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Carry on Trekking Poles

The last thread I can find on this subject is 18 months old. I would love to have the trekking poles that Sarah recommended in her blog. I am having arthroscopic knee surgery next month for a shredded lateral ligament and a torn meniscus. Going on the RS Turkey tour in September. I would like to have the extra stability of a pole. I am wondering if anyone has packed poles successfully in carry on luggage. I also read somewhere that TSA may allow it if needed for stability like a cane, so wondering if anyone has tried walking through the airport with one? I won't check a bag, would rather buy something there and give it away before coming home. (I did this on the Best of Italy tour).

Posted by
16642 posts

What brand does Sarah recommend? I cannot find her blog.

My sister and I both have Black Diamond Z-poles, which fold up to carry-on size ( mine are 14.5 inches folded). They do not telescope, so you have to buy them in a specific size ( I am 5'2 and use 110 cm poles). The tip is not pointed or metal; it is some kind of plastic material and rounded so it grips better on stone and concrete.

I have not carried mine on but my sister has on at least 4 trips. She "disguises" them by putting them next to her umbrella and has never had a problem. I will try it next time as we must carry-on for our flight.

I used this link because it is shorter. Amazon has them in stock for $69.

Posted by
9106 posts

If you can get a letter from your doctor that the poles are a medical necessity the TSA might allow them in your carry-on. But with everything TSA (and their Euro equivalents) nothing is a certainty.
I bring poles with me on every trip and to make things simple and stree-free I store them in by bag and check it. I've never found it to be a hassle. The extra cost is typically small compared to what you are spending on the entire trip.

Posted by
248 posts

What Michael said. Why take a chance on closer dealings with TSA, or adding stress to the beginning of your trip, when you don't have to?

Posted by
5837 posts

Trekking poles as a carry on item are a somewhat FAQ.

The somewhat definitiave answer is:

Hiking Poles

Carry On Bags: No

Checked Bags: Yes

The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is
allowed through the checkpoint.

However, you are allowed to carry on a cane:


Carry On Bags: Yes

Checked Bags: Yes

Please visit our special procedures page for information on traveling
through the checkpoint with a cane.

Disabilities and Medical Conditions

To ensure your security, all travelers are required to undergo
screening at the checkpoint. You or your traveling companion may
consult the TSA officer about the best way to relieve any concerns
during the screening process. You may provide the officer with the TSA
notification card or other medical documentation to describe your
condition. If you have other questions or concerns about traveling
with a disability please contact passenger support.

Aids: Walkers, crutches, canes or other mobility aids and devices must
undergo X-ray screening. A TSA officer will inspect the item if it
cannot fit through the X-ray. Notify the TSA officer if you need to be
immediately reunited with the device after it is screened by X-ray.

No sword canes:

Posted by
11432 posts

You might ask TSA as recommended in this article from The artcilemis interesting but near the end comes the suggestion to contact TSA through the Ask TSA Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Perhaps if you have the permission from their, you can show it to the agent at security.

Posted by
6788 posts

Yes indeed, what Michael said.

There is no certainty with the TSA. You want trekking poles? Bring them. Don't make it complicated, just put them in a bag and check it - neither god nor even Rick Steves is going to smite thee just for the transgression of checking a bag.

You probably won't easily find the trekking poles you want upon arrival in Turkey, and fer cryin' out loud, it would be foolish to plan to waste all the time that could easily be needed to locate and buy them there. Your time in Europe is precious, don't fritter it away needlessly shopping for something that's easy and cheap to find near home. Go to Costco, they have very good, reasonably priced, collapsable, carbon-fiber trekking poles. Toss them in a bag, problem solved.

8 or 9 months post-surgery you should be on the mend and good enough to do all the walking needed as long as you're careful - so the poles will come in handy. Step carefully, take care of those legs, and have a great trip.

Posted by
8582 posts

I have brought a cheap collapsible walking stick on multiple trips foreign and domestic. I always ask the TSA screener if its OK and they always say yes. When asked to explain, they usually say that a pointy-tipped pole would not be allowed, but a rubber cane-tip is OK. I strap it on the outside of my carryon so its visible. It is a medical device not a piece of sporting equipment - that's the point to keep in mind. Heck, I've lent it to people who needed it more than me, more often than using it myself. On return trip I pack it in my checked bag.

Posted by
1501 posts

Thank you for your replies. I will wait and see how the surgery goes and also look for a "cane" that is similar.

Posted by
5631 posts

I won’t check a bag

Why? What is your concern?

I’d just suggest that you get a cheap nylon zip up tote or duffle and check it with your hiking poles. You can still carry on the rest of your stuff.

It is the metal tip on hiking poles that security seems to object to.

Posted by
179 posts

I’m considering mailing mine directly to the hotel, wrapped in bubble wrap. I’ll either check my bag on the way back, or include a return label and mail them back to myself.

Posted by
3521 posts

Hiking poles are not allowed as carry on by TSA because of their pointy tips.

I carry 2 canes with me due to what I hope is a temporary medical condition. I can make it through the machines at the security check without using them with some difficulty while I watch the canes go through the X-ray. TSA has never had issues with them.

You can check on buying an inexpensive set of poles when you get to Turkey.

Posted by
4171 posts

I took an old set of Black Diamond foldable trekking poles with rubber tips on my last trip. I first talked to a lead TSA person at the Tucson airport about that and she said it was okay. I got her name to avoid potential hassles.

I also had my orthopedist write a note identifying them as "a medical device, not a piece of sporting equipment" in case I ran into problems. But it seems like the TSA is starting to realize that canes don't work for everyone. I recently saw an older man with a similar walking pole in the Seattle airport.

I packed the poles in their bag in my carry-on primarily because I fly Delta standby, so I don't always make it onto the plane, but also because I might might need one to get through the airport. I had no problem carrying them on the KLM flights I paid for either.

The new ones I get for my 2019 trips (see below) will be similarly vetted for my standby flights. For the internal European flights, I'm going to be required to check my "big" international carry-on so the poles will be fine.

Those Black Diamond poles really helped me move faster and more confidently on my last trip. Unfortunately, we experienced a vehicular burglary and they were part of what was stolen. I'll replace them soon, probably with something like these. And I'll get an extra set of tips like these. Those kinds of tips are required for visiting some monuments and a good idea in general.

Posted by
1501 posts

Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I now have more information to use for my decision.

Laura, I don't want to turn this thread into check or not to check. My personal preference is not to check. I agree with you that if the success of my trip depends on equipment that I can't carry on, then checking is a good idea. I just haven't arrived at that situation yet.

Those poles that you linked are the one's (under a different name) that Sarah is recommending.

I will wait and see what my physical state will be come trip time, but I may get the poles mentioned above with rubber tips and see what happens. Maybe, walking with one through the airport is an idea as well.

Posted by
5631 posts

Hi Vandrabud,

The reason that I asked about checking was that I wasn’t sure if the issue was preference or cost (e.g., a situation where the cost to check was more than the poles). The latter could mean it would make more sense to buy something there.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is not just U.S. TSA that you need to be concerned about. Years ago, before 9/11, I flew from Stockholm to Nice with a connection at Paris CDG. At Arlanda, I got through security just fine with hiking poles in my carry-on. However, when I got to CDG, security would not allow me to carry on the hiking poles and I had to check them. It made for a rather stressful connection. Since that time, I’ve never tried to carry poles on a flight.