When you plan to backpack or hike and this requires a plane flight you may bring your hiking poles as carry on luggage. This means you intend to be able to carry your trekking poles on the airplane with you. What you may rudely find out is when they tell you that you are unable to bring them on the plane in the cabin and they may even confiscate them.
Are Hiking Poles Carry On Luggage? Currently, the TSA does not allow trekking poles as a carry on the item without proof of a medical need. This means you can bring trekking poles with you on a flight but they will have to be carried in a piece of checked luggage.
Why is this you may ask since they are used to hold you up while hiking and aren't a weapon. We will take a look into the official TSA stance and what you should focus on while trying to travel with hiking poles to ensure a safe and simple journey happens with no conflict.
It appears these fall under pole objects similar to baseball bats, snow poles, hockey sticks, and other similar hardware. Due to their ability to be used to attack someone onboard the plane, they are restricted and will be confiscated if brought through on carrying on if they aren't medically necessary.
There have been proposals to allow these items back into carry on luggage. These proposals were made specifically to allow many previously forbidden items (ski poles, hockey and Lacrosse sticks, pocket knives) to be carried through security and onto domestic flights, unfortunately they have never passed.
The official listing on the TSA website for hiking poles is here. The reason is that they could be considered a weapon in being the basic size and shape for a baton, in addition, many have a sharp metal point under the plastic cap making it additionally a stabbing object.
While the issues with the TSA are pretty well known in the United States due to the number of thru-hikes and travelers flying into the country to do longer hikes it should be noted that this issue exists overseas also. Please like Spain and England have similar restrictions to what is able to be carried onto the plane within the cabin, as with the TSA it is good form to call the airline and understand what is acceptable before you arrive at the airport.
The TSA has a blog post that specifically covers a lot of the common backpacking equipment and what is restricted by the TSA or whether you would need to check with your airline for their specific restrictions. While this is from 2015 it is still listed and the only post they have which covers backpacking equipment, this makes it still relevant in my eyes to make sure you are properly covering yourself for travel.
When looking to travel through the United States you will have to make it through our TSA at the gates, they have been known to confiscate very liberally. It is well worth your time to figure out how to carry your trekking poles before you make it to the airport.
I suggest it would be better to check your backpack and the trekking poles together if you have a checked bag for free to avoid issues, if this is not in the cards then it may be better to just ship them ahead and save yourself some money as the shipping costs are more than likely less than a checked bag ends up.
I hope that this helped shed some light on bringing trekking poles or hiking poles on the airplane with you and that you should always understand what is allowed so you don't end up having to buy new gear when yours gets confiscated, let me know below if you have been able to bring them on board with you in a carry on bag inside the United States as it would be good to know.