Photo: Jesse Adams

This Luxury Suitcase Is Made From Airplane-Grade Aluminum

Technology + Gear
by Morgane Croissant Dec 18, 2023

We hope you love the luggage we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to make a purchase. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

A piece of luggage is much more than a movable container for your stuff, it’s a fashion accessory. And while it’s nothing new (Louis Vuitton’s famous trunks have been going strong since the mid-19th century), beautiful luggage is going through a serious revival and travelers are here for it.

Today, there is luggage for every traveler out there — from SteamLine’s yellow leather hat boxes to Roam’s design-it-yourself colorful cases and everything in between — but if you’re all about understated yet eye-catching slickness and elegance, you won’t find anything better than Sterling Pacific’s offerings. Its aluminum travel cases will turn you into the most stylish traveler in every airport you visit, even if you’re wearing sweats — it’s that powerful.

It’s partly because no other type of suitcases are currently more trendy than aluminum cases. Luxury German brand Rimowa has been making aluminum cases since 1937, but it’s the Aluminum Edition of the New-York-based luggage brand Away, created in 2018, that popularized the style by making metal cases more affordable. (Rimowa’s cheapest aluminum carry-on costs $1,430 while Away costs $625 at the time of writing). Sterling Pacific came out with its line of aluminum suitcases in 2021, seemingly late in the game, but it quickly pulled off the difficult feat of distinguishing itself from other brands by focusing on making every piece a functional piece of art. A near-indestructible piece of functional art, to be precise.

Sterling Pacific luggage: the basics

Sterling Pacific only has two different pieces of luggage for sale: the 35L Cabin Travel Case and the 80L Check-in Travel Case. The brand is hyper focused on these two cases, striving to make every single piece they produce absolutely perfect. And they are succeeding.

The specs

Sterling Pacific’s 80L Check-in Travel Case:

  • Dimensions in inches: 33 x 20 x 9
  • Volume in liters: 80
  • Weigh in pounds: 16.5
  • Price in USD: $2,450

Sterling Pacific’s 35L Cabin Travel Case:

  • Dimensions in inches: 22.5 x 14 x 8.5
  • Volume in liters: 35
  • Weigh in pounds: 11.5
  • Price in USD: $1,950

I have tested Sterling Pacific’s 35L Cabin Travel Case on five different flights, and despite being described as the “maximum allowable carry-on size on major American airlines” on the brand’s website, I can attest that it fits in the overhead bin compartments of international aircrafts, even European ones.

The exterior appearance

Where Rimowa and Away’s luggage are a lustreless silver color, Sterling Pacific’s has a beautiful highly polished finish that you expect from high-end metal objects. If you’re going to buy an expensive aluminum suitcase, you don’t want a dull one; you want one that will catch the eye of other travelers for all the right reasons, and Sterling Pacific certainly delivers.

Front and side views of Sterling Pacific's 35L Cabin Travel Case

Photo: Jesse Adams

The shape of Sterling Pacific’s cases is also different from what other brands offer. While Rimowa and Away’s cases have more curvy, squat, and chunky appearances, Sterling Pacific’s are slimmer and have sharper angles, making for a more elegant style.

Pacific Sterling luggage

Photo: Jesse Adams

Sterling Pacific’s cases have a more pared-back look than its competitors’ cases with fewer grooves and a stronger focus on visible quality and durability with polished rivets and shiny reinforced corners. The brand and the logo are visible on the front of the case, but it’s all very subtle, taking nothing away from the overall minimalist appearance.

The top and side handles, as well as the trolley handle, are made from extremely durable, yet soft, Italian leather — another distinguishing characteristic that allows the brand to stand out from the competition.

The only issue with having a suitcase that looks so beautiful and slick is that you absolutely don’t want to get it gate-checked and possibly damaged. (Although, the aluminum is such high quality that it would have to be violently thrown around to get dinged.)

The interior appearance

What makes Sterling Pacific’s slim look possible is the fact that only one side of the case is made for storing your belongings, while the other side acts as a sort of lid. It’s a change from what travelers are used to, but it does not impact the case’s capacity. You can carry just as much in Sterling Pacific’s 35L Cabin Travel Case as in Rimowa’s Original or Classic Cabin case or Away’s Carry-On. This style of case is a nod to retro suitcases and means that the lid always stands upright when the case is open.

Pacific Sterling luggage

Photo: Jesse Adams

Inside, the lid of the case houses a small mesh compartment for small items, while the larger storing section has criss-cross straps with shiny buckles to hold your belongings in place.

Sterling Pacific luggage, inside the 35L Cabin Travel Case

Photo: Jesse Adams

The lining of the case is brown, matching the color of the aforementioned leather handles, making the entire presentation very coherent.

Branding is a significant part of Sterling Pacific’s aesthetics and you’ll find the brand’s name and logo in leather inside the lid of the case, as well as on the buckles of the criss-cross straps.

Sterling Pacific luggage: The stand-out features

Impeccable appearance aside, Sterling Pacific’s 35L Cabin Travel Case is also a solid and practical piece of luggage. The two large recessed wheels run extremely smoothly, even as I pulled the case over the uneven cobblestoned streets of Rome. I was not worried about damaging the luggage and I never had to carry it with the handle to make things easier. Another exceptional feature is the trolley handle made of solid aluminum and retractable thanks to a button. Just like the wheels, using the trolley is an effortless process — the trolley handle goes up and down smoothly and without a snag.

Photo: Jesse Adams
Photo: Jesse Adams

Sterling Pacific’s 35L Cabin Travel Case is undeniably sturdy and made with durability in mind. The case is constructed with corrosion-resistant and extremely strong aluminum used in the aviation industry, stainless steel rivets, and the corners are reinforced with more high-quality aluminum. While this won’t protect it from dents and scuffs when thrown around by airport belts and baggage handlers, it promises to last.

Sterling Pacific luggage: What could be improved upon

While it’s hard to find anything wrong with this first-rate piece of luggage (besides the hefty price tag), there’s one thing that could be improved upon: the wheels. While they run without a hitch, having two recessed wheels means that you always have to pull the case behind you. Four independent swivelling wheels is a more standard design nowadays and it’s one that would improve the ease of use of this particular piece of luggage, allowing travelers to push the case alongside them when needed. Such a change would, of course, impact the overall appearance and the size of the luggage, however.

Buy Now

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.