Review of the Rimowa Carry-On Bag That Took Me Around the World

May 11, 2014

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Not that many years ago I traveled by packing in what was essentially a duffel bag. I didn’t really think anything of it until after we had our first daughter and we started traveling with more bags. The type of bag we used then quickly started to be a problem. My husband essentially became a “pack mule” through the airport and our packing style in an assortment of duffel/shoulder bags clearly needed to change. At his insistence, I pulled the trigger on a Briggs and Riley 20″ Expandable Upright Wide-Body Carry-On and used it happily for several years until recently. Who knew pulling a bag behind you was so much easier than schlepping it on your shoulder?!

When United Airlines decided to “crack down” on the size of carry-on luggage and began enforcing the written max carry-on dimensions of 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches with more gusto, but slightly too large Briggs and Riley bag became a problem. It was time for a new bag.

Before our recent around the world journey, my husband gave me an early Mother’s Day present via the Rimowa Salsa Deluxe Cabin Multiwheel IATA bag. This bag is made from a durable and light polycarbonate and has the stated dimensions of 21.7″ height x 15.7″ width x 7.9″ depth. This makes it still technically too wide, but since the step-less telescopic handle is mounted inside the bag, it fits in the United sizers just fine. The sizers are a bit larger than the stated dimensions, and if it fits, it rolls on board.

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The four-wheel design is so easy to maneuver I can push it around with just my pinky. In fact, my young kids can push it in any direction with one finger — it’s that easy.

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Being able to push this bag down the aisle of the airplane “sideways” thanks to the four wheels that go in any direction is insanely helpful. I quickly transitioned from pulling it behind me using two wheels the way my old bag operated, to predominately pushing it through the airport using all four wheels. The tradeoff is that on bumpier terrain, such as concrete once you leave the airport, it doesn’t pull quite as smoothly on two wheels (canted at an angle) as my previous bag. I’ll take that trade-off for such easy use in the airports and down the aisle on the plane, but think about how you use the bag before deciding if two or four wheels is best for you.

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The bag has two removable and adjustable flex-dividers that I used to hold smaller things like swimsuits, toiletries, hair ties, etc. Overall, the storage of the bag was better than I expected given its relatively small size. I was able to pack for our eight-day around the world trip in one carry-on! I would not be able to do this if I needed winter clothing, or many pairs of shoes, but for a beach trip and a stop in Amsterdam, it worked amazingly well. I had to put some pressure on the bag to get it to shut, but once it zipped it was good to go. The bag also has a TSA approved combination lock at the wrap around zipper.

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What I love about this bag (in addition to its sleep look), is that it was amazingly easy to maneuver, can turn on a dime with four wheels, is very light, holds way more than you might guess, and it fit in the carry-on sizers just fine. I’ve flown with it on United, Turkish, Singapore, British Airways, American Airlines, Delta, EVA, Frontier, Spirit and more as a carry-on with no issues at all. (Note it is a paid carry-on on the ultra low-cost airlines.)

I didn’t have plans of getting a new carry-on bag for many years as the Briggs and Riley bag I had was very good, but once I dealt with the very high price for this Rimowa bag (retail price around $625), I started to love the beauty of how easy it was to use. If you only travel once or twice a year I wouldn’t even consider spending this much on a carry-on, but if you are flying as much as we are, it is very nice to have a bag that is so easy to use, and that you know won’t be a problem to carry-on the airplane due to its size.

Update: Five years since writing the initial review, I still use this Rimowa bag several times per month. Hundreds of thousands of traveled miles later, the wheels don’t spin quite as well as they did the first few years, but it’s safe to say that I have more than gotten my money’s worth. I would not hesitate to buy another Rimowa when the time comes to replace this one.

(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy)

What type of carry-on do you use for your family?

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Featured image by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy

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