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 daughter and started needing to travel 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?!

A few months ago 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.  My Briggs and Riley bag was 7.5″ x 15.5″ x 20″, so it was a bit too wide…hence the name I guess.  It fit in the overhead bins on most aircraft just fine, but would not fit in the United sizers, mainly since the hardware for the handle was on the outside of the bag and not included in their stated dimensions.  It had no shot of being squeezed in the sizers, and believe me I tried.  I was “busted” by the United baggage police a couple of times, but even when I was able to carry my bag on-board, it had become a stressful experience not knowing whether I would have to check it or not.  Sadly, I needed a new bag again way before I expected I would.

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.


I had first seen this type of bag on Star MegaDo 5 as it was offered for purchase with a SMD5 logo (that event also toured a Rimowa factory).  I passed on purchasing at the time as my carry-on was working just fine, and there’s no denying the price for this Rimowa is quite high.  However, I got to try out pushing the bag around since others had it on that trip, and I found the four-wheel design to be so easy to maneuver.  I could literally push the bag around using just my pinky.  In fact, my four-year-old kid can push it in any direction with one finger – it’s that easy.


Being able to push this bag down the aisle of the airplane “sideways” thanks to the four wheels that go in any direction was insanely helpful.  I quickly transitioned from pulling it behind me using two wheels the way my old bag operated, to 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.


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 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.  I even had a few outfits in there I never got around to wearing, so I was very happy with the amount this one carry-on could hold.  The bag also has a TSA approved combination lock at the wrap around zipper.


What I loved about this bag (in addition to it looking pretty nifty), was that it was amazingly easy to maneuver, can turn on a dime with four wheels, it is very light, holds way more than you might guess, and it fit in the carry-on sizers just fine.  Just in the last week or two, I flew on United, Turkish, Singapore, and EVA with this bag as a carry-on with no issues at all.  No one even looked twice at the size as I was boarding.

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.


Now if they would only make a kid’s bag that is as easy to pull as this one since my kid now prefers pulling my Rimowa to her penguin thanks to the four wheels!

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

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