Camping can be a cozy event or the trip of a lifetime! It all depends on the type of camping you prefer. Would you rather safely drive 26 miles South of your house and set up shop in a nice, familiar camping ground? Or, are you the type of person who’d rather go camping and scale Mt. Everest at the same time? Okay, it doesn’t have to be Mt. Everest… but you get the picture.
The point is, if you’re the latter of the two, you’re going to have to fly to get there. And, when flying meets camping, there are a whole new set of preparations that have to come into play.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy list of all the do’s, don’ts, haves, and have-nots of “camp gear flying”.
So what gear can you take on an airplane? We will give you the rundown of the typical things you can take on a plane including steps to confirm with the TSA as their policies can change pretty regularly.
What you Need to Know
Call your airline or TSA (You can reach TSA’s Contact Center at 866.289.9673, Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 11:00 pm and Weekends 9:00 am – 8:00 pm). Check to see what they will, and will not, allow on your flight. Be prepared to have to rent a few things at your campsite or on your way, and make sure to do some research to see where you can purchase them.
We will also have a comprehensive list that covers all the basic have’s and have-nots at the end of this article.
Pack lightly. If you pack a dense bag, chances are, they won’t let you bring it as a carry-on bag. That means any necessities you’ve packed in that bag are isolated until you reach your destination.
Pack light clothing, and cut the amount possibly in half. Bring a travel-size detergent with you in case your clothes get too dirty. Extra socks will be your saving grace. Try to pack only the necessities, and use travel or mini-sized items whenever possible.
These can include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, detergent, or multi-purpose soap – this is great for multiple uses from hair-to-dishes-to-body-clothes. Hint; Micro-fiber towels of, any kind and variety, will be your best friend.
Sometimes, however, even when you pack your bag lightly, it is still a jumbled, loose mess of stuff. To avoid this cluster-mess, experts suggest using a compression sack, or multiple, inside of your actual bag. This allows for optimal space and less joggling.
As for food, freeze-dried foods and plenty of water should be your go-to. Those and small packs of trails mix, peanuts, and dried fruits. Be careful with freeze-dried meals though. Some are named better than they taste.
Also, there will probably be types of meat, fruit, and vegetables you can catch or buy around the area you will be staying, so don’t cross your cookware off just yet.
Your tent gear should be as light as your bag… or almost. Try getting a tent with lightweight equipment such as stainless steel or aluminum poles and polyester fabric. These are both lightweight and durable materials that can sustain in almost any weather.
Here are some of my all-time favorites:
- Marmot Catalyst Tent
This tent is lightweight with its HD Velocity aluminum poles and PU Polyester taffeta fly and floor. Aside from these luxurious amenities, it also includes opaque walls or ‘no-see-um walls’, lampshade illumination pocket, and an included footprint. This is a perfect tent for braving heavy storms and even some winter weather.
- Wenzel Eldorado
This tent might not be so great for braving hail and winter storms, but if you’ve got a big family coming along for the flight, this is a great pick! This 10-person tent comes with a shock-corded fiberglass frame and steel uprights, making this monstrosity a breeze to set-up, take-down, and bring on a plane!
- Heimplanet The Cave Tent
If you’re willing to go the extra mile (and the extra buck), this tent is definitely more than worth it! This inflatable tent is super-lightweight, fits up to three people, and doesn’t even need poles! Not to mention, the inside is stuffed with plenty of pockets for your belongings and goodies.
- Big Agnes Titan mtnGLO Tent Package
This four-person tent is made entirely from polyester – polyester taffeta with 1500 waterproof PU coating, polyester mesh screen siding, and the fly is polyester ripstop waterproof PU coating. This tent is super-special, too. Not only is it lightweight, its got led illumination lights to light up your night!
Now you’ve got everything ready for your camping trip, and you’re prepared to get up and go, right? Wrong! You still have to make sure that all your baggage is packed the right way. Otherwise, you may miss your flight because of the spider repellent hidden behind a pair of half dirty socks!
The Haves and The Have-Nots
Not only do you need to know what not to take on, but you have to know where to pack it. Depending on what you bring, not all of it may be allowed in carry-on bags. This means you may have to pack it up in your checked luggage.
To make this a little easier, we’ve added this nice little list for you to follow. If you need more information, contact your airline or the TSA Contact Center.
The TSA does not regulate the size of your backpack so, if you’re taking it as a carry-on, be sure to bring it in a container or a durable plastic bag or sack so that it doesn’t get caught in the conveyor belts.
Crampons and Pickaxes
Crampons are permitted in both carry-on and checked bags, however, pickaxes are only allowed in checked baggage.
Trekking and Hiking Poles
These are best put in checked luggage, as they aren’t permitted in carry-on bags.
You can bring some chemical repellents in your checked luggage, so long as they follow the ‘liquid rule’. This means that the volume must be less than four oz. and contains less than 2% of the active ingredient, usually either CS or CN.
So, if you’re planning on needing bear repellent, we suggest doing some research to ensure they sell it near where you’ll be staying because bringing this on a plane is a no-go.
Experts suggest not risking it, buying the repellents during your stay, and leaving them behind when you take your leave.
These are actually permitted in your carry-on and checked baggage. However, the liquid rule still applies when traveling with these.
Most insecticides, including ant killers, cockroach killers, spider killers, etc., are not permitted in either luggage and should be purchased at your destination.
Surprisingly, you can bring these along in either your carry-on or checked bags! However, we don’t suggest bringing one that’s already been used, because it is not permitted if it’s emitting fuel fumes.
This is also a surprising one. However, though the stoves (minus any residue) are allowed, propane tanks are prohibited. Therefore, make sure there will be propane tanks available for you near your destination if you’re bringing a propane stove.
However, you are permitted to bring along empty propane or gas cylinders, so long as there are no residue or fumes.
Camping Fuel, Burning Paste, and Gel Fire-Starter
Don’t bother trying, these are prohibited from both carry-on and checked luggage. We suggest looking into variations that you can buy at your destination.
Flare guns are allowed in checked luggage only. Be prepared to declare these the same way you would a firearm. TSA provides no exceptions for the difference between flare guns and regular guns.
Fishing Rods, Poles, and Tackle
If you’re planning on fishing during your getaway, you are allowed to bring these in your carry-on. However, we strongly recommend calling up your airline beforehand to ensure the pole doesn’t exceed their size limits, as every airline is slightly different. Tackle and tools are okay to bring in your carry-on as well, so long as they are under seven inches in length.
There are many reasons you may want to bring dry ice on your long trip. You can use it in your cooler to keep your food fresh, or you can make your very own fog machine in the middle of nowhere, blast some music, and rock out! It’s entirely up to you. Thankfully, TSA allows dry ice in both carry-on and checked luggage.
Spear guns, quite obviously, aren’t permitted as a carry-on. However, you can check them into the belly of the plane with the rest of your checked luggage. Just make sure you safely cover the tip so it doesn’t poke through anything… or anyone!
Bows and Arrows
As with spear guns, these need to be checked in the belly of the plane. Also as with spear guns, make sure your arrow tips are covered so they don’t do any damage.
Regular lighters, such as Bics, are permitted in your carry-on. However, torch lighters are still prohibited from both carry-on and checked luggage.
FFA Safety Regulations state that safety matches are permitted one pack per passenger. This means that, if you have three people in your group, you can have one pack of safety matches per person. No extra packs or loose matches are permitted.
Guns and Ammo
Guns and ammo are allowed in checked luggage so long as you follow the below guidelines:
- Comply with your local, state, and international gun possession and transportation laws. These vary by state, and what may be okay in your state, may not be okay in another state or country. Make sure to do some research to make sure you’re following all the rules.
- You can check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information regarding traveling internationally with your firearms. [ref. https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/u-s-customs-and-border-protection]
- Call your airline and ask about any restrictions or limitations, as these also vary by airline, local, and state regulations.
- Claim each firearm each time it is presented as checked luggage.
- According to law, firearms must be unloaded and sealed in an airtight, hard-sided case, as well as the ammunition. It’s okay to keep the ammo in the same hard-sided case, however, it must remain unloaded. Ammo is also only permitted in checked luggage.
- Only you, except when requested by a TSA Agent, should retain the key or combination to the lock for your firearm.
- Any firearm parts including clips, magazines, and pins, are prohibited in the cabin but are allowed in checked bags, so long as they are sealed and locked up.
- Replica firearms are only permitted in checked baggage.
- Riflescopes are permitted in both checked and carry-on bags.
- Small arms ammunition, including any ammunition under .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same case as your firearm, so long as they are not loaded.
Such as with firearms, there are some rules and regulations when it comes to batteries. Some types of batteries are prohibited from transport, while others are only permitted in checked luggage.
Here’s a list of some of the most common types of batteries, if you can transport them, and how to do so:
- Dry cell alkaline batteries such as A, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, button-sized cells, etc.
- Dry cell rechargeable batteries such as Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel Cadmium (NiCad).
- Lithium-ion batteries such as rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, and secondary lithium.
- Consumer-sized lithium-ion batteries that are no more than 8 grams of equivalent lithium content or 100-watt hours (wh) per battery. This covers AA, AAA, 9-volt, cell phones, PDA, camera, camcorder, Gameboy, and standard laptop computer batteries.
- You are also allowed up to two larger batteries in your carry-on (more than 8 grams of equivalent lithium content, up to 25 grams of lithium content per battery). This size covers larger extended-life batteries, such as for your laptop. However, most lithium batteries are below this size.
- Lithium metal batteries such as non-rechargeable lithium and primary lithium, are also permitted in carry-on bags. These batteries are mainly used with electronics, such cameras, camcorders, and mp3players. Consumer-sized batteries (up to 2 grams of lithium per battery) can be carried on. This includes all the typical forms of batteries used, such as AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc., as well as the flat, round lithium button cells.
- Except for spare (not in use) lithium batteries, all batteries allowed in carry-on bags are also permitted in checked luggage. However, it is highly recommended that you either pack them in your carry-on, if possible or individually ziplock or place each battery separately in a container, taping over the contact points. This prevents short-circuiting hazards and leaked battery acid accidents.
- Car batteries, wet batteries, and spillable batteries (used in cars, motorcycles, and powered scooters and wheelchairs) are prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage. However, TSA does make exceptions for those passengers using battery-powered scooters and wheelchairs. If this is the case, and you need to pack an extra battery and charger for your wheelchair or scooter, make sure to advise the aircraft operator so that your battery and charger may be properly packaged and stored to prevent hazards.
- Make sure, if your charger or battery has an on/off switch, that you tape the switch to “Off” to prevent it accidentally turning on during the flight.
- If your charger has a cord, make sure that it is safely and tightly wrapper, and maybe even taped, around the charger.
- Do not pack regular batteries near or in a rechargeable battery charger. Non-rechargeable batteries were not designed to be charged and may cause potential hazards if placed too close.
- Spare lithium batteries, both lithium metal and ion/polymer, are prohibited in checked luggage.
There are plenty of different types of hand warmers to choose from and, if you’re visiting somewhere cold for your getaway, they’re definitely a must. However, there are some restrictions when it comes to bringing hand warmers on a plane, depending on the type of hand warmers you decide to bring. Let this be your guide to determining the best hand warmers for both your vacation and an easy flight:
Air-Activated Hand Warmers
These are the most commonly used since they are easy and disposable. They activate as soon as you open the package and expose them to air, and last for up to two hours (so be sure to pack a few). Why? Because these are permitted in both carry-on and checked luggage, that’s why!
Battery-Powered Hand Warmers
Battery-powered hand warmers are a close second to popular choices since they are permitted in both carry-on and checked luggage. These use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are permitted in the cabin, and last for up to six hours.
Crystallization Hand Warmers
All you have to do to activate these hand warmers are flex and squeeze. These can be packed in either carry-on or checked luggage, so long as they follow the liquid rule or 3-1-1 rule (3.4 oz. or less – 1 qt. sized or clear, ziplock bag, – 1 bag per person). These can last up to an hour and, theory suggests that, if you boil them, they become reusable! So there’s something to try.
Lighter Fuel Hand Warmers
These hand warmers are permitted in both carry-on and checked bags. However, there must be no fuel residue or vapors if you’re going to check them. If they contain fuel or vapors, you must seal them in an airtight container with a DOT to mark it for the agents. Unfortunately, lighter fuel itself is prohibited from travel, so make sure it’s available for purchase at your destination. It may be worth it though because these hand warmers last for up to six hours!
Liquid Gels and Aerosols
Experts suggest trying to pack all liquids, gels, and aerosols in your checked luggage. This way, you don’t have to worry about the liquid, or 3-1-1, rule. If you are unable to do so, here are some tips on packing liquids in your carry-on bags:
- If you’re worried about leaks and spills, place them in an airtight case or ziplock bag. You can even pack them individually; inside the larger bag since you’re only permitted one quart-sized bag; so that, if one leak, the other items aren’t affected.
- Make sure to take container or bag out prior to sending your bag through the X-ray machine.
Here are some necessities you may be thinking of right now, and how to pack them up for travel.
Stick deodorant does not fall under the 3-1-1 rule. However, gel and spray deodorant does, so if you’re packing these types of deodorant, make sure they follow the liquid rule.
Powdered toothpaste is permitted in both carry-on and checked luggage. If you’re planning on bringing gel toothpaste, bring a mini-size just in case.
Suntan and Sunblock
Suntan and Sunblock sticks are permitted as usual. Lotions and sprays fall under the 3-1-1 rule, so it’s best to keep this in mind, rid yourself of the hassle, and just go with the sticks.
If you’ve got a favorite flight beverage, make sure it’s in a 3.4 oz. or less container and in the same baggie or container as the rest of your 3-1-1 items. Otherwise, all of your favorite beverages such as beer, soda, wine, juice, and liquor are permitted in your checked luggage.
Gel Inserts (for shoes)
Gel inserts are now permitted in both carry-on and checked luggage. No more sore feet after a long hike through the mountains. You’ll be walking on air!
If you’re packing things like dips, jams, spreads, jellies, etc. you’ll probably want to save those for your checked luggage or have them shipped, since these aren’t permitted in your carry-on bags.
Well, now you know the basics, need-to-knows and haves and have-nots of fly camping! All that’s left to do is everything I just mentioned, sit back, and enjoy your trip.
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