Here’s something that might surprise you: despite many years of travelling across the world, I’ve long been woefully behind on my luggage game.
With this in mind, while on a recent trip to Europe, I decided to take advantage of the weaker euro and the EU tax refund in order to make my first major luggage purchase in the form of a Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On.
As I’ve now been able to take this piece of gear for a few spins, I wanted to share my first impressions of the product. I’ll also be updating this review in the future after I’ve taken it on multiple trips and can comment on the durability.
Rimowa is a German company that was founded in the late 1800s. Currently majority-owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Rimowa offers products enriched in German engineering with the luxury you’d expect from the LVMH brand.
While Rimowa started off selling wooden trunks over 120 years ago, they’ve grown and evolved into a high-end luxury that now sells a variety of top-quality bags, travel accessories, and of course, luggage.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Model
Rimowa has six travel luggage models in their collection: Original, Classic, Hybrid, Essential, Essential Lite, and Essential Sleeve. All six have a similar look, with slightly different functionalities.
Within each model, you can choose from three different main size categories: Cabin, Check-In, or the largest Trunk size. Furthermore, there are options to customize the exact size within each size category too.
Ultimately, I went with the heritage-inspired Classic model and the Cabin Carry-On size. I wanted luggage that I could consistently carry onto large and small aircraft, rather than having to check it at the gate.
I had also considered the Original, which is slightly cheaper, instead of the Classic. The difference really came down to design choice.
The Original design has more rounded corners and plastic handles, whereas the Classic version has pointier corners. This creates a little more storage room on the inside, and it also has leather handles, which I really liked.
The Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On design is also ever-so-slightly larger than the Original version. While they both have identical measurements of 21.7 × 15.7 × 9.1 inches and weights of 9.5 pounds, the Classic Cabin has a volume of 7.9 gallons, while the Original Cabin has a volume of 7.7 gallons.
If you’d like something a little smaller, Rimowa also sells a Cabin S model that measures 21.7 × 15.7 × 7.9 inches, weighs 9.3 pounds, and has a volume of 7.3 gallons.
While the smaller Classic Cabin S design may help if you are tight for space, the regular Classic Cabin model that I decided to go with should still be able to fit on all cabin carry-on sizers.
The Classic Cabin is the largest carry-on luggage within the Classic collection. If you opt for the Original or an Essential line, there’s also the Cabin Plus size at 22.1 × 17.8 × 9.9 inches, which can still fit within most airlines’ carry-on sizers but may fall afoul of the strict limits set by budget carriers.
Rimowa’s Classic Cabin luggage comes in two colours: black and silver. In the end, I knew I wanted the Classic model over the Original, and I was visiting a Rimowa store in Copenhagen where I was going to make my purchase.
As I was deciding between the different sizes and colours with much-appreciated assistance from an associate, I was told that they actually only had the silver Classic Cabin Carry-On in stock, so I ended up choosing that.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Price and Availability
If you purchase this luggage in the US or Canada, it’s going to be quite expensive at $1,475 (USD) or $1,750 (CAD), inclusive of duties.
However, if you purchase Rimowa products from the European websites or directly in store while travelling through Europe, you can get it for much lower.
In my case, buying this item in Denmark, the sticker price was 8,450 Danish krone, which works out to around $1,135 USD ($1,490 CAD). That’s already a significant discount for buying directly in Europe compared to North America.
What’s more, I got a 10% tourist discount at the Illum luxury department store in Copenhagen, which is a special offer for tourists that’s offered on a consistent basis. That 10% discount brought the purchase down to roughly $1,000 USD ($1,318 CAD).
On top of the already cheaper price tag and the additional 10% off, I was also eligible to receive the EU tax refund. That took off a further 13%, and my total wound up being right around $885 USD ($1,165 CAD).
In total, this worked out to be about a 40% discount compared to the retail sticker price if I bought directly from North America, which I was pretty satisfied about.
I’d definitely recommend purchasing Rimowa luggage in Europe and taking advantage of cheaper prices and tax refunds. Although I had bought mine in Copenhagen, Germany is widely regarded as the cheapest place to buy Rimowa luggage overall.
While out shopping for your Rimowa luggage, don’t expect every model in every colour to be available at every retail store you visit. If you’re in search of a specific colour, the flagship stores in Germany will probably have the most choices.
There are also stores in the Frankfurt and Munich airports if you are transiting through Germany, where you can pick up a piece of luggage during a layover.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Packing Space and Layout
The Rimowa Classic Cabin has two evenly sized sections. Both have a packing layer called the Flex-Divider, which can be used to press down on your belongings and make sure they are jammed in as much as possible.
The Flex-Dividers have very sturdy Velcro to help keep the divider in place. Furthermore, the Velcro can stretch very tightly to clamp down on your belongings.
With a volume size of 7.9 gallons, Rimowa’s Classic Cabin luggage is said to be able to hold four outfits.
In my case, by rolling up my items and maximizing the storage, I was able to squeeze in enough clothing to keep me going for a two-week summer trip (T-shirts, shorts, undergarments, and an extra pair of shoes) while doing laundry on a few times in the middle.
Alongside my clothing, I had plenty of room for a few other loose items and knickknacks, too.
All in all, I’d say it’s on the smaller size in terms of carry-on sizes and volumes, but the metal exterior, Velcro dividers, and secure locks means that a lot of items can be packed in.
One distinct and important feature of the Rimowa Class Cabin luggage is that it doesn’t have any zippers. Instead, it just has two very sturdy locks.
This is also the case with the Original model; however, the look and the locks are slightly different between these two designs.
The Classic locks are extremely sleek and satisfying to use. In order to properly close and secure your belongings, you press down on the top of your suitcase after making sure the two edges are exactly aligned, and then simply snap the locks into place with a very satisfying click.
While it may feel a bit strange the first time, once the locks are in and your luggage is shut, there’s no need to wrestle with zippers. I found this to be one of my favourite features of the Rimowa after having struggled with clunky and fragile zippers on many previous pieces of gear.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Handle
The leather handles are one of the ways that Rimowa’s Classic design stands out. Both leather handles on the top and the side of the Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On are smooth to the touch, and have a very elegant feel on your hand as you carry the suitcase around.
The telescopic handle by which you drag the suitcase is very sturdy, incredibly comfortable, and also reaches quite an impressive height. It’s taller than I had expected for a carry-on of this size.
Not only is it a taller handle, but it’s also very sturdy and there’s not a lot of give. This allows for close control as you maneuver the Rimowa Classic Cabin luggage around, say, a crowded airport terminal.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Security Features
The two sturdy locks each have their own three-number dial locking mechanism. These TSA-approved locks can be opened by security without causing any damage, in the event that additional baggage checks are required.
In order to change the locks to something other than the factory-set 000, you follow four simple steps:
- Slide the button over in order to first unlock the luggage.
- While unlocked, slide the button back towards the middle of the luggage and hold it in place while you change the lock to your desired combination.
- Make sure that each number is in the centre of the three dials, and release the button.
- Lastly, close the suitcase, and secure the lock by turning the dial.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Wheels and Rollability
Mobility is one of the greatest strengths of the Rimowa line. The wheels are extremely smooth, and the fine level of control really stands out, showcasing the power of German engineering.
Each of the four wheels have ball bearings and cushioned axles. As you walk through an airport with the Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On on four wheels, it truly feels like you are gliding.
The sheer degree to which I was able to zig and zag my way through the throngs of airport crowds with a mere flick of my wrist, guiding the luggage seamlessly in front of me, was equally impressive and satisfying.
I’d note that when walking on cobblestone and more corrugated surfaces, there is quite a noticeable sense of vibration on your wrist as you navigate across uneven surfaces.
Even then, at no point did I ever feel as if the wheels were going to be badly damaged, and they always felt sturdy with solid points of contact with the ground at all times.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Durability
In just the short first few weeks of usage, there are already a few small scuffs and scratches on the surface.
This was obviously a little bit bothersome after buying an expensive suitcase in pristine condition, but it’s only natural that as you travel and use the suitcase, it will show signs of the journey.
Before selecting my colour, I was advised by the associate that this a good reason to pick a silver Rimowa over a black one. Scratches on black suitcases will be more noticeable, whereas scratches and scuffs on silver suitcases may still be noticeable, but looks a lot more natural.
As this is still just the beginning, I’ll be sure to offer more comments regarding the durability after I take this luggage with me on more trips over the upcoming year or so.
Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On – Warranty
The warranty can be an important deciding factor when looking at high-end luggage. Fortunately, Rimowa offers a lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee for all suitcases purchased on or after July 25, 2022, which is what helped me decide on a Rimowa suitcase.
The warranty covers all functional aspects of the suitcase. While this is a lifetime guarantee, there are some exclusions to be aware of.
Specifically, Rimowa states that the “guarantee does not apply to any cosmetic wear and tear, misuse or abuse, damages caused by negligence or accident by any third party, particularly flight or transport damages.”
This means that if your Rimowa suitcase is damaged by an airline, you won’t be able to turn to Rimowa for the warranty, but will rather have to make a claim with the airline directly.
If you purchased a Rimowa suitcase before July 25, 2022, you still have a warranty; however, it’s not a lifetime guarantee. Unfortunately, you’ll only be covered for five years.
What’s more, in order to be eligible for the five-year guarantee, you will have to register online. If you don’t register, you will only be covered for two years.
Similar to the lifetime guarantee offered to those who purchased their Rimowa suitcase on or after July 25, 2022, there are further exceptions. In these cases, Rimowa says:
This guarantee only applies if the usability of the product is considerably adversely affected by a material or manufacturing fault already present at the time of hand-over. Our manufacturer’s guarantee does not apply, however, if the usability is restricted by abrasion, improper use, faulty operation, or externally occurring forces.
Furthermore, any changes in the leather such as discolour, fade, cracks, or tears will not be covered.
In addition to the five-year or lifetime guarantees, Rimowa stores have dedicated repair services, and can often process basic repairs right on the spot. If more intensive repairs are necessary, they will aid with shipping your suitcase to client care experts, who can assist with further repairs.
Rimowa has also partnered with quite a few high-end hotels in order to provide repairs to your Rimowa luggage, in case you need that service while travelling. In Canada, The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto offers such service, and a full list of other hotels can be found on the Rimowa website.
Overall, I have good impressions of the warranty, and definitely plan on making use of it as needed over the lifetime of my suitcase.
Despite the limitations of the warranty, I’ve heard positive anecdotes from my friends who have brought in damaged Rimowa luggage, who have had good experiences with the repair service and have even gotten free repairs when there were damages not necessarily covered by warranty.
For such an expensive piece of luggage, I’m treating my purchase of the Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On as an investment in the quality of my future travel experiences.
I must say that from the onset, I have a very favourable first impression, and I’m already discovering what I’ve missed out on in many years of using generic store-bought luggage brands.
By far my favourite parts are the locks and the sheer simplicity and effortlessness in which you can snap the locks into place, as well as the feeling of gliding through an airport terminal while maximizing the close-control of Rimowa’s handles and wheels.
I’m also quite enamoured with the design of the Classic line and the stylish black leather handles in particular, and I look forward to taking my Rimowa Classic Cabin Carry-On suitcase on many more journeys to come.