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John Wayne Airport Security Line Photo i102 by Grant Wickes CC-BY-2.0

With the holidays here, it’s that time of year when we hit the road to spend time with families and loved ones. If you are planning on flying, we figured you may want an update on TSA restrictions, especially when it comes to your outdoor gear.

The 3-1-1 Carry on Rule:

As of September 30, 2013, the TSA revised the 3-1-1 rule. Currently, liquids, aerosols, and gels can be in your carry-on luggage if:

  • They are 3.4 oz (100mL) by volume or less
  • Fit into a 1-quart, clear, zip-top plastic bag
  • Only one quart-sized bag allowed per passenger.

When you approach the screening are,a be sure to have your one quart-sized bag ready to pull out and be screened separately from your carry-on. If you are planning on caring more liquids in your checked bag or want to check out the exceptions to this rule, be sure to check the 3-1-1 Rule TSA website.

Insect and animal repellents:

Insect repellent is allowed in your carry-on as long as it follows the 3-1-1 Rule. If you have larger than a 3.2oz bottle of insect repellent, you can toss it in your checked baggage if it is stored in a safe place in a zipper-topped bag to prevent leakage.

Animal repellent (i.e. Bear Spray) is allowed in checked baggage only, but you are limited to 4oz or less and it must contain 2% or less of the active ingredients CS or CN. A quick check at any outdoor retailer will show you bear spray canisters are all much larger than 4oz, so it is best to leave the bear spray at home.

Pro Tip:  Leave the bear spray at home and buy one at your destination. Insect repellents that contain DEET should also be bought at your destination, as they can leak and adversely affect the waterproofing on your gear. Call ahead and find an outdoor retailer and ask if they can hold your order.

Stoves and Fuel:

You can travel with your stove in your carry-on or checked luggage, with a few special instructions. Be sure your stove is empty of all fuel, leaving no vapors or residue behind. Liquid fuel containers (used for stoves like the MSR Whisperlite) must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any flammable vapors, and stored empty with the regulator valve removed. Any flammable liquids, gasses, or gels are prohibited.

Leave white gas, propane, butane, or fuels at home.

Pro Tip: Buy your fuel at your destination. There are also convenient options, such as the Mountain Oven from Mountain House, that are allowed by most airlines.

Lighters and Matches:

Only one pack of safety matches or one lighter per passenger is allowed in carry-on baggage only. Strike-anywhere matches and torch lighters are prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage, so they are a no go.

Pro Tip: Leave lighters and matches at home and add them to your shopping list for when you land.

Sharp objects:

Hatchets, knives, Ice axes, etc. (think: anything with a blade or sharp edge) are prohibited in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to pack these items in a safe place in your checked baggage, and make sure they are sheathed to keep your bag and baggage handlers safe.

Pro Tip: Tape cardboard to sharp trekking pole tips, ice axe points, crampons, etc. to keep them from poking holes in your baggage. Investing in a large duffel, such as the Bear Grylls Yac Sac, also makes packing easier and safer for gear and baggage handlers.

Your Turn: If you have any tips for flying with outdoor gear, we’d love to hear them!

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# Comments

  • cairnstone

    Great tips, John! I’m glad I’m driving and not flying this year. More room for more gear!

  • AJ Heil

    John — These tips are very helpful!
    We’re planning a tentative trip to San Diego that we’ll be potentially flying for… Many of these things will need to be taken into account.

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