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The Best Way To Take Climbing Chalk Through Airport Security

The Best Way To Take Climbing Chalk Through Airport Security

I’m getting ready for a short work trip to a place that has a cool bouldering gym that I want to test out in my free time but I was wondering if I could bring chalk on the plane so I did some research to find out.

Can you bring climbing chalk on a plane? TSA and many climbers report that bringing chalk in your carry on bag or checked bag is allowed. In addition, many climbers have reported that from most airports, they haven’t had a problem. Sometimes security may question you about it or even test the powder, but in the end, they let you through.

Knowing that powder climbing chalk is allowed on the plane brings a lot of relief so I don’t have to purchase chalk for a very short trip, but what if I use liquid or blocks of chalk. Do I need to worry then?

What Kind Of Chalk Is Allowed Through TSA Security? 

Climbers chalk is one of the most common tools used by climbers so it is important to have it with you when you find a great gym or a beautiful rock formation on your travels.

Many climbers online (that haven’t flown with chalk before) suggest that they just purchase chalk at the location they are going each time they travel because the cost of chalk seems less to them than any potential hangups at airport security. However, the justification for purchasing chalk and hoping that the type of chalk you use is available where you’re going can be stressful.

Here is a general guide for what chalk is allowed through TSA security at airports.

Powder Chalk

According to many TSA responses on Twitter, rock climbing chalk powder is allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. It is ideal if you pack the chalk in your chalk bag with the drawstring closed as tightly as possible, then place that chalk bag in a large Ziploc bag so it doesn’t get on anything else (like my business meeting outfits).

Scented Powder Chalk or Mixed Powder Chalk (Upsalite additives)

Scented powder chalk is considered the same as basic powder chalk and thus, it is allowed in your carry-on and checked baggage. However, like anything else, the TSA agents may choose to search and/or test the chalk you have in your bag.

Chalk Blocks

As suspicious as you may feel that your chalk block is when it comes to going through TSA security, it is still allowed. In some cases, some TSA agents may test a piece of your chalk block to confirm that it is indeed climbers chalk. At which point, they will allow you through security with it in your carry-on or checked baggage.

Liquid Chalk

Liquid chalk follows the same guidelines as any other liquids. You may carry on liquid chalk as long as it is 3.4 oz or 100 milliliters or smaller and contained in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Be sure to place the bag containing your liquid chalk separate from the rest of your checked baggage for the screening process. 

Any containers of liquid chalk larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.

How Much Climbing Chalk Can You Bring On A Plane?

TSA has many restrictions on the amount of something you can bring in your carryon bag for many items but there isn’t a limit for climbing chalk. 

Ask TSA, however has noted that if you have more than 12 oz of chalk, you should place the chalk in a seperate container while going through screenings and that additional screening may occure.

I’ve personally been swabbed, patted down, questioned, my carry on and checked bags have been checked by TSA multiple times and this is all without having any climbing gear in the bag. I didn’t have anything suspicious in my bag, just clothes, toiletries, sometimes a laptop and sometimes a camera. So to my knowledge, nothing suspicious – I was just the random citizen they decided to search (on multiple occasions). 

So even if you just bring 10oz instead of 12+oz when it comes to being selected for additional checks. But if you do get additional checks, they have means of quickly testing it to ensure it isn’t a dangerous chemical or other things… (you know what I’m talking about).

How To Pack Chalk In Your Carry-On

Many climbers have asked what they should do with their chalk to ensure that it isn’t suspicious but also minimizes the mess it would surely make.

Keep Chalk In Your Chalk Bag

If possible, consider keeping the chalk in your chalk bag with the drawstring as tight as possible. Then place your chalk bag in a Ziploc bag so it doesn’t get chalk everywhere.

Some climbers suggest that the Ziploc bag makes it look more suspicious, but powder washing in the air when an agent opens your bag is probably more suspicious than a Ziploc. Also, if they are checking your bag, at which point the cloud of powder/chalk is seen, they are going to check the chalk whether it is in a Ziploc or not.

Keep Chalk In The Branded Bag You Bought It In

If you have chalk in the bag that it came in, check to see if there is a way to seal it with a clip or something like that. Many chalk bags, depending on the brand, have a closure system. The nice thing about using the branded chalk bags is that it makes them less suspicious (let’s be real, some brands like Joshua Tree have questionable packaging so it isn’t always going to be helpful or less suspicious-looking).

Chalk In Ziploc Bag…

If you really don’t have any other option, then you can use a Ziploc bag. However, this is probably the most suspicious means of packing your chalk. Even if you place a climbing magazine and have other climbing gear in your bag, loose chalk in a Ziploc bag, if found by an agent, will likely need the additional screenings.

The additional screenings are usually short so as long as you aren’t in a hurry, it probably won’t be a problem but consider this when you are preparing for your trip and get to the airport a little earlier than you normally would.

Can You Bring Climbing Rope On A Plane?

According to the TSA website, rope is allowed in your carry-on bag and checked bag without length or weight restrictions.

If you do pack rope in your bag, be sure that it is safe from any chemicals or sharp objects that could damage the integrity of your climbing rope. For example, stain sticks from tide have bleach in them, which may damage your rope. 

What Climbing Gear Is Allowed On A Plane?

Most climbing gear is allowed on planes, according to TSA representatives. Here is a quick list of what TSA suggests is “generally” allowed:

  • Carabiners
  • Chalk
  • Quick Draws
  • Rope
  • Harness
  • Shoes

Many climbers have also suggested that their Trad Racks have been allowed without an issue on planes, but I haven’t found anything from TSA supporting this so it may depend on the agent and the airport.

Where Can I Find A List Of Items Allowed On Planes

TSA has many resources to help you know what you can and can’t bring on a plane. The following are the two most common and helpful

Twitter

I’m putting this option before their actual website because you can search @AskTSA [item name] on twitter and it will bring up any tweet asking this question. If there aren’t any answers on Twitter, then you can check the website or tweet them with your question and they are pretty good about getting back to you in a timely manner.

TSA Website

Most items that you can think of will be included on this website with guidance as to whether it can be in your carry-on or checked bags. It also provides details for restrictions or limitations about them, for example, if you are only allowed to bring up to a certain quantity of the item.

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