Wilmington customer Mike McCartney has done his homework and offers insight into backpacking when there is air travel involved to reach your destination. Thanks, Mike – we know many folks who will benefit from your experience!

Backpackers and campers who plan air travel to their destinations need to be aware of the laws regulating gear that can be carried in checked or carry-on baggage.  In this post-9/11 era, we all need to be extra conscious of these restrictions and considerate of our fellow passengers when we pack our gear for air travel.  Backpackers—don’t risk losing your stuff and be aware of Federal

Hazardous Materials Regulations, the violation of which may subject you to civil or even criminal penalties.  The major restrictions of concern to backpackers, with some recommended solutions, are listed below.


Backpacking and camping stoves

The Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) and commercial airlines enforce restrictions on traveling with backpacking and camping stoves.  New stoves in their original packaging are always permitted in checked and carry-on bags, but used stoves must be cleaned of all deposits and odors to pass TSA inspection.  Liquid-fuel stoves are more problematic than canister models because they tend to retain more residues (although my Pocket Rocket got nabbed on a recent trip!)  It is recommended to scrub stoves thoroughly with soapy water and pack them in checked luggage, but to avoid all risks of losing your gear, mail your stoves and fuel bottles to an outdoor store at your destination.

From the TSA website: “Minimize your chances of having to surrender camping items at the screening checkpoint by packing any sharp items safely in your checked baggage and ensuring all equipment is empty of fuel.  Camp stoves can travel as carry-on or checked luggage only if they are empty of all fuel and then cleaned such that no fuel vapors or residue are noticeable.”


The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) prohibits fuel as a hazardous, flammable material.  New and empty liquid fuel bottles are okay, but used containers must be completely cleaned out.  Pack the fuel bottles uncapped and easily accessible in your checked luggage.  Full liquid-fuel bottles and gas canisters (containing fuels such as isobutane, butane, and propane) are absolutely forbidden.

Batteries (FAA):

The FAA maintains some restrictions on lithium metal batteries (such as those found in some LED headlamps and flashlights):

  • Checked baggage

o      In equipment—OK

o      Spare—prohibited

  • Carry-on

o      In equipment—OK

o      Spare—OK so long as they are protected from damage and short circuit

From the FAA:

What does “protected from short circuit” mean?

Protected from short circuit means that a battery’s terminals are protected from being touched by metal. When metal such as keys, coins, or other batteries come in contact with both terminals of a battery, it can create a “circuit” or path for electricity to flow through. This can cause extreme heat and sparks and even start a fire. To prevent short circuits, keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, or separate pouch or pocket. Make sure loose batteries can’t move around. Placing tape over the terminals of unpackaged batteries also helps to insulate them from short circuit.”


“’Strike-anywhere’ matches, lighters with flammable liquid reservoirs and lighter fluid are forbidden, in carry-on items and checked baggage…,” according to the FAA.

For more information


Check out the TSA website for a list of prohibited items:


PDF documents, listing information on batteries and flammable materials of interest to backpackers can be downloaded from the FAA website at:


The electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Part 175, concerning materials carried on aircraft can be viewed at: