tent on a plane

Can You Take A Tent on A Plane? | Flying With Camping Gear

In Camping Gear by J. PenneyLeave a Comment

A flight across the world for a camping trip is a dream for many, and a reality for few. It’s something that takes a lot of planning, dreaming, and financing. If you’re getting ready to go on a plane, no matter how long or short the flight is, there are endless lists of regulations. It leaves you thinking about the camping gear that can come along with you, or what you’ll need to do without. 

So, can you take a tent on a plane?

Yes, you can take a tent on a plane. It can come with you as a checked bag or as carry-on luggage, but you need to ensure that the tent poles and stakes are packed in your checked bags. This is the best way to take your tent along with you when traveling by air.

Who Decides Luggage Airline Rules?

Depending on the country you go to you’ll be encountering different regulations for what you can or can’t bring along with you. If you’ve been on many international flights, you’ll have found that the TSA in the United States is the most strict out of all of them. 

Some countries are more strict than others, and the same with different airlines. I wouldn’t expect these rules to vary too much as the general guidelines around camping gear have to do with safety for both you and the plane. 

Certain countries will be a lot more thorough about certain gear. For example, New Zealand does a strict check of every piece of camping gear that you bring in. They take your tent to a different room and fumigate it while checking the bottoms of your boots for any remaining dirt or mud from a long-forgotten trek in a different country. This is to protect their island environment from any pests coming in that can damage their ecosystem. 

No matter what country you’re going to or coming from, the airline typically has the final say in what, or who, they allow on the plane. To get the best information about what gear you can take, check the airline’s website or give them a call before showing up with thousands of dollars of gear that you can’t take with.

Flying with Camping Gear Guide

camping gear guide for flying

For the whole span of camping gear, we need to go through specific pieces of gear. They all have different rules applying to them and it can get a bit tricky when you’re packing for a huge trip. There are a lot of pieces that go into the logistics of planning a trip, especially when you’re going to a place that’s unfamiliar. 

As a general rule, it’s a whole lot safer to just put everything you’re worried about in your checked bags. There are some certain pieces that you just can’t bring with you. To help you out, we’ll just talk about the main pieces. If it’s not on our list here, do your research and check with the airlines before bringing anything. When flying, it’s always best to be extra cautious as they are very strict in certain areas. 

Flying with Camping Gear Chart

Camping Gear ItemCarry-On LuggageChecked LuggageNot Permitted
Camping Tent
Hiking poles
Camping Stove
Camping Stove Fuel
Bear Spray

Can I Take a Tent on a Plane?

You can absolutely take your tent on a plane. In fact, I recommend it. I think it’s a great idea to bring your own gear with you when you travel. I love to bounce from one place to the next and having my own tent with me gives a sense of home and comfort when in a foreign place. Plus, you know your systems well, and bringing all of your gear along means not having to figure anything else out. 

The important thing to remember about a tent is that it comes in three main pieces. There’s the body of the tent and rainfly, the poles, and the stakes. The poles and the stakes “pose a threat” in the eyes of airline security and therefore need to be packed underneath with your checked luggage.

If you really want to, the body of the tent can come on the plane with you in carry-on luggage. For me, it’s easiest to put the whole package under the plane. That way, I have more room for my laptop and books to entertain myself on the plane. The body of the tent could make a decent pillow for a long-haul flight though. 

Can I Take Hiking Poles on A Plane?

Hiking poles fall into the same category as ski poles and are not allowed to come with you on the plane. These need to go underneath the plane in your checked luggage. There’s really not much room up top for the length of those poles, even if they compact down to a smaller size. 

A lot of hiking poles have sharp tips that can also be considered a weapon. It’s best to get hiking poles that fold up and will pack easily within your big backpack going underneath the plane. 

Can I Take A Camping Stove on A Plane?

Camping stoves are absolutely allowed on a plane in either your carry-on or checked luggage. The big thing you need to make sure of is that the stove is completely clear of any fuel in the lines that may still be trapped inside. 

Can I Take Camping Fuel on a Plane?

Camping fuel is unfortunately not able to come along with you on an airplane. The dramatic changes in pressure below the plane can be dangerous with the fuel canister. It can lead to a small explosion or just a minor gas leak that can lead to bigger issues in the big metal tube carrying you through the air. 

You can take empty gas or propane bottles along, but you’ll then need to find a place to get them filled once you’ve arrived at your destination. While this is an okay option, most destinations will have fuel available at a local camping store. 

Can I Take Bear Spray on A Plane?

Bear spray falls into the same category as camping fuel. Because it is a dangerous chemical that is stored under pressure, it’s not allowed to come with it. It’s recommended to buy your bear spray where you are doing your trip and then to leave it behind when you head home. 

Can I Take A Flashlight on A Plane?

Flashlights are definitely allowed on an airplane. The one thing to keep in mind is if your headlamp or flashlight uses a lithium-ion battery it needs to be in your carry-on luggage. These are dangerous underneath and it’s required to come on board. Most flashlights don’t use this design but double-check what you have with you. 

Can I Take Matches on A Plane?

Matches and lighters are both permitted to come along with you on a flight. You are allowed one book of matches or one lighter. They must be packed in your carry-on luggage to prevent any mishaps from occurring underneath. 

Can I Take A Knife on A Plane?

Yes, you can bring a knife on a plane during your camping trip. This one is a bit more obvious, but you do need to pack it in your checked bag. If you try to take it with you on the plane, you can be sure that it will likely get taken away. 

Can I Take Camping Food on a Plane?

Food is an easy one to fly with. You can take it with you in your carry-on as long as you don’t have anything that’s liquid. Camping foods such as freeze-dried meals are great for carry-on or in your luggage. Plus they take up little space and do not need refrigeration.

Depending on your destination you may have to spend a lot of money on food. Bringing all of your food with you can save you loads of money. It will also allow you to get straight to the trailhead and start your expedition right away. 

Alternatives to Flying With Camping Gear

If you’ve gone through this list and decided that it’s just a bit too complicated to bring some of your camping gear on the plane as hand luggage and some underneath, then there are other options. You can still get all of your own gear, or some rental gear, to your destination. 

There’s a couple of different options that you have here. As I’m partial to my own gear because I know my systems well, I prefer to take my own with me. To do that without bringing it on the plane requires shipping a pretty heavy load. While checking a bag can be pretty expensive, shipping your own gear can also cost a good amount. There are still a lot of different restrictions with shipping various pieces of gear and you’ll need to check those out. 

It’s a good idea to check out what it would cost to ship to various locations. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can ship things there, or a campground as well. General delivery at post offices works really well especially for resupply on long-distance hikes. Then you can split up your gear to different post offices on your route. 

Rental camping gear is a great pick for an alternative to flying with camping gear. Rental gear is usually of great quality from stores like REI. There are different sport supply stores across the globe and you’ll be able to find good gear no matter where you are. This is a good option for trips where you may be bouncing from one place to another. 

If you decide to rent a tent from a gear shop, you’ll likely get a pretty good rate that will be a lot cheaper than shipping all of your own gear to yourself. That being said, it will also be more expensive than if you were to just bring your own tent along with you.

Final Thoughts

Taking your tent on a plane is a wonderful idea. It’s going to save you a lot of money while traveling and camping. It lets you make your own little home in different parts of the world, from one corner to another. While not all camping gear is suitable for flights, you’ll find that traveling with a tent is actually incredibly easy to do. 

So go ahead and pack the tent right up! Remember, poles and stakes must be below deck. Other than that, you’re flight-ready. Enjoy your trip!

Leave a Comment