Flying with Trad Gear??


Original Post
JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90

So, this will be the first time for me flying with gear.  It had been suggested by another climber friend to just carry all my trad gear in my carry on and toss the rope in my checked in bag but make sure to take along a climbing magazine in order to show the TSA screeners what the heck everything is so they don't freak out?  Supposedly he's done it without issue?  I for one am not cool with the idea of chancing a trad rack being lost or destroyed by baggage handlers, hence the idea of the carry on.  I can get nearly al of it in my Cotopaxi Tamrak and still come well within the 22x14x10 carry on range including weight.  I'd rather  have just a touch more room and fit a few more items if possible.  Any suggested packs you guys have run with?

I'm flying gout of Philly, (I swear the times I've flown years ago its like they hired the worst TSA people they could possibly find??) so I'm particularly worried about Philly, not so much Denver.


Advice from those who have??.. experiences??  Thanks all!


crackatoa Spiesbach · · Boulder,Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 70

I travel with a full rack all the time and have had no problems I think I've only had them look through the bag once.. however they did tear my bag apart because I left like 2 ounces of water in my Nalgene at the bottom. The way I see it is if my clothes get lost I can go to Walmart and get stuff to last the week.. If my climbing gear is gone.. my trip is ruined.  I've flown in and out of various Ny airports.. Colorado.. Wyoming.. Idaho.. California.. and Oregon/Washington and have had no issues. 

.. I don't put in my nut tool since it has a knife built in.. or anything like a crampon/ice axe 

txclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10

I've flown with gear in carryon many times, as recently as two weeks ago.  Never had an issue.  Make sure you don't take your nut tool though.  

CamBrown · · Clackamas · Joined May 2015 · Points: 50

I haven't had any issues carrying my rack. Also, your rope in a rope bag counts as a purse. Gear in a backpack and a rope purse. 

JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90
txclimber wrote:

I've flown with gear in carryon many times, as recently as two weeks ago.  Never had an issue.  Make sure you don't take your nut tool though.  

Nut tool is an issue huh?... Lame,..but, hey it is what it is.  TSA be damned!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Well, if it has a knife on it...

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

Over the past 45 years of climbing I have always checked all my gear except shoes. Only once did it not arrive with me - it was delivered to my hotel overnight, giving us an unexpected but very pleasant day in Vancouver. Getting on and off the plane is a PITA enough without humping around a rack. 

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

If you call it a nut tool to them they will probably take it no matter as you have to check tools.

Personally I have always checked it and had no problems. No damage, no theft, no anything with spirit, united, frontier, southwest, or delta. Plus I don't have to carry around a ton of extra weight in the airport. Yeah if your bag doesn't show up that is bad but I would be curious how often that happens. I have probably flown with gear checked 10 times.

Ultimately do what you feel good with. If you have to buy a nut tool in Denver we have a lot of shops.

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 251

They are not fans of lockers. Apparently they are too similar to brass knuckles. 

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 153

I've flown around 15 times or so with a rack in my carry on and never had problems with TSA rejecting it. They've only opened my bag a couple times mainly to look at the summer sausage I left in my pack. Once, in Vegas, they asked what the cams were for but let them through. I also normally forget to separate out my nut tool (like 50% of the time) and they've never looked at it funny. I do have a basic wild country nut tool though.

Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,510

I've taken gear in my carry on through washington-reagan (DCA) no problem. they didnt even look twice or ask to inspect. The thing to remember is gear my look odd to most people, but it doesn't look like a weapon. 

Like with all valuable items when flying, best to carry on when you can (i.e. cams at least, maybe not nuts)

JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90

Anyone ever fly through or out of Philly?  

I just know it was nightmarish years ago.

Gordon88 · · Pennsylvania · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 0

I have flow out of Philly a few times with a Trad rack. Keep the nut tool at the top, it looks like a knife in the scanner. The rope sometimes looks like a parachute. They have let both of them through after taking a look. 

I brought rope, cams, slings, biners, nuts, tricams, helmet, and crammed it all into my bag to carry on. I usually go through no problem, but occasionally they open it up to look at something. Don't take liquid chalk.

I always carry on, but it does get a bit heavy walking around the airport. Good training for the approaches!

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,067

I've flown through Philly twice with my gear, both times returning from Europe, so I had to go through security again with my gear and I didn't have any problem either time.  The last time I went, I just checked my gear and didn't have any problems doing that either, but I do think the probability of having an issue is probably higher with checked gear than carry on.

Idaho Bob · · McCall, ID · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 58

Depends on the airport and security service.  When threat level is "elevated" there may be issues.  Had to check my quickdraws on the way back from EPC last year.

Matt Nottingham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 5

I divide up my gear to keep the checked bag under the 50# weight limit.Most airlines charge extra if your checked luggage is over 50 #.  I take smaller, heavier items carry-on, like nuts, belay devices, small cams, etc.  Larger, lighter items (helmets, slings, rope) go into the checked bag along with clothing.  Two weekends ago flying out of Boston, I overheard the woman at the X-ray machine say "Oh, that's climbing stuff" or something like that. I did have a TSA note in my checked bag on the return flight, saying that it had been opened and inspected. Perhaps it was the bags of white powder ?

Luc-514 · · Montreal, Quebec · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 8,953

Out of Montreal (YUL) and Las Vegas (LAS), I took my BD Stone 45 without the brain with my full rack except the nut tool and ropes which stayed in my checked luggage.

It was the only way that I could keep my dufel below the airline's weight limit and avoid having a second checked bag to pay.


JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90
Gordon88 wrote:

I have flow out of Philly a few times with a Trad rack. Keep the nut tool at the top, it looks like a knife in the scanner. The rope sometimes looks like a parachute. They have let both of them through after taking a look. 

I brought rope, cams, slings, biners, nuts, tricams, helmet, and crammed it all into my bag to carry on. I usually go through no problem, but occasionally they open it up to look at something. Don't take liquid chalk.

I always carry on, but it does get a bit heavy walking around the airport. Good training for the approaches!

Thanks!  That puts my mind at ease you having dealt with Philly.

Tobin Story · · Woodinville, WA · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 35

Literally flew out of Vegas today with a full trad rack in my carry on. The scanner didn't even give it a second look. I've also flown a number of times with checked rack and never had an issue. 

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425

Issues can be if you forget your clip on knife or your nut tool.  I usually throw an issue of climbing or rock and ice in for good measure. 

dave custer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 790

Possible trouble in airports in Europe: Apparently carabiners can be used as brass knuckles...

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply