The more time that you spend in airports, on a plane, and living out of a suitcase, something happens to your taste level for the world of travel. (Accessories, airplane seats, hotels…) It becomes elevated—sometimes too elevated. Except when it comes to suitcases. There, a splurge is worth it. I have put many carry-ons to the test only to be disappointed. All those direct-to-consumer options you find on Google have never blown me away. In fact, they often end up broken and in the trash sooner than they should.

Incoming, the one brand I see on every flight, but could never build up my spending courage to buy: Rimowa. Not because it’s a status symbol, or because I wanted to fit into the first class lounge of businessmen and DJs at the airport, but because luxury often equates to quality. I wanted to see if, in this case, it was true. I investigated and kind of hate to report that it is. This suitcase is, in fact, great.


It’s iconic and historic

Rimowa, a name synonymous with luxury travel, is now owned by the even more luxe powerhouse, LVMH. But it all started in Cologne, Germany in 1898. Rimowa is a play on the name of its founder’s son, Richard Morszeck Warenzeichen, who helped design the brand’s first aluminum suitcases. The company first rose in popularity for its lightweight cases that were once constructed from wood, but after a fire in its factory in 1937 most of its inventory was destroyed—aside from the literally indestructible aluminum cases. They knew which model to favor.

Throughout the years after, the now-signature design continued to develop; that iconic grooved look you can recognize anywhere was brought to life in 1950, inspired by the world’s first all-metal jet. In 1976, Rimowa brought innovation to life again with its Tropicana case that helped film crews and photographers hold expensive equipment in all types of harsh weather conditions and climates, ranging from tropical humid terrains to freezing Arctic landscapes. The history runs deep and it fascinates me that something known for being rugged and indestructible was able to be branded into something luxury.


Form meets function

OK, the backstory is fun, but does this case really stack up the name? To start my analysis I want to talk about competitors. I own another aluminum carry-on suitcase from a peer brand that still cost me a cool $600. And to me, there is absolutely no comparison. Rimowa feels much more lightweight, but also more sturdy.

Before owning one myself, people who have the Rimowa checked luggage have told me that after one trip their suitcase was dented, which I guess is part of the look that some people don’t understand. Aluminum does dent, but does it break or fall apart? No. Does it still protect your belongings and everything inside? Yes. So, why would you want a suitcase that can dent? Because as far as luggage is concerned, it’s the most lightweight and indestructible you can get. Dent-ability is what makes it so.

As for mine, I have the carry-on, which has already withstood a handful of flights and it barely has a scratch. In fact, for the photos here in this article, we shot images of this bag after my fifth trip, and you can see how it stood up. By no means do I give it special treatment, and for me it’s easy to take care of it and keep looking new.


The specs are minimal

If you’re the type of person who wants a pocket in every corner of your bag, this isn’t for you. If you, like me, care about performance minimalism, this is for you. I’ll be straightforward to say that this suitcase isn’t about the bells and whistles. In fact, it has almost no features, which is to my liking. I don’t like other suitcases that have multiple pockets, hidden compartments, and layered dividers built in, I find that those do nothing but waste space. I want an open compartment where I can choose how to store my things. In the end, this actually gives you packing space to work with.

The only things inside are Rimowa’s signature flex dividers, which are actually compressing and useful with the smart tug-and-pull velcro system. Unlike other suitcases, you can remove these, which is a huge plus for me. Sometimes I want them, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they save me room, and sometimes they don’t. But that option and the open space is what I like.

Both the wheels and the handle are features that every bag has, sure, but these are exceptional. They glide in their own glorious way that feels like they’ve been greased and ready for action. The handles don’t feel flimsy when you tug it tightly, running to your connection. The wheels (which are a patented design) can withstand any cracks or crevasse while still keeping up with your pace.


Why this over anything else

The price is one that hurts your wallet no doubt, but it makes sense to me now. Sure, new competitor brands are cheaper, but they are offering cheaper materials and labor in exchange. To really break down, most of Rimowa’s cases (including this one) are 80 percent made by hand, which takes 90 steps to build, 200 parts, 33 technicians, and about an hour and a half each to produce.

When it comes to investment pieces, it all dials down to one argument. Why buy the mid-range level, when the top-level is better quality? If you want a suitcase that will last you a lifetime—and this will— why spend $500 once on something you have to replace in five years? You might as well spend $1,400 on something you don’t have to replace again. Rimowa offers that with a lifetime guarantee, and will repair your bag, too. So, next time one gliding through the airport catches your side eye, remember that quality lasts.

This story originally appeared on Esquire US


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