Reviews You Can Rely On

Rimowa Original Cabin Review

A super swanky carry-on that is equally rugged and fashionable - and let's not forget… expensive
gearlab tested logo
Rimowa Original Cabin Review
Credit: Jason Wanlass
Price:  $1,430 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Rimowa
By Jason Wanlass ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2023
87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 14
  • Capacity - 35% 7.7
  • Ease of Transport - 25% 9.5
  • Construction Quality - 20% 9.5
  • Design and Functionality - 20% 8.8

Our Verdict

Let's cut to the chase: is it worth the money? Based solely on its quality, our answer is a resounding YES. The Rimowa Original Cabin is a luxury carry on esteemed for its distinctive flare, namely a ribbed aluminum exterior, tons of rivets, and two oversized lockable latches. Often in the company of top celebrities, this pricey piece of luggage isn't shy. But the Rimowa isn't our favorite luxury hardshell just because it's a high-dollar fad. It boasts premium construction quality, effortless maneuverability, a top-notch packing system, and it's tough enough to withstand the blunt-force trauma initiated by any overhead bin, concrete stairwell, or taxi-cab trunk. To reiterate: you certainly get what you pay for with the Rimowa. It's the highest-quality carry on we've ever used. However, is that level of quality necessary for transporting your clothing from one airport to another a handful of times per year? We'll stick to presenting the facts and leave this one question for you to decide.
REASONS TO BUY
Premium construction quality
All-metal exterior
Very tough
Heavy duty locks
Smooth wheels
Great packing system
REASONS TO AVOID
Very pricey
Prone to scratch and dent
Not completely water resistant
Doesn't expand

Compare to Similar Products

 
rimowa original cabin
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $1,430 List$370 List
$365.49 at Amazon
$170 List
$129.27 at Amazon
$120 List
$119.99 at Amazon
$88 List
$73.76 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
87
88
70
68
59
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line Equal parts brawn and beauty, this super pricey spinner is built like a tank but rolls like a MercedesWith its thoughtful details, strong performance, and quality construction, this bag is a frequent traveler’s dreamAn affordable four-wheel roller with impressive storage space and numerous color optionsA host of useful features combined with a durable foundation and solid functionality make this reasonably priced softshell an easy choice to meet your carry-on needsA great bargain bag perfect for shorter jaunts and basic travel
Rating Categories Rimowa Original Cabin Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 20-In...
Capacity (35%)
7.7
7.6
8.4
7.2
6.0
Ease of Transport (25%)
9.5
9.5
5.9
6.3
6.0
Construction Quality (20%)
9.5
9.1
6.4
6.6
6.1
Design and Functionality (20%)
8.8
9.5
6.3
6.7
5.5
Specs Rimowa Original Cabin Travelpro Platinum... Samsonite Omni PC H... SwissGear Sion Soft... Amazon Basics 20-In...
Weight (Measured) 9.5 lb 8.1 lb 6.8 lb 7.3 lb 6.6 lb
Exterior Dimensions 19.0" x 14.0" x 9.0" 23.5" x 14.3" x 9.0" 21.5" x 14.0" x 9.5" 23.0" x 14.1" x 10.0" 22.0" x 14.8" x 10.0"
Main Compartment Volume (Measured) 39.5 L 40 L 39 L 40.5 L 36 L
Exterior Material Aluminium Polycarbonate Polycarbonate Polyester Polycarbonate
Number of Wheels 4 4 4 4 4
Pull Handle Heights 10+ (33.5" - 42") 5 (28", 36", 38", 40", 42.5") 5 (25", 30.5", 33", 36", 41.5") 3 (28", 34.5", 43") 2 (33", 41")
Opening Style Half shell Top lid Half shell Top lid Half shell
Locking System Combination/TSA lock Zipper loop Combination/TSA lock Zipper loop None
Number of Exterior Pockets None 3 None 2 None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rimowa Original Cabin glides like a figure skater, swallows clothing like it's candy, and handles hard knocks like a rodeo cowboy. Its all-metal design catches anyone's eye, and its quality is unsurpassed.

Performance Comparison


rimowa original cabin - we loved how our rimowa perfectly matched the airport's public art...
We loved how our Rimowa perfectly matched the airport's public art. If only its price tag matched our pocketbook as well. Be that as it may, we cannot deny this carry-on's impeccable quality and high-end appeal.
Credit: Jason Wanlass


Capacity


In terms of overall capacity, the Rimowa checks all the boxes, but its ample space is somewhat limited by a slight weight problem. The Rimowa's all-metal exterior is exceptionally strong but, unfortunately, adds a few pounds to this otherwise luxury carry on.


Tipping the scales at 9.5 pounds, it ranks among the heaviest bags on our list. That may not seem like a big deal; however, some international flights enforce a 20-pound carry on bag weight limit, with some international carriers having limits as low as 15 pounds. So a heavier bag equates to less weight you're able to pack into it.


Luckily, U.S. domestic flights are more relaxed about carry on weight limits (with the average being 35 pounds) and instead focus on dimensions. So, while not a dealbreaker, the Rimowa's extra weight could potentially limit what you can pack if you buy a ticket from an airline that tends to be more fussy about carry on weight limits.


On the positive side, the Rimowa offers 39.5 liters of volume, so there's plenty of space for packing. Additionally, one of our favorite features is this bag's very effective compression panels, which do an excellent job of tightly pressing layers of clothing together. This maximizes space and reduces wrinkles.

Gettin' locked and loaded with the help of our Rimowa's dual-sided compression panels. They cinch items flat and Velcro into place, which keeps everything in its place and chases clothing wrinkles away.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Ease of Transport


Four top-grade, 1.75-inch, double-wheeled spinners allow the Rimowa to glide over most terrain. During weeks of testing, we pulled ours on dirt roads, grass, gravel, and more, with little problem. This bag's smooth ride is most noticeable while strolling through an airport terminal or after realizing you have only 10 minutes to get from Gate B2 to B52. In fact, the Rimowa rolled so smoothly that we often found ourselves spinning it just for fun.


A multi-adjustable pull handle scored huge points with our testers in this metric. The Rimowa's handle starts at 33.5 inches and extends all the way to 42 inches, with about a zillion settings in between. This feature offers near-perfect customization and is far superior to the average 2-3 settings offered by the majority of rolling luggage. Two auto-closing grab handles sit at the top and opening side of the Rimowa. We loved how the handles self-retracted into place after use. However, the handles are very smooth and sit very flush against the body of the bag, so sometimes it can be a small challenge to needle fingers into place when removing it from overhead bins or the back seat of a car. On that note, we feel the Rimowa would benefit from having a small handle or finger grab on the bottom of the case to allow it to be pulled from any direction.

We weren't kidding when we said that we loved spinning curly-Qs with our Rimowa. We also love its endlessly adjustable trolley handle that allows for near-perfect customization.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Staircases were somewhat of a mixed bag for our testers. The Rimowa is well-balanced and easy to carry up and down a flight of steps or two. Likewise, we had no trouble transferring onto a train or bus. The catching point for us is the Rimowa's lack of protection when being pulled over a curb or series of steps. Although the all-aluminum body is certainly sturdy enough to handle full contact, we often found ourselves cringing to hear the bare metal bumping directly into the stairs we were climbing — especially when we considered this bag's colossal price tag.

Shuddering as we drag our loaded Rimowa up a flight of stairs and listen to its metal shell slam against each step. It lacks bumper rails, so this expensive case makes direct contact with steps and curbs.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Construction Quality


Given its higher-than-average price tag (by far) and beefy aluminum exterior, we assumed a near-perfect score for construction quality, and that's exactly what the Rimowa earned. In addition to its all-metal case, every corner is reinforced with thick aluminum protective end caps. Additionally, the exterior shell's body is corrugated, which increases the strength of the entire structure. Likewise, its famed beefy latch locks are very strong. The entire thing, including the metal hinges, is held together by rivets — a design homage that honors the aircrafts that carry the Rimowa from place to place.


The Rimowa's metal shell scored superior points for its absolute toughness. We subjected it to a variety of surfaces, particularly concrete, metal escalator steps, airport floors, and staircases. We also pushed it down a flight of stairs and let it free-fall three feet onto hard tile. It handled all of our mishandling just like a solid metal case should: without flinching.

When it came to testing the Rimowa's construction quality, we hit things head on. Even though the aluminum shell is more prone to scratches and dents, we only found minor scuffs at the end of it all.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Three words sum up why we held back on giving the Rimowa a perfect score for construction quality: scratches, dents, and water. Although its metal shell scored superior points for its absolute toughness, aluminum is still aluminum. And unlike more pliable fabrics like ballistic nylon and polyester, metal may be more prone to dent and scratch. While this factor is purely cosmetic, it was still considered in our testing plan for this metric. Finally, during our water tests, we were surprised that the Rimowa's zipperless closure was not completely watertight. After drowning it with spray for nearly five minutes, we found that some of our hose water made its way inside, leaving interior sections slightly damp. In all fairness, this was the case with many of the bags we tested. However, we were surprised to have the same results with the Rimowa.

Checking for signs of leakage following our water tests. The interior of the Rimowa wasn't soggy, but it was certainly more damp than we anticipated.
Credit: Jason Wanlass


Design and Functionality



The Rimowa is the epitome of sophistication, function, and style, earning it top-tier scores for design and function. From top to bottom, this carry on makes complete sense. One of our favorite features is the two sturdy latch locks that secure the clamshell case together. Each TSA-approved latch has its own combination and clicks smoothly into place. In fact, we often found ourselves clicking them open and closed, just for fun (think James Bond).


Another one of our favorite design features is the Rimowa's generous interior and organizational system. Both sides of the bag's interior boast top-notch compression panels that easily cinch and velcro into place. This opens up more space, creates fewer wrinkles, and keeps clothing and other necessities firmly in place. However, the Velcro fasteners are a little weak and could use more grabbyness. We also feel a built-in USB charging port for replenishing a phone or device would be a nice touch.

Flippity floppity. We love the self-stowing grab handles. In fact, we often found ourselves playing with them when we were bored.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Should You Buy the Rimowa Original Cabin ?


Yes, we've been crushing on the Rimowa Original Cabin for several weeks of testing, but it's time to get real: if the idea of dropping a boat-load of cash for one piece of carry on luggage doesn't appeal to you, this bag's not your bag. That said, we can't deny the impeccable quality of the Rimowa, and it's without a doubt our favorite luxury hardshell. So, if you simply like nice things or just want the very best — and money is no object — this is your carry on.

rimowa original cabin - suited up and ready for duty. riveted metal corner caps are a great...
Suited up and ready for duty. Riveted metal corner caps are a great example of reinforcement we look for in a quality carry-on.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

What Other Carry On Luggage Should You Consider?


If you like quality but don't have this kind of money to drop on a piece of luggage, the Tumi 19 Degree International Expandable and Away The Carry-On are two other hardshells that ooze quality, style, and great functionality. If you're in the market for a premium soft-sided carry on, the Briggs & Riley Baseline Essential Spinner is an excellent option. We also love the Travelpro Platinum Elite 21" Expandable Spinner, perfectly in the center of the Venn diagram of organizational features, quality, style, and price.

rimowa original cabin - gettin' all matchy-matchy with the background colors. the rimowa's...
Gettin' all matchy-matchy with the background colors. The Rimowa's color scheme is limited, but you'll always stand out in a crowd.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Jason Wanlass