Flying with Camping Gear: What to Put in Your Luggage

Are you planning a fun camping trip overseas? You must wonder how to pack for flying with camping gear. What are the must-knows, big no’s, and carry-on only policies? This article is here to help you.

Most people ask if you can even fly with a tent, what type of bag or backpack to bring, and many other nerve-racking questions. If it’s your first time flying with gear in your checked bag, read through our tips and lists to learn more. The goal is to pass the transportation security administration while losing zero gear.

Camping gear

Can I Bring Camping Gear on a Plane?

Most people considering camping in a location far away from their home, ask this question. And the answer is simple: Yes, you can bring camping gear on a plane.

You can reach your camping destination by plane, but if you have any items that you need but can’t fly with you, consider shipping them there.

You can bring your camping gear with you through checked luggage and in your carry-on bags. We restrain some items to only being in checked luggage, and some only for carry-on. But we can bring most of our camping gear in both types of baggage. Remember that, in any case, packing light is a must.

What Gear Can I Bring on a Plane?

Next up is a list of items that you can bring with you on a plane, divided by type of luggage. Remember that it all depends on the TSA officer, in the end. If they deem something unfit for carry-on, they can always remove it. Here is our list:

Only in checked luggage:

  • Hiking poles or trekking poles
  • Pocket knife
  • Tent stakes and tent poles
  • Fishing gear

Only in Carry on luggage:

  • Safety matches
  • Both carry on luggage and checked luggage
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent (without tent stakes and tent poles)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hiking backpack
  • Air mattress
  • Camping stove (gas excluded)
  • Flashlight

That was our shortlist of gear you can bring with you when flying and camping. Next up, we will go into some detail and talk about certain pieces of camping gear and how to transport them when flying.

Flying in a plane

Can I Fly with a Tent?

You can fly with a tent, but you need to know that your tent pegs and poles can’t be in your carry-on bag. These pieces of gear can be interpreted as a weapon and could be removed from your bags. What would you do then, when you arrive at your outdoor destination?

That’s why we recommend putting the whole tent, with its storage bag, in your checked bags. This way, you will minimize the possibility of losing half of your camping gear at the checking point.

Can I Fly with a Backpack?

Yes, you can fly with a backpack. It’s best if you use your backpack as your carry-on bag. But, remember that weight restrictions, as well as size restrictions, apply. You can put this bag in the overhead bin.

There are no airline regulations that say you can’t use a backpack as checked luggage. It would be great if you could just pack camping gear into your backpacking bag and head off. But you need to think of the baggage handler and luggage carousel, which can damage your backpack.

If you still resort to this option, make sure you put your hip belt backward. It’s better to use hard shell bags or put the whole backpack into bubble wrap or compression sacks. Again, when using your backpack as a checked bag, don’t forget the weight limits and size restrictions too.

Can I Fly with a Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad?

No airline restrictions are saying you can’t travel with sleeping bags or sleeping pads in air travel. Both of these items are perfect for both checked baggage, as well as carry-on.

Can I Fly with a Camping Knife?

Yes, you can fly with any kind of camping or pocket knife. The catch with these pieces of camping gear is that they need to be safely stored. This means, you need to put your knife in a sheath or close it, if possible.

Thailand, James Bond Island

What Camping Gear Shouldn’t I Bring When Flying?

There are a few pieces of backpacking gear you should never bring with you. This includes both checked luggage and carry-on. Here is a list of items you can’t bring with you:

  • Stove fuel: They pack gas under pressure, so stove fuel can explode while in the air.
  • Bear spray: You should not bring bear spray with you even when camping in bear country.
  • Full camp stove: A full camp stove comes with fuel, which is not allowed in airlines.
  • Torch lighters: Fire hazards are not allowed on the flight.
  • Strike anywhere matches: This item is another fire hazard.

Flying with Camping Gear Alternatives

If you need your camping stove or bear spray with you, here are some of the alternative options to bringing them with you on your trip:

  1. Rent camping gear: Renting camping gear is possible everywhere and is a much cheaper option if you are planning only a few nights’ stays or numerous camping destinations.
  2. Purchase when there: Head over to the grocery store or outdoor shop with your rental car or cab, and buy all the food and extra gear you need. Depending on where you go, it can be a way cheaper option. For instance, while traveling around Vietnam, we paid around $30 for a nice meshed tent.
  3. Ship it: If you can’t live without one specific piece of gear, think ahead and ship in advance.
Camping outside


In the end, you can bring camping gear on a plane. The trick is to pack as lightly as possible and think of what your camping essentials are. So ask yourself, do you really need that cast iron skillet?

The process of flying with camping gear is not that hard. All you need to do is prepare in advance. Remember what you can’t bring at all, what goes in your carry on and which gear to put in your checked luggage. For this, use our article and prepare in advance. We wish you a safe flight and happy camping!

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.