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  1. #1
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    Default Hiking Poles on Airlines

    Anyone carried on hiking poles? Is it gonna be a problem?

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  3. #3
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    I used to carry a single 6' cane pole. But when I flew out west to hike the JMT, there was no practical way to take the 6' pole without spending a lot of money.

    I bought a set of Black Diamond Z poles (the ones that fold rather than collapse one-inside-another) and had zero issues having them packed in my back pack that was checked.

    For the trip out, I bought a duffle bag from the thrift store and packed my bag, poles, and boots as check luggage... no problems.
    I also wore a pair of comfortable shoes that were on their last legs (holes, tears, etc) and simply threw them away before I started my hike.

    For the trip home, I bought some saran wrap and carefully wrapped my back pack to tie down the straps, but keep the top open should TSA want to open it.
    Wore my boots home and pole either inside or lashed to side of back pack (don't recall which).

  4. #4

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    I carried my poles first 4-5 trips flying no problem. Then TSA randomly had an issue with it so I wrap them in my tent now. No issues this way. I have also just checked my bag with no issues several times.
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  5. #5
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    Default

    This has been covered often. You will get different opinions and experiences from everyone. But these are the realities of flying.

    1. The TSA specifically says the hiking poles are not allowed on as carry on items.
    https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-...s/hiking-poles, so you could choose to ship them or check them in your checked luggage.

    2. You decide to take them as a carry on item. When you get to the security check, there is no way of knowing what will happen. What has happened to others in the past is mostly irrelevant. If the guard let's you through, you are good to go. But if the guard decides to follow the rules and prohibit your poles, you have three options.

    A. Argue with the TSA agent, making some lame excuse as to why rules don't apply to you.

    B. Have the nice TSA agent throw your poles in the garbage and get new ones at your destination.

    C. Go back to the check in counter, turn in the poles as checked luggage, pay the huge fee for checking more luggage, hope the baggage handlers don't destroy them, wait in line at the TSA check point again, hope this delay doesn't make you miss you flight, and if it does, pay a huge rebooking fee and get to your destination a day or more late (and God only knows where your poles will end up).

    If you ask me, 2B is a dumb choice. 2C is a dumber choice. 2A gets you on the evening news as the a$$ hole at the airport. I choose option 1. But you get to decide for yourself.

  6. #6

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    The last time I flew with poles the TSA was "ok" with it because they had rubber tips. However, I had to check my pack (and the poles with it) when they found the 1.5" pocket knife I keep in my cook kit.
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  7. #7
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    Default Flying is hard on gear

    I have flown out West backpacking 3 times. ALL 3 times, it ended with me having at least one warped pole. I have had several sets of the 3 section collapsible ones. My new ones for the JMT flight next summer will be the Black Diamond Z types. On my HST hike last summer, I left the 3rd set with my brother, as the collapsible poles will not extend or retract if bent at all. Maybe had I put them in the pack with the bear cansiter would have gotten them there 'straight.' I have to go to an outfitter anyway to get fuel, just hate purchasing/renting poles.

  8. #8

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    I'll let you know Thursday, headed to Yosemite. We have been lucky I suppose. We shove them inside out packs and flying between US and Europe we have yet to have an issue. We smile at the TSA though. Probably will wind up getting tazed this time.
    "Whoever said nothing is impossible has never tried to nail jelly to a tree." John Candy

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by No Match View Post
    I have flown out West backpacking 3 times. ALL 3 times, it ended with me having at least one warped pole. I have had several sets of the 3 section collapsible ones. My new ones for the JMT flight next summer will be the Black Diamond Z types.
    I was concerned with that the last time I flew (Komperdell "Z" style poles), so when the poles were collapsed I brought all three sections together and bound them tightly with a few wire ties, and put them back against the framesheet of my pack in the middle of the (checked) pack. Maybe I got lucky, but they turned out okay.

    I did keep all of my "suspicious" items (liquids, gels, lidded grease pot) at the top of the pack so TSA wouldn't have to go digging to deeply to investigate them, but I think their scanners are sophisticated enough now to rule out common items (just don't bring a brick of cheese in your carry on without expecting a manual search).

  10. #10

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    TSA does not allow trekking poles in carry-on baggage going into the cabin, but they can be packed in checked luggage on commercial airlines. Stories abound of how people get them through TSA security stations, though more stories exist of people upset they were confiscated with little they could do but watch them tossed into a bin. It's up to the individual if they want to take the risk of losing poles to TSA security who will not hold or store the poles for one's return and do not have any boxes that can be used to ship them from the airport presuming one has time before their flight and find a vendor in the airport that can provide shipping services.

    Debating the rule with TSA personnel is rather like arguing with a wall that it shouldn't be where it is, you'll soon exhaust yourself and the wall really doesn't care.

  11. #11
    Garlic
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    The rules are randomly enforced. The last time I tried flying with poles, TSA made me check them, which specifically I left time for. While boarding the plane, two people in front of me had their hiking poles in plain sight tied to their carry-ons.

    One "trick" I heard is to say they're walking aids. That would mean using them in line with rubber tips.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  12. #12
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    Default

    One time I took my trekking poles through security. I used one pole as a cane. No way was the TSA going to take away a cane from a disabled guy. They did run it through the scanner though while supplying me with a wooden cane to get me personally through the scanner.

    And in case you decide to flame me for an act of deceit, I hurt myself hiking and actually needed the cane to walk. Of course some enterprising hiker who is perfectly fine could try the cane gambit to carry his trekking poles on the airplane.
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  13. #13
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    I've done way too much flying in the last few years. Because I have knee and foot issues, I always take my BD z-poles with me as carry on with the stock rubber tips installed (not the carbide tips). I have never been asked about them (maybe 8 trips with multiple flights in the last two years?). However, I also regularly carry my Victorinox Classic mini pocket knife in my carry on as I got through once accidently a few years ago and have since continued the practice figuring it's just $15 if they stop me. They stopped me this last trip for the knife for the first time.

    Moral of the story?
    1) You can get through the TSA with lots of minor little violations most of the time. BUT, if you want to play this game, you also need to accept that you are gambling and might (probably will) loose at some point. Make sure you're okay with that gamble.

    2) TSA is clear that trekking poles are not allowed in carry-on (probably because of the "sharp" carbide tips) unless they are needed walking aids, in which case they are allowed. You do not need to play acting games of using your walking aids as you walk through the airport as many of us only need them intermittently while having them available at all times if critical.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  14. #14

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    “Debating the rule with TSA personnel is rather like arguing with a wall that it shouldn't be where it is, you'll soon exhaust yourself and the wall really doesn't care.”

    The husband of a friend of mine is a ATF agent. A TSA agent confiscated his penknife, even though as an ATF agent he could legally carry a gun on the plane.

  15. #15

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    I would recommend Amtrak as an alternative to flying if you have the time.

  16. #16
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    I've been only ever stopped with aluminum poles if they are CF they might not be picked up by their scanning equipment.

  17. #17

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    The biggest problem I had flying with poles was taking bamboo walking sticks to Iceland. We needed them pretty bad because we had troublesome stream/river crossings and you can't get sticks in Iceland because, well, there are no trees. The brushy shrubs that pass as trees are legally protected.

    So we arrived in Iceland and waited for our baggage, and everything poped out except our hiking poles. We asked and were told to fill our a form. No sign of poles.... so off we went on our hike. We had a bad time on our hike, falling with no poles for support. We did the four day Laugevegar hike, Landmanalauger to Skogar BTW. Most people don't do the last day, which involves crossing a mountain range and walking across a creepy glacier. But it was worth it for the hundreds of waterfalls.

    Anyway, when we returned to the airport, we found our hiking poles. Apparently they had been examined and x-rayed and checked and considered a risk because you could put drugs in the cavities in bamboo poles. OK, hadn't thought of that...

  18. #18

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    So we made it on to the plane once again with our poles inside our packs. No issues at Orlando airport. On a side note. Not once we're we asked to show vaccine card or even asked. Had to answer a few questions for online check in. No big deal. Now the drive to Yosemite begins.

  19. #19
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    If you hiking poles through security, it's a matter of luck or individual TSA agent discretion. I've always checked my poles or mailed them ahead to my destination. I have the Black Diamond Apline Carbon Corks. They've never been damaged in transit. I wrap them in other gear when I check them.

    I purchased the zPacks hiking staff earlier this year which zPacks says CAN be taken as carry on luggage. It fully breaks down and has no sharp points. However, all of my trips this year involving air travel were cancelled so I've never put this to the test and I'm not sure I would if I'm checking anything at all. I bought the staff to go with my Altaplex text which I also haven't yet used at all due to all of my cancelled trips.

  20. #20
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Anyway, when we returned to the airport, we found our hiking poles. Apparently they had been examined and x-rayed and checked and considered a risk because you could put drugs in the cavities in bamboo poles. OK, hadn't thought of that...
    Wait a minute... backup here....
    Your poles were in checked baggage. They x-rayed the poles. They removed the poles from your checked baggage because they were hollow... because you MIGHT use that space to store drugs?
    They've x-rayed them... it's wood... they should be able to see there are no drugs in there.
    Or was that the problem... you can't see thru wood on an x-ray.

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