flying with gear

Posted by: toddfw2003

flying with gear - 07/11/17 04:13 PM

I know this has been brought up before. I am doing a 12 day backpacking trip in the Sawtooth Wilderness in Aug. Flying into Salt lake city. I am guessing getting a duffel bag, carrying pack on the plane and leaving all full canisters at home is the thing to do. What else cant I take on a plane? I
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: flying with gear - 07/11/17 05:56 PM

It's not so much what you can or cannot take on the plane, (except for fuel, which you can't take at all), but what must be checked and what can be carried on. This is as I understand it after a lot of reading: However, TSA keeps making rules stricter, so you'll want to check online.

Knives, tent stakes, trekking poles, and anything else with sharp points must be checked. If you try to take them through security, they'll be confiscated.

Oddly, lighters need to be carried on and not checked.

Water containers should be empty and dry. There also may be an issue with food in a carried-on pack.

Your stove should be thoroughly aired out so it doesn't smell of fuel.

Enjoy your hike--I know I speak for others here that we'd love to see a trip report afterwards!
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: flying with gear - 07/11/17 10:06 PM

We've carried on trekking poles, as long as they were folded up and inside a small carry-on suitcase. Not a problem.

But please bear in mind that TSA not only changes its guidelines regularly, they also give complete and total license to TSA staff at the security checkpoint to make their own determinations about anything that is a little bit out of the ordinary. I've seen the line held up for 30 minutes to explore an electric toothbrush....and I've carried through a stone knife made of flint with only a cursory discussion with the security guard.
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: flying with gear - 07/11/17 10:12 PM

I think I am going to just check in all my gear. Carry on my clothing. I wonder if I could ship all my gear to another REI
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: flying with gear - 07/11/17 10:35 PM

Here are TSA's rules for backpacking gear
Posted by: ndsol

Re: flying with gear - 07/16/17 07:33 AM

Here is what I do:

Wear or carryon:

1. Boots – Wear (Remove for WTMD or WBI)
2. Wallet
3. Lighter/Matches
4. Cameras / Electronics
5. Water Filter
6. Stove (Must be Clean; No Fuel)
7. Expensive Gear (Sleeping Bag, Tent depending on size)
8. Medicines
9. Jacket
10. No Liquids, Gels or Aerosols except in 3.4 oz containers or less, all of which must fit in 1 quart ziplock bag
11. No knives, hiking poles or fishing hooks

Checked (Max. 50 pounds):

1. Duffle Bag without wheels
2. Name and address on outside and inside
3. Food & Any Liquids (except for food you plan on eating on the plane)
4. Backpack
5. Clothing not worn
6. Knife, hiking poles and fishing hooks
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: flying with gear - 07/16/17 04:31 PM

Great idea. Thats what i am going to do. But will use pack,as carryon. I only,use a 38,liter pack
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: flying with gear - 07/16/17 05:46 PM

One more suggestion. When we fly to a hiking destination, we check a suitcase that is large enough to fit our backpack in it. That way, if we want to check all our bags on the way home, there is room for everything. For two of us, we often check a large suitcase with a small one inside---just so we have flexibility on the way back.

of course, we have kids that live in distant parts, so we're often figuring out how to take more than just luggage in one direction or the other.

And when I fly on business, I never check a bag. Ever. Backpacking has taught me to pack light...!
Posted by: coyotemaster

Re: flying with gear - 07/16/17 08:36 PM

A recent evening flying experience of mine had me sitting next to a college age guy that had a zrest pad and a paper bag as carry-ons. But he also brought mud from the Grand Canyon on his legs. He apparently had hiked out of the canyon that day and got to Phoenix by that evening to hop a plane to Boston, without taking a shower. I had to endure 6 1/2 hrs of 10 day stench sitting next to me.

He went right to sleep, but not I.
Posted by: toddfw2003

Re: flying with gear - 07/16/17 08:51 PM

This trip doesnt include a shower except for the last day. Will be in and around alpine lakes. If the water isnt too cold i will bath in it. Sorry for you having to sit next to a stinky guy
Posted by: BZH

Re: flying with gear - 07/17/17 11:49 AM

I've been guilty of this myself blush I went backpacking in the Superstition Wilderness and hopped a flight back to Los Angeles. I couldn't find a place to get a shower near the airport. I cleaned myself up as best I could at the airport bathroom and caked on the deodorant, but I apparently didn't do an adequate job. The lady next to me on the flight turned on my air full blast. I felt quite embarrassed.

It is a real challenge finding a place to shower in civilization. If you have status, some airport lounges have showers, but not all. Even if they do have one, you are not guaranteed a spot. You can buy access, but it is almost as much as paying for a hotel room just to use the shower. Does anyone else have pointers on finding a shower from afar? I know of places in my normal stomping ground in the Sierra, but finding places online is a challenge.
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: flying with gear - 07/17/17 12:21 PM

I have done a rather extensive sponge bath back in the wilderness or on a two track road where you can strip down, and heat water on your stove. A sample packet of shampoo works for hair and body. You can wash and rinse as long as you have enough water. Beats an airport bathroom.
Posted by: coyotemaster

Re: flying with gear - 07/18/17 06:40 PM

Truck stops?
A group could share the cost of a Motel 6 room just for everyone to clean up?

Trip to walmart for a pack of baby wipes and a bottle of rubbing alcohol to wash with; then to a McDonalds to occupy the stall and wipe down?

Then it occured to me! A membership in a National fitness club chain?
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: flying with gear - 08/05/17 12:01 PM

I realize I'm a little late on this one --- just got back from a somewhat long backpacking trip. But I wrote an article on this topic in February that might (?) offer something not already suggested:
Posted by: ndsol

Re: flying with gear - 08/15/17 11:10 PM

Brian, thanks for taking the time to write your article. I would like to clear a few items that are permitted to be carried on:

1. Tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers, that are seven inches or less in length.

2. Multi-tools that do not have a knife.

3. Sporks

4. Scissors - plastic or metal with blunt tips

5. Scissors - metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches in length
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: flying with gear - 08/16/17 12:43 PM

Some of these things, for me at least, start to get into a gray area of what I listed as the "push things a little" option. Regardless of what's listed as okay or not.

Because with TSA agents, we're dealing with individual human beings who, at least insofar as I have heard, aren't 100% consistent in enforcing the rules at all times and places. I think that it's possible to be "right" and still end up with a delay or even perhaps losing an item that should be acceptable.

So a multi-tool that doesn't have a knife blade nevertheless "looks" like a knife. And for that matter no doubt has hard steel and/or sharp bits. Similarly, I think that a plastic spork is pretty safe, but a metal one might --- *might* --- cause someone to look askance? The problem here is that unless you send out a small army of hikers across the country to do extensive testing and report back, we're left with personal impressions and occasional stories we read or hear about.

It all comes down to how much you want to just confidently sort of "fly underneath the radar" of possible security check options. Since I sometimes fly on a one-way ticket to some (longer distance) hiking trips, I'm inclined to do as little as possible to start to build a list of things that could make me seem worthy of extra attention!
Note also that if you're flying overseas to hike, you have to think about the rules in the country(s) you're flying to as well as those of the U.S.

All that said, a while back, I bought one of these and might fly with it on an upcoming hiking trip (Portuguese Camino). Because a scissors is generally more useful than a knife blade when backpacking anyway, at least for me.
Posted by: ndsol

Re: flying with gear - 08/18/17 01:33 PM

Yes, it all depends how much you want to assert your liberty. I don't mind doing so, but then again I am pretty well versed in the rules. The only thing that was ever stolen (and yes, I do mean stolen) was when a TSO took a legal knife from me without any opportunity for me to recheck it. That was not only violative of the rules, but it was emblazoned with the Continental logo as it was similar to the hundred that were doled out on any wide-body international flight. That logic was lost on the TSO.

The other issue has been photography, but I have certainly educated many a TSO on their SOP and eventually their supervisor understands the issue.

Right now we are in the lounge waiting for our next flight. Both my multi-tool and swiss army "knife" with no knife sailed through again. When they have questioned it, I note that they are making assumptions about what it is. Once they realize no knife is involved, it gets through without exception. Well over 100 times they have gone through security. If you want more than anecdotes, you can check out the Travel/Security forum at

Lastly, the rollout has begun for all electronics larger than a cell phone to be removed going through the security line, unless you have TSA Pre. We went through LAX during the trial period, but like today we ended up with TSA Pre so weren't subjected to the new rule.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: flying with gear - 08/24/17 06:38 PM

Two great things to know --- that your "no blade" multitool has gone through "well over 100 times" !! You clearly fly a lot. Anyway, this makes me more comfortable perhaps in taking mine on my next trip.

Ditto the TSA Pre thing --- I've got Nexus, which includes TSA Pre, so indeed that's "one less thing". Only useful on domestic flights, however. I don't fly a lot, but TSA Pre plus Global Entry (via whichever route you get them) are nice, the former for domestic, and the latter in coming back from overseas flights. I got mine via the Nexus approach because it was the cheapest option, plus it's a joint program with Canada and we do once in a great while drive into Canada, where access to the Nexus lane can sometimes save a fair bit of time.
Posted by: 41253

Re: flying with gear - 08/26/17 02:03 PM

My last two trips involved long drives after landing and a rigid permit schedule. I didn't want to deal with the wait or the risk of checking a bag. The only borderline items I had packed were tent stakes. I got to the airport early enough to check the bag if necessary but sailed through with everything in a carry-on.

My plan was to check the bag with all my gear if necessary but in retrospect I think that a smarter approach would be to either check just a small package containing only the stakes, or, better yet, bring cheap stakes that could be tossed at the checkpoint and pick up more cheap stakes on the other end if necessary. That would completely eliminate the risk of checking my main gear. I used an alcohol stove so stopped at Walmart after landing to pick up yellow Heet and the last of the food.
Posted by: bobito9

Re: flying with gear - 08/26/17 07:10 PM

I'm new to this topic and haven't read all the previous posts, so I apologize if I'm repeating anything anyone else has said. One problematic item that came up for me was trekking poles. I forget which airline it was, but they didn't permit trekking poles for carry on. For this reason, I have made sure to buy poles that telescope short enough to fit inside my checked backpack, and to always have rubber tips for them, to protect my backpack from damage. Interestingly, airlines no longer care about you bringing lighters on as carry-on, but don't want them in checked luggage.
Something else on this topic: I recently was on a backpacking vacation in Iceland and flew Air Iceland for an internal flight after my first backpack. As expected, they wouldn't let me bring a fuel cannister on the plane (I had a partial left over from the first hike and thought I would ask). This is a common problem for them, confiscating fuel from backpackers, but they had a cool way of dealing with it: they told me that when I arrived in my destination of Reykjavik, I could go up to the Customer Relations counter and get a replacement fuel from among ones confiscated from flyers there. Very smart and considerate of them! Imagine if we could do that for all the pocket knives we lose to the TSA here in the US! smile
Posted by: bob13bob

Re: flying with gear - 03/01/18 01:57 PM

why bother with this. just get duffels and check it in. It's what i do.
Posted by: 41253

Re: flying with gear - 03/02/18 06:07 PM

There are two problems with "just checking it:" First, fuel canisters aren't allowed in even checked baggage (with good reason!). I think that this applies to flammable alcohol as well. Second, I've had to wait a day or more to retrieve lost checked bags more than once over the years. It's a minor inconvenience if you are staying near the airport. It would be a disaster if you're flying into Las Vegas with a Grand Canyon permit starting the following night.