How to Pack Your Adventure Gear for Air Travel

Cotopaxi and have teamed up to bring you the tips you need to get your gear to your destination without any hiccups.

Written by Lara Vukelich

Cotopaxi Cusco 26L Pack. Photo from Border Free Travels.

One of the biggest buzzkills on any vacation is landing at your destination, grabbing your gear, and realizing it’s broken or scratched. The only thing that’s worse? Having a gate agent or TSA give you the side-eye and turn your gear away altogether. The good news is you can bring most adventure gear on your next flight – you just need to pack it right and know when to check it. Cotopaxi and have teamed up to bring you the tips you need to get your gear to your destination without any hiccups.


How to Pack Your Adventure Gear for Air Travel- Surfing

Keep Your Surfboard in Shape for Catching Waves

No surprises here: You can’t lug your surfboard onto the plane. It won’t fit in the overhead compartments…or anywhere else on board, for that matter. Most airlines will let you count it as checked baggage, however. There may be limited availability for gear on each flight, so let your airline know when you book your ticket that you plan to check your surfboard. When it comes time to prep your board for travel, a few hardware store supplies will get your surf gear protected at a cheap price. Buy pipe insulation and cut it down the middle, then wrap the insulation around the edge of your board, making the sides ding-proof. Wrap the top and bottom in some bubble wrap, and you’re ready to begin your trek to one of the best surf spots in the world.


How to Pack Your Adventure Gear for Air Travel- Biking

Stop Wrecking Your Bike When You Travel

Lots of airlines will let you check a bike for a fee. You can expect a weight limit, however, which is usually 100 pounds. Now down to business: How should you pack your bike? You can wrap it in plastic, but that won’t offer much protection. You can also pay for an expensive hard case, which may be worth it if you intend on bringing your bike on many long-haul journeys. If you don’t want to go that route, however, you can pack your bike using far less expensive supplies. Get a box from a bike store or other retailer that is large enough to fit your whole bike. While it saves time to cram your entire bike into the box and call it a day, you’re better off disassembling it first. Remove the pedals, handlebars, wheels, and seat, and cover them individually with foam or bubble wrap. Once you’ve also covered the frame, you’re ready to pack the box for check in.


How to Pack Your Adventure Gear for Air Travel- Kayak

Pack Your Kayak the Right Way

Some airlines have kayaks on their baggage “blacklist,” so do your research before you book a ticket. Trying to disguise your kayak as a surfboard or oversized art piece probably won’t go over so well. Once you find an airline that will let you check your boat, take time to protect it. You can either wrap your paddles separately with foam, or tape the head of your paddle blades to the kayak cockpit rim. Consider packing sleeping bags, blankets, or other soft supplies in the kayak to offer some support. Wrap the kayak in a tarp and use tape to secure it in place. Cover it in a kayak bag, and you’re ready to hand it over at the airport.

Don’t forget to make sure your identification is on every piece of gear you check. The tags provided at check-in can be torn or lost pretty easily, so you may want to write your full name and contact information on a piece of paper and use packing tape to attach it right to the gear. If bringing your adventure gear still seems to be too much of a hassle, look into renting your adventure gear once arriving at your destination. Happy travels!

Written by Lara Vukelich from

Interested in doing good? Check out Cotopaxi’s Adventure for Good Grant. The grant is awarded to outstanding adventurers who have demonstrated a significant commitment to their global community through volunteerism.