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Are hiking poles allowed in carry-on luggage?

I'm flying Delta and Air France. Does anyone know whether telescope hiking poles are permitted in carry-on luggage (Rick Steves backpack suitcase)? I am not checking a suitcase.

Posted by
3487 posts


TSA doesn't like pointy things, so if you are flying through any US airport you have to check your poles.

Posted by
19 posts

How about the Black Diamond Distance Z poles that fold up? Someone said in a different online forum that he put his in his carry-on. Does anyone have experience with different kinds of poles?

Posted by
2401 posts

The TSA site indicates that hiking poles cannot be carried in carry-on bags, but are permissible in checked bags:

There is a separate section for mobility devices, including "Walkers, crutches, canes or other mobility aids and devices"

I've always had good luck calling the TSA directly with specific questions or scenarios.

Posted by
3487 posts

OK, so one person got lucky and TSA missed the poles in their carry on even though the TSA website says they are not allowed. Are you feeling lucky? ;-)

Posted by
4848 posts

It is against the rules and regulations of TSA. Now, does that mean that those rules are always enforced? Perhaps not, but how do you know in advance? I'm sure you can find reports of being able to do this. I can give you a report about not being able to do this and having to scramble quickly to decide what I could do with the poles.

You have a few choices:

Risk it, you may need to end up throwing them out at the airport if TSA does not allowl
Check your bag and be assured that there will not be a problem
Wait and buy poles in Europe and check your bag on the way home.

I simply check my bag when carrying my hiking poles. It eliminates quite a bit of worry and hassle. Mine are the trifold poles as well.

Posted by
4647 posts

It is the metal pointy end that they care about. Also, it is not just TSA that you have to worry about. On a flight from Paris CDG to Nice, security made me go back and check my poles.

Posted by
5774 posts

Probably worth pointing out that while the TSA, and for that matter European Security, lists items that are permissible or not permissible, the decision is always left to the people at the checkpoint.

Guidelines are just that, there are of course some banned items, but for other things they try to give advice, but cannot be definitive. Even items that appear to be allowed, if the agent sees it as a threat, it does not fly. If you can imagine an item being an issue, then there is a chance that it will not be allowed. So in the case of your friend, maybe he got lucky, maybe tucked in the bag it did not appear to be an issue, maybe the end was a rubber tip and not a metal point, but all it would take is for one agent to say "nope" and you are out of luck.

Posted by
5775 posts

As other note, TSA clearly does not allow trekking poles as a carry-on item. That said, many things are at the discretion of the agents.

TSA does allow "canes":
I have brought back a carved wooden cane from China just strapped to my carry-on back pack and it was longer than the carry on limit. A cane is a mobility assistance device but I was/am not mobility impaired.

Posted by
12951 posts

AnnA, I have posted previously that my sister has successfully made it through security with her Black Diamond Z-poles several times. However, this last trip to Spain ( in May) they were not allowed and both she and her husband lost their poles. They had to hike in the Pyrenees with borrowed poles.

I would not risk it.

Posted by
1405 posts

It may be possible to rent hiking poles where you are going. I know sporting goods stores in Lauterbrunnen rent them. It might be a better option than humping them around Europe and dealing with the security hassle.

Posted by
1 posts

I just had my Black Diamond collapsible poles denied at the Phoenix(PHX) airport yesterday. (This was on the way home to Chicago, where I had no problems on the way out) First time that's ever happened, but it IS the rule. Maybe it was because it was Thanksgiving Eve, I don't know.
Luckily we were hours early for our flight, anticipating big crowds, and we were flying Southwest - so I chose to go back to the ticket counter and checked them in (for free). Staff even found a cardboard box to pack them in.
Lesson learned - if all I'm taking is carry-ons I cannot confidently take my poles. Crazy rule IMO, but it is what it is.

Posted by
3661 posts

I talked to a TSA supervisor in Tucson before the first time I took poles in my carry-on. She said that if they were being used as a medical device they'd be fine.

In the past 2 years I've taken folding poles in my carry-on bag through TSA in Tucson and Detroit, as well as through security in Amsterdam and Bergen.

Whether I took both poles or only one, they weren't questioned, but I did take a note from my orthopedist just in case. My poles always have rubber tips on them and extra tips are in their bag.

For my next trip in May, I'll be checking my carry-on bag for the RT Seattle to Dublin flight, but I won't be able to do that for the flight from Tucson to Seattle. I hope the poles will get through TSA in Tucson as they have before.

These are the poles I got after my Black Diamond ones were stolen: Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Folding Travel Trekking Pole with Cork Grips for Hiking and Walking.

If you go to the link, you'll see that they are very cheap. They were even cheaper when I bought them about a year ago. If they're confiscated, I won't lose much.

You can also see how walking sticks are supposed to "fit" ergonomically. I can adjust them perfectly for my height, the grips are comfortable and they really help me with stability and balance.

Even though they are carbon fiber, I'm sure there are parts that do show up on x-ray and it may just be a matter of time before they're taken and I have to buy something to use and leave behind in Europe.