The Rimowa Salsa Air certainly lives up to its name and does so in style. A lightweight head-turner, to be certain. But good looks can get you only so far. From afar the Salsa seemed to be the one for us. Hardshell suitcase, stunning good looks, larger spinner wheels… but as we got hands-on with this model, we realized it was all form and little substance. Pitfalls of diminutive storage space, lackluster features, and meager transportability scores earned this luggage a firm spot in second to last place.
Rimowa Salsa Air 29" Review
Cons: Expensive, uncomfortable handle, loud
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rimowa Salsa Air really got our hopes up. At first, we thought it could take this whole thing down. Good looks, oversized dual spinner wheels, and an integrated lock made us think that the Salsa might be the one. But contrary to a first-look reaction, the Salsa presented a good-looking bag with not much else to offer. The Salsa Air went from high expectations to low on our list of suitcases, especially with the top-tier price tag of $580.
The Salsa performed well in style and weight — the two least important segments of our testing metrics. The Salsa was plagued with noisy transportability, limited storage, sub-par features, and scored lower in durability than we would expect a suitcase of its price-point. Issues with zippers, handles, and wheels relegated this high-priced looker to the dregs of our test fleet.
The nature of a polycarbonate hard-shell suitcase exudes durability. But Rimowa, in creating lightweight hard-sided luggage, has gone a little thin on the thickness of the material. The result is a suitcase that bulges, bends and bows with every pull of a carry handle. The plastic zipper pulls withstood our abuse, but we are still wary of the long-term durability of these specialized pieces that integrate with the built-in lock.
Our biggest concern is the living hinge. The living hinge is made of a two-inch piece of faux leather centered on the back, and segments of the zipper which the zipper pulls are prevented from traversing with a glob of hot-glue. Seriously. Not only do we not foresee this kludged hinge lasting the abuses of air-travel, but this design proved itself as the most awkward suitcase to close. If you are looking for a durable hard-sided suitcase, have a look at the Delsey Helium Titanium. Your wallet will thank you.
Having diminutive and non-expandable storage, the Salsa was one of our worst performers in this category. The reviewer was presented with the choice of leaving behind some clothes packed away in the Eagle Creek Lunchbox, or his Fishpond fly-fishing pack. We decided the more pragmatic choice is to leave the Salsa behind. If you are looking for a dual-sided clamshell suitcase, consider the hard-sided Delsey Helium Titanium or the Timbuk2 CoPilot.
Ease of Transport
Initially we thought this suitcase had done something right with transportability. The Salsa came to the party with oversized dual-wheeled casters. Sadly, this was not enough. We felt and heard every bump, every crack in the sidewalk with the rattle of the handle and sloppy wheels. The jarring nature of this transport when pulling the Salsa behind us made the already uncomfortable handle dig into our hands. Every tug of a carry handle did just as much to deform the outer shell as it did to assist in lifting the suitcase.
As for handling the load of our transportability test, the Salsa was one of our "belly draggers," with the bottom bulging to the ground under full load when pushed along. The preferred spinners in this review are the Briggs and Riley Baseline and the Delsey Helium Titanium.
This suitcase didn't wow us with what we'd expect from a bag of this price-point. It provides a hard-shell while omitting the convenient front pocket. Large spinners in-lieu of sturdy comfortable handles. And although the integrated lock is a nice touch, we would have preferred a more convenient system for keeping our things in place.
Each clam-shell has a full-zip mesh compartment divider. Although the mesh withstood our best efforts to test its resolve, it still looks cheap and reminds us of the mesh one would find in a cheap swimsuit. If you are on the search for a clam-shell configuration with features for your traveling convenience, have a look at the Briggs and Riley Baseline or the Timbuk2 CoPilot.
At 7.5 lbs, this suitcase posted one of our top scores for weight. However, we have found that when you get too light, you may sacrifice performance in the trade-off. Our lightest candidates rounded out 3 of the 4 bottom spots in our competition. The first respectable performance of a lightweight suitcase went to the TravelPro Maxlite 4, weighing in with a mass equal to the Salsa.
If you are after fashion with little function, the Salsa may do the trick for you. It was easily one of the top three best looking pieces of luggage we handled. Perhaps even the best. But with some purchasing pragmatism, we would argue that the Delsey Helium Titanium and the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 offer some much-needed function to some equally stylish luggage.
A high-priced all-fashion and no-function suitcase doesn't quite lend itself to many applications outside of spending money for the sole purpose of looking good. If money is no object and style is everything, spend away. We might suggest a personal packer, unpacker, and transporter as well so you can admire your stylish luggage from afar.
For the second most expensive suitcase in our fleet ($580) we were hoping for better bang for our buck. But quite simply, the value is non-existent. We found a few suitcases at nearly half the price, higher performance and equally good looks.
We would not recommend the Rimowa Salsa Air to any discerning customer that expects value for their money. At 1/3rd of the current price we might consider it for a budget option, but until then, the Rimowa is a steal of a deal — and not for the consumer.
— Dave Eyvazzadeh