Rules for Flights in the USA
Ice axes are not allowed in carry-on baggage on flights in the United States, but travelers can pack them in checked baggage. All sharp ice climbing tools, like ice axes, picks, pitons, knives, crampons, and nut tools should be wrapped safely when packed in checked luggage to prevent any injuries to the security agents while performing inspections on the bag.
The other type of ice climbing equipment that’s banned in hand luggage is heavy, blunt tools, like hammers. They can only be packed in checked luggage.
Other ice climbing equipment that isn’t sharp or heavy enough to be considered a blunt weapon, is allowed both on carry-on and checked baggage. Safe climbing equipment that’s allowed in hand luggage includes helmets, carabiners, quickdraws, ropes, harnesses, groves, and similar items.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, and India
On Canadian, European, UK, Australian, New Zealand, Chinese, and Indian flights, the rules for ice picks and other sharp ice climbing equipment are pretty much identical to the US – they’re allowed only in checked luggage and must be securely protected to avoid accidental injuries. Blunt tools that can be used as bludgeons are also banned from hand luggage, such as alpinism hammers.
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring ice climbing tools onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Ice Axes and Ice Climbing Gear on Planes
Can I take ice climbing tools, whippets, ice picks, or trekking poles on planes?
Travelers can take climbing tools and equipment on planes in the United States with certain restrictions. Whippets, ice picks, and trekking poles are sharp objects and therefore aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage, but they can travel in cargo baggage. Climbing equipment like helmets, rope, carabiners, quickdraws, and gloves are permitted both in carry-on and checked luggage.
Can I bring ice climbing screws, pitons, and draws on planes?
Passengers can’t travel with pitons and climbing screws in carry-on luggage in the United States as they are considered sharp objects that could be potential weapons. Overall, quickdraws are accepted in carry-on and checked luggage, but the security agent in the airport makes the last decision whether they’re safe to take in the cabin or not.
Read Next: Can You Bring Snowshoes on Planes?
How should I pack ice axes in my luggage?
Travelers should pack ice axes in checked luggage when traveling on planes in the United States. Axes should be wrapped safely to prevent any harm to anyone handling the baggage. Some of the ways to pack an ice axe in luggage include using an axe rubber protector, putting it inside cardboard, and using the elastic cords in the suitcase to prevent it from moving around.
Do I have to declare ice axes when packed in checked luggage?
You don’t have to declare your ice axes if you own them already and are traveling with them. You should only declare ice axes to customs when you buy them at a destination outside the United States and you intend to return with them to the country. If you buy any other climbing equipment while on a trip, you need to declare it once you return to the United States.
Can I take crampons, microspikes, or Yaktrax ice cleats on planes?
Theoretically, crampons and Yaktrax are allowed in carry-on luggage when traveling in the United States. But, TSA recommends packing them in a checked suitcase, as the TSA agent at the airport might deem them as dangerous objects. According to TSA, snow spikes are not allowed in carry-on luggage in the United States.
Can I bring climbing harnesses and helmets on planes?
Overall, you can bring climbing harnesses and helmets both in hand and checked baggage on planes in the United States. Still, your baggage might be subject to additional inspection, so be prepared to answer questions about your equipment.
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