View Full Version : Travel Journal & Markers at High Altitude

02-20-2015, 04:09 PM
Hi Everyone,

I can't believe this, but I'm taking the 'trip of a lifetime' this spring to Peru and will spend a week up in Cusco & hiking along the Inca Trail into the Andes Mountains, up to Machu Picchu.

I want to bring a sketchbook but have heard certain materials, i.e. pens and markers, can explode at high altitudes.

I was hoping forum members who are perhaps more travel-experienced than I am (or live at high altitudes?) would be able to tell me if this is true? I certainly don't want my $7 markers exploding, lol....


02-20-2015, 04:53 PM
I have no idea. Never been above about 7000ft. And I had micron pens, not markers. They were fine.

02-21-2015, 12:35 AM
Oh Jen that trip sounds amazing!! I hope others chime in for you. I know I've had pens nearly explode while on a flight...

02-21-2015, 01:09 AM
I did a search on this topic and found out that this can indeed occur. My search terms were: exploding markers high altitudes. I found out that the same thing can happen with toothpaste, body lotion, and other fluids that are in containers.

This happens because the markers were manufactured at low elevation.

What happens is that when the markers are opened, they may go "pop" and shoot marker fluid all over you, your table, and your art.

The way to avoid this happening is to hold the marker and the cap firmly as you slowly open the marker. (Same thing you would do to open a bottle of pop that had gotten shaken up a bit on the way home from the supermarket!) This will allow the pressure inside the marker to reach the pressure of the air outside in a more controlled manner. It would be a good idea to systematically do this for each of your markers each time you fly to a different altitude (after you reach your destination).

Ps. Pens, too.

02-21-2015, 10:41 AM
It is probably because of air that is inside the pen. As the altitude increases, the air in the pen tries to expand. It can't expand as long as a sealed cap is in place, but the pressure does build up and when the cap is removed the air suddenly expands and forces ink out rapidly. I had it happen with a brush pen (with black ink) in an airplane once...

Keeping the tops off and points up while ascending can greatly minimize this by letting these things happen gradually! But that may not be practical!


Joan T
02-22-2015, 06:40 PM
I've only had the problem on airplanes, since I don't go to high altitudes very often. Just make sure you keep anything in sealed plastic bags just in case.

02-26-2015, 11:03 AM
Thanks guys! Maybe I'll get some neoaquarelle pencils instead of markers. :angel:

The idea of a $5 marker exploding makes my heart hurt! lol.