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Plane Restrictions (TSA Rules) to Consider Before Leaving for Your Thru-Hike

It's always important to check the most current TSA rules before traveling, especially if you are flying with your backpack and gear to get to the start of your thru-hiking or backpacking destination. This article should only be considered as a general guideline and reminder for what to check before flying to your thru-hiking or backpacking destination.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       7/19/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
7/19/2021
a pile of different lighters on a table

Lighters

Disposable and Zippo lighters are allowed in carry on bags.

Disposable lighters with fuel are allowed in checked bags if they adhere to the Department of Transportation exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case.

Carry On Bags: Yes

Checked Bags: Yes with restrictions

pile of multiple different types of tent stakes

Tent Stakes & Tent Poles

Tent stakes and poles are not allowed in carry on bags. However, they are allowed in checked baggage. Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent any injuries.

Carry on Bags: No

Checked Bags: Yes

hiking poles leaning against a wall

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles are not allowed on carry on bags. However, they are allowed in checked baggage. Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury.

Carry on Bags: No

Checked Bags: Yes

knives laying on scale

Pocket Knife

Sharp items like a pocket knife can be packed in your checked baggage, but are not allowed in your carry on bags (no matter how small they are). Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury.

Carry on Bags: No

Checked Bags: Yes

Three different brands of fuel canisters.

Stove Fuel

Stove fuel is not allowed in carry on baggage or checked luggage. If you are using a stove on your thru-hike or backpacking trip you will need to pick up fuel at your destination.

Carry on Bags: No

Checked Bags: No

a photo of power banks on a desk

Battery Power Banks

Battery power banks or portable chargers containing a lithium ion battery must be packed in carry on bags. Lithium ion batteries cannot be packed in checked bags.

Carry On Bags: Yes

Checked Bags: No

A can of bear spray with with an arrow pointing to how many ounces are in the can

Bear Spray

Bear spray is not allowed in carry on baggage or checked luggage. If you are using bear spray on your thru-hike or backpacking trip you will need to pick up at your destination.

Carry On Bags: No

Checked Bags: No

multiple travel sized bottles of shampoo, mouthwash, and soap

Liquids Rule

You are allowed to bring liquids, gels, creams, aerosols, and pastes in a quart sized bag in your carry on. Each container in the quart sized bag is limited to travel size of 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less. If you have a larger than 3.4 ounce (100 ml) container then it must be packed in with the checked baggage. (It is the size of the container not the amount of liquid that counts.)

Carry On Bags: Yes with restrictions

Checked Bags: Yes

Summary

When you get ready to leave for a thru-hike or a backpacking trip, you have to prepare all of your gear and make sure you pack everything you need to take with you on your trip. However, if you have to fly to your thru-hiking/backpacking destination, then you need to make sure everything you packed is allowed on an airplane, whether that be in carry on or checked baggage.

It is important that you check with the most current TSA rules prior to flying. This article should only be considered as a general guideline.


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Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

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About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 90 guides for trails around the world.