Are you bracing up for your next trek to the Himalayas? Like many of my fellow trek mates, you might have a common question- is a trekking bag allowed in the flight?
The answer would be- yes it is, as long as you meet some requirements. In India, most airlines allow small handbags and laptop bags weighing up to 7 Kg into the cabin. However, trekking backpacks weigh over 10-12 Kg, particularly when you take on long Himalayan treks.
The maximum dimension of these bags should be 22 x 14 x 9 inches, including the handles and wheels. Unless you pack your trekking bag for the flight in the right way, you need to check it in rather than carry it in the cabin.
I have come up with this blog to clear your doubts, sharing my first-hand experiences. Read on to know more about the requirements, guidelines and tips.
Guidelines For Carrying Trekking & Hiking Backpacks In Flight
Let’s face reality at the outset. All trekking bags tend to be overtly bulky, carrying your trekking gear, clothes, camera, dry food, and other essentials. Unless you properly pack your trekking bag for the flight, they will consume large spaces. So, I would recommend these guidelines to carry backpacks on flights to my trek mates.
- Refrain from carrying banned items on flights. These include any form of smoking accessories like e-cigarettes, e-hookah, and similar devices.
- Do not carry sharp objects like scissors, ice picks, knives, box cutters, or ice axes in the handbag. Banned things also include lighters, firearms, and realistic replicas of fake weapons.
- The prohibited objects list by most airlines and airports also includes bows and arrows, cricket and baseball bats, golf clubs, pool cues, spear guns, ski poles, and lacrosse sticks.
- Don’t carry any firearm or ammunition on flights. This includes compressed air guns, spare parts of firearms or guns, BB guns, and pellet guns.
- Don’t carry any self-defence or marital arts accessories during your flight.
This list does not include any backpack, right? So, why this confusion?
A recent policy update by AirAsia included: “Boxes and hiking backpacks are not considered as cabin luggage and must be checked in”. However, AirAsia reconsidered this matter soon by allowing backpacks as cabin luggage as long as they meet their cabin bag requirements.
Does It Mean That A Trekking Bag Is Allowed In The Flight?
Only if your trekking bag qualifies for the dimension requirements, you can carry it in the cabin. This is not a viable solution if you carry bulky backpacks fully loaded with your trekking accessories. Alternatively, you can keep the rucksack under 7 Kg. and put it inside a duffle bag to carry in the cabin.
Also, take care of the bag dimensions, as the airport staff would want to accommodate your cabin luggage under the front seat or the luggage space over your head. If your luggage exceeds the entitled dimensions despite being light, you have no option but to check it in.
In case you have not travelled on a flight before, learn how to travel in flight for the first time to have a delightful experience on your trip.
Tips For Packing & Carrying Your Backpack For Air Travel
1. Wrap your backpack in rain covers
I usually carry a couple of rain covers with me during my treks. I wrap my backpack on the external side using the first cover (in the same way when it rains). Next, I use the second cover to wrap the bag on the other side (facing your back). This way, you have a solid external covering all around your bag.
Well, I picked up this little trick from one of the more experienced trekkers during my Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. I highly recommend this strategy to you, as your backpack would sustain relatively lesser wear and tear.
Even if your rain cover sustains damage due to poor handling at the airport, you can get them replaced at a fraction of the cost of buying a new rucksack.
2. Use A Duffel Bag To Cover The Rucksack
If you are desperate to carry your rucksack bag in flight, here’s a strategy you can try out. However, the overall weight of your bag shouldn’t exceed 7 kg. Also, you cannot afford to have your bag too bulky. This duffel bag will serve as a cover for your bag and protect from damages.
Also, the size of your duffle bag matters. Even if the combined weight of your rucksack and the duffle bag remains under 7 Kg, you won’t be able to carry large items in those bags. Now, if you have a fully loaded 60-litre rucksack, you won’t be able to accommodate it in your duffle bag. Also Read: Best Spacious and Lightweight Rucksacks for Trekking
3. Share Your Luggage
I often share my luggage with others who are carrying fewer loads. So, if one of your companions is not carrying a backpack, you can split the load with the person. This way, both of you might be carrying small duffle bags under 7 Kg each, with your belongings distributed inside them.
Likewise, if all your trek mates are fully loaded up to 7 Kg, use a single large backpack to accommodate all your belongings and check that in. This is how I save money, paying for extra luggage in a single bag rather than several bags.
4. Put Your Hiking Clothes On
Unless it goes beyond your comfort zone, put on as many hiking clothes as possible on the plane. When you have the bulky ones on your body, you can lighten your backpack. Once you get on the plane, take the extra layers off.
5. Pack Your Items Wisely
If you need to purchase dry food, hiking clothes like socks and t-shirts, and toiletries, get them after reaching your destination. This way, you can lighten your backpack while you are on the plane.
Now, here’s what I do to keep myself from getting bored on flights. I pack electronic accessories like a power bank, iPad, iPod, and laptop together in my small handbag. So, I keep myself entertained even during short flights. Learn More: Tips To Pack A Bag For Travel
Make sure to carry your safety kit in your handbag. Painkillers, sedatives, bandages, tissues, and medications for allergies are some of the must-have medicines in the cabin. Watch this video for more tips-
Well, I believe that you have developed a concrete idea of whether you can carry the trekking bag in flight by now. Being an avid trekker, I hardly get the opportunity to carry my backpack in the cabin due to size and weight issues. What I try and do the best is to pack it in the right way so that it doesn’t get damaged.
Now that you are better poised to your bag for air travel, thank me later for these useful tips!