How to Fly With Paintball Equipment

Introduction: How to Fly With Paintball Equipment

About: Pub Crawling is an International Drinking Team with a Scenario Paintball problem. Or something like that.

I play for the scenario paintball team Pub Crawling . We travel all over the United States and we have traveled internationally to both England and Scotland to play paintball events.  To attend so many events that are spread out so far apart geographically requires a lot of air travel.  Certainly flying in this post 9/11 era has changed dramatically and as an air traveler you can pretty much expect a full blown strip search when passing through the security gate.  But that does not mean that flying with your paintball equipment has to be difficult.

This Instructable will show you how to pack your paintball gear and fly with it safely on any major carrier.   

Packing list:

Playing Gear
2x Jersey
Planet Eclipse Etek 3
Vforce Grillz Mask
Planet Eclipse Paintball Pants
Planet Eclipse Paintball Pack
Planet Eclipse Elbow Pads
Planet Eclipse Knee Pads
Planet Eclipse Slider Shorts
Planet Eclipse Gauntlet Gloves
Paintball Hopper
Paintball Compressed Air Tank
Paintball Head Wraps
Radio Equipment
Bar towels to wipe things down with

Casual or Personal Items
Cargo Pants with zip off legs
2x spare socks
2x spare underoos
Planet Eclipse T-Shirt
Planet Eclipse Board Shorts
Planet Eclipse Polo Shirt
Toiletry Bag (you know what you need better than I do)

Q: Wait why no paintball pods?
A:   I play on a scenario paintball team, our paintball pods are all bought in bulk and brought to events with all of the other "Team Gear".  If you need to bring pods put them in your pack and then fill them with small items like your socks, underwear, and tools.

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Step 1:

Here is an empty Planet Eclipse paintball gear bag.  It has two compartments that are separated with a divider.  The large compartment is where the bulk of the playing gear will go.  The smaller compartment I use for personal items such as spare clothes and my toiletry bag.

Step 2:

I like to pack my bag in reverse order of how I put my clothes on.  The first item to go in to the bag will often be the last item I will put on before hitting the field.  First up is the paintball pack used to carry extra pods.  It is often still dirty from playing the last event and is one of the bulkier items that does not compress well.  So it goes in first.

Step 3:

Next we have the paintball gun and its case.  You cannot put your marker in your carry on bag.  That is a sure fire way to miss your flight and may also include other unpleasantness at the security checkpoint.  

Paintball guns (or paintball markers depending on your level of politically correctness) are not considered firearms by the TSA.  Because of this you can pack them loose in your bag but I would highly recommend that you pack them in a case inside of your main gear bag.  This will help protect it from both theft and damage.  The TSA has a special web page for flying with paintball equipment and I like to print out a copy of it to throw in my case.  You cannot guarantee that a TSA agent will open your bag and understand what the contents are.  You can find the TSA Website here:  TSA Paintball Equipment

Step 4:

Now we fold the paintball playing pants and push them into the bottom of the bag.  Paintball pants tend to be pretty bulky items and are close to one of the last things put on.

Step 5:

Next up are my playing jerseys.  I have both long and short sleeve depending on the weather.  Also it is nice to have two paintball jerseys in the event that one of them gets completely covered in paint.

Step 6:

Next go in the elbow and knee pads, slider pants and wicking under jersey.  These are the first articles of clothing I put on.  Though if I am wearing a short sleeve jersey the elbow pads can wait until the end.

If I know the weather is going to be nice I will also throw a pair of sandals in on top for casual wear.... or even to wear while playing if the weather is REALLY hot out.

Step 7:

Now the hopper goes in.  I wrap it in a couple of game towels that I use to wipe off gear after playing.  This helps to protect it from getting broken.  And because it it surrounded by other soft goods it is pretty well protected.

Step 8:

I carry all of my incidental gear in the mask bag.  This includes my head wrap, gloves, and barrel blocking devices.  I put them inside the mask and then put everything in the mask bag.  The mask bag then goes into the smaller compartment to help protect it.

Step 9:

I like to have some casual clothing for going out.  It is nice to be able to go out to the pub/bar/watering hole in clean clothes that are not covered in paint.  A pair of khaki cargo pants with zip off legs are very versatile.  It is also good to have some board shorts and a t-shirt in case the weather is really nice or there is a beach/pool/hot tub/swim up bar.  Spare socks and underwear are a must as well.

These items get rolled up and put into 1 gallon zip lock bags.  The bags are then compressed and sealed.  This helps the clothes stay clean, take up less space, and helps seal the flavor in.

Step 10:

In order to fly with a compressed air tank you have to completely empty the tank and remove the regulator.  This should only be done by experience professional personnel.  I repeat:


After the regulator is removed I put it in the small compartment nestled between the mask and outer wall of the bag.  I try to keep it near the top because it will help the TSA agents find it quickly and verify that it is empty.  Tanks can be brought in your carry-on bag but they still need to have the regulator removed.  If you are trying to shave off a couple of pounds from your checked bag then putting it in your carry on is an option.  You can find more information from the TSA here:  TSA Traveling with Compress Gas Cylinders

If you are traveling internationally also note that there are different compressed cylinder regulations.  In the US the DOT regulates compressed air cylinders.  Most tanks in the US will have either a label with DOT-E or DOT-SP 14003 along with serial numbers, capacity and hydro test date.  For Canada tanks are regulated by Transport Canada and have TC on the label or possibly DOT/TC meaning the tank can be used in both the US and Canada.  For the EU or UK you will see markings on a tank with HSE-AL-FW, HSE-AL-FW1,  BS EN 1802:2002.  Your tank must match the regulations for the country you are in or you risk being stuck abroad with no way to fill your tank.

Step 11:

I like to add incidentals to these pouches here.  Spare barrels, orings, cleaing supplies, batteries.

Anything that can be crushed should find its way into a hard case.  For example, the case that the Planet Eclipse Shaft Barrel kits come in is the exact size to hold three cigars, a cigar cutter, and a lighter.  I can only assume that this is intentional.

Step 12:

I like to throw another printout of the TSA web page along with a couple of paintball magazines with pictures of the equipment in the bag.  This helps to add validity to the bags contents and if nothing else maybe the TSA person will have some interesting reading material.

I put a carabiner around all of the straps, this makes them stronger for lifting the bag and stops any loose ends from getting caught in the conveyor belts while going through xray or on to the plane.  Also it is a quick visual if your bag has been searched by TSA because they never put the straps back in the carabiner.

You should also put a name tag on your bag, put several of them with all of your contact information even.  Lost luggage is never fun and when you need your gear to play they cannot get it to you if they cannot find you. 

All domestic flights have a weight limit of 50lbs per bag or you can expect to pay an over weight fee.  Most international flights do not charge extra for the first checked bag while only a few domestic carriers have free checked bags.  Some international flights also allow up to a 70lb bag to fly for free.  This is heavily dependent on your carrier so you should check their website for the most up to date weight restrictions and fee schedule.

An easy method to weigh your bag is to stand on a scale and figure out your weight.  Then lift the bag and subtract your weight from that number.  This bag weighs 45lbs fully loaded.

Step 13:

Regardless of how you pack your bag expect it to get searched.  Sometimes you will get a happy note in your bag from the nice people at the TSA.  Sometimes you only get a sticker on your bag.  Sometimes they will leave nothing at all.  But considering you are carrying something shaped like a gun along with a bunch of batteries, wires, and several tube shaped objects I would be more upset if my bag was not searched.

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    11 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Informative write-up. It has me re-considering whether or not I want to fly with my gear the next time I play far away. Just as an alternative, the last time I traveled by air to play, I shipped my gear to a friend in that town via UPS. You can insure it for the amount it's worth and it's much less likely to get stolen or screwed with by TSA employees. If you don't have a friend in your destination city, I'm sure the tournament organizer or the field can help.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Absolutely we have shipped equipment to the field, promoter, hotel at the destination with good results as well. Depending on luggage fees sometimes this is even cheaper than checking a bag.


    4 years ago

    Im about to fly(inside norway) there is no place to read about rules for paintball on plane here.. But is it ok if i only remove the fillnipple on my tank? I will ask just before i check in, but its a bit pain to start removing thing at check in :-p. Also i must say, a very nice and good guide! Nice done :-D


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That is a mighty good question. Even though Norway is not part of the EU you may want to looking into the European Industrial Gas Association. When we traveled to Europe for paintball events we learned that our tanks from the US regulated by the DOT could not be used in the EU because of different regulations. You may find better guidance there:


    8 years ago on Step 11

    wath out because i do not think you can atually bring a lighter with you on the plane


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    In the United States the TSA deregulated common "Bic" style lighters in 2007:

    International rules may vary but I believe that the US was the only country to ban Bic lighters.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Well anyway, put it in your luggage (that you won't take in the cabin). Better safe than sorry!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    well yes you can go on a plane with a lighter

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    When I first saw this ible, I thought you would be assembling your equipment so that you could actually fly, like with a jetpack or something.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Considering the fact that I have never been able to leave the country without a frisk, even years before 9/11, and always set off the metal detector even when the only metal on my body is my fillings, I'm not even going to try to fly with a paintball marker!

    Having said that, nice guide.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction


    We get asked all the time how we fly with this type of paintball gear so it made sense to write up a guide.

    These days I consider an enhanced pat down just part of the excitement of flying. I mean generally I have to pay someone to touch me the way a TSA agent does.