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Protecting your pack during air travel
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Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 01:01:38 MDT Print View

How do you protect your pack when you hand it over as checked baggage to airline baggage handlers, aka gorillas? For example, keeping the straps from being torn or carbon fiber trekking poles from being broken?

In the past, I have used a light weight laundary sack to slip my pack and poles in, but then I'm stuck carrying it with me throughout my hike.

Suggestions?

Edited by veganaloha on 06/24/2012 01:02:10 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 01:13:13 MDT Print View

I purchased a very thin, very lightweight, nylon duffle bag with a top zip. When flying, I put the backpack, boots, or anything else inside and check it. When I reach the trailhead, I store the duffle inside the backpack and do the backpack trip.

If anything goes into the duffle bag that is sensitive, I put one sheet of heavy cardboard inside the duffle to add a little protection.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 10:36:07 MDT Print View

Put it in a sturdy cardboard box or buy a McHale :)

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Carry om on 06/24/2012 11:18:12 MDT Print View

I never check my pack. They are not going to baby it.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Carry om on 06/24/2012 11:31:12 MDT Print View

Well, most of our packs should fit into those little measuring boxes at the airport. But for some epic trips that require a plane to get there it may not be an option.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Carry om on 06/24/2012 12:55:07 MDT Print View

I always take my pack as carry an then check a small hold all with pole, pegs, stove an knife.

Cheers,

Sam Baker
(Masredub) - F
Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 13:34:37 MDT Print View

Bob,

What kind of duffle bag do you have or could anyone suggest a good bag along those lines? Thanks!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 14:46:54 MDT Print View

Outdoor Products is the brand, and they have a whole range of sizes. So, you really need to have a good estimate of the dimensions that you need. If you are lucky, you will have a non-REI outdoor store where you can shop. Otherwise, I have purchased some of these online from Campmor. So, my standard rig is an Outdoor Products duffle with a big piece of cardboard stuck inside on the bottom.

There is a travel agency that has booked me on a few special international trips. In each case, about one month before departure they send me a new duffle bag. It has their agency logo on the outside, and they are all the same color, so it makes it easier for the staff to wrangle matching duffle bags at some exotic airport. The problem is that all of the duffles are made by Eagle Creek. Don't get me wrong. Eagle Creek makes very nice duffle bags, but they are heavy as lead. I prefer something skimpy and lightweight that can be folded up and carried around.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 16:26:02 MDT Print View

We do this every time we fly from Australia to Europe and back. And we do not want to carry stuff with us while walking.

Go to supermarket and buy a roll of large garbage tin liners and a roll of 50 mm (2") packaging tape. You will need 2 bags per pack.
Place pack inside one garbage bag and tape shut.
Invert and place pack into 2nd garbage bag and tape shut.
Now, mummy-wrap bag with lots of packaging tape. Leave no loose flappy bits.
It helps IF (and only IF) your pack has a sturdy carry handle between the shoulder straps, to leave this sticking out. We do this, and we tie the baggage labels to the loop of webbing so it is visible for handling.

At home, we have the stuff in the drawer. Overseas, we shop at the last minute, and throw the extra bags from the roll inside the pack before packaging. (Waste not...) We use the whole roll of tape for 2 packs.

It does help if you put all hard objects deep inside the pack and softer things on the outside. No hard breakable lumps on the surface. Trekking poles and ice axes can be layered against the back of the pack, betweeen the shoulder straps. A little cardboard (supermarket box) can be used for protecton.

Now, unpacking. This needs a sharp knife of some sort, which you cannot carry onto the plane. Bit you do NOT want to slash your pack, so a point is out anyhow. I use a short bit of steel banding to make a hook ('rescue') knife with rounded corners. I tape that to the coccoon at the very last in a disguised fashion. At the destination I peel the tape off, recover the rescue knife, and cut the bags off. The bags get discarded in the first rubbish bin.

Done this maybe 12 flights now, with complete success.

Note: some airports even offer heavy plastic bags today for this purpose! Very couth. It also makes it impossible for some goon to slip something into your luggage at the last minute - like drugs etc.

Cheers

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 17:11:50 MDT Print View

"Done this maybe 12 flights now, with complete success."

Very resourceful. The only real drawback, and it is potentially a big one, is if the minions of the airport security organs decide they want to examine the contents of your bag, a not uncommon situation, IME. The results are not pleasant to contemplate, especially if it occurs on the outbound leg of your trip. They are not a particularly gentle lot, nor patient, and seem to prefer the Gordian Knot approach to solving problems of access. :(

Let us hope the travel gods continue to smile upon your journeys.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/24/2012 17:50:18 MDT Print View

"The only real drawback, and it is potentially a big one, is if the minions of the airport security organs decide they want to examine the contents of your bag"

You have to watch out for those minions. They just don't understand ultralight.

I checked a heavy duffle bag one time, and it had about 45 pounds of tools in it. When I claimed it at the other end, I noticed that just about every tool had been carefully inspected and categorized by hand. It really makes me wonder how my federal tax dollars are being spent.

--B.G.--

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/25/2012 00:14:04 MDT Print View

thanks guys, great auggestions.

For my immediate trip, I may stick with my tried and true el cheapo nylon laundary bag, but my biggest worry is for my GG LT4 CF trekking poles because the handles stick out of the bag. I'll ask for one of those heavey duty plastic bags at the airport, but if I remember correctly, I think they charge extra for those and mark the item as "Fragile." We shall see if they'll just give me one for free since I don't have one handy at the house and I'm leaving tomorrow.

I think for future trips, I may use the cardboard box methods for my things that won't qualify as carry on, like my poles.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Aha! just found a cardboard mailing tube! on 06/25/2012 00:24:34 MDT Print View

I just found a carboard mailing tube to put my LT4's in. Then I'll slide it in the laundary bag surrounding my pack and tie it together. Since we'll leave a car at the TH for this 5-day trip, i won't have to carry it throughout my hike, but will obviously still need a better solutions when I have to carry or discard any packing materials.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Aha! just found a cardboard mailing tube! on 06/25/2012 00:55:39 MDT Print View

For the cardboard tube, I suggest putting the poles in from opposing directions. Then, there still may be a little too much slop in the fit. So, use either plastic peanuts or small pieces of foam to stick in the middle. They will absorb stress if something tries to crush it.

--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Protecting your pack during air travel on 06/25/2012 01:38:59 MDT Print View

Hi Tom

> if the minions of the airport security organs decide they want to examine the
> contents of your bag, a not uncommon situation, IME.
That does not seem to happen. We hand the 'bags' over at check-in and off they go on the conveyor belt, no worries. We pick them off the carousel at the far end, extract the packs, and then go through Passport/Customs etc.

Going into Europe, at Charles de Gaule Airport (Paris): get pack off carousel, go through passport control, walk into concourse. Sure, plenty of French military types in black around with machine guns, but actual baggage checks? Geneva (Switzerland) was similar, as was Rome (Italy).

Actually, if they want to look inside the pack as it goes onto the plane, I would expect them to have me present. But they don't seem to do that, although they DO make sure ALL bags are accompanied. That, they do check carefully. Oh well.

Cheers

James McIntosh
(JamesMc)

Locale: Near Bass Strait
Not in America on 06/25/2012 06:12:26 MDT Print View

Based on my dealings with very unhappy security staff at Detroit airport who couldn't open my old suit case with sticky latches, I don't think Roger' s way would go down very well in America. ( And you should have seen these guys jump when l stepped forward to open it.)

Edited by JamesMc on 06/26/2012 05:29:42 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Not in America on 06/25/2012 10:38:23 MDT Print View

+1 for Bob's method. I used a cheap nylon roll type duffel bag from Academy Sports.

+1 for what James said about using Roger's method in America.

FWIW I suggest reading the article in the following link.

http://now.msn.com/now/0624-tsa-havoc-at-jfk

Sad! ;-?

Party On,

Newton

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Not in America on 06/25/2012 11:33:54 MDT Print View

DTW?

I fly in and out of there several times a year, and have been doing so since 1998. My corporate office is in Warren, MI.

The airport is very convenient for me and I like flying in and out. However, they have the WORST TSA employees in the country. I have been held over numerous times at this airport only. I have actually seen the check-in come to a stand still as employees argue in front of passengers about what their job description is and what they are willing to do and unwilling to do. This happens in the old terminal, not the new one.

It is a disaster and not typical of all the other airports I use in the U.S.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Aha! just found a cardboard mailing tube! on 06/25/2012 11:51:04 MDT Print View

I haven't found a nylon bag big enough to fit my cardboard tube carrying my LT4s, so I just check the cardboard tube separately. Yup, marked as fragile and overcharged big time. And the tube has been opened and the poles inspected by TSA both times I've done this.

I decided after the last trip to buy poles that would fit in my bag when not extended, so I'll use those in the future and just put them in my checked bag.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Careless inspections on 06/25/2012 13:52:23 MDT Print View

I got my pack inspected once, in my presence, but I wasn't expecting the guy in charge would proceed with a cutter on the plastic wrap over what was obviously soft stuff... I stopped him just on time to avoid major damage but I got a nice, 3" cut just before I started hiking the PCT :) (the nylon tape I applied lasted the whole trip)

Since then, I've always labeled the plastic wrap with "Do not use a knife to open" or similar warn. I've never gone through inspections anymore, anyway.

Other than that, what I do is basically what Roger describes. The one thing I've incorporated over the years is I don't buy the plastic wrap brand new but I browse the garbage bins and I always find some excellent quality plastic. Only waste is the tape.