I was really worried about bringing my SteriPEN through the airport when I first bought it. It seemed like I should be able to fly with my SteriPEN, but you never know what will happen when dealing with TSA Agents. Sometimes they’re nice and other times they go over backpacking gear with a fine tooth comb. So lets get down to the big question: Can the SteriPEN go through airport security?
Yes the SteriPEN should be able to go through airport security. Just make sure you pack it in your carry on luggage if your model uses Lithium batteries. Katadyn recommends installing batteries in the unit and keeping spare batteries in their original packaging.
I’ve made a habit of reaching out to the TSA whenever I buy new backpacking gear. There must be a method to their madness, but some of the things they won’t allow seem completely crazy. You can definitely take the SteriPEN in your carry on luggage, but keep reading to learn a few tips when dealing with security. They have crazy rules when it comes to lithium batteries so you might want to give that section a read.
SteriPEN Should Go In Your Carry On (Not Checked Luggage)
You shouldn’t have any trouble getting your SteriPEN through airport security. I’ve traveled with my SteriPEN dozens of times over the past 10 years and only had 1 slight issue where they wouldn’t let me bring spare lithium batteries.
With that being said, the SteriPEN has been flagged for further inspection a handful of times. It’s just such an unusual product the TSA agents have no idea what they’re looking at. A brief explanation is usually all it takes for them to let it go through.
Just make sure you put it in your carry on luggage if your model uses a Lithium battery. I’m pretty sure the rechargeable Steripen Ultra and Adventurer model are the only ones that need lithium batteries. They might sell alkaline CR123s, but I’ve never seen them.
Don’t forget about your portable power bank if you use one to charge up the SteriPEN Ultra. Power banks usually have lithium batteries and need to go in the carry on as well.
Set The SteriPEN In Securities Electronic Tray
Airport security claims that you have to place items that are larger than your cell phone on the security tray. My SteriPEN is smaller than my iPhone, but it’s always the thing that gets my bag searched. Now I just place it on the tray so they don’t have to comb through my bag to find it. Going that route is so much faster.
I’ve been asked about my SteriPEN 25% of the times when I’ve taken it through security. It normally takes 30 seconds to explain what it is, a brief demonstration of how to use it, and they let me go. Worst case scenario is they call over a supervisor and have to search for what it is online.
Lithium Batteries Go In Carry On Luggage
Before going on a recent trip to Mexico, I decided to reach out to Katadyn to see if I could bring my SteriPEN. They told me that I should be able to bring it in my carry on luggage and to install fresh batteries in my SteriPEN and keep replacement batteries in their original packaging.
Those directions were easy enough to follow so I didn’t think there would be any problems. Of course that’s never how life plays out and I ended up getting flagged by security. The TSA agents combed through all my luggage and flagged my SteriPEN for further inspection.
After making me turn it on and explain what it was they let it go through security, but decided to confiscate my extra CR123 lithium batteries. I tried to argue with them, but if you’ve ever dealt with airport security that was basically pointless. I even brought up that according to the Federal Aviation Administration you should be allowed to take spare lithium batteries in your carry on luggage, but they can’t go in checked baggage.
So the moral of that story is the TSA does whatever they want and who knows whether or not they’ll let you bring lithium batteries on the plane. You probably won’t have any issues, but you might end up with somebody that’s on a power trip.