How to Pack for a Destination Camping Trip

August 1, 2019

You’re a seasoned camper - you have your tent folding technique memorized, your ideal backpack weight balance nailed. You’re comfortable with your gear closet organization and can leave for a trip with most of your gear (most of the time). You’re an expert packer for any camping trip - but what if you’re getting to your destination by plane?

Packing for a camping trip involving air travel is a whole different beast than any other traveling situation. Security rules and space constraints can throw your finely tuned preparation style out of whack. Read on to learn our tips for airline adventure travel to avoid delays and headaches.


Packing Strategy

Unless you’d like to purchase a lot of gear upon arrival at your destination, you’re likely going to want to check a bag when bringing camping gear on your trip. You can check your backpack with the majority of your gear and keep the essentials in a smaller carryon: including a change of clothes, toiletries, some snacks, and any medications you require. Start with the bigger items (and any items prohibited from carry-ons) in your checked bag, then fill with clothes and soft goods. This is where you put your Marie Kondo-watching knowledge to good use. We believe in you.

Stick With Nesting

Packing light on a camping trip can save your back, but packing light on an airline trip can save you money. Baggage fees keep climbing and weight limits are getting steeper, meaning your packing skills are going to be challenged. Have no fear, nesting capability is here. Opt for a nesting cookset + dish set to optimize your space. 



Nesting pieces minimize wasted space (and you can stuff socks and clothing items inside any open spaces to save room). Now that your cookware and eating utensils are squared away, let’s talk food.

Where to Keep Your Food and Drink

If you’re backpacking or camping, you’re going to need some sustenance. If you plan on bringing food and drink options along with you, here’s what you need to know. 

  • Most food is allowed carried on if wrapped or in a container - think energy bars, dehydrated meals, wrapped sandwiches, packaged jerky sticks. 

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are allowed to be transferred within the continental United States, but you will need to check international regulations or USDA rules if traveling over borders or to US islands. 

  • Any liquids brought in carry-on must be in containers under 3.4oz or 100ml, and that includes thick liquids like gels, honey, or jam. 

  • The best rule of thumb is to stash your food away in your checked bag and bring a few snacks along with you in the cabin. 

  • Last tip: bring along an empty Microlite water bottle for a lightweight water container option and fill it after you leave security. 

What About Fuel and Stoves?

According to TSA, camp stoves are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags if they are empty of all fuel and wiped clean. Any flammable liquid fuel is prohibited on airplanes, so you will need to purchase stove fuel once you land - and remember to dispose of it before your return flight. Opt for safety matches (non-strike anywhere, kept in your carry on) to light your stove, or pick up a lighter at your destination as well.

Can I Bring Sharp Objects?

Outdoor adventures often involve some weapon-like gear items which can be frowned upon to pack. The general rule with sharp things - camp knives, ice axes, tent stakes, crampons, pocket knives, saws - need to stay in your checked baggage. It’s a good idea to run through your gear box and pull out anything sharp or weapon-like and stash it in your checked bag to avoid problems. Oh, and leave the bear spray at home - you can pick some up at gear shops when you arrive in bear country.

When In Doubt, Check Your Resources


Curious about how to bring your raft or your fishing gear along? 

  • TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” list is a comprehensive list of what you can bring and which bag to pack it in. 

  • If your unique item isn’t on the list, you can hop on Twitter @askTSA to get a quick question answered in your last-minute packing panic. 

  • Your individual airline might have special rules and regulations regarding carried-on gear, so take a look through their regulations as well.

Save on Tickets

Our last tip: before booking your domestic or international air travel adventure, check out Dollar Flight Club to save your money for more adventures. Dollar Flight Club is a flight deal subscription service that aggregates flight data to save you money without lifting a finger. Sign up and save on your future adventures - and maybe you’ll be inspired to visit a new adventure location!



You’re now prepared for takeoff! Wishing you safe travels and epic adventures the world over. Happy packing!


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