Last Updated on May 7, 2021
So you are going on a camping trip and need to know what camping gear you can take on a plane.
Can you bring a tent and other camping gear when you fly? And should it be packed in carry-on baggage or checked bags?
Let’s find out.
TSA Tent Rules
The Transportation Security Administration run the airport security checkpoint. I checked their website to see what it says about bringing a tent on a plane.
When the TSA write to “check with the airline” to make sure your tent can fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane” it’s misleading.
I’m sure a few people glanced at that TSA entry and thought if the size and weight of their tent was okay they’d be able to take it on the plane.
But a full tent including poles must be packed in checked baggage.
Here is the root of the problem.
You can’t pack tent poles, tent pegs, or tent spikes in carry-on bags.
By all means, if you are flying with a tent minus the poles then check with your airline to make sure it’s within their carry-on size limits.
Matt had a word with the TSA on Twitter.
The tent fabric is good to go in carry-on bags. However, tent stakes and poles must be packed in checked bags.
There are some forms of backpacking tent that don’t include poles. They usually require you to have a trekking pole instead. Unfortunately, hiking poles are also prohibited in carry-on luggage.
The final decision about what is allowed through the security checkpoint is taken by the security officer on the ground.
Still Unsure? Ask The TSA
If you have other questions about flying with camping gear you can write to the TSA on Twitter.
Send them a photo and they’ll get back to you quickly.
Rhone asked about bringing a sleeping bag and a hatchet for chopping wood when he traveled.
You can pack sleeping bags in carry-on or checked luggage.
A hatchet can only be packed in checked luggage.
Becky wanted to bring a camping stove in her carry-on bag.
You can bring a camping stove on a plane so long as there are no fuel vapors or residue. However, you can’t bring camping gas in either carry-on or checked luggage so you’ll need to pick that up at your destination.
The Bottom Line
You can bring a tent on a plane in carry-on luggage but you can’t bring tent poles or spikes.
If your definition of a tent includes tent poles then you can’t bring a tent on a plane in carry-on luggage.
Tent poles and tent stakes must be packed in checked luggage because they could be used as a weapon.