Better late then never... Here are mine and my Girlfriend's collection:
- Rimowa Salsa .70 (Made in Canada)
- Rimowa Salsa Deluxe .63 (Made in Czech Republic)
- Rimowa Topas IATA (2013, Made in Germany)
- Rimowa Topas IATA (2010, Made in Germany)
and here are my thoughts...
There's always an ongoing debate between Rimowa fanatics over polycarbonate vs aluminium for checked in luggage. I for one will give you my opinion based on my own personal experience from owning and using them. I've had the Rimowa Salsa .70 for nearly six years now. It's been around the world, UK to USA and back over a dozen trips. UK to Western Europe and UK to Asia (Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore etc.) countless times. I can tell you now it has never ever caused me any problems from all the airports I have departed from and arrived at. Admittedly there are minor surface scratches on the case, but I have not experienced any cracks or missing wheels *touch wood*. The only thing that has happened during its six year service is a single hub cap popping off - an aesthetic problem that did not impede the functionality of the suitcase. This was instantly and freely replaced by an authorised Rimowa workshop in the UK. As you can see the photos above speak for themselves.
The Rimowa Salsa Deluxe is my Girlfriend's main suitcase, which she uses frequently on her business trips from UK/Taiwan to China (Beijing, Shanghai, Ghaungzhou, plus a few other remote cities), Vietnam and Thailand along with her recently acquired Topas IATA. Despite the abusive baggage handlers you see featured in videos on YouTube from these aforementioned city/country airports (and others across the world, let's not discriminate now), she hasn't experienced anything severe that would affect the functionality or performance of the suitcase. There are your usual scratches but nothing more.
My thoughts on polycarbonates cracking is I believe that they often occur when the case is half full. For example, when it's full at least inside there is cushioning/padding, when half full, it's almost hollow and has some empty space, therefore when it is dropped or something heavy lands on it, the force isn't absorbed and distributed as efficiently or effectively as if it were full.
Personally, and this is my own opinion, I would only use the Topas for a carry on. There are pros and cons to owning either but I have formulated my opinion based on the following. The polycarbonate has some "give" so you can really cram your suitcase if you so wish, plus there's the weight advantage. I've used the Topas IATA for European weekend city breaks and trying to cram things in, is actually impossible as there is no give. Further cons of the aluminium Topas is that sometimes if the damage is too severe, the main structure of the case can be compromised, which means you can no longer shut the suitcase, this of course is repairable, but if you've just landed at your destination, on holiday and there's no nearby Rimowa workshop, you're pretty much screwed on your return leg. Which is why I have only purchased the IATA carry on versions. The trade off with the polycarbonate is of course it can crack, a simple temporary fix on the go is to use duct tape but there's no permanent fix. Also it is prone to the pen in the zip trick attack, but it is made a little trickier due to the fact that the zips remain immobile when locked, due to the TSA locking mechanism - giving it a one up from your usual padlock through the zippers.
As for the Limbo, my Girlfriend is seriously considering purchasing one herself, she would like a bigger case for longer trips because the .63 doesn't really cut it for anything over 10 days. I would also like to see how it performs (combination of Topas locking mechanism, aluminium lid lip and reinforced corners, with a polycarbonate shell) against the Salsa series when it comes to checked in luggage.
My final comments are, if you do decide to get a Topas, do not bother with the Topas Stealth, carry on or check-in. I was close to getting the Topas Stealth IATA and passing my one down to the Girlfriend, but the problem is it's anodised aluminium, and as you can see (like with the iPhone 5), when scratched it reveals the silver aluminium underneath. Something you can get away with, with the regular Topas. Rather than looking sleek and stealthy, it starts to look shabby very quickly. Additionally, when it comes to checked in luggage, especially large checked in luggage, multi-wheels; do not settle for anything with less than four wheels.Edited by rirawin - 8/24/13 at 11:49pm