Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

What backpacking gear is allowable for Airplane Travel?

Wondering if this list of items was permitted on a plane, specifically leaving O'Hare Airport if anyone has ever flown from here:


Jetboil Fuel Canister


Pocket knife

Water filter

Ursack Bear Bag

Any other miscellaneous backpacking items useful in the outdoors.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.



25 Replies

Best option, of course, is to check TSA's website but even those rules go out the window if you get a TSA office who hasn't read them (I once got into a fairly polite argument at O'Hare about a tripod - I won but it took a supervisor intervening). 

The knife, obviously, needs to go into checked baggage but I would avoid packing one of my nicer, more expensive knives.

Butane lighters need to be in a special container in checked luggage and those containers are fairly expensive. I would just leave the lighter and buy a two-pack of Bic lighters when I arrive. If you don't like those because they're disposable and just add to landfill, stop by a Walmart or Walgreens when you arrive and pick up a cheap Ronson butane lighter.

The stove should be fine in checked baggage (it *should* be fine in a carry-on but you could easily get it taken away).

Hiking poles are fine in your checked baggage.

One last item - do not use your backpack as luggage. If you do and the airline damages it, they'll claim that it's typical wear and tear. Sure, to them it's wear and tear but to you, it's a useless backpack because a shoulder strap buckle got broken. Instead, get a cheap duffel bag and put the backpack inside. Then the pack becomes "contents" instead.

Safe travels 

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

As said check with the TSA web site and your airline if in doubt.  But a few cautions...

Definitely don't try to fly with fuel of any kind. 

All spiky pole like things must be checked...trekking poles, tent poles tent stakes, knives.

Oddly zippo and disposable type lighters are allowed as carry on

Do not check your lithium batteries. They must be carried on.   This includes you battery bank, camera batteries, and anything internally rechargeable these days.  There may be some exceptions for things  with contained batteries...not sure so best to be safe  There are limits to the size and quantity which probably would not affect a backpacker...

You can only carry on small amounts of liquid or liquidy things.



Great question, I hope your trip is awesome!

@Dad_Aint_Hip gave you some good advice, but I wanted to weigh in on the fuel canister. You will not be allowed to bring a fuel canister on the plane, even in your checked bag. You will want to make arrangements to pick up fuel canisters when you land at your destination. Additionally, you'll want to think about how you will dispose (you could give them away or empty them before puncturing and recycling them) of the canisters before you get back on the plane to return home. When I was living in Alaska we had a lot of folks heading out into the wilderness via bush plane who had a lot of issues with their fuel canisters. 

If there is a local REI store in the town you are traveling to, you can order the fuel canisters you need on and have them shipped to that store. If it is going to arrive at the store more than a week before you do, you'll want to reach out to the store team to make arrangements to ensure it will be there when you get there.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Jetboil YES

Jetboil Fuel Canister   NO



Water filter  YES

Ursack Bear Bag  YES

REI Member Since 1979

@Philreedshikesyou can only check lighters if they are in special containers.  You can carry on a small disposable lighter though.


Thanks, everyone.


How about a collapsible e-tool or trowel?

Bear canister?


@Nathan1You almost certainly should check a trowel.  It is pointy and is very unlikely to be allowed in carry on.

You might be able to carry on small bear canister particularly if it was inside a backpack that was small enough to be allowed as carry on.  I doubt TSA will care about a container but the airline might count it as one of your luggage pieces if you carried it separately.  If it has food in it you would need to be careful that none of that counts as a liquid and be over the allowed carry on quantity.

Personally I would check it with it inside  my backpack and/or inside the duffel that contains my backpack.

And by checking your canister, you can pack any fragile items or valuables inside of it for added protection from damage. 

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.


I once had a pocket screwdriver confiscated (at O'Hare IIRC) because "it could be used as a shiv."

I bit my tongue rather than argue that the ballpoint pen sitting beside it could be used for the same purpose.



Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.