The Rimowa entry models are the Essential and the Essential Lite. Both the Essential and Essential Lite have the signature grooves and are made from poly-carbonate. A very robust plastic used in aviation. Even though it’s an entry model, the Essential Cabin still comes at a hefty $740 dollar (excluding taxes) and $580 dollar (excluding taxes) for the Essential Lite Cabin.
In the picture below the Rimowa Essential and the Essential Lite are displayed. Both are the same size and color but have a price difference of $160 dollar. Visually they are almost identical so let’s find out what is different besides the price.
The grooves on the shelves are identical. The difference in appearance can be seen on the corners. The corner on the Essential tries to replicate the exterior of the Rimowa Original. Whereas the corners on the Essential Lite are smooth without any embellishments.
Other differences are the position of the TSA combination lock. The Essential has the lock on the side of the suitcase. The lock of the Essential Lite is positioned on top of the suitcase.
Another difference is the handles. The Essential has handle on the top and the side. The Essential Lite has only a handle on the top. Leaving out one handle decreases the weight of the luggage and on a smaller cabin suitcase one can argue if a handle on the side is really necessary.
I carry a Rimowa Original with a handle on the side and on the top. I use the handle on the side regularly when I travel. I use it when I walk the stairs. I lift it with the handle on the side. If I would use the upper handle I would have to lift it much higher otherwise I would hit the stairs. Another instance when I use the side handle is when I stow it in the overhead compartment on the plain or when I take it out of the overhead compartment.
The telescope handle is also reengineered in order to make it more light. The Essential Lite is the only Rimowa model which only has one bar instead of two. See photo below.
One bar instead of two obviously saves weight but holding the handle is much more convenient if you would have two bars on the outside instead of one in the middle as you can imagine.
The interior is totally different. The interior on the Essential Cabin has two Flex Dividers like the Original also has. I’m not a big fan of the Flex Dividers. They take up unnecessary space and the edges get in the way when you try to close the suitcase. Besides that they weigh about 1 pound which is relatively heavy. This is most likely the reason they left out the Flex Dividers on the Essential Lite Cabin.
The Essential Lite Cabin has two enclosed compartments which you can open and close with a zipper. It works great! Only downside is that you can’t squeeze your belongings as you can do with the Flex Divider. But also on the interior every excess weight is eliminated.
It’s not easy to pick between the Essential and the Essential Lite. Both have their pros and cons.