Survival Guide to Flying with Gear

"The Alps and the Journey (121/365, 17/52)" by Kat

It’s Spring Break and some of you might be hopping on a plane to get to your destination. If you are, there are some special things you’ll need to prepare for with your camping equipment so you get there in one piece with everything you need.

Know that you’ll have to take off your shoes top go through security. Pack your hiking boots and wear sandals or slip-ons that will be easy to remove.

As a general rule of thumb, anything that could explode isn’t allowed on a plane, either carry-on or checked baggage. That means no fuel or insecticides or flares. Anything that could be used to injure someone, from a trowel to bear mace, should go in checked baggage. You can get away with taking almost everything else on the plane.

There are two schools of thought regarding checked bags, assuming that you have nothing you won’t be allowed to carry on the plane. Some like the idea of checking luggage through and having hands free while boarding, flying, and getting off the plane. Passengers with wheelie bags and giant duffles will gaze at you enviously as you saunter off with your Kavu bag and a smile.

Others hate the idea of waiting for the bag on arrival, not to mention the chance of having luggage go astray. Those who are waiting at the bag carousel will be just as envious as you saunter off to have fun while they watch luggage go around and around… and around…

Checked baggage can also get damaged easily during baggage handling. Straps can easily get caught in conveyer belts. There are a few strategies for protecting your pack, depending on what kind of chances you want to take, your budget, and your idea of easy.

One solution is to strap everything down as tight as possible, tuck away every hanging strap in your pack, and send it down checked baggage. Of course, there’s always the possibility that your pack will come out the other end completely toasted, roasted, and otherwise destroyed.

The low budget solution is to wrap your pack in plastic wrap and tape it up. The problem with this is that TSA officials need to be able to inspect your pack easily, so they may cut it open and your work will go to waste. You’ll also need to take supplies with you to do the same on the way back. If you do decide to use this method, be sure to plan ahead and leave access for someone to inspect your pack.

The easiest solution is to put your pack inside of a large duffle and check it all. The duffel takes the beating and leaves your pack safe and sound. You can even pack your pack at the trailhead instead of doing it before and having to repack it all after an inspection. Army surplus bags are great for this job because they’re cheap compared to other high quality luggage and are designed to take a beating. And with a duffel, you have extra room for bringing back souvenirs or extra gear you pick up along the way.

We have army surplus bags in our store so come by and see what works for you.

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