Camping Gear - Will It Fly?

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If you want to camp out of state you might need to fly there. But I was wondering how you could take your camping gear on the airplane. So I did some research on it.

If you wish to take your own tent and other camping gear, plan on putting it in checked luggage. This is also true for any knives, saws, and axes. If you take firearms, they need to be unloaded and checked in a hard-sided container and declared. If you wish to take your backpack on the airplane as carry-on luggage, it must comply with the airline’s carry-on size limit rules.

We will now cover all of the ways to get your gear to your camping destination if you must fly to get there.

Your Gear Needs To Be In Checked-Luggage

We all have a bucket list of campsites. And I’m sure at least one of them is a plane trip away. This means you will need to figure out how to have camping gear for your trip. With this in mind, you have to understand the airplane rules. The simplest rule would be to check everything. This way you don’t have to worry about what you can carry and what you need to check. Above all make sure that you pay attention to your knives and any firearms that you are taking with you. Including any ammunition. I had a friend lose his TSA Pre-Check for a year because he forgot he had put some extra bullets on a hunting trip in his duffel bag.

Only Pack What You Need

If you are going on a backpacking trip, you are already used to packing light. If you typically car camp then you will be accustomed to packing as much as your car can carry. Packing for a plane trip means you need to re-evaluate what you need. Besides camping, my wife and I love to take cruise vacations. When we first went on our cruises, we took 4 large suitcases. Now, after 12 cruises, we’re down to a single large suite-case. You will want to do similar inventory control on your camping gear.

Pack Your Knives

A full-tang knife, a pocket-knife or multi-tool and a saw are essential camping tools. Heck, I had a buddy once get lost with friends in a forest. All he had was his pocket knife. But they found some flint. And made a campfire. His girlfriend was not happy with him. But it shows the importance of basic skills and a knife. And while I would be happy to rent a tent while at the campground, I would want my personal knife with me. And per per this article, it is possible. Don’t forget about your pocket-knife. If you carry one (or a multi-tool with a blade) as part of your Everyday Carry don’t forget to check it before you go through security at the airport. Otherwise, you will be forced to leave it behind.

Declare Your Firearms

Per the TSA, “You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only.” But also make sure that you are complying with the local laws where you are traveling to. And as I mentioned earlier, don’t forget about checking your carry-on bags for any forgotten ammunition. One of my friends forgot about the extra ammo he had taken hunting in his duffel. And it was a hassle at the TSA screening. Plus he lost his TSA Pre status for at least a year.

Pack Your Stove With Care

You can bring your camping stove with you on carry-on or checked luggage. You need to make sure the stove is empty and clean of all fuels. However, you can, of course, not bring fuel with you. And in theory, you could bring an empty fuel bottle with you. And have it fueled once you get to your destination. However, there’s still a chance the TSA or the airline is not going to believe that the fuel canister is empty. And thus your bottle will not be flying with you. Thus you should consider picking up a fuel bottle at your destination. Read this article to learn more.

Ship Your Gear

I travel frequently for business. In the past twenty years, I have flown over a million miles on American Airlines. And I have checked many bags. What I know is that checking bags is never fun. And of course, there’s always a chance of it being lost. In particular, if you find yourself switching airplanes. I remember one time I flew to South Bend, Indiana. I switched airplanes in Chicago. If I had I had to do it again, I would have flown to Chicago and driven because it was only a couple of hours drive. But anyway, I flew. It was a small but full turboprop. As we pulled back from the gate, a gentleman behind me said: “Look there are our bags.” And sure enough, when we landed, the agent at the baggage claim told us that the airline would bus in our bags in the morning. Thus, I would recommend that you plan ahead and ship the gear. Ideally, send it to a friend. However, if that’s not possible, book a room at a hotel. And ship it there. Make sure that you require a signature.

Borrow And Share Gear

If you are going on a camping trip with friends, consider sharing gear. Remember, every ounce you can save on what you need to ship will save you money and hassle. So if normally you take your own individual tents, you can share one. Same thing for other equipment like stoves, cooking utensils, and saws or other large cutting tools.

Buy It When You Get There

The best way to save weight and space is to not ship it at all. There is always gear you need to replace in between trips. This would be things like batteries. While batteries don’t take up much room, we’re trying to do everything here to save weight. Thus consider buying your replacement gear once you get there. However, if you think it’s going to be more expensive (for example, when visiting Yellowstone), consider buying on Amazon and having it shipped to an Amazon locker at the location.

Rent Your Gear

Before shipping, buying or having to share a tent with your BFF who snores like an elephant, consider renting your gear. Buying camping equipment is often better because much of it lasts for several trips. However, if you don’t want to stress about the shipping. This is, in particular, true if you need specialized equipment. For example, if you need an expedition tent to camp in the snow on a mountain when back home you only need a three-season tent. Stores such as REI will allow you to rent camping gear.