Friday, April 20, 2012

Mail Drop Boxes for AT Hikers

One of the things I've discovered as the parent of an AT thru-Hiker (Jeff aka Loner) is that packing up supply boxes makes me feel better.  I'm doing something physical with all that nervous energy and doing something worthwhile.
 Many hikers carry one week of food for most of the AT.  They can get off and resupply in nearby towns. Jeff is choosing to ship food parcels ahead to post offices, hostels to towns as well as buy food along the way.
  • The A.T. Thru-Hikers’ Companion provides details on Post Offices and businesses that offer resupply and hold packages for hikers close to the A.T.
  • Hostels and businesses catering to are often open seven days a week during hiker season.
  • Resupply points are further apart and further off the Trail in the South and the far North.

 We're a budget minded family. So Jeff and I took the budget approach to food stuffs. Before Jeff left he packed a box to show me what he liked.  Most AT hikers ship their trail needs in the shoebox size box.  It's the regional rate Box A size Priority Mail box and Jeff had his at a weight which costs about $6.00 to ship.  You can order these boxes in multiple packs on the U.S. Post Office website and they will be shipped to your door.

These are the items Jeff likes in his box and I'll try to include where I find them.
Hikers need protein because they will  lose weight
1. 1 package of Armor pepperoni $1.00 The Dollar Store
2. 1 package Slim Jims
(we tried the dried turkey bacon but Jeff says the bag sweats)

For carbs:
1.Ramen noodles 2 beef, 2 chicken I buy these in packs of 5, for 1.00 a piece from Family Dollar or Dollar General

3. 2 packages of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes - $1.00 Dollar Store, Family Dollar

4 packets pop tarts $2.00  Dollar General

 In a zip lock bag we put: 1 To Go container of peanut butter, mints ( a natural stomach aid), band-aids, a box of matches, Q-tips, Slim Jim's, a box of raisins, a couple of rubber bands, two AA batteries for his camera, chap stick, small packets of Taco hot sauce, Mayonnaise, Arby's Sauce, loose aspirin, loose ibuprofen .
1 roll toilet paper w/q-tips inside.  

 I add
1 bag of Knorrs rice medley - $1.00 Dollar General
1 bag of dried cranberries or blueberries -   Dollar General for 1.75 - (a dollar cheaper than grocery stores)

1  pkg of dried apricots (replaces potassium, helps w/dehydration & charlie horses.$1 Dollar General
1 packet oatmeal
1 packet cocoa
 1 pair Bugle Boy black ankle socks from the Dollar Store 6-pack $3.00 Dollar General
a mini packet of wipes - 3-pack $1.00 Dollar General
extra zip lock bags for cooking and storage
1 roll toilet paper stuffed w/Q-tips

If your At hiker doesn't need all this food he can send it forward in what's called a bounce box. So far he's trying to give me a week's notice about the next mail drop location, but he made it a day ahead of time, so now I'm mailing further ahead on the trail so he won't arrive before his box because he won;t stay for it.  Although if this does happen he can call and ask them to forward his box (called a bounce box)
Here's some additional information on mailing supplies from The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website.

The A.T. Thru-Hikers’ Companion provides details on Post Offices and businesses that offer resupply and hold packages for hikers close to the A.T.

How to use Post Offices along the A.T.

  • Anyone can have a package sent addressed to their name, c/o General Delivery, city state, zip code.
  • Also provide a return address and add “Hold for A.T. hiker” and the expected arrival date. Writing legibly is important!
  • Do not use your “trail name” or initials.
  • Your AT Thru-hiker  will need a photo ID to pick up your package.
  • Post Offices are only open Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings—hours vary from Post Office to Post Office.
  • Priority Mail is recommended for mailing packages—it’s faster, more reliable than parcel post, and you can forward an unopened package at no charge.

Using a “Bounce Box”

A “bounce box” is popular with long-distance hikers. It allows you to continually send ahead items you’ll need periodically but don’t want to carry. Hikers fill them with supplies such as extra batteries, cell phone chargers, “town clothes,” and toiletries. A bounce box also will allow you to send ahead the extra when you have to buy more of something than you need. Also be sure to include mailing tape, labels, and magic markers so you have supplies to send your box ahead.

I also periodically send a second box with town food - bags of snacks, Pringles, candy bars, an extra trash compactor bag to keep his pack dry, batteries, medicines, crackers, cookies, homemade brownies etc.  every so often.  This food is either too heavy or too bulky or too smash-able to carry on the hike.  But he can eat it that day in town and save his money for necessities, showers, laundry, hostels and gear replacement.

1 comment:

  1. Wow this is the place i have been looking for to help my wife in helping me on the trail.Thank You for your support to the others like me with the knowledge that you have and the willingness to post them all on a website.Bill