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Traveling with a tripod is a bit annoying — let alone an entire camera system. The tripod takes up valuable space and weight in your checked luggage. So, the best alternative is to take it with you on the plane as a carry-on item. But can you actually bring a tripod with you through airport security?

In this guide, I’ll explain my experience traveling with a tripod, if you can bring it on a plane, and essential tips for packing your tripod in your carry-on.

Can You Bring a Tripod in Your Carry-On?

I have flown several times through Canada, the US, and globally and had no problem bringing my tripod with my carry-on onto the airplane — except once in Colombia (more on this below). A tripod is a camera accessory that folds down to a manageable size to attach to your camera backpack and fit in the plane overhead bin.

tsa tripod rule
TSA rules regarding Tripods

According to the TSA, tripods are allowed in both checked and cabin luggage. The Canadian counterpart, CATSA, also states camera equipment is allowed in carry-on luggage, which include tripod. This rule holds true for nearly all airport authorities, so you’ll have no problem passing through airport security with a tripod in your carry-on.

Canada CATSA guidlines regarding bring camera equipment, including a tripod, on a plane.
CATSA guidelines for camera equipment, including tripods.

Airlines also don’t restrict camera tripods on airplanes since they are not classified as hazardous material. However, many budget airlines charge extra for carry-on luggage, including restricting the volume and weight, so you’ll need to look out for extra charges if you attach a tripod to your hand luggage.

Related: Best Tripods Under $100

When I Couldn’t Bring My Tripod

Now, one time in Colombia in 2014, I was flying domestically, and the airport security control had an issue with my tripod. I assume he considered it a potential weapon, and I had to check my tripod. This was quite annoying because I had already dropped off my checked luggage, and I didn’t have any type of protection for my tripod, nor did I want to pay extra for an additional piece of checked luggage. Furthermore, I never had this issue flying within Colombia.

I returned to the Avianca check-in counter and explained the situation. The friendly agent checked my tripod for free, though without any protection. Luckily, my tripod arrived at my destination with no damage.

Tips for Flying with a Tripod

1. Pack it in your checked luggage if you have space

Durable tripods can weigh quite a bit. The Manfrotto Befree aluminum version weighs 2kg/4.4 lbs, and its carbon fiber version weighs 1.6kg/3.5 lbs — these weights are noticeable — and can be painful when lugging it on your carry-on.

If you have extra space (volume and weight) in your checked luggage, pack your tripod in there. Trust me, I already travel with a 16-inch MacBook Pro, and flying with a camera and a tripod burdens the load, which is annoying, if not unbearable.

2. Use a dedicated camera backpack

If you do decide to go the more common carry-on route, purchase a camera backpack with a dedicated tripod strap. Backpacks like this make attaching your tripod effortless and help balance the load. The ergonomic structure helps prevent back injuries.

Related: Best Camera Backpacks Under $100

3. Prioritize weight

Get a lightweight tripod — better if you can afford a carbon fiber model. If you’re worried about wind motion blur on a lightweight tripod, you can always surround the tripod legs with rocks and natural weight below the mount. 

Final Thoughts

Travel with a lightweight tripod when you’re flying. 

You can bring a camera tripod in your carry-on luggage because it is a camera accessory and not a restricted item. However, airport security at the control checkpoint has the final decision, and you may encounter an unlucky agent who considers a tripod a potential weapon. So, always be prepared to check in your tripod.

Vincent Croos
About the Author: Vincent Croos

Hola Parceros,

I’m the founder of Aperlust. I enjoy web development and SEO and am into snowboarding and linguistics. In my spare time, you can find me destroying my opponents in chess across the globe.

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