Packing trad geear for a flight/trip? Carry on??


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

Not sure if this is the best place for the question, but here we go...


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!

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 516

Just check it dude. Pay the 50 bucks -- its way better than losing your rack to some douche TSA freak. 

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

I've carried on and checked...never had any issues.

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

I carry mine and put my rope in a rope bag which counts as a purse (personal item). 

JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90
C Brooks wrote:

Just check it dude. Pay the 50 bucks -- its way better than losing your rack to some douche TSA freak. 

Just check it?...with that much cash tied up in it?  Man you must have more cash than I do!?  haha...

The very reason I'm trying NOT to check it is that I don't want it lost,.. in baggage or estroyed by some guy playing football with the bag.

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

I carry mine and put my rope in a rope bag which counts as a purse (personal item). 

Hmmm,... true, I guess I could do a rope bag as my "personal item"??  I'm guessing that's what you're possibly describing?

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160

Just got back from Smith Rock, TSA double looked at my Nut Tool (figuratively and literally) but beyond that they didn't care.  I had my stuff connected to my harness, maybe that helped explain it all?

JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90
Forever Outside wrote:

Just got back from Smith Rock, TSA double looked at my Nut Tool (figuratively and literally) but beyond that they didn't care.  I had my stuff connected to my harness, maybe that helped explain it all?

I thought about just having it on my harness in a bag but it doesn't pack up as well.  

Yeah years ago when travelling back from florida I witnesed a TSA clown make an 86 yr old WWII vet climb out of his whelchair and walk through the metal detector then have him stand there (barely, only with help of his family) so they could pat him down!!!!  Needless to say I was very upset to see wuch a thing!  Not exactly sure what the hell they were profiling there with that crap.

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

What size packs you guys using as carry ons?

Shadrock · · Here and there. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 268

I've taken a few trips (notably overseas) and didn't want to risk losing my gear to lost luggage so I took it as carry-on. I've never had a problem: full rack, chalk, the works. Nobody's ever asked me about it. 

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

Hmmm,... true, I guess I could do a rope bag as my "personal item"??  I'm guessing that's what you're possibly describing?

Correct

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70

I've worn a coiled rope around my neck and told TSA it was a pillow. YMMV.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70
JasonSH wrote:

What size packs you guys using as carry ons?

I traveled around the world (literally) and carried on a 70L pack on every flight I took except on the budget Euro airlines. My experience has been that while airlines are super strict about rolling bag size, they couldn't care less about backpacks.

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

Correct

Hahaha,.. I love it!

JasonSH · · unknown · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 90
Mike Mellenthin wrote:

I traveled around the world (literally) and carried on a 70L pack on every flight I took except on the budget Euro airlines. My experience has been that while airlines are super strict about rolling bag size, they couldn't care less about backpacks.

Hmm,.. I've heard a few bad stories of people being yelled at about size of carry ons,.. 

sDawg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 0

I've carried on a full rack through OAK, LAS and SLC without a second look from TSA, except when I forget to empty my nalgene bottle.

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 116

I've often used a mid-size pack to carry on some essentials-- rope, shoes, helmet, harness, basic rack of pro, ATC, some slings. Never had a problem.

Aaron Mc. · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 45

Flew round-trip from both O'Hare and Midway w/my climbing gear as my carry-on. Didn't have any problems w/ TSA so far *knock on wood*. I had my 40L bag filled w/ trad/sport gear minus the rope (checked in together w/ camping stuff + clothes). I did notice that they took their time to look at my stuff while in that scanner thing so plan on getting there early (when I flew out of AZ, I did have to take my stuff out and explained what they were to the TSA person). I'm thinking if you're flying in to any climbing destinations like Utah or California, some of the TSA people would be more familiar with seeing climbing gear. YMMV.

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

Pack your harness, and shoes, and belay device w/locker, and chalk bag, and climbing clothes in carry-on. Check in other stuff. If they lose or delay your luggage you still can serve as a belay slave for some cragging experience in exchange.

upd. It's a good idea to wear your helmet on and pack a headlamp into carry-on as well as all TSA-approved medikit contents.

Alicia Sokolowski · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,045

I manage to do actual camping trips with carry on only, but this relies on my having a partner that can carry on either the rack or the rope. I have a regular wheeled carry on (Travelpro Maxlite 3) in which I fit my tent (ancient MH Lightpath 3) sleeping bag (Kelty Women's SB 20 down) and pad (therm-a-rest prolite). I fill in any gaps with my clothes. A four day trip usually means 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of shorts, two shirts, tank top, and fresh socks and undies daily. I wear anything bulky on the flight. I used to re-pack my clothes in a stuff sack for a pillow, but inflatable pillows take up no space, so now I have one. I can usually also get my shoes or harness in, but not both. I put a little REI trail chair on top of it all and zip it up. I put toiletries in a little bag in one of the expanding pockets, along with a camp towel and lantern to hang in the tent.

Personal gear that didn't fit in the carry-on and rack OR rope (depending on what I can count on my partner for) goes in my Cilogear 45L worksack, with my helmet strapped to the outside and all of the straps tightened to make it look as small as possible. This has gotten me some looks from some airline employees, but to date (cross fingers, touch iron, knock on wood) no one has said anything about this being my "personal item."  I have flown with this getup pretty recently, so well into the current age of spitting on passengers and starting fights with babies.  Just keep your head down, step lively at boarding time, and don't visibly struggle with your stuff. Hopefully, someone else will be more of a hassle than you, and you can slip right by.

TL;DR: Put everything you love in carry on.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
JasonSH wrote:

I thought about just having it on my harness in a bag but it doesn't pack up as well.  

Yeah years ago when travelling back from florida I witnesed a TSA clown make an 86 yr old WWII vet climb out of his whelchair and walk through the metal detector then have him stand there (barely, only with help of his family) so they could pat him down!!!!  Needless to say I was very upset to see wuch a thing!  Not exactly sure what the hell they were profiling there with that crap.

That's the opposite of profiling... Pick the least likely and harass them. Can't be harassing the real terrorists - we might offend them...

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply