Skip to content

Carry-on luggage showdown: Away vs. Rimowa

August 12 2022
8 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As avid travelers who sometimes live out of their luggage more than their homes, it's fair to say that TPG staffers have strong opinions about suitcases: Hardshell versus softside, backpack versus wheeled luggage and checked versus carry-on.

When the team gets together, it's fun to see all the brands in attendance, including Tumi, Briggs & Riley, Samsonite, Rimowa, Away, Calpak and Osprey, to name just a few.

Related: Keep calm and carry on: TPG shares its favorite travel carry-on bags

Sign up for our daily newsletter

From the budget-friendly Amazon Basics softside carry-on spinner to the splurge-worthy Tumi Arrivé Continental dual access four-wheeled carry-on ($1,695.00), you'll see a wide variety of suitcases at TPG.

While it can be entertaining to think about all the different things your luggage brand of choice says about you, after a fun debate specifically about Away versus Rimowa, two of us (TPG director Summer Hull and senior editor Benét J .Wilson) decided to explain what we loved -- and didn't love -- about each of these specific carry-on suitcases. Here are the results.

For more TPG news, deals and tips, sign up for our daily newsletter and download the free TPG app.

Side by side

While each brand has a variety of suitcases in its lineup, here's a comparison of the basics of Away's Bigger Carry-On with Pocket versus the Rimowa Essential Lite Carry-On.

Away Bigger
Carry-On with Pocket
Rimowa Essential Lite Carry-On
SizeExterior: 22.7 inches by 14.7 inches by 9.6 inches.Exterior: 21.7 inches by 15.8 inches by 7.9 inches.
Weight8.4 pounds.4.2 pounds.
Features
  • Leather details, including a black leather luggage tag.
  • Ejectable USB charger.
  • TSA-approved combination lock.
  • 360-degree spinner wheels.
  • Interior compression system.
  • Hidden laundry bag.
  • Lightweight polycarbonate material.
  • Telescopic monopole handle.
  • TSA-approved locks.
  • Nylon zip curtain.
  • Multiwheel system.
Cost$345$675

Related: Carry-on luggage showdown: Away vs. Roam

Pros and cons of the Away carry-on

Pros:

(Photo courtesy of Away)

The Away line has a tremendous number of sizes, colors and materials that help you personalize exactly what you want. The Basic Carry-On starts at $275 and comes in eight colors, or for $625 you can get a fancy aluminum edition carry-on. Then there are tweaks to the bags, such as the Away Bigger Carry-On with Pocket that we'll focus on today.

The bag is sized to fit in overhead bins of U.S. airlines, even when expanded. This model currently comes in navy and black, both of which are great at camouflaging scuffs and scratches.

The telescoping handle is comfortable to hold and the 360-degree wheels roll smoothly.

Inside, one side of the bag has a mesh zipper area to keep your clothes secure. The front pocket offers easy access to items including laptops, tablets, documents and magazines or newspapers.

Overall, it's a good price for an attractive and well-made suitcase. There's also a 100-day period to try it and return it if you don't love it; afterward, there's a limited warranty.

Related: Review of an Away carry-on bag

Cons:

While the black and navy are pretty hardy, some Away colors and styles scuff quite easily. And the limited-edition reflective colors they've produced in the past wear especially poorly.

(Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

The suitcase only has two levels on the telescoping handle, which can be an issue for some. Also, while it sounds cool, note that the USB batteries that some styles of Away bags can come with aren't especially useful as they must be removed constantly due to air travel restrictions.

The interior zipper can also be tough to shut.

Related: Is expensive luggage worth it?

Pros and cons of the Rimowa carry-on

(Image courtesy of Rimowa)

Pros:

Rimowa bags look like they are primped, primed and ready to fly at all times. The silver aluminum model is especially stylish, but they are all very attractive bags.

But looks aren't everything, and Rimowa suitcases also come with a lifetime guarantee for all functional aspects of the bag (read: not cosmetic wear and tear).

This particular model, the Rimowa Essential Lite, is extremely lightweight with its polycarbonate shell weighing under 5 pounds. The polycarbonate is flexible and makes it easy to squeeze a little extra in and still get it to close shut (unlike the aluminum ones, which have no give at all). The wheels are a dream to maneuver on smooth surfaces, like at an airport.

It has fit in every sizer and even in small regional jet overhead bins we've tried and never let us down. There are also now handy mesh inserts on both sides of the bag, which wasn't the case on some older models.

Related: Over 400,000 miles and counting: Review of the Rimowa carry-on bag

(Photo by Lisa Weatherbee/The Points Guy)

Cons:

While there are many price points with Away bags, Rimowa prices just go up, up and, well, away. The cheapest models are still over $600, so that's a real barrier to entry and drawback to purchasing a Rimowa bag.

But even with those high price tags, there aren't really bells and whistles that come with this bag, so don't expect little extra laundry bags or USBs or anything like that.

I'd argue it doesn't need those though — it's just an awesome bag that stands on its own. But if we have to pick a real con -- it's that the wheels aren't so fabulous once you get to something like an old cobblestone street.

Related: Luggage showdown -- Away vs. Roam

Should you buy Rimowa or Away?

Before getting her Away bag in the summer of 2021, Wilson had what she describes as a mishmash of carry-ons from TJ Maxx and eBags sales.

The Away Bigger Carry-On with a pocket was the first "grown-up" suitcase she had and it didn't disappoint. She's been able to even pack for a few trips in one given all its space, such as when she went to Disney's Star Wars Galactic Cruiser Hotel and the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in one trip.

Hull got her first carry-on Rimowa about eight years ago and that very bag now has hundreds of thousands of miles logged, and is still the go-to on more trips than not. It's held up fabulously and can hold way more than it seems thanks to its flexible shell.

However, it's not cheap, and by no means is it a must-buy if you don't want to blow your budget on luggage. There are also several Away bags in Hull's family that have also held up well -- as long as you avoid the lighter or special reflective colors as those can get dinged up in a hurry.

If you really specifically want a Rimowa Essential Lite Carry-On, you're unlikely to be let down or disappointed by it.

But, if want you really want is a stylish bag that can hold a bunch at a price that doesn't rival a monthly car payment, then the Away line may have more options.

Wilson's favorite, the Away Bigger Carry-On with Pocket, costs a little more than the entry-level Away bags, but it comes with very functional bells and whistles that can keep you and your stuff more organized on the road. Just note that Benét's Away Bigger Carry-On with Pocket no longer comes in the soft side option that she has and loves.

In Away vs. Rimowa, there are no losers -- just a variety of pretty fun luggage options at different price points, though none that are what we would describe as extremely affordable.

Featured photo by Strong zips. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees