Two grand for a new suitcase (laugh emoji)

Readers of Tank’s Travels would have good reason to question my sanity (read: aspic photos). But, I’m likely not going to spend $2K on a suitcase.

Rimowa makes good suitcases. But, they come at a high price. The company has been around since 1898 (bought by Louis Vuitton in the last few years, which may be the kiss of death). They made the first ever polycarbonate (hardshell) suitcases. Their aluminum cases are legendary and OMG so pricey.

There isn’t a suitcase on the planet that can withstand baggage handlers. Hardshells, like my purple Salsa Air (a discontinued model now called the Essential Lite) crack. Aluminum cases get punctured or dented. Damage comes and goes with the territory.

Funny thing is Rimowa tries to spin the damage as a badge of worldliness and a good thing. As in, ‘the expensive and now dented aluminum suitcase for which you paid $2,500 now has character. Every bit of damage represents a special memory of your travels’.


Rimowa is big on selling image. Insinuating discerning travellers will take notice of you and your expensive suitcase and won’t that make you feel special.

If the owners of Rimowa saw how I dress when I walk through an airport with their product, they’d be appalled. Picture the opposite of style and elegance.

I digress. I won’t be buying a $2,000 suitcase (well, probably not), and I’ll always love my Rimowa Salsa Air, which now lives under my bed as storage for diving gear.

I’ve joined the Rimowa discussion page on Facebook for advice. Rimowa-ers love to connect I’ve discovered.

Advice so far: buy aluminum, only use aluminum on private jets, check polycarbonate and use aluminum as carry-on, buy a Tumi suitcase, buy an Away aluminum suitcase.

Also, buy a Pelican case. Interesting. This, I’m researching. More to come.

Next trip is end of June. Lots of time to decide.

Say goodbye to a trusted friend? Nope

I refuse to bid farewell to a trusted partner. We’ve travelled the world together for 10 years.

Broken suitcase wheel attached to purple plastic

I’m talking about my purple Rimowa Salsa Air suitcase. Some Tank’s Travels readers might remember when I purchased the suitcase at Mego on Granville Street in Vancouver (now shuttered) in 2013 for a scuba diving trip to Thailand. It cost a lot of money at the time.

The Rimowa Suitcase Challenge 2013

A purple suitcase with a hole where a wheel should be.

I want to cry when I look at the state of my dear friend following my most recent trip in late March 2023. Cracked at the wheel.

See the purple duct tape? A suggestion from the Vancouver Rimowa-store guys after finding the crack during a lock fix last year. “You can buy it from Amazon,” they said. They told me the crack was severe and no fix was possible due to its location next to the wheel. Duct tape, they said, might lengthen the suitcase’s life. It lasted another two trips to Mexico – packed full of scuba gear (and flavoured tequila on the trips home!)

I live in a 510-square-foot Vancouver condo. No room to store a broken suitcase with sentimental value and its replacement. The building’s annual spring cleaning event happens in a few days and the thought of dumping my buddy in a pile of trash hurt my heart.

Then came the idea of the century. Why not store the dive gear I store under my bed in the suitcase? Genius move.

As for the replacement, $1,200 to $1,400 for the Rimowa Essential or Lite. Two grand and up for aluminum. OMG.

I’ll keep you posted on the hunt for the perfect, affordable-ish replacement. Folks on the Rimowa Facebook page are recommending Pelican!

Anyone need a roll of purple duct tape?

Don’t fail me now #Rimowa


Okay, so this is scary. I can’t get the combination lock on my suitcase to work. It just won’t open.

My wallet is in there. So is my camera, IPhone, computer.

I’m in Mexico, more than an hour from an airport and a customs officer with a TSA lock key. There are no suitcase places in town.

The only remedy is to have my extremely resourceful Air BnB host sever the lock. She has the proper hardware. Files of some kind. Says she has done this in the past for guests. It takes her less than two minutes to cut the lock.

I’m pissed. Not with her. She’s terrific. I paid $650 for this Rimowa suitcase three years ago. The lock shouldn’t have malfunctioned.


The only thing I can think of is damage done from baggage handling, or the suitcase being opened and fooled around with by security at one of the three airports I travelled through to get to Mexico.

(I opened the lock and suitcase once after I arrived to retrieve my scuba gear and put away my valuables. I noticed the lock was a bit finicky but didn’t think it was an issue.)

I’m freaked. I know there’s a five year warranty. The fix should be covered. Where the hell did I put the receipt? I’m usually very organized with receipts (photo to Evernote and original in a special file folder). Surprisingly, I can’t find it when I return home a few weeks later. (There’s a chance I did the ultimate safekeeping and put it in my safety deposit box at the bank. Didn’t check there).

Go to the MEGO store. Where I purchased the suitcase. They don’t keep records from that far back.img_0884

An email to Rimowa customer service tells me to take it to the local repair place in Vancouver. The serial number will determine whether the suitcase is under warranty.

It’s going to the repair shop this week. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve got a trip planned for the end of October. Hoping the fix is quick and painless.

UPDATE. Weston Luggage in East Vancouver fixed it while I waited. Covered by warranty. Very happy.

#Rimowa #suitcase challenge – trip 4 #Roatan, Honduras

Packed and ready for baggage handlers

Packed and ready for baggage handlers

More than a dozen baggage handler ‘handlings’ and the ultra lightweight Rimowa Salsa Air looks no worse for wear.

To recap: I’ve been chronicling my suitcase’s travels since last October. Posting pictures of the wear and tear to determine whether I’m an idiot or a genius for paying $650 dollars (CDN) for this hard-shell, seven pound suitcase.

Why did I do it? I’m a scuba diver. I carry all my own gear (except weights and tank). Makes me feel safer when I dive. I was always skating close to the 23kg/50lbs weight limit. The Rimowa is about six pounds lighter than the suitcase it replaced.

This is trip four with the suitcase.  It was handled eight times by airline staff.


-Houston, Texas = 2
-Roatan, Honduras


-Houston = 2


The verdict. The suitcase has dirt ‘scratches’ and scuffs, but nothing that can’t be washed or rubbed off. No dents. I’m very happy and clearly a genius.

Next trip: Cozumel, Mexico later in the year.


The #Rimowa #suitcase challenge – trip #3

I love this piece of luggage.

I love this piece of luggage.

Another international trip. Another stellar performance by my Rimowa suitcase.

To recap, I forked over about $600 CDN for a 30 inch Rimowa Salsa Air suitcase in October 2013.

The purchase was necessary, because I carry scuba equipment and skate close to the weight limit line. This ultralight suitcase was meant to prevent me from having to pay overweight fees.

Trip #3: Vancouver to Varadero, Cuba via Toronto. Air Canada-Air Canada Rouge

Number of handlings by baggage handlers:  8


-Toronto (off and on) = 2


-Toronto (off and on) = 2

Rimowa visits CubaThankfully, mine was not the bag Air Canada baggage handlers in Vancouver were caught, on video, dropping in a bin.

At its heaviest, with souvenirs and a bottle of rum, the suitcase weighed in at 21kg. Two kg under the limit. The reason for my happy dance at check in.

The case has a few more scrapes on it. Nothing too awful. I’m still delighted with my purchase.

Next diving trip: Roatan, Honduras.

The #Rimowa suitcase challenge – trip 2

A few ‘bruises’. Still, no regrets about this pricey purchase.

Time to profess my (so far) undying love for my Rimowa suitcase.

To recap, spent hundreds (Canadian) on a 30 inch Rimowa Salsa Air in October 2013. I carry scuba equipment on my travels and was in desperate need of a very lightweight suitcase.

I did a ton of research about hard shell suitcases and settled on this one because its the lightest of the lightweights. The downside is its only five year warranty compared with Briggs & Riley, which has a lifetime guarantee. I purchased a Briggs & Riley carry on recently for that reason.

Rimowa suitcase challenge trip 1

Trip 2 took me from Vancouver to Cozumel, Mexico with stops in Edmonton (1) and Cancun (2) in December 2013.

Number of handlings by baggage handlers: 10 on Westjet and MayAir.

  • Outbound: Vancouver; Edmonton; Cancun; Cozumel
  • Inbound: Cozumel; Cancun; Vancouver

I’m pleased with my purchase. There are a few more marks on it, but the wheels and handles are free of damage. The suitcase moves well on its four wheels and I love how light it is. No worry about paying the airlines’ punitive fees for overweight luggage.

Rimowa suitcase challenge – one year in photos

Next up. Cuba on Air Canada.

The #Rimowa #Suitcase Challenge – trip 1

The suitcase before journey #1. Pretty and shiny. Not a scratch on it.

The suitcase before journey #1. Pretty and shiny. Not a scratch on it.

I forked over big dough for a 30 inch Rimowa Salsa Air suitcase in October 2013.

The reasons why are outlined here:

Trip #1: Vancouver to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico return via Calgary.

Number of handlings by baggage handlers:  6


-San Jose del Cabo


-San Jose del Cabo
-Calgary (off one plane + onto connection)

Yup, there was some damage. A few scratches here and there.

No big deal. The suitcase held up well.

Stuffed with scuba gear, running gear and clothes, it weighed in at 17.9 kilograms. Well below the 23 kg limit.

Despite the scratches, which I expected, I’m pretty happy with my Rimowa purchase.

Let’s see if the love affairs lasts!

Next trip: Cozumel, Mexico in late 2013.

The #Rimowa suitcase challenge – one year in photos


Pristine. Baggage handlers will ensure it doesn’t stay this way.

I bit the bullet. This after months of research. Bought an ultra lightweight Rimowa Salsa Air. About seven pounds.

Expensive. $650 Canadian (covered in part from my 50-50 winnings from last years CBC 20 Year Association Xmas party).

Why? I’m a scuba diver. I carry all my own gear (except weights and tank). Makes me feel safer. Problem is I’m always skating close to the 23kg/50lbs weight limit. The Rimowa is about six pounds lighter than the suitcase it’s replacing.

Polycarbonate suitcases come with problems. They show scratches, they can dent and crack.

Rumour also has it baggage handlers are extra hard on them, especially the ones they know to be expensive.

My Rimowa has a five year warranty. The company is apparently great to deal with when there’s a problem. Briggs & Riley suitcases have a lifetime warranty. Much better deal. But their suitcases are heavier.

So, here’s my plan. I will document in photos the damage done to my Rimowa suitcase over one year. I’ll note the airline, destination and any connecting flights.

Let’s see what $650 buys. Quality or crap? Am I a genius or an idiot?

The virgin bag is photographed above. Trip one: Vancouver to Los Cabos (return) on Westjet.