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