Jun 24, 2012 at 12:01 am #1291331
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?Jun 24, 2012 at 12:13 am #1889645
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.–Jun 24, 2012 at 9:36 am #1889685
Put it in a sturdy cardboard box or buy a McHale :)Jun 24, 2012 at 10:18 am #1889691
I never check my pack. They are not going to baby it.Jun 24, 2012 at 10:31 am #1889694
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.Jun 24, 2012 at 11:55 am #1889709
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I always take my pack as carry an then check a small hold all with pole, pegs, stove an knife.
Cheers,Jun 24, 2012 at 12:34 pm #1889714
What kind of duffle bag do you have or could anyone suggest a good bag along those lines? Thanks!Jun 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm #1889723
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.–Jun 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm #1889748
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
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.
CheersJun 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm #1889761
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"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.Jun 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm #1889782
"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.–Jun 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm #1889857
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.Jun 24, 2012 at 11:24 pm #1889858
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.Jun 24, 2012 at 11:55 pm #1889860
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.–Jun 25, 2012 at 12:38 am #1889863
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> 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.
CheersJun 25, 2012 at 5:12 am #1889885
@jamesmcLocale: Near Bass Strait
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.)Jun 25, 2012 at 9:38 am #1889934
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
+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.
NewtonJun 25, 2012 at 10:33 am #1889948
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.Jun 25, 2012 at 10:51 am #1889958
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.Jun 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm #1889994
Inaki Diaz de EturaParticipant
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
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.Jun 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm #1890071
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"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."
In truth, I suspect it has a lot to do with where you do your traveling. My experience since 9/11 has been limited to the US, and I strongly suspect you would have difficulty with your method here. Fortunately, it seems much of the rest of the world is a bit less uptight about the matter.
"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."
Again, a different procedure. You will not be present over here when they open your bag. You will merely find a sweet little note when you retrieve your bag informing you that TSA have inspected your bag and, in some cases, confiscated without any recourse for you, items they deemed suspicious or unacceptable in checked baggage. It is a very unpleasant situation, which a I place in the category of atoning for the sins of our fathers. As for making sure the baggage is accompanied, I used to think that was a very smart idea, but 9/11 and various suicidal attempts since have put paid to that one, at least for me. :(
CheersJun 26, 2012 at 10:07 am #1890242
@malligatorLocale: Valley of the Sun
Instead of trash bags use the plastic bags the airlines hand out for car seats. They are more rugged than trashbags and they are clear so they may be less likely to be opened and inspected.Jun 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm #1890410
@forest-2Locale: Hunter Valley - Australia
I purchase a cheap nylon pack liner, you know, roll top closure, might be 70D coated nylon to make it waterproof. I recall it's a Mountain Designs 75 litre one, Lovely bright green so you don't miss it when it come through on the conveyor belt.
I can fit my Osprey Exos 46 large in it easy. Just slid the pack in and roll down the top tight and buckle it up. I have a small cable travel lock which I put through the roll top buckle to make it all secure.
Works great as you can use the rolltop like a handle and theres no dangly pack straps etc hanging out to get caught and any abrasion is against the pack liner, not your pack.
I've done this about 6 times now for international flights. The pack liner's looking a little sorry with black scuffs etc that you get at the airport but the packs never damaged at all. Small price to pay and the liner was only like $20 anyway.
Quick and easy too, I carry my loaded pack to the airport just like a normal pack. Just stuff it in the liner when your waiting for your ticket. Same when you land and get the pack of the converyor belt, just undo the buckle, slip the pack out and off it goes on your back.
The pack liner could also be used on the actual trip if you wanted but there are lighter options and I've always had someone to leave some gear with.
It stuffs easily into a side pocket etc once removed or prior to the flight while your wearing the pack.
I guess you couldn't do this with a huge pack as you wouldn't be able to fit a huge pack "into" the liner, but hey that's one advantage of UL Backpacking.
The biggest reason I like this way is because it's quick and I can travel too and from the airport with my pack… as a pack. No bulky duffle bag or rolls of tape, garbage bags etc.Jun 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm #1890430
@hitmanLocale: West Florida
I fly a fair amount and have seen what they do to suitcases.
There is NO WAY I'm checking my pack. I'll check another smaller bag, but I'm carrying my pack myself.Jul 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm #1891387
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
In 1980 I took a paid job building the 9 mile Snow creek section of the PCT. I put my backpack in a big canvas laundry bag W/ my name and my Pennsylvania home address on it and flew to LAX airport. Everything was fine to and from LA.
I had a Gregory internal frame pack. Maybe an external frame would have been busted by ham-handed cargo handlers.
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