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packing trekking poles

I have taken my poles to Europe twice now and the airlines all seem to have different policies about carrying them on versus checking as baggage. Does anyone have experience with Delta and KLM re: trekking poles. They don't fit inside my teeny Eagle Creek backpack so I have been duct taping them inside a stuff sack and and checking the whole thing as one bag. Any tips?

Posted by
687 posts

I travel with one hiking stick, but it telescopes down to a size that just fits my Eagle Creek backpack, which I check. I bought it at REI. I'm not sure that two would fit, though.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for the reply. I have a feeling that I will be checking the bag and poles. Just bought a special duffel that fits over the pack and am planning on putting the poles in as well. We are going on a 7 day trek on the Lycian way after our tour with RS so I can't leave them behind.

Posted by
687 posts

As I said, I pack my hiking stick in my checked bag, but a couple of trips back I was in one of those airports where they scan all your luggage on entry to the building (I think it was Amman) and I was getting a hard time about the stick until I made I quite clear I was checking that bag. It was probably the shape of the stick, I'm not sure the guy had realized it also had a metal point under the rubber cap.

Posted by
5445 posts

I did what you've done - - bought a small packable duffle that I check with the poles and my tri-pod when I bring it with me. The duffle then packs in my bag and the poles ride on my backpack between the main pocket and the side pocket during the rest of the trip. Pam

Posted by
1806 posts

Suggest you check your bag. We did not have problem with the airline, it was security. Going to Scotland, brother carried on his large, large umbrella with a good sized tip on the end onto the plane, coming back security made him check it. also, he is a smoker and going he had to dump his matches and could keep lighter, coming back he could keep his matches and dump lighter. Different countries, different rules.

Posted by
29 posts

Hi Cathy, I've taken my trekking poles to Europe twice as well. On the way there both times (most recently August 2010), I've packed mine in a checked luggage box. In August my friend (who also had trekking poles to pack), bought a long narrow box from UPS, stuck our poles and all our bottles more than 3oz (we were going on a long distance hiking trip so had a lot of sunscreen, etc...) in the box. Since it was an international flight we weren't charged for having just one checked bag. This was on USAirways, but I also did the exact same thing in July of 2006 on Delta going to Europe. Alternatively, if you have a hotel/B&B address you are staying at, you can ship them over. On both previous trips involving trekking poles, not wanting to deal with checking bags on the way home, I just packaged up my poles in brown paper or a shipping bag and mailed them from the nearest post office. Both times they made it home safe and sound within about a week.

Posted by
1730 posts

Hiking poles are not allowed on board the plane. TSA rule. If you know how to take your poles apart (they should go to 2-3 pieces) it is easier to make them fit in carry on size luggage (I imagine you are traveling with carry on size- but checking bags) I place my poles on an angle at the bottom of my carry on, then pack clothing around them. If you are such a light traveler that you are only using a "teeny' EC backpack, you will continue to bring that stuff sack to check. it's a pain, but worth the effort to have your poles! Took a hiking trip to France last October, and am going again this October, so the poles go with us again. I brought my Osprey daypack on board with my necessary stuff - books, camera, the stuff I didnt' want to check. I hand carried my hiking boots, just too bulky for my carry on, and didn't fit in the daypack. No one said anything to me about the boots (and I didn't want to wear them on the plane- too much of a hassle through security in the US and in Germany.
My Eagle Creek ORV carry on size bag with my poles and clothing was checked through to my destination.

Posted by
355 posts

Hiking poles are not allowed on the plane. Canes are. Can anybody tell me the difference between the two. Nobody? That's what I thought. Don't pack them, use them to help you walk thru airport, if TSA suggest you need to pack them in your luggage, ask them to call you a wheelchair as the gate is too far to walk without them. Just make sure you have a rubber tip on them and not a point.

Posted by
687 posts

"Just make sure you have a rubber tip on them and not a point." Usually there's a metal point under the rubber tip - it unscrews.

Posted by
1730 posts

TO ED: There is a difference between canes and hiking poles is hiking poles have a carbine tip on the end with points. The purpose of those is for "grip" on dirt trails. I carefully checked the TSA website before I went on my hiking trip to France last year. thinking that with my rubber tips on my hiking poles, and since they come apart into 3 pieces, I could simply put them in the side pockets of my back pack and carry them on. The answer was a huge NO. The reason I have rubber tips is...on the trip to Machu Picchu, they won't allow sharp tips on poles to preserve the stones. Anywhere else I've hiked, I've needed the tips to "stick" into the ground to assist me downhills without slipping. So, as Cathy already knows....she will have to pack her poles in her checked luggage. It's not that big a deal...I've done it a few times, and will do it again when I return to France this fall to hike again.

Posted by
4343 posts

Crud - I can't find the very recent thread about trekking poles - the slant on that one was that several people had recently asked the TSA agents they crossed paths with over time about them, and were told 'No Problem'...and we discussed how they were identical to collapsable canes, blah blah blah (you'd need to remove the metal tips, but they're so tiny they'd go anywhere in your bag). People even reported bringing them on as carry-on luggage. Heck, if you can bring a non-collpasable cane, you could bring a non-collapsable trekking pole. Especially if you're using it as a cane, as many people do...Use those suckers like your life depended on it as you're going through the airport and security, take the metal tips off first, and as with everything in Security World, be prepared to check it...get to the airport early, bring a duffle bag/sturdy stuff sack and some bubble wrap (and rubberbands), and an extra name tag...don't forget to put your travel info on the INSIDE of your bags, too! OR, depending on where you're going, get some (probably not as good as yours back home) poles there. Leave 'em, or check them for the trip home.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for all the advice and comments fellow trekkers! My poles collapse and I was able to take them on board an Alaska airlines flight from Denver to Seattle two years ago. However, when I got to Seattle and was checking in at the Lufthansa desk for a flight to Prague I was told that they had to be checked in. I seem to recall that we were able to carry our poles on board from Vancouver to Amsterdam and then on to Rome the year before that and then had to check them from Corsica to Paris and home. I think I am going to just shove it all into the duffel and be done with it. A girl needs her poles. CC

Posted by
10115 posts

"Are trekking poles allowed as carry-ons?" has become a red-hot issue here in our little travel world. So I decided to burn 5 minutes counting the votes in the last few threads. Here it doesn't matter what TSA says, we get to vote. The votes are in...and... it's (roughly): 12 against carry-on status for trekking poles 3 maybes (maybe it depends on the individual TSA agent's judgment call). And didn't find any big unqualified yes's. A couple of posts said allowed within N. America, but not on flights to Europe; and one said "I was told" no problem but did not actually do it. One problem pointed out is: If you try it and it doesn't fly, you're standing there at TSA with a last minute hassle you don't need.

Posted by
1 posts

I just called TSA. I told them I needed hiking poles as an assist for my knees. They recommended that when going through security check that we talk with the transport security officer. It may take a few extra minutes for them to evaluate the poles for explosives with a cotton ball check and an x-ray. However, it's no problem for you to have them on board. TSA number is 866-289-9673. They were courteous and professional and I didn't have to wait a long time on the phone.

Posted by
4344 posts

It's not the airlines ... it is security. I honestly think your best bet is to just plan to check them. Back in 1999, at Charles De Gaulle airport, French security made me check my poles while I was transferring. I had departed from Stockholm and they got through security there fine. But when I arrived at CDG to transfer to a flight to Nice, French security said that I could not carry them on. I asked why and told the agent that I had just carried them on my first flight. She said they were dangerous and that they could be used as a weapon; it was the pointed metal tip that they were concerned about. It was rather inconvenient for me because I had to go back to an airline desk and check them. Fortunately, I had sufficient time on my layover but I would have been really annoyed if I had had to abandon them on a short trip. I don't know what airports are involved in your trip so your experience may be different; I just know that I would not even bother to try to carry them on.