozzarella.  I can’t think of a better way to fill a bag.   And, best of all, my hands were free to hold my pistachio gelato.

I can’t wait to take my convertible for an extended trip.  Packing cube sets are available from eBags in complimentary colors to organize the interior for clothing.  I think it’ll work great for trips up to 3-days in length.  Included with the bag is a shoulder strap that permits you to carry the bag like a tote.  My only suggestion would be to integrate the strap into the design, like the backpack straps that disappear into the laptop area when not in use.  Once a strap’s removable, I tend to lose it.  And now I don’t need to tote a second bag for sightseeing since I’ve experienced how well the Mother Lode handles around town.