Aluminum suitcase Rimowa

Image credit: Rimowa

Aluminium suitcases – what’s the crack? You may have noticed that all the celebs, style influencers and all-round cool kids have been spotted rolling around with them for a few years now, but this metallic trend has been well-established for over 70 years.

First moulded into luxury luggage by German travel brand, Rimowa, aluminium became the industry’s hero material due to its exceptional strength and durability. Virtually indestructible (aircraft is constructed from it) there’s no better material to protect your belongings when gallivanting across the globe.

But doesn’t aluminium scuff easily? Ahh but that’s all part of the charm, don’t you see? Dented and distressed aluminium luggage is the ultimate cult symbol for well-travelled globetrotters.

Why? Because a battered metallic case tells a thousand stories of road tripping, island hopping and wild adventures. Some would argue a distressed aluminium shell is more desirable than a shiny and new aluminium shell. See below battered Rimowa for evidence. Doesn’t it just ooze a desirable, dog-eared escapism vibe?

Rimowa suitcase with stickers

Image credit: Rimowa

OK, so rocking a metallic luggage is cool, but which aluminium suitcase is best? We take a look at two of the most pioneering luggage brands, Rimowa and Tumi, and play their best aluminium cases against each other. Which suitcase will win? Read on to find out…

Choosing a Rimowa Suitcase

Rimowa, the Godfather of aluminium luggage, crafted its first case from aluminium way back in the 1950s. Since then it has nurtured and moulded this material to become synonymous with the brand.

Home to undoubtedly the most famous aluminium suitcase, a Rimowa is instantly recognisable thanks to its aircraft-inspired grooves and achingly hip aluminium shell. Oh, and Rimowa’s aluminium ain’t just any old aluminium. A high-end anodization layering procedure elevates it to premium status and consists of an aluminium-magnesium alloy mix that even Iron Man’s suit would be jealous of.

Aluminum suitcase Rimowa

Topas Multiwheel Large E-TAG Suitcase 76cm in Silver, £829.00, Rimowa 

The Topas encapsulates Rimowa’s aluminium excellence beautifully. Designed to withstand extreme temperatures, Topas protects your belongings from the heat of the jungle or the sub-zero temperatures of the artic. From intrepid explorers to jet-setting celebs, the Topas is a status symbol for all types of travellers and rocks those iconic grooves with effortless panache.

And what about the wheels? According to customer feedback, this baby moves like a dream. Its high-end, Multiwheel® System consists of ball-bearing mounted wheels with cushioned axels for effortless glide-ability and navigation.

Rimowa aluminum suitcase

Check in from anywhere with Rimowa's E-Tag technology

But wait, there’s more. Cementing Rimowa’s status as a luggage industry trailblazer, the Topas is available as an E-Tag suitcase. Say what? Decked out with an inbuilt electronic tag, this pioneering technology allows you to check-in the case from anywhere in the world. Furthermore, it links to your phone by GPS, so you can keep tabs on its location at all times. Which is handy, because you don’t want a suitcase like this to get lost in the clouds.

The Lowdown:

Price: £829.00

Dimensions: 76cm/49cm/ 27.5cm

Volume: 78L

Weight: 6.7kg

Warranty: 5 years

Wheels: Multiwheel® System

Lock: TSA approved lock

Internal features: Flex divider

Standout features: Withstands extreme temperatures, iconic styling and E-Tag technology


 Tumi, an aluminum alternative. Or a first choice?

Trustworthy is the name of Tumi’s game. When a brand puts every single design through a painstaking testing process (each bag is put through 30 unique rigorous tests), you know its suitcases have the potential to be long-term travel companions.

Although not quite the aluminium connoisseurs Rimowa are, Tumi is famous for using premium materials and moulding them into exceptional quality suitcases.

Aluminum suitcase Tumi

19 Degree Aluminium Large Extended Trip Packing Case in silver, £1045.00, Tumi

Tumi only offers one aluminium collection, but boy it’s a good one. Its 19 Degree Aluminium range mesmerises with its fluid ripples and satin aluminium shell, making Rimowa’s retro grooves look a little dated.

A striking balance of strength and sophistication, these suitcases benefit from the durability and robustness aluminium is so renowned for. But what differentiates them to the Topas? Attention to detail. Another factor, aside from quality, that Tumi is obsessed with.

It’s the little things, such as a hanger bracket, extra interior packing pockets and leather touchpoints that Tumi aficionados are fans of. Further praises for the 19 Degree collection from satisfied customers include stable side handles. Huh? The handles slowly retract back to position after use (instead of noisily flapping around as Rimowa’s do), plus they are cased in a soft and luxurious leather.

The telescopic handle is additionally shaped like rounded triangles to avoid bending. These luxury features may seem subtle, but for Tumi devotees, they give the brand its edge over competitors.

Aluminum suitcase Tumi - details

Two TSA locks and leather clad touchpoints make nice finishing touches for the 19 Degree Aluminium

The Lowdown:

Price: £1045.00

Dimensions: 77.5cm/52cm/ 28cm

Volume: 84L

Weight: 7.3kg

Warranty: 5 years

Wheels: 4 dual-spinning recessed wheels

Lock: 2 TSA integrated combination locks with push button to open

Internal features: 3 zip pockets, tie-down straps & hanger bracket

Standout features: Striking ripple design, leather lined touchpoints, thoughtful engineering

Conclusion: Which Aluminium Suitcase is Best?

So, which aluminium case wins? Well, the results are subjective and down to personal preference.

Boring… why can’t you just say which is the winner? O

OK Rimowa, there, we said it. It’s been featured in over 250 films for goodness sake (Live Free, Die Hard and Air Force One if you’re wondering). Tumi’s gorgeous ripples are striking, but Rimowa’s vintage aircraft grooves are famous across the globe. From the arctic circle to the Amazon rainforest, the Topas’ aluminium shell protects in all climates. Couple this with wheels made in heaven, a lighter 6.7kg weight and a cheaper price. Oh, and the E-Tag technology makes you feel like a character in a futuristic spy film. Need we say more?

But if you’re a stickler for small details, then Tumi’s leather lined handles, superior packing facilities and ergonomically shaped telescopic handle will certainly tip the scales in their favour. The 19 Degree Aluminium cases also offer more volume (6 litres more than the Topas), better organisation features and first-class security thanks to its two TSA locks (compared to Rimowa’s one).

Topas or 19 Degree Aluminium – which do you prefer? To view all of our hard-sided suitcases, click here.