€529 for a suitcase? A suitcase? Yes. I paid that, back in June 2013, for a Rimowa Topas Cabin Trolley IATA 55cm (model details here). It is one of the very best purchases I have ever made, and now, with hindsight, I do not regret it for a moment.

First, my motivation. I travel a lot. Most of the time by train, but sometimes by plane, and the majority of my trips are 2-4 days in length, within Europe. All the carry-on size suitcases I had owned in the past (made by Antler, Delsey, Samsonite and Targus) had fallen apart or let me down for one reason or another – broken or easily worn out wheels and broken zips being the major faults. So I needed something that would work and be reliable every time, without fail.

That led me to Rimowa, and its close to indescructible aluminum cases (more about Rimowa’s history in German here). Rimowa makes polycarbonate cases too – lighter, but less strong. Rimowa is also a classic sort of German Mittelstandsunternehmen – making suitcases in Köln since 1898 (although they now also manufacture in Czech Republic, Canada and Brazil). My case was made in Germany.

So those were the criteria: strength, and a carry-on size. I am also not a fan of four-wheeled suitcases – they work fine on super-smooth airport floors, but I am dragging my suitcase along the cobbled streets of Brussels, and pavements of Berlin covered in grit. So a two wheel case was the best bet, and hence the Topas Cabin Trolley IATA 55cm my choice. Here I am a little confused though – while online stores like Koffer Direct still seem to sell this case, it is no longer listed on Rimowa’s site. Note that the suitcase is heavy – 4.1kg is a lot for a carry on case. It opens in a kind of 2/3 – 1/3 manner as shown in the pictures below, with each portion having a netted frame, secured with velcro, to hold things in.

So how has it been to use? Now with two and a half years of experience with it, I am very satisfied. The suitcase wheels are hard (making them roll a bit noisily on some surfaces) but they have shown almost no wear despite almost weekly use of the case, and some pretty long treks across bumpy surfaces. The corner of the case has suffered one major dent (thanks to Easyjet when I had to check the case in) – I dread to think how far it was dropped. The handle for use when rolling it is rock solid, is long enough for a tall-ish person (I am 1m83 / 6 foot tall), and works well, and the carry handles sping back into place with a resounding thud. There have been no faults whatsoever with any part of the case. Everything has a five year warranty, but I do not envisage having to use it.

In short: it has done precisely what I needed it to do – to be a completely reliable case, always ready when I need it.

If you travel more rarely than I do, or if weight of your case matters more than it does in my case, perhaps the Rimowa Cabin Trolley IATA 55cm is not for you. But if you are a regular business traveller, I cannot think of anything better.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 11.44.17

For higher resolution images, please see this Flickr Album.

12 Comments

  1. I have been mightily disappointed with the two Rimowa’s that we have purchased. Costing 1,000 USD a piece, we have yet to make a multi-stop trip without one or the other being severely damaged. On our trip from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, the clasp was snapped and a hole punched in the polycarbonate shell. Rimowa will not fix or replace, as they explained their warranty “only covered defects.” Well, I am assuming something this expensive went through some sort of quality control so that there are no initial defects. However, the only way to keep your Rimowa bag intact seems to be to leave it in the closet. I have any number of inexpensive bags that have stood up far better than these two overpriced and overly delicate pieces. I will never buy RImowa again. This is for rich tourists who can afford the aluminum versions, which I imagine might stand up a bit better. We purchased the best polycarbonate model and have had nothing but trouble. I would advise–STAY AWAY, FAR AWAY!!!!

  2. Multidirectional 4 wheels are great if you’re only pushing them in airports and on flat ground. Not so great when you have to go up, down or stop on a slope, or on trains/busses, or cobbled ground.
    Maybe I just need to always get a limo to and from the airport 🤔

  3. Bob Diamond

    Problem with Briggs is that they weigh a ton empty.

  4. Andrew Tang

    A lot of the major international flight carry-on sizes are restricted to 9″x 14″ x 21″. Why does Rimowa make their carry-on luggage width at 15.5 inches ?

    Thank you.

  5. Rimowas are sexy but they lack the piano (full length) hinge that Halliburton has. Also, the clasps on the locks are PLASTIC! A thief could pop them open with a screwdriver! Yes, I realize that the thief could just take the entire bag, but then they are walking with something easily identifiable. Unfortunately, the two-wheel trolleys are no longer available.

  6. I can’t work out the internal dimensions of the Rimowa luggage, they say dimensions of 45cm X 56cm X 25cm and then tell me the volume is 45 litres however those dimensions make the volume 63 litres.

    • The dimensions include the handles, wheels and etc. which is why the internal volume does not match the external dimensions.

  7. John Lancashire

    I have thought about buying high luggage brands such as Rimowa, but so far have failed to justify the outlay.

    I’ve have a Tripp 55cm, it cost me £35 at TK Maxx. I like outside pockets and it has plenty to use in a place for everything and everything its place kind of way. The handle wobbles a bit now. It’s a little bit scuffed The stitching on one of the zips started to go a couple of years ago, so I got a needle an thread out sewed it back in. Five years of abuse over approximately 120 flights, a fair few of which it has been grabbed from me at the gate to be thrown about by baggage handlers and still going in rattley but refusing to fall apart kind of way – and what’s more by not buying a Rimowa, I’ve had change for a couple of weekend breaks in Lisbon.

  8. Stay far away from Rimowa. My Rimowa (Polycarbonate) lasted two flights. Then it was all cracked and dented. Their guarantee sucks, as it doesn’t cover any cracks or dents. Wasted 500 euros. The aluminum ones are dented easily as well. They use very cheap materials. Bought a Samsonite instead, and going strong for 30+ flights now.

  9. BarryC

    I also had problems with the wheels on the various suitcases I have owned. I used to travel a lot and switched to carry on sizes do to lost/damaged luggage. The best I had was a Samsonite with large 6 inch wheels. If I traveled more eur529 would be acceptable.

  10. Nick Burch

    Another option is Briggs and Riley – they offer a lifetime warranty on their cases. As long as you drop off and collect from one of their service centres, it’s free too, otherwise you pay shipping. I’ve found mine to be very good, and lighter than an equivalent Rimowa, plus their service centre in London was great about fixing the wheels and stand after a flight gave them a battering!

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