Can a Hiking Backpack Be a Carry On: Important Things to Consider Before Heading to the Airport

Since we all find carrying a backpack convenient and effortless, as a hiker or backpacker, you must know your way around packing everything in it. That makes most of us often wonder and ask, “Can a hiking backpack be a carry on luggage?” The sad thing is that the answer is not that simple because it can either be a “No.” or a “Yes.” Hence, this is one of those situations that have numerous factors at play.

When taking your hiking bag through the airport, you have to give some thought to it. Obviously, it would be perfect if you could carry it on board because you will not have to go through the hassle of checking it in and then waiting for it once you arrive. In short, you would rather be on the trail already than look at bags on the conveyor belt.

What are the Carry-On Luggage Requirements?

For us to know and answer the question “Can a hiking backpack be a carry on luggage?” let us take a look at the carry-on luggage requirements of airports.

  • Carry-On Size and Weight Restrictions

All airlines definitely have both size and weight restrictions on what can qualify as fa carry-on. The weight limit for this kind of luggage is usually seven to ten kilograms, wherein seven kilograms is the most common standard used by several airlines. In addition, there is also a size restriction that may vary between airlines. Thus, it is good to check it with the airline directly beforehand if it has not been mentioned on your ticket.

A backpack that is intended for a day or weekend hiking trip may weigh less than the limit set by the airline. However, those hiking backpacks that are designed for long trips would surely weigh more than 10 kilograms. Even if you have very limited stuff, some items, such as utensils, bottles, and tent, can be quite heavy and you cannot really go on hiking without them. An easy way to determine the weight of the backpack before leaving for the airport is to use a weighing scale. If your backpack weighs lesser or equal to the weight limit, you can definitely carry it on board.

  • Items Restrictions

Another thing that hinders hiking backpacks from being carry-on luggage is item prohibitions. This means that some items have to be checked in and cannot be carried on the plane. When your hiking bag is all that is in your possession, you are left with no option but to check it in.

As a guide, there is a restriction on liquids, and you cannot carry any form of liquids that weigh more than 100 milliliters or 3.4 ounces. This means that you should not place water bottles, shampoos, body showers, and moisturizers in your backpack. If you have any liquid less than 100 milliliters, you might just get away, but when you are going on a long hiking trip that would be difficult to manage.

Besides the liquid items, knives, scissors, ice ax, razors, box cutters and other such sharp objects are strictly not allowed when boarding the plane. If you have any of these items which you probably would consider when you are planning a hiking trip, you have to check it in with the airline. In case you do not, you will be sent back when you reach security check.

Can a Hiking Backpack Be a Carry On Luggage?

As can be denoted by the requirements given above, there are no restrictions on hiking backpacks in particular when it comes to taking it as a hand carry. This means that it is considered by airlines as an ordinary traveling bag. As such, as long as it meets the weight and size requirements and no prohibited items are found inside, it can be carry-on luggage.

Still, backpacks can be quite bulky even if they do not weigh a lot as you have stuff like sleeping mats, tents, and sleeping bags. This can be somewhat problematic as, at times, you need to walk sideways. Likewise, if you are flying on a plane that is fully booked, there is a chance that there would be not enough space to put in your hiking backpack. Nevertheless, once you are onboard, it is the crew’s job to make sure your bag is stored.

On the contrary, the good thing about being able to carry your backpack as hand carry is that you might be able to save luggage charges. That is because many budget airlines offer cheap fares that do not have free check-in luggage. Just always remember that if you do not check your backpack in, make sure that every zipper is fully zipped up and all pockets are closed. Also, keep an eye on the bag as you may have some stuff hanging from the hooks and lash-on.

Final Words

Without a doubt, if you meet the luggage weight and size requirements of the airline you can, in fact, carry it as a hand carry. In case the bag is not too heavy and big, but you have things that cannot be taken onboard, one way to go about it is to get the prohibited items once you reach your destination.

However, that is not always possible because there can be a significant price difference, not to mention availability. Plus it is better to come prepared with all the gear at your disposal. When you are in a foreign city, it can be difficult to look for shops and buy equipment for hiking. Also, if you already own something, it does not make sense to purchase it again. Therefore, in the end, it is still up to you which is your priority.

A last note for you is if you really plan not to check it in, make sure that you check with the airline what is the exact weight and size limit for both carry-on and check-in luggage. If yours cannot be carried on the flight, you should head to the airport a little early to check it in.

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