WhisperLite (courtesy, MSR)
Gear Guy

How can I transport my stove overseas?

Since airlines ban gas containers, even empty ones (a display of banned items at the San Jose airport includes the burner element, too), how do expeditions transport their stoves overseas? More to the point, how can I? Mark San Jose, California


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Expeditions have it easy—in most cases, they ship their stoves via airfreight, so they avoid the hassle of getting the third-degree from some overzealous desk attendant. I mean, I certainly understand why the airlines don’t want half-full fuel bottles sloshing around in the baggage compartment. And I understand that there are new security concerns in light of the 2001 terrorist attacks. But the average shaving kit with its alcohol-based aftershave probably poses a bigger risk of exploding than a clean, empty fuel bottle. Impounding the burner really baffles me, as there’s nothing more than dry fuel residue on it, if that. But I know it happens.

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Anyway, typically there are two ways around this dilemma. One is to treat the stove as disposable, or at least sellable. You buy a new stove and bottle(s) for your trip, check in for your flight with the gear still unopened in its original factory packaging, and when you come home you either throw it all away or sell it to a local. As an aside, canister-fuel stoves are usually easiest to check through because liquid fuel never touches them. The canisters, of course, cannot be transported, so that presents its own set of problems if you’re traveling to very remote locations where buying fuel upon arrival isn’t possible.

The other approach is to work with your airline long before departure. Call them up, get a customer-service attendant who knows luggage rules on the phone, and explain what it is you need to do. Get them to explain their rules (the various carriers differ) and how you can tackle them. And do your part by thoroughly cleaning your stove and fuel bottles (use a little acetone, and air-dry for days). If it smells at all of fuel, it ain’t flying.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, MSR