Last year my son and I flew to California from NC to hike in the Sierras. I posted here on BPL and after reading the posts decided to pack our gear in a duffle and check the bag. I bought the biggest duffle that the regulations allow before you pay extra for oversize luggage which I think is 62 inches adding all dimensions together. In that duffle I packed two backpacks, they are not ultra light, two sleeping bags, our 2 man tent, our trekking poles(placed inside 3 inch mailing tubes)and sleeping pads. All other gear, stoves, pots etc was packed in our suitcases along with our clothes. This worked out well for us and we had no problems. We would have been in trouble had the airline lost our luggage but paying the checked bag fee was cheaper than paying UPS. We are also going to Philmont this summer in August and will use the same method again.
Others here on BPL simply suggested packing your backpack and wrapping the backpack with shrinkwrap, which I considered but not sure how that would go over with the TSA.