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Travelling abroad with caving kit

thehungrytroglobite

Well-known member
Hellloo,

I need to make plans to travel abroad with camping + hiking + caving kit this summer (a lot to carry!). I figure I can get it all in my 80l rucksack and 60l Petzl duffel. I'm trying to figure out what bags to book on the plane and it measures the bags by weight, but I have no idea how much my bags will weigh. They will contain full caving and SRT kit, a tent, sleeping bag, clothes etc, split between them. Does anyone have even a vague idea on how much each bag will weigh? Also, any other tips for travelling abroad with and carrying lots of kit? I have never done it before. I also hate maths

messy boocoo
 

wellyjen

Well-known member
A set of luggage scales are a useful purchase and not a lot of money. All I can say is that caving + camping + hiking kit is a tremendous amount in both weight and volume. Been a long time since I last went caving by air and they are much more strict on luggage weights than they used to be. I once checked in 25kg of freeze dried food, as well as my caving kit, clothing etc. I think the total came to 70kg and I could barely move carrying it all, yet I wasn't charged any extra. That wouldn't happen now.
 

Cantclimbtom

Well-known member
Caving kit is tame compared to mountaineering kit (think: ice tools!) and the "trick" with that is anything metal and anything sharp needs to be put into the hold. Even things a "reasonable" person might consider as non hazardous, like a bunch of carabiners is better off in the hold not hand luggage. Don't know where you are going but check ahead if you can get whatever type of camping gas cylinder you expect to use (and don't even think of trying to buy paraffin in France for a liquid stove... it's not going to happen!). BA might be cheaper than sleazyjet once you have weighed the bags. Enjoy the trip wherever you're going!
 

Mark Wright

Active member
As Wellyjen says, get yourself some luggage scales and do some practice packing.

As a regular flyer with industrial climbing gear (+/- 120 flights a year - 4 this week alone) I’ve learned to take just what I need, and nothing more.

I’ve also learned the hard way which are the best airlines. EasyJet and BA are the worst airlines and will cancel flights at the drop of a hat. EasyJet cancelled my flight from Hamburg to Manchester at 10pm last Friday night. They offered Dave Cowley and myself the next available flight home but that was Monday!! After getting a refund for the cancelled flight it cost us £680.00 for a hotel and a Lufthansa flight home the following day. It cost me a similar amount when BA did the same thing a couple of years ago.

Ryanair are by far the best airline though only give you a 20kg per bag allowance. Vueling are also a good budget airline if you are flying to Spain.

I’m currently sat in Genoa airport waiting for a flight back to Stansted with Ryanair.

From experience, don’t put a rack of carabiners in your hand luggage as they will almost certainly be confiscated. Keep your hand luggage for textiles.
 

thehungrytroglobite

Well-known member
As Wellyjen says, get yourself some luggage scales and do some practice packing.

As a regular flyer with industrial climbing gear (+/- 120 flights a year - 4 this week alone) I’ve learned to take just what I need, and nothing more.

I’ve also learned the hard way which are the best airlines. EasyJet and BA are the worst airlines and will cancel flights at the drop of a hat. EasyJet cancelled my flight from Hamburg to Manchester at 10pm last Friday night. They offered Dave Cowley and myself the next available flight home but that was Monday!! After getting a refund for the cancelled flight it cost us £680.00 for a hotel and a Lufthansa flight home the following day. It cost me a similar amount when BA did the same thing a couple of years ago.

Ryanair are by far the best airline though only give you a 20kg per bag allowance. Vueling are also a good budget airline if you are flying to Spain.

I’m currently sat in Genoa airport waiting for a flight back to Stansted with Ryanair.

From experience, don’t put a rack of carabiners in your hand luggage as they will almost certainly be confiscated. Keep your hand luggage for textiles.
Hmm interesting I was planning on going with BA as I've heard bad things about the others and the whole adding on luggage with the others actually means they aren't really any cheaper.

Another option would be for me to get the train but that would take a lot longer, cost more and be a bit harder with all the kit I think
 

Loki

Active member
Hmm interesting I was planning on going with BA as I've heard bad things about the others and the whole adding on luggage with the others actually means they aren't really any cheaper.

Another option would be for me to get the train but that would take a lot longer, cost more and be a bit harder with all the kit I think
Er where are you going & when? If you can get train someone might be going by car in the same direction some or all the way and could take you some or all of the way for a fuel contribution. Or even for free if you drive !
Flying wise I find if I can just about lift it and still swing a rucksack onto my back it’s 17 to 20 kg. If you can’t get it off the floor by yourself it’s probably over your allowance 🤣 anyway.
You can get surprises. I once brought 2 disassembled mtbs in fertiliser bags back from Lima and didn’t get charged extra baggage.
 

thehungrytroglobite

Well-known member
I'm going to Slovenia to go caving. Aiming to arrive around the 23rd July but can be flexible (ie. a bit before or after). Could also get a train/bus from somewhere else in europe, would still be cheaper than flying haha
 

aricooperdavis

Moderator
Flixbus can be really cheap, but having spent 36 hours on one on the way back from Austria a couple of years ago I'd have happily paid £100 to take the train or fly!

Edit: And to actually answer your question, metalwork in the hold, clothes and li-ion batteries in the cabin.
 

Ian

Member
Nope, according to the BA website it is
Economy (with checked bag) 1 x 23kg bag
Premium economy 2 x 23kg bags
Business 2 x 32kg bags
First 3 x 32kg bags

Admittedly you won't be first or business so they would probably charge extra for the excess weight. Just make sure you don't go over 32kg per bag or they might refuse to take it at all.

Dad thing is the excess bag charge can also vary depending on which way you are flying - I've had this on at least 2 different airlines.
 

mikem

Well-known member
They are presumably allowing for Americans, who seem to get bigger allowances on their airlines than most other countries.

You should always check sports equipment:
"If it fits in your hand baggage, and it’s allowed in the cabin, it’s free. If it fits in your checked baggage allowance and it’s not restricted, it’s free.
No matter if you’re a rock climber, deep sea diver or snowboarder, there’s plenty of space for your weird and wonderful items. 
If you’ve already used your free checked baggage allowance, you may have to pay to put extra bags in the hold.
Anything heavier or larger than the maximum checked baggage dimensions must be shipped as cargo."

"If your flight number begins with anything other than ‘BA’ (e.g. AA123456X), you’re flying with one of our partners and your baggage allowances may be different.
If a journey with connecting flights includes ‘BA’ and other airline codes, your baggage allowance is generally determined by the airline that operates the longest flight in your itinerary."

They do have a calculator to check cost (no idea how much premium is compared to 2nd bag):

Which for Heathrow to Slovenia gives:
Online priceAirport price
1st bagIncludedIncluded
2nd bag£65.00£75.00
3rd bag£80.00£95.00
4th bag£80.00£95.00
 

mikem

Well-known member
That chart is for economy so likely 23kg each & you'll almost certainly be charged extra if they weigh more (& not accepted if greater than 32kg - H&S limit for lifting by their staff)

A set of bathroom scales can also give an idea, but often require someone else to read them whilst you hold the bag! I would put all the heaviest kit in the rucksack & see how much it weighs to start with, & when you actually pack put any small but heavy items (that aren't restricted) in hand luggage.
 

Speleofish

Active member
Have you considered a Eurail ticket? By the time you've paid any excess baggage to the airlines, the cost will probably be similar. The advantages are that you can take as much baggage as you can carry (I think) and you can vary your journey both ways so can do a little sightseeing.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Weight wise I reckon you should allow 15kg for caving gear, 10kg for camping gear and another 5kg for extra clothes, personal stuff etc. You can just get that in your 23kg check in bag and hand luggage if you try hard. Wear the big walking boots and heavy top coat on the plane - to get you through check in anyway.

Of course it depends very much on what gear you actually have. A scurion mounted on an Ecrin with spare batteries will weigh a lot more than a Fenix on a light weigh helmet. Steel shanked wellies can be nearly a kilo each. You can pare down an SRT kit quite a bit too, tents vary a lot, etc, etc.

I know someone who took light weigh gear so seriously and used to cut most of the handle off his toothbrush. You may not need to go that far but have a real good think about what you need to take and how to make it lighter. Have a good trip.
 

Mark Wright

Active member
Having watched closely how baggage handlers operate, a 32kg rucksack will probably arrive in Slovenia with a broken shoulder strap which will leave you in a real pickle!!
 

aricooperdavis

Moderator
I know someone who took light weigh gear so seriously and used to cut most of the handle off his toothbrush.
I've done that, but to save space rather than weight, on a multi-day kayaking trip when space was at an absolute minimum. It's surprisingly difficult to brush your teeth with though!
 

thehungrytroglobite

Well-known member
Have you considered a Eurail ticket? By the time you've paid any excess baggage to the airlines, the cost will probably be similar. The advantages are that you can take as much baggage as you can carry (I think) and you can vary your journey both ways so can do a little sightseeing.
I have considered this. It would be around £50 ish more expensive so not much in it really. But it would take a lot more time, and my main concern is the hassle of having to run across 6+ train stations with all that kit. I'm gonna see if I can borrow a tent out there as then I think I might be able to fit everything into my 65l rucksack + 40l rucksack on the front, which would be more feasible. I can also save space by just using a fire dragon instead of a proper stove and living off couscous
 

Rachel

Active member
It's definitely doable - I've flown a couple of times using a large suitcase for camping/caving gear and small rucksack for clothes.

Rather than packing wellies, I flew wearing some knackered old hiking boots which I used for caving in. I also didn't bother with an undersuit, as it was warm enough to just put an oversuit over ronhills and base layer top.
 
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