RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Which Is Right For You?

If you’ve been looking to upgrade your luggage and are in the market for a hard-shell suitcase to keep your belongings safe, RIMOWA will surely be a brand you have come across.

And while RIMOWA has a name synonymous with quality and luxury, it’s not that easy to know which suitcase to buy. They have quite a few different luggage lines from which you can choose your suitcase!

In this post, we’ll cover two of the most popular luggage lines — the Original and Essential lines — to help you settle on the suitcase of your dreams!

For starters, the major difference between the RIMOWA Original and the RIMOWA Essential is the materials used. The Original line uses aluminum, while the Essential line uses polycarbonate. Moreover, the Essential line comes with more color options and is often lighter than the same model from the Original line.

Despite there being some really obvious differences between these two lines RIMOWA offers, there is a ton more to discuss!

If you want your next RIMOWA suitcase to be perfect for all your needs, it’s best to know about all the similarities/differences between the two to ensure you buy the right one for YOU.

This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!

RIMOWA: About The Brand

Founded in Cologne in 1898, RIMOWA has risen to become one of the quintessential brands for prestigious luggage, renowned for its iconic design easily recognizable by travelers worldwide.

The RIMOWA brand started as a manufacturer of hard-shell suitcases made from hard-wearing wood, and the company has had an enormous impact on the luggage industry ever since. Through the years, the brand changed and developed its look, adopting a groove design inspired by an aircraft.

Though RIMOWA is likely most well-known for its aluminum luggage designs, it also adopted polycarbonate styles over the years too.

Though the company started as a luggage manufacturer, it has since expanded into some of the following:

  • Multiple luggage collections with distinct characteristics
  • Multiple bag collections that include sling bags, tote bags, weekenders, backpacks, briefcases, and more
  • Accessories such as packing cubes and luggage tags
  • Stickers and iPhone accessories, such as phone covers
  • Specialty cases like wine cases, watch cases, poker attachés, etc.

You can expect to find most of these products with their signature aesthetic — the horizontal groove pattern, serving to pay homage to the world’s first all-metal aircraft.

RIMOWA Original Check-In M Features

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.

RIMOWA’s design philosophy leans towards minimalism, with clean lines and a focus on functionality. The brand often opts for simple, monochromatic color palettes, making its products look timeless and sophisticated!

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.

RIMOWA Classic Carry On Suitcase

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 – a lifetime warranty on all your RIMOWA suitcases!

RIMOWA’s Luggage Collections

Because it can get kinda confusing, we’ll start by quickly breaking down RIMOWA’s different luggage collections.

There are a total of six different collections and within each collection, there are different luggage sizes, including cabin (or carry-on) and checked luggage (ranging from medium, large, and even trunk sizes).

RIMOWA Luggage Collection

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 timeless, heritage-inspired 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!

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Design And Style

Though both the RIMOWA Original and the RIMOWA Essential lines are manufactured and designed by the same company and brand, they have distinctly different appearances and styles. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two lines in detail.

RIMOWA Original Line

RIMOWA Original Suitcase

The RIMOWA Original line is the line of luggage that the brand first became known for and now features three main colors — silver, titanium, and black.

From time to time though, limited edition colors do go on sale, such as quartz (rose gold) or artic blue. There are also some other color options in the form of the Original Twist line, which offers color combinations by adding color to the handles and some of the case’s trim.

Staying true to the company’s origins, as the name of the line suggests, these cases feature the signature RIMOWA groove design. The Original suitcase line has a sleek, timeless, and relatively modern design and aesthetic while staying true to the roots of aluminum designs.

RIMOWA Essential Line

RIMOWA Essential Cabin Suitcase Review

In contrast to the Original line, though maintaining the signature groove design, the RIMOWA Essential line features hard-shell cases made from polycarbonate and many more colors.

The design of the suitcases is still sleek, but the wider range of colors allows you a few more options for aesthetic choices.

With the polycarbonate cases, you have color options from between three to fifteen possibilities (with the Cabin carry-on size having the most color options), and most suitcases have a choice between gloss or matte to suit your personal style.

👉 For summer 2024, RIMOWA just released their latest seasonal Essential collection, with a new color palette inspired by the charm of tropical destinations! RIMOWA’s new seasonal collection features Mint—a luminous and delicate shade of green—which draws inspiration from the pastel-hued buildings characteristic of tropical cities. Meanwhile, Papaya—a bright and radiant shade of orange —transports its wearer to a beachside sunset.

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Durability And Quality

Let’s take a look at the main differences in how these suitcases are made.

Manufacturing Materials

  • Original LineThe Original luggage line by RIMOWA uses aluminum for the case’s exterior and polyester for the bag’s dividers and internal components. RIMOWA also uses hard wearing plastic for the handles and wheels.
  • Essential LineAs noted before, the Essential luggage line uses polycarbonate to make the hard-shell exterior of their suitcases. It uses polyester for the internal components and hard wearing plastic for the wheels and handle.

Construction And Design

The Original and Essential luggage lines from RIMOWA both have a hard exterior shell to protect your belongings, making them last longer than most other-material suitcases.

Being a hardshell case means you can wipe them down when they get dirty, which is much better than softshell cases made of fabric that can end up getting very dirty and stinky!

In addition, both feature rounded corners with corner caps for extra protection, a multi-wheel system for optimal rolling, and height-adjustable flex dividers inside to keep your belongings in place (and even compressed) as you pack them.

One benefit of the design of the Original cases is that they do NOT use a zip that can get stuck or broken over time. Instead they use the signature RIMOWA lock system to keep your case closed.

RIMOWA Original Zipperless Closure

Reviews And Previous Complaints

Original Line – The RIMOWA Original luggage sets are made from high-quality, durable materials, which you can see, feel, and experience over many uses throughout the years.

However, as with other hard cases, it can scratch if it isn’t protected in a suitcase cover or sleeve when checked in.

Essential Line – The Essential luggage line, though not made from metal, is also very durable even after many uses. However, you may run into the same problem with scratches.

The matte colors tend to show scratches more than the glossy options.

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Suitcase Features

If you’re debating between two product lines, you’ll need to do an apples-to-apples comparison (compare check-in bags of the same size).

To compare them equally, you need to use the same suitcase model from both lines; this is what we’ll do below as an example.

Original Line

Some of the main features every RIMOWA Original suitcase has are:

  • TSA-approved locks
  • Height-adjustable Flex Dividers
  • Multi-directional wheels
  • Stage-free adjustment telescopic handles (stage-free means that you won’t be limited by the 3-4 default heights that other suitcases have)
  • Corner caps for extra protection
  • Zipperless closure

These features make the bag easy to move, secure with two compliant locks, and stable to stand. In addition, as you know by now, the aluminum material used for the Original line makes it even better for protection.

Another thing worth mentioning is the difference in size and storage capacity for the Original line. One example is the Original Cabin Suitcase (the carry-on size) which measures 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1 inches and has a volume of 9.2 gallons.

Though other soft-shell suitcases may be able to “stretch” to carry a bit more, the fact that this suitcase is zipperless means you may struggle to fit anything extra.

Essential Line

The Essential line follows the same luxury standards and features; these bags have the same wheels, handles, and dividers and also have a lock.

However, since this line uses zips, there is only one lock. The Essential line also doesn’t have extra pieces of material that make up corner caps (instead, they’re built-in as part of the shell).

In contrast to the Cabin suitcase from the Original line, the Essential Cabin measures around 21.7 x 15.8 x 9.1 inches and has a volume of 9.8 gallons, which equates to 0.6 gallons more than the Original line equivalent.

The extra capacity may be due to a more bendable or flexible hard-shell material.

Flex Divider - RIMOWA Essential Cabin Suitcase Review

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Weight And Size

Generally speaking, the RIMOWA Essential suitcases weigh less and have more luggage capacity/space than their Original line counterparts.

Since the RIMOWA Original line has many more suitcase sizing options, we will take a look at just the cases offered by both lines so we can actually see the differences between them.

Before we do that, let’s discuss why there would be some of these differences in the first place.

Reasons for the difference in weight:

  • The material used – Naturally, polycarbonate is lighter than aluminum, making the RIMOWA Essential line lighter.
  • The internal sections – The internal pieces of the RIMOWA Essential line may also be lighter since they are made from Polyjacquard.
  • The external materials – the Original line does also have more metal pieces used throughout the exterior of the suitcase

Reasons for the difference in capacity:

  • Because the hard shell of the RIMOWA Original line is made from aluminum, the Original line may have less space since the suitcase can’t “bend” much to accommodate more belongings.

Size and Weight Comparison:

CaseWeightSize in InchesCapacityWeightSize in InchesCapacity
Cabin9.5 lbs21.7 x 15.8 x 9.19.2 gal7.1 lbs21.7 x 15.8 x 9.19.8 gal
Check-In M11.9 lbs26.4 x 17.8 x 9.515.4 gal9 lbs26.4 x 17.8 x 9.515.4 gal
Check-In L13.7 lbs31.2 x 20.1 x 10.721.7 gal10.6 lbs30.6 x 20.5 x 11.123 gal
Trunk13.4 lbs28.8 x 17 x 14.823.6 gal11.2 lbs28.8 x 17 x 14.824.3 gal
Trunk Plus14.1 lbs31.5 x 14.8 x 1726.5 gal11.9 lbs31.5 x 14.6 x 16.126.7 gal

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Cost

Looking at the suitcases offered by RIMOWA, there is no illusion that you will buy a cheap bag.

Both lines are on the pricier side, especially compared to other popular luggage brands out there like Monos Travel, Paravel, and ROAM Luggage where carry-on suitcases range from $260-$550 USD.

However, it is worth considering the price difference between these two lines and why there is a price difference.

  • Original LineThe Original line, when looking at all the suitcases offered, starts around $1430 USD and goes up to $2400 USD. The most obvious reason the price is so high is the use of aluminum. The Original Twist, the cute suitcase line that features more pops of color to the trim and handles, will have higher costs too!
  • Essential Line The Essential line starts at around $900 USD and reaches as high as $1400 USD. The first and most significant reason for the price difference is that polycarbonate is cheaper and easier to mold than aluminum for these cases. Don’t be fooled though, it’s still a super durable material for a suitcase!

Price Comparison:

Using the carry-on comparison example from earlier, the Essential Cabin costs around $900 USD, while the Original Cabin is $1430 USD. This is a $500+ USD price difference.

As I mentioned before, the main reason for this significant price difference is the manufacturing material, though the Original also comes with more locks, which may have something to do with the increase the price.

RIMOWA Original Vs. RIMOWA Essential: Which Is Right For You?

If you’re debating on whether to buy a suitcase or even a luggage set in the Original or Essential lines, the most significant differences you need to keep in mind are:

  • weight
  • price
  • personal aesthetic
  • … and materials used between the two luggage collections

In short, here are our main takeaways about the RIMOWA Original line:

  • The Original line is often more expensive than the Essential line due to the premium materials and craftsmanship involved in its production.
  • The Original line is known for its signature aluminum shell. This material is highly durable, offers excellent protection for your belongings, and has a distinctive and ultra-luxurious appearance. If you want a higher-end aesthetic to your suitcase, go with the Original line.
  • The Original line carries the iconic grooved design and metallic finish associated with RIMOWA. It’s the epitome of the brand’s classic, timeless look. Plus, we think it looks way more professional too.

And here are our takeaways for the RIMOWA Essential line:

  • The Essential line is more budget-friendly while still offering RIMOWA’s quality and design.
  • The Essential line uses polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate is lighter than aluminum, making the suitcase easier to move around and lift. It’s also durable. If lifting suitcases overhead is not your strong suit, or if you prefer a more lightweight suitcase, go with the Essential line.
  • The Essential line features a more modern and trendy look. It’s good for those of you who think the metallic finish of the Original line is too traditional/old-school. Plus it comes in lots of cute limited-edition colors!

With ALL that said, if you are looking to invest in a RIMOWA piece while spending the least amount of money possible and just want something adequate to keep your belongings safe while you travel, the suitcases from the RIMOWA Essential Line are more than enough.

But if you have breakables in your luggage or travel frequently with high-end equipment, you may want the Original Line’s added protection!

Looking for more travel gear / travel tips? You may also like:

RIMOWA Essential Cabin Review: Is It Worth The Money?

LEVEL8 Gibraltar Aluminum Carry-On Review: Is This A Good RIMOWA Dupe?

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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