Updated on November 20th, 2022

When people think of a Rimowa suitcase there are two types of people. One sees a beaten down Rimowa with scratches and dents, debris from stickers from past journeys, descending from a propeller plane in Mauritania (let’s not get carried away). Other people see a shiny suitcase, smoothly rolling, pushed along, effortlessly by a person in a shiny suit, heading to the airport lounge.

Whichever scenario you prefer. Rimowa makes quality, premium luggage. When you see the suitcase in the store, when you buy it online, the experience you get is first class and you know that you have bought something that is aesthetically pleasing and should last a life time.

The experience of the buying process and the aesthetic aspects of the suitcase are unquestionably. There are not many brand and certainly not many luggage brands which offer this. The other aspect, the aspect of quality, can be felt and seen when you closely inspect the suitcase. But only time can tell what the actual quality of a product is.

So how would you be able to track and trace a Rimowa suitcase over a 5 year period? You would have to find a Rimowa enthusiast who owns a Rimowa suitcase, travels regularly and is willing to document it. Ow snap. That’s me.

The question I would like to answer in this post is “How does a aluminum Rimowa carry-on hold up after 5 years of regular travel?”. I’m choosing a carry-on because I kept it by my side most of the time and I know what caused every major dent and scratch. A check-in luggage can be banged up pretty badly by baggage handling and you don’t know what the impact is that caused the damage therefor it’s less objective for reviewing.

Travels

In the below picture from my Google Time line you can see the places my Rimowa Original Cabin S traveled to the last 5 years.

Places traveled to with a Rimowa Original S the last 5 years

The travels were divers. My Rimowa has traveled with all common ways of transportation . Taxi, bus, train and plane. A few times the suitcase was out of my control when I wasn’t allowed to take it on board on a flight and a few times when the luggage is being brought to your hotel room.

First impressions

On the picture below, the left suitcase is when I purchased it and on the right one is the exact same suitcase 5 travel years later. When I inspect the suitcase there are no real major damages like big dents are broken parts. Even though I’m not particularly careful with the suitcase, the suitcase didn’t got any malfunctions. The locks, wheels, hinges, handles all still work perfectly. Not once did I have to visit the Rimowa service center. From a distance the suitcase looks in pretty good shape after 5 years. Let’s have a closer look and see how that looks.

Surface

The surface doesn’t look as shiny as it did when it was new. I believe it has oxidized a bit. The surface is more mat then it was before. More detail on how to prevent this can be seen in this article. If you look close you also see little scratches and traces of use on top of the grooves and basically every area that touches the surface when the suitcase lays flat. You can see it clearly on the Rimowa sticker.

Rimowa surface of suitcase
Rimowa surface of suitcase

The corners on aluminum Rimowa suitcases are made from a thicker aluminum than the shell. The corners get most of the beating so understandingly this has been reinforced. The corners are the only places where it has actual dents. See the picture below. The corner stick out a bit. When you lay the suitcase flat this area will touch the surface most. Most damages and user traces or on the corners.

Other parts that stick out are the wheelbase and the telescope handle. On the picture below you can see the marks on the wheelbase from bumping into objects and movements over rubber conveyor belts. Also here you can see that the top of the grooves get the most damage on the surface.

Handles and locks

The handles on the top and the side are in pretty much the same condition as 5 years ago. Even the flap back mechanism (which keep the handle in place) still works perfectly. The piece of plastic which holds the telescope handle also sticks out. The surface of this piece of plastic is banged up. On mine it’s not too bad but I have seen other suitcases which have more damage on this part of the suitcase. The advantage is that the shell around this area is still in good shape.

The locks are great and still work like they are new. On many other suitcases the locks are the first things that break down. The quality of the locks are very good and are also very easy to replace.

Telescope handle
Telescope handle

Wheels

Wheels roll still as smooth as 5 years ago. They obviously collect a lot of dust and dirt. They also take a beating from bumping into curbs and other objects. You can see some scratches on the plastic. Nothing had to be replaced or repaired in the 5 years I have the suitcase. And even if they broke of, this part of the suitcase is very easy to repair.

Rimowa wheels
Rimowa wheels

Interior

The interior held up pretty well. The Velcro surprisingly still sticks very well. The Flex Dividers are stretched out from the stuff I put in them. But no holes are any damage. The liner is surprisingly glued to the aluminum shell. This works overall pretty good but it has let loose on several places. When it lets loose, the glued surface will collect dirt and dust and the liner won’t stick that well anymore.

Rimowa interior
Rimowa interior
Rimowa liner

Most damaging experiences

Most damages to your suitcase will occur in the following situations:

  1. Your cabin luggage has to be checked in. Damn. You don’t have control over your luggage and it will be abused by some baggage handler. On the picture below I have witnessed many damages myself. There are 2 types of baggage claim conveyor; One where the luggage comes from below or from the same floor and one (as in the picture) where the suitcase comes from the top. When it comes from the top, there is a big chance the suitcase will damage. Especially when the suitcase is heavy
  2. When you carry your suitcase up the stairs and you bump with your suitcase into a concrete staircase
  3. You are outside on the concrete and you have to take something out of your luggage. So have to lay it flat on the concrete. This will get you a lot of scratches on the surface
The corner crashes into the metal curb at baggage claim
The corner crashes into the metal curb at baggage claim

Conclusion

The suitcase held up pretty well after 5 years. I haven’t been easy on the suitcase and I can guarantee it will last a lifetime. The suitcase only left my side twice. Both times I had to check my suitcase in. This really makes a big difference. I also have a larger Rimowa Trunk and this one you always have to check in and this suitcase is much more beaten up than my cabin. Looking forward to the next 5 years of travelling with my Rimowa suitcase.