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Hiking Poles in Carry Ons?

Does anyone have advice about getting hiking poles to Europe without checking a bag? We've seen some info that you can't put collapsible poles in your carry on. Is that true, and if so, any suggestions?

Posted by
195 posts

I traveled to Crete for a 16 day hiking trip. I was going to just check my poles instead of my whole bag since I normally do carry on only. Then a fellow traveling partner who always checks luggage volunteered to pack them in her bag. They fold up very small so didn't take up much room. We took her and her husband out to dinner as a thank you. The other option would be to buy the poles there.

Posted by
7659 posts

You will likely have problems trying to get them through security, especially if they have the sharp metal points. With no metal points, you might pass them as a cane, especially if you are using them while going through security.

You can search "hiking poles" at the top of the page, this issue comes up every few months, and see what others say, but the summary is: Pack a separate bag just for the poles and a few other things or buy a pair once there, they are common.

Posted by
848 posts

You don’t have many choices. Rent them when you get to Europe. Or check a bag. Or buy some when you get there and check a bag going home. The idea that keeps popping up about trying to deceive TSA into thinking they’re “canes” just might cause you the type of problems you would rather not have with security. They’re not stupid.

Posted by
39 posts

Alitalia lost our luggage in 2021. So we decided to try carry-on when we returned to Italy in 2023 for a five week adventure. But we wanted hiking sticks for walks in Cinque Terre, Capri, and more.

At the grocery store we found a good sized, light weight, soft sided cooler which we lined with cardboard for strength. It easily held our collapsible hiking sticks, larger plastic bottles of shampoo and lotion, some paper for packing, and my small jar of peanut butter!

We checked our home made bag at LAX and it arrived safely in Milan. There we put everything into our carry-on bags and backpacks. We left the empty cooler, hopefully for someone else to find a use, and headed for the train.

We did check our luggage on the way home since we were less worried about loss in that direction. Happy travels.

Posted by
460 posts

Haven't taken them to Europe. but I do always check them with my other outdoor gear when I take them domestically. Often the outdoor gear bag is the one I check, and then a carry on for my clothes and other items.

Posted by
272 posts

I prefer my hiking stick to a cane, but I put it in my checked bag and used a regular folding cane for the airport.

At security, I had to put the cane on the belt. They had wooden canes there to use if you needed one to walk through the body scanner. Since mine folds, I folded it in half and put it in a bin. I noticed that the person monitoring the bag scanner tried to pull the tip off.

If you are willing to lose the hiking pole to the TSA contraband bin, try it, but remember that just because one agent let it go, the next may not.

I've checked the "pointy tip" on my hiking stick. It would not be my first choice of weapon. I think the big knob on the other end would be more useful for fending off someone.

Posted by
873 posts

Hiking poles are extremely common in Europe at any "walking activity type" destination. Buy some there, donate them to the next traveller at the hotel (Maybe ask the hotel first if someone left theirs?) Move on. Enjoy your ti=rip. Sometimes worrying is not worth the slightly increased cost. How much would you be willing to spend on a really nice bottle of wine there?

Posted by
11 posts

Many thanks to the Rick Steves community for the helpful tips on my question about hiking poles!

Posted by
2158 posts

I love my poles too much to risk them getting lost if my baggage goes missing.

We just got back from a hiking centric trip to Iceland. The camper van company had poles included in the cost, so I used those and they were actually good ones. Then after we swapped out the camper for a car and went to Thorsmark, I forgot to buy poles before we arrived. I asked and they had a few pair for use. Score! I did miss having poles on a few other smaller hikes, but at least I was covered for the ones that mattered.

On a previous trip there I bought collapsible ones off Amazon and checked those in my bag. They were awful and I threw them away when we got home. I would have left them behind, but I won't leave my garbage like that in another country. Those kept coming undone and were more of a frustration than a help.