Flying with a Camping Stove

Originally Published March 13, 2013.


June 14, 2017 update: MSR recently checked in with TSA to confirm these policies still apply. TSA indicated one update—the burner, free of fuels, is allowed in checked baggage only. That update is reflected below.

Flying with a camping stove can be trickier than one would think. Don’t waste time, fuel, or lose your stove. Follow these steps and check up with TSA to make sure you’re flying right with your backcountry stove!

TSA Rules – You are allowed to bring a stove in checked baggage, but ONLY if you take the time and care to empty it of all fuel and clean it so there are no vapors or residue left.  If you do not clean the stove thoroughly flammable vapors will remain, and those can lead to confiscation. We recommend storing your clean, dry stove in its stuff sack in your checked bag. 

TSA does not allow you to carry canister fuel on an airplane, for obvious reasons. You can carry a fuel bottle for a liquid fuel stove if you take the proper precautions. First, make sure you clean the bottle the best you can. Use soap, a brush and plenty of hot water to remove the smell of fuel. Take your time and do a good job before you check in – otherwise you’ll be looking for a new bottle when you get there. When you pack the bottle, make sure it is dry inside and out, with no scent of fuel. Leave the cap off the bottle so TSA can see that it’s empty.

Sometimes, less-experienced TSA employees will confiscate a fuel bottle because of the red paint and warnings on the outside. We don’t recommend removing or painting over these important warnings, but there is something you can do to protect your bottles. Wrap each bottle in a piece of paper and cover it with a rubber band (remove the paper before using the stove, of course). We recommend printing the TSA travel document included with this article and using it as a bottle wrap. Leave another copy of the document in your luggage. Include a summary of the stove, bottle and parts so the agents have a good idea what they’re looking at.

There’s no guarantee your stove or fuel bottles will make it on the plane with you. Before you fly, make a contingency plan. Figure out where to buy replacements when you land, or who you can borrow or rent gear from.

If you have the luxury, we recommend that you ship the empty fuel containers directly to your destination in advance just so you don’t have to worry about it. In some cases it is possible to ship fuel itself, but this usually comes with additional fees and hassle. It is almost always better to find it at a local retailer.

For more information on traveling with camping gear you can visit the TSA website. It’s also important to check the policies of your particular airline as well; they may differ from TSA’s.

See attached file: TSA Travel Document

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  • Sharon

    thanks for the TSA page, what a great idea. our stove unscrews from the canister so we’re just flying with the top, no fuel lines. should I rewrite your letter and take out that sentence because it doesn’t mater and will just confuse TSA?

  • qb

    I’ve spent several minutes searching the TSA site for a written policy about cleaned and odor free liquid fuel stoves and find NOTHING. Please – you claim to know the policy from TSA so please SUPPLY THE LINK to that info.

    By the way – SouthWest air policy is pasted here (along with the almighty URL). Then DO NOT accept any stoves if not BRAND NEW, NEVER USED. and if need be click Camping Equipment on the left side.

    “Flammable Liquid Fueled Equipment (white fuel, gasoline, diesel, etc.): Camp stoves, heaters, lanterns or other flammable liquid fuel camp equipment will not be accepted as checked or carryon baggage unless the equipment is brand new, unused and still in the manufacturer’s package. We will not accept flammable liquid fuel equipment if there is any evidence that the equipment has been used.”

  • Jason

    This was great advice for my trip a couple weeks ago to Norway. I had no issues after cleaning the bottle and stove as you recommended on the trip to Norway and my bag was not even inspected (or they didn’t leave a sheet). On the way back, I made sure to clean the bottle with soapy water and after about 15-20 minutes it had no fuel smell. They did inspect my bag on the way back but did not take any of the pieces. I will say I did not wrap the bottle or place the document in my bag and still had no problems.