checking inflatable kayaks on airplanes

I will be flying to Florida with my Advanced Elements inflatable kayak for the first time. Like most airlines, US Air limits checked baggage to 50 lbs; anything over is an extra $30 each way.

So I want to stay under 50. The kayak in its bag is 36 lbs. I will check a second bag with my paddle, PFD, pump, tent and sleeping bag, and that will bring me up to 50 lbs.

That means I will have to take everything else I need for a 10 day camping trip in a carry-on backpack.

I don’t fly often; can anyone offer any advice for taking the most stuff legally aboard as carry-on?

I was actually thinking of sending the kayak to myself c/o general delivery ($14 each way) to avoid the hassle of going through the airport with a huge amount of stuff.

What are your experiences of flying with your inflatable?

I fly a lot with big bags, so…
here is my experience. First off, you are rigth about the 50lbs limit, but that limit is per bag and if you go over it is an upcharge. This means that you actually have 100 lbs of capacity for your trip. I would get the 35lb boat up to around 45lbs and fill up your other bag wuth the same amount and you should be good to go. You also get 2 carry-on bags as well, so you should be able to get away with that. In your camping stuff, make sure that you don’t carry any pressurized gas cans, because they won’t make it through and they will rummage through all your stuff to boot. I use to fly delta a lot and I never had any problems with them. I know that a lot of people have, but they have always been good to me. I have noticed especially since their bankrupcy that they were extra nice on my last trip. They didn’t even charge me for my kayak and it was 8’4" or my camp bag and it was 62lbs on their scale. I hop that this helps. --Gavin

Ship . . .
some of the stuff ahead of time. I had to fly with as many as 20 boxes to support a convention for my company. For a long time we would get cleared for extra luggage and take it on the plane.

We started to ship (UPS) them a few days ahead and it was much easer than draging all that through the airport.

If you know someone in the area have it shipped to them or maybe an outfitter in the area will let you ship it there if you are using some of his services (buy something form him).

Just a thought. And it will save you back at the airport.

Don’t forget
a 10 or 20 to the skycap will do wonders.

I struggled with this issue for several
years before buying my way out. The solution was the NRS Bandit II. Flew with it last month and the whole boat duffle weighed 33 lbs according to the airline scale. That included boat, 2 seats, Bravo II pump, 1 pfd, 2 booties/socks, gloves, breakdown paddle, 3500ci dry bag, 5 liter dry bag, small repair kit, and the duffle.

I love the light weight and it was of primary consideration when purchasing the boat. I fly occasionally to boat and a 50lb tandem is not very workable. In addition there are a couple long trips planned for the spring which include mandatory portages, and being solo, that also factored in.

So the camping gear goes into a regular backpack as the 2nd piece of check-in luggage and I use the carry-on daypack as typical carry-on suppport.

All good advice - thank you especially garcreek, I didn’t realize it was 50 lbs. per bag, I thought it was 50 lbs. total.

I’m going to pack all my stuff up and see how cumbersome it is. If I can’t manage it, I’ll ship the boat, maybe to an outfitter.

I used to ship my mountain bike ahead to bike shops when I went on vacation, ask them to assemble it when it got there, then paid them for that service and tried to buy something else I needed, too.

The boat is actually WAY easier to pack.