I’ll admit, I don’t work out nearly as much as I did when I was in my twenties. When I do, it’s a lot less based around strength training than it used to be. However, back when I used to hit the gym often I loved training with kettlebells. You can do so much with them, and swings were my absolute favorite.
It makes sense why so many people are tempted to take these heavy but reasonably compact fitness tools with them while traveling. Gently placing them in the back of your SUV for a road trip is one thing, but what about when you want to travel by air? Can you really bring a kettlebell on an airplane?
You can check your kettlebell on an airplane, provided it falls within your airline’s weight guidelines — most require baggage to be less than 50 pounds (22.7 kg). With the kettlebell often damaging the bag itself, many people find this to be more trouble than it’s worth.
With that being said, many people travel with kettlebells in tow each year. Let’s dive into each of the considerations so you can determine whether or not it’s something you’d like to do.
TSA Guidelines for Kettlebells
As of the writing of this article, the TSA has not issued formal guidance specifically about kettlebells. However, fitness enthusiasts report often travel with theirs and it does not seem like something the agency is interested in banning.
However, there are anecdotes about the TSA forcing individuals to check their kettlebells instead of taking them in carry-ons. As far as we can tell, this isn’t a hard rule but will be at the discretion of the the TSA agent you interact with.
Because of the possibility that you’ll be forced to check your kettlebell, we recommend that you plan for this ahead of time. And remember to take great care in how you choose to pack it.
In case you’ve never traveled with a kettlebell before, let’s explore how best to pack one.
Kettlebells are not fragile are unlikely to be damaged during the transport process. However, they often end up destroying the bag you pack them in. This means that you’ll want to be deliberate when choosing what container to put it in.
Here are some ideas for how to pack your kettlebell to go on an airplane:
- Use a bowling ball bag. For lighter kettlebells (less than 20 lbs), this is the way to go. The bags are designed for heavy round things and will be perfect up to a certain weight. Any heavier and you run the risk of breaking the bowling ball bag!
- Military tool bag from surplus store. These can be purchased for less than $20 and will work great for larger kettlebells. They’re designed to be sturdy and even if they do start to degrade, they’re cheap to replace.
- Weight duffel bags. Weight bags like these from Amazon (affiliate link) are designed to carry heavy things and will suit this purpose well.
As we covered above, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pack a kettlebell in a carry-on. Be prepared to spend the money to check the bag. Likewise, have the airline bag weight limits in mind as you travel. For almost all airlines, the limit is 50 lbs for checked luggage.
If you absolutely must go over the weight limit, the airline will definitely charge an oversized/overweight baggage fee. These fees can be exorbitant, to the point where it might be cheaper buying a new kettlebell when you land at your destination. Additionally, the baggage handler will be very surprised when they reach down to pick it up!
Finally, keep in mind that you’re going to have to haul the kettlebell from the airport to your final destination.
This may sound like more trouble than it’s worth — and no one would blame you for thinking that it is. However, there are some alternatives to packing your kettlebell and taking it with you. One option is simply shipping it ahead of you.
Shipping It Instead
Kettlebells are fairly easy to ship, although freight prices make this a cost-prohibitive option at heavier weights. Each carrier has their own prices and shipping options, but to get a rough idea of the cost I went on Rogue’s website to see how much they charge to deliver their kettlebells.
They were going to charge $27.27 to ship a 35 pound kettlebell from their warehouse in Columbus, OH to my home in Saint George, UT.
This ends up being roughly the same cost as checking a bag on most airlines. Now, Rogue negotiates better rates with shipping carriers and the final price for general consumers will be a little higher. However, that gives a decent estimate to how much it would it would take to ship it ahead.
The price, although reasonable for a 35 pounds kettlebell, could easily balloon into the absurd as you attempt to ship heavier and heavier weights. Especially when you consider the return trip!
Additionally, you have to consider the logistics of what you’re attempting to do. Shipping delays could easily create a situation where you’re sitting at your destination city with no kettlebell to use.
Luckily, there are some plane-friendly alternatives to lugging your kettlebell through an airport. After all, you probably just want to have a way to keep up your exercises at your destination. I don’t know of many kettlebells moved across the country because of sentimentality (although I’m sure they exist).
There are two products that you can easily take on an airplane. Consider adding these to your gym equipment before you start jet setting.
The Kettle Gryp is a fantastic product that converts any dumbbell into a kettlebell form factor. They lock around any standard dumbbell and provide a simple but brilliant way to have the ergonomics you expect in a kettlebell workout.
As you can see, packing it is easy. But there’s one glaring problem with this approach: where are you going to find a dumbbell?
Luckily, most hotel gyms have a few available and dumbbells are much easier to come across than their kettlebell cousins. If you know you’re going to be able to find some when you reach your destination, this is a perfect option. But don’t take my word for it, you can read other people’s reviews here on Amazon (affiliate link).
Fillable Kettlebell Sandbag
Another highly portable option is a kettlebell sandbag (like this one). You could remove the contents into another bag at home, pack the empty bag into your luggage, and simply refill the bags once you got to your destination.
Assuming your destination has a home improvement store like Home Depot, you can buy 50 lbs of sand for around $4. This is much cheaper than checking a bag or shipping your kettlebell!
Like magic, you have a price-effective kettlebell that was simple and painless to bring on an airplane.