How to Pack Camping Gear for a Flight?

How to Pack Camping Gear for a Flight

Camping is all about going on an adventure and enjoying the beauty of nature. Sometimes there aren’t many great camping destinations near you to go around. Worry not, as air travel has made it possible for you to camp in the world’s best-camping destinations. If you are taking a flight to your next camping adventure, make sure you pack wisely.

Packing for a camping trip without any air travel has little to no restrictions. Whereas, packing for a camping trip involving air travel is a whole different story. Air travel makes packing for camping hard due to security rules and limited space. Even a seasoned camper will have trouble packing when taking a flight for a camping trip. I will give you some tips and guidelines, so you know how to pack camping gear for a flight.

How to Pack Camping Gear for a Flight

If you don’t want any delays or camping gear to be confiscated, follow the below-listed suggestions. These suggestions will help you pack without facing any trouble at the airport.

Light and Smart Packing Strategy

Air travel comes with a weight limit. You can only take luggage of limited weight and size. Check your ticket type to see how much your luggage can weigh. Taking more than the maximum allowed weight can cost you excessive fees. Before going to the airport, use a luggage scale to check the weight of your luggage

Follow the following tips to keep your luggage within the weight and size limit.

Carry only what you need

Do not bring unnecessary stuff. Pack the camping gear you are sure you will need on your camping trip. Minimize bringing the things that you think you might need.

Lightweight Gear

If you go on camping trips that involve air travel, it’s better to invest in lightweight camping gear. Get the smallest tent that suits your needs. Buy lightweight sleeping bags that get the job done. However, don’t compromise on the quality while getting lightweight camping gear.

Pack trekking poles and tent poles in the middle of checked bags. Pack clothing and sleeping pads around them for protection. Keep your water bottles empty and carry them in your carry on. You can fill them once you arrive. Make sure water filters are dry as water freezing in the membrane filter can ruin it.

Compression stuff sack can help you compress stuff you put in it, reducing the overall size. Pack stuff like sleeping bags and down jackets in compression sacks.

It is always a good idea to call the airline to find about the carry-on size and weight allowances. You don’t want to take an oversized or overweight backpack to the airport.

Wardrobe selection

Camping trips are all about practicality; there is not much room for style and fashion. You don’t need to wear different clothes every day on a camping trip. Pack clothes suitable for your camping trip. You can also wear layers of your clothes on your flight instead of packing them in luggage. If you are wearing cargo shorts, you can stuff small things in the pockets as well. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing and extra socks. It’s not a good idea to bring bulky clothes like jeans.

Food packing

Packing food is also a challenge. One-pot meals are a good option as they are easy to organize and make. Pack multipurpose cooking gear to save space. Another good option is not to bring any food; instead, buy camping food when you arrive. Just make sure that you can buy camp food there easily. Get a variety of freeze-dried meals after arriving so you don’t get tired of eating the same flavors.

Suitcase or Backpack?

If you are renting a car after arriving to drive to your destination, you can bring more stuff. You can just leave the extra stuff in the car. However, if you will be taking a taxi to the trailhead and don’t want to bring too much stuff. You can pack your backpack and take it as checked baggage.

If you are thinking about just taking the backpack, make sure it is secure and well tucked. Any hanging straps or attached stuff can get stuck and broken on luggage carousels. Your camping equipment in a backpack can also break while in transport. If you don’t want to take any risk, put your backpack in a duffel bag. After arriving, you can just fold down the duffle bag and tuck it in the backpack.

If you are car camping, then pack your camping equipment in a suitcase for added protection.

6 Things you can and Cannot Bring Onboard

One of the most frustrating things about air travel is the never-ending restrictions. There are certain things you cannot take with you at all. Whereas, somethings are allowed in carry-on while others in checked baggage only. The TSA website has a list of all such things. I have listed all such camping equipment here.

1. Fuel

You cannot bring any fuel. Even your camping stove needs to be free from fuel. Make sure that your camping stove is free from any fuel residue as well. All fuel-related things like camp fuel, burning paste, and gel fire starter are prohibited. You will have to arrange fuel after arriving. You can easily find fuel for alcohol stoves from any gas station. Whereas, for canisters and white gas, you will need to find an outfitter.

2. Matches

For starting a fire, you can bring BIC type lighters in your carry-on only. Similarly, you can bring only one book of safety matches in your carry-on. Or you can just buy one when you arrive; they are not hard to find.

3. Pocket Knife

A pocket knife comes very handy on camping trips, and you must take one as well. However, make sure you put the pocket knife in your checked baggage. If you normally carry a pocket knife on you, don’t forget to put it in checked baggage. Sharp things similar to pocket knives also need to be put in checked baggage.

4. Bear Spray and Aerosols

You are only allowed to bring 4 oz or less, mace spray. Bear sprays, on the other hand, are larger, and you cannot bring them. An aerosol is also not permitted in checked or carry-on. So, bring only liquid or pump sprays. However, they should be less than 3.4 oz.

5. Tent and Trekking Poles

You can bring your tent in both carry-on and checked baggage. However, tent stakes are only allowed in checked baggage. So, it is a good idea to pack all your tent in the checked baggage. If you are worried about damaging your tent poles, slide them in a PVC pipe and tape each end.

You might be able to take trekking poles as a carry-on. However, I advise against this as this is not allowed technically. Most TSA agents will make you check them. You will have to pay extra fees to check them at the gate. So, why take the risk.

6. Others Things You Cannot Bring Along

If you want to bring something, you are not sure whether it is permitted or not. Check the TSA website in such cases. You can use the TSA website’s search function to look at the rules about a particular item.

Other Tips

It is a good idea to mark your bags, so they are identifiable. Tie a ribbon or paste a sticker so you can easily spot your luggage on the carousel. Buy a folder to put all your permits, documents, and reservations in it. Take out everything from your pockets and put it in the carry-on before going through security.

Shipping your Gear

If you don’t want to go through all this hassle, just ship your camping gear near your camping destination. You just need to do a little research and planning for this. Make sure if someone can receive your gear like the hotel, camping park, or post office. Also, your camping gear should arrive at the destination before you do. So, plan wisely.


Air travel has made it easy to visit your favorite camping destinations anywhere in the world. However, air travel comes with its limitations. You need to be extra vigilant when packing your camping gear for a flight. Call your airline to see what are the weight and size limits. Check TSA’s website to make sure you don’t pack anything illegal or restricted. What things you should bring in carry-on and what things need to be in checked baggage. In short, you should know how to pack camping gear for a flight.

Steve Hudson

I have been an outdoor activities enthusiast from teenage. I have been going out with my parents on different outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. After moving to a town surrounded by three well known fishing spots, I started fishing and started using all kinds of tricks and equipment to make the most out of each adventure I pursued. Over the years I have been camping outdoor, hiking and following my passion of enjoying life at full. Few years ago, I started writing about my thoughts, experiments and ideas about outdoor, fishing, hiking and more. This blog is a compilation of that plus tips, ideas and products that can make life more meaningful, enjoyable and a pleasant.

Recent Posts