RIMOWA is a well-loved luggage company that has produced some of the highest-quality travel cases on the market over the last hundred-something years.
While the brand is most famous for its classic aluminum suitcases, its Essential Cabin Carry-On model has been regarded as one of their best offerings yet.
This impressive suitcase features a sleek design, durable construction, and plenty of innovative features to make traveling easier. But is it worth the steep price tag?
In this review, I’ll break down all aspects of this suitcase and tell you about my firsthand experience with it so you can ultimately determine if it’s worth the investment.
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RIMOWA: Brand Overview
RIMOWA is a luxury luggage brand founded in Cologne, Germany in 1898. The brand is best known for its iconic aluminum suitcase with grooved exterior, which has become synonymous with durability and style.
Where did the aluminum grooved design come from, you might ask? This was all inspired by the golden age of aviation, with the grooves serving to pay homage to the world’s first all-metal aircraft!
The company’s focus on quality and craftsmanship has made it a favorite among travelers, and its unique design (and symbolism!) has helped it stand out from other luggage brands.
Fun Fact: The very first aluminum trunk was created by the founder’s son, Richard Morszeck. Abbreviating his name gave them their enduring name of ‘RIMOWA’.
If you’re interested in learning more about the brand’s history, this is an easy and fun read.
What is RIMOWA Known For?
One of the key features of RIMOWA’s luggage is its use of durable and lightweight materials. The brand’s aluminum suitcase, for example, is made from anodized aluminum, which is known for its resistance to wear and tear. Additionally, the suitcase features a multi-layer lining that provides extra protection for the contents of the suitcase.
Another key aspect of RIMOWA’s brand is its focus on design. The brand’s iconic grooved suitcase design is not only visually striking but also functional, as the grooves make it easy to grip and maneuver.
Additionally, RIMOWA has been a pioneer in the use of polycarbonate in the manufacturing of their suitcase, which makes them more lightweight, durable and flexible than traditional suitcases.
The brand also offers a wide range of products, including carry-on and check-in-size suitcases, as well as backpacks, duffel bags, and other useful travel accessories. The range of products is available in a variety of colors, so customers can choose a suitcase that suits their personal style.
RIMOWA’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship extends beyond its products. The brand also offers a comprehensive in-store repair and restoration service, which allows customers to have their RIMOWA suitcases repaired or restored, even years after they were first purchased. Participating luxury hotels even offer RIMOWA repair services too!
And best of all, they have one of the best warranties out there–lifetime warranty for all suitcases!
RIMOWA’s Luggage Collections
First will start by going over RIMOWA’s different luggage collections. There are a total of six different collections and within each collection, there are a series of luggage sizes, including cabin (or carry-on) sizes and checked luggage (ranging from medium, large, and even trunk sizes).
Original Collection: This is the iconic collection that RIMOWA is known for. It features the brand’s signature grooved aluminum suitcase, which is known for its durability and style. The Original collection is available in carry-on and check-in sizes, and comes in a few classic metal colors.
Classic Collection: This hard shell suitcase collection is a modern take on the Original collection and features a high-end anodized aluminum alloy, riveted high-gloss aluminum corners, and hand-made leather handles.
Hybrid Collection: This collection combines the durability of aluminum with the lightweight properties of polycarbonate. The Hybrid collection features a hybrid shell made from both materials, so you get the best of both worlds.
Essential Collection: The Essential collection is a more affordable option from RIMOWA, made from polycarbonate instead of aluminum. It features a sleek and minimalist design and is available in a variety of colors. You’ll get the most color options in this line.
Essential Lite Collection: This collection is an even more lightweight and portable option, made from polycarbonate. Weighing 30% less than the RIMOWA Essential, these cases are designed for easy mobility while not sacrificing durability.
Essential Sleeve Collection: This collection is another lightweight and minimalistic option from RIMOWA, with the only difference being that there is an exterior sleeve that can hold your laptop/tablets. Great for business travelers!
The one that I purchased and the focus of this review will be the carry-on suitcase from the Essential Collection.
RIMOWA Essential Cabin: Pros and Cons
- Easily the most stylish, sleek, and recognizable suitcase brand out there.
- Lightweight, polycarbonate construction makes this one of of RIMOWA’s lightest options, reducing the strain on your arms and shoulders when carrying it off the ground.
- Made of polycarbonate, a material known for its resistance to impact and scratches so that it can withstand the rigors of travel.
- Sturdy and durable polycarbonate shell can hold a heavy backpack without toppling over.
- Compact size: The carry-on size is perfect for short trips and it can fit in most overhead compartments.
- Comes with a free luggage tag ($80 retail value)
- Lifetime warranty means your suitcase is protected for life!
- Easy to maneuver: the four double swivel wheels make it easy to maneuver through airports and hotels.
- TSA-approved locks mean that TSA agents can open it for inspection without damaging the suitcase.
- Variety of colors: The suitcase is available in the largest variety of colors, so you can choose one that suits your personal style.
- Price: As a luxury brand, RIMOWA’s products can be quite expensive, and the Essential carry-on suitcase is no exception. The smallest size is still $850 USD.
- Limited in size for some: As a carry-on suitcase, the size may not be suitable for those who need to pack a lot of items.
- The polycarbonate shell is not as resilient as the aluminum shell found in other RIMOWA collections.
- Scratches and scuffs easily if checked, so it’s best to invest in a luggage cover to prevent scuffs.
- Locking the case is not as smooth as on the Original Cabin (which I tested out in-store)
- Does not come with extras like a magic eraser, laundry bag, or garment bag included (which are included with other mid-priced branded luggage).
It’s worth noting that whether the price is a drawback or not depends on your budget and lifestyle. If you’re a budget traveler, the price can be overwhelming. But if you’re a luxury traveler, you probably wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at the price.
RIMOWA Essential Cabin: Best Features
In a nutshell, RIMOWA’s Essential collection features the world’s first-ever polycarbonate suitcase, designed in Germany to provide the best in high-tech functionality.
This strong, durable, and lightweight carry-on suitcase is designed to fit in most airline overhead bins and the ideal travel suitcase for efficient travelers.
The lightweight factor really weighed heavily for me in my decision-making when it came down to the Classic Collection vs Essential Collection.
The Essential and Essential Lite collections are both great options for travelers who are frequently on the go and don’t want to be weighed down by a heavy luggage shell. (I fell into this category!)
This is especially important if you plan on buying a carry-on. Ever seen that one person struggling to get their carry-on up into the overhead bin space? With the lightweight design of the Essential lines, you won’t have to deal with added suitcase weight!
Personally speaking, this was a super important feature to me since I fly with a carry-on only about 95% of the time.
The RIMOWA Essential Collection’s key features include the following:
Lightweight and durable construction
Made from polycarbonate material that’s built to last, this is one of the lightest options in RIMOWA’s lineup. This makes it easy to maneuver and reduces the strain on your arms and shoulders when you’re carrying it.
The polycarbonate shell is known for its resistance to impact and scratches, so it can withstand the rigors of travel. And the knobs on the side of the suitcase help to protect the case from scuffs when it’s on hard surfaces.
And while I don’t have any scratches on my RIMOWA yet, my perception is that the grooves on the suitcase would help with scratches (ie. the scratches would show up on the ridges as opposed to the flatter parts of the suitcase).
The Essential Cabin carry-on suitcases are designed to be a compact option for travel. The carry-on size is perfect for short trips of 1-4 days, and it can fit in most overhead compartments.
Easy-to-maneuver wheel system
The Essential suitcases feature four double swivel wheels as part of their Multiwheel System, which makes it incredibly easy to roll your way through airports and hotels. The wheels also provide stability, making it easy to push or pull the suitcase.
The roll on these suitcases is addicting–think buttery smooth rolling that can be done with just the push of one pinky finger!
Multiple internal compartments
The Essential carry-on suitcase features multiple compartments, including 2 spacious main compartments (one on each side) and a couple of zippered mesh or side pockets, which allows you to organize your smaller belongings and access them easily.
There’s also a height-adjustable Flex Divider, which helps to compress your belongings so you can fit more within the suitcase. No need to sit on your luggage to force it closed!
What I like about this compression system is that it uses velcro instead of a clip. I have a few other carry-ons that use clips to secure the compression pad in place.
In my experience, it’s a bit more cumbersome to have to accurately clip two sides versus slapping a piece of velcro on! Love this design.
The lock on the Essential carry-on suitcase is TSA-approved, which means that it can be opened by TSA agents for inspection without damaging the suitcase.
A genius telescopic handle
Engineered to offer seamless stage-free adjustment for maximum comfort and smooth maneuverability! Stage-free means that you won’t be limited by the 3-4 default heights that other suitcases have.
You can adjust the handle height to match your needs perfectly.
Variety of colors
The Essential carry-on suitcase is available in a variety of matte and glossy colors, so you can choose one that suits your personal style.
I personally think the Pine and Matte Black are extremely eye-catching!
RIMOWA’s lifetime guarantee
Lifetime guarantee? Yup, you read that right! This is big. Your suitcase’s warranty will last for life.
You’ll just need to register your luggage on their site to take advantage of it.
RIMOWA Essential Cabin Review: My Personal Experience
Because I had some big travel plans this year, I decided to upgrade to a higher-quality carry-on luggage. And since buying and collecting suitcases seem to be my latest vice, this year, I decided to go with the RIMOWA Essential Cabin.
Over the course of last year, I had seen so many rave reviews about this suitcase from luxury travelers and it definitely piqued my interest. And as soon as I laid my eyes on the Pine (mint green color) suitcase, I could not get it out of my head!
Upon opening the box, I found my brand-new baby wrapped up nicely in a high-quality dust bag. I was actually quite blown away by how thick and high-quality the dust bag was, and I hadn’t even had the chance to pull out the suitcase yet!
Also included with the suitcase was a complimentary leather luggage tag and a sticker. This was a nice little surprise for me because I guess I hadn’t read the product details in depth before pulling the trigger.
The luggage tag itself is retailed at $80 USD on their website, so the fact that it was free with purchase was a nice touch.
From the jump, I love everything about this bag–from the pine color of the suitcase to the buttery soft wheels against a flat ground. I am so excited that I get to enjoy that smooth rolling sensation every time I roll it at the airport!
Now obviously, keep in mind that suitcase wheels perform best on concrete and other paved floorings. I would not go into the streets of Europe and expect smooth rolling along cobblestoned roads (in this case, I would actually choose to travel with a travel backpack instead of a carry-on). But otherwise, the swivel wheels are an awesome feature.
But by far, my favorite feature of this suitcase is the telescopic handle. You guys, this telescopic handle is the best one I’ve come across so far in my entire life! While other suitcases have three different stages, or notches, that you can set your handle height too, this bag has a stage-free handle, which means you can set it at whatever height you want.
On top of that, the handle rises up a lot more than a lot of the other carry-on bags that I’ve seen and personally owned. Such a standout design!
RIMOWA Essential Cabin: What Fits Inside?
While the RIMOWA website advertises that the Essential Cabin is “perfect for 2-3 days of travel”, I personally found that I could fit more like 3-4 days of travel in the suitcase.
As an efficient packer going on shorter trips, I tend to skip luxuries like hair straighteners, jewelry and accessories, serums and toners, shoes for every occasion I can think of, and anything else that would take up valuable space in my suitcase. With this tactic, I can carry more clothing to last me more days while traveling.
Here’s an illustration of what I was able to fit inside the RIMOWA Essential Cabin while I was packing for my latest 4-day trip to Portugal.
- 4 days of clothes packed up nicely in a large-sized packing cube
- 1 extra pair of slip-on shoes, Ilse Jacobsen for those of you wondering — (this extra pair of shoes is in addition to the ECCO Soft 7’s I wore onto the plane)
- 1 bag of toiletries with makeup, lotions, and shampoo stuffs
As you can see, after placing my large-sized packing cube into the main compartment, I still had room to fit either my toiletry bag (smaller beige packing cube) OR my extra pair of shoes.
While I wasn’t able to fit both of my smaller items on the one side, don’t forget that there’s a whole other side that can fit even more stuff!
After all my travel essentials were packed, I still had quite a bit of room for little luxuries like extra cardigans/jackets, extra purses, etc.
Ultimately, how much you can fit in a RIMOWA Essential Cabin will depend on your lifestyle, but in general, you can expect to fit the following types of items in the RIMOWA Essential cabin carry-on:
- Clothes: You can typically fit several days’ worth of clothing in the RIMOWA Essential cabin carry-on suitcase, depending on how you choose to pack your clothes. Since I’m pretty minimalistic, I can get away with 3-4 days of clothing.
- Toiletries: You should be able to fit all of your essential toiletries in this carry-on suitcase, assuming you don’t carry pounds and pounds of toiletries on a short trip.
- Electronics: You should be able to fit all of your flat electronics such as a laptop, tablet, phone chargers, etc. in the carry-on suitcase. Bulky cameras and other boxy electronics may do better in a separate backpack.
- Accessories: You should be able to fit a few of your favorite accessories such as scarves, belts, a few pieces of jewelry, and sunglasses, in the suitcase.
- Shoes: I’d say at most, you can fit 1-2 pairs of shoes in the luggage, assuming they’re more on the flatter side. Anything bulky (like boots) should be worn onto the plane instead of packed inside of a carry-on to conserve space.
RIMOWA Essential Cabin Carry-On: Is It Worth The Money?
Whether the RIMOWA Essential Cabin carry-on is worth the money depends on your individual needs and priorities.
On one hand, it’s impossible to deny that the RIMOWA Essential Cabin carry-on is a high-quality piece of luggage that offers a number of features that are designed to make travel more convenient and comfortable. The suitcase is lightweight, durable, easy to maneuver, and comes with multiple compartments for easy organization of your belongings.
And don’t even get me started about the gorgeous colors the suitcases come in! Who can resist all the earth tones and pastels? Not me.
On the flip side, the RIMOWA Essential Cabin carry-on can be quite expensive, clocking in at over $850 USD, especially compared to other carry-on luggage options that are available on the market.
Ultimately, if you’re just looking for a carry-on suitcase to get you from one place to another, then, obviously, RIMOWA luggage may not be necessary, because there are so many other more affordable luggage brands on the market that come way cheaper than this one.
On the other hand, if you are willing to pay the premium for a luxury brand, value a top-notch piece of luggage that’ll last you years to come, and value an unbeatable lifetime warranty and world-class customer service, then this suitcase may be just the thing you’re looking for!
RIMOWA’s lifetime guarantee is really hard to beat, so I’d say this is one huge point in favor of purchasing a suitcase with them.
Having said that, it’s important to note that RIMOWA’s lifetime guarantee does not apply to cosmetic wear and tear, misuse or abuse, damages caused by negligence or accident caused by airlines while in-flight or transport. What this means is that if you get a scuff or a few scratches on your suitcase after checking it in and blame the airline staff, you won’t be able to use the warranty to get a new replacement.
Aside from the price being a bit higher than what I’d like to have paid for a carry-on suitcase, I’ve had zero complaints about my RIMOWA suitcase. It’s a great suitcase and is one of the few luxury items I own.
Scuffs are not of concern to me, because I’ve come to terms that wear and tear are a part of life.
For people who are overly concerned about suitcase scuffs… I think you may need to reframe your thinking a bit. Scratches are bound to happen (especially without a suitcase cover), because let’s get real, what magical suitcase is going to be 100% scratchproof? What’s really important thing is that your belongings inside are safe. That means the suitcase did its job!
All in all, the RIMOWA Essential Cabin is for you if…
- you want to travel in style
- you value efficiency, functionality, and sophistication in a suitcase
- you need something lightweight yet durable that’ll last for years to come
- you want a lifetime warranty for your suitcase
Looking for something even lighter? Consider the Essential Lite Carry-On. Weighing 30% less than the RIMOWA Essential at just 4.41 pounds, the Rimowa Essential Lite Carry-On is one of the lightest luggage options out there!
Essentials To Buy For Your RIMOWA Suitcase
Essential #1: Suitcase Covers
Suitcase covers are essential for protecting your valuable RIMOWA luggage. With the right cover, you can extend the life of your suitcase while ensuring it looks its best.
I can’t tell you how many of my new suitcases now have battle scars after just ONE instance of being checked in. And just FYI, not all of the scratches/scuffs will come out with a magic eraser!
Not only will a cover keep your bag safe from scratches and dents, but it also prevents dirt and dust buildup that can ruin the look of your suitcase.
Even if you have a RIMOWA Cabin, it’s important that you bring your suitcase cover with you on every single flight, even the ones where you don’t plan on checking it in.
At times, a plane might be too full to fit everyone’s carry-ons in the overhead compartment bins. In these unavoidable instances, there is a chance that you’ll be forced to check your carry-on suitcase! Avoid the dread of checking an uncovered RIMOWA–bring the suitcase cover with you.
When looking for a cover, make sure to choose one that fits snugly on your RIMOWA suitcase. This is important because an ill-fitting cover can cause snags or tears in the fabric or straps of the bag.
Essential #2: Packing Cubes
Packing cubes are essential for any savvy traveler looking to stay organized while on the go. These lightweight cubes come in a variety of sizes and styles, designed to help you optimize your luggage space and pack more efficiently.
Every traveler has their own method when it comes to packing, but packing cubes make the process easier by allowing you to keep items separated and organized. This can be especially useful if you need to access certain items quickly without having to search through an entire suitcase.
Additionally, using various-sized cubes helps keep clothing wrinkle-free as they are tightly packed into the suitcase with minimal movement during transit.
Having individual cubes for each type of clothing also allows travelers to unpack quickly when arriving at their destination and maximize their time enjoying the sights!
RIMOWA Essential Cabin vs. Cabin S
The RIMOWA Essential Cabin and the Cabin S are two of the most sought-after luggage bags on the market today. Both feature robust construction, lightweight design, and a unique interior organization system. But what is the actual difference between them, and which one is right for you?
I was totally confused about this at first when I was on the RIMOWA website. There were SO many collections and so many sizes, and this is the one I spent the most time trying to understand before making my purchase. Here are the differences:
This carry-on is designed to fit in MOST airline overhead bins and is ideal for 2-3 days of travel. (Though with an efficient packing strategy, I’ve been able to fit more than 3 days’ worth of stuff.)
- Measurement: 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1 in
- Weight: 7.1 lbs
- Volume: 9.8 gal
Essential Cabin S
This slightly smaller version of the carry-on suitcase is designed to fit conveniently into even more airplane overhead bins and is built to carry all your essentials for 1-2 days.
- Measurements: 21.7 x 15.4 x 7.9 in
- Weight: 6.8 lbs
- Volume: 9 gal
Aside from the dimensions, the suitcases are made of the same materials, have the same product features, and come with the same lifetime warranty.
Hopefully, this post helped you decide one way or another. All in all, if you’re looking to upgrade your gear, RIMOWA is a wonderful and timeless brand of luggage to go with.
So far, I’ve loved traveling with my Essential Cabin and I think you will love yours too!
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