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  1. #1
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    Default New Thru Hiker Question

    What's the common practice for mailing supplies to yourself? Having no idea what to expect how does one plan for this? Is this something you just figure out as you go? What are the best online retailers for sending freeze dried provisions?

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    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Although I've never done it

    > What's the common practice for mailing supplies to yourself?

    There are two main procedures to do so:
    1) Mail your box to a post office in a town through which you'll be passing, or into which you can quickly get. Address the box to yourself, using the address "General Delivery."
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/What-is-General-Delivery
    The post office will hold the box for a maximum of thirty days, and you'll have to provide a current, photo ID to get it. Also, you can ONLY pick up the box when the office is open -- ie, never after hours, on Sundays, or on federal holidays. If you arrive at the post office five minutes after they close, too bad.
    2) Mail your box to a hostel or other lodging that accepts boxes for long-distance hikers. These can be found in guide books like the Thru Hikers Companion -- but ALWAYS check ahead of time. Some places only accept boxes if you stay with them, and some require a specific means of address.

  3. #3
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I found Amazon is good for sending Mountain House freeze dried meals. Using Amazon Prime, you figure out where you will be in a couple of days and place the order. It will be there waiting for you. I have used this with post offices; although I notice more and more Amazon is using their own trucks for Prime deliveries, so in the larger metro areas, you're best sending the package to a hostel.

    By the way, I have been paying attention to Walmart locations. Walmart stocks Mountain House in the 2.5 serving packages, which is what I always order. I have found Walmart prices to be better than Amazon, so if you know you will be passing a town with a Walmart, that would be a better place to check first (hopefully they aren't out of stock).
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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    Thank you!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jauma23 View Post
    What's the common practice for mailing supplies to yourself? Having no idea what to expect how does one plan for this? Is this something you just figure out as you go? What are the best online retailers for sending freeze dried provisions?
    There's been some good replies so far but two things I would add:

    Most experienced thru-hikers try to limit the number of resupply boxes they send themselves. Food resupply is available along most of the trail. It's often cheaper and easier, considering postage, to buy along your way. Plus, by buying along the way you can adjust for the amount of food you need, and decide what you are getting tired of, and what you crave.

    Most thru-hikers don't eat freeze dried foods very often, largely because of expense. I don't think I ate a single freeze-dried meal on the A.T.

    Lots of ways to do things that will work. Everyone has their own style. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    I saw photos taken by a lady prior to hiking the PCT.
    She purchased a huge number of #10 cans of food from Mountain House.
    She repackaged the food in meal sized portions and added them to food boxes which someone back sent out to her as needed.
    She stipulated that she had eaten the Mountain House Meals on numerous previous hikes and liked the food.
    Your Mileage May Vary.
    Wayne

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I saw photos taken by a lady prior to hiking the PCT.
    She purchased a huge number of #10 cans of food from Mountain House.
    She repackaged the food in meal sized portions and added them to food boxes which someone back sent out to her as needed.
    She stipulated that she had eaten the Mountain House Meals on numerous previous hikes and liked the food.
    Your Mileage May Vary.
    Wayne
    If you do this you will often find that mailing freeze dried food is cheaper if you avoid the "flat rate" boxes. I was sending myself 5 days of freeze dried meals for about half the price that an appropriately sized "flat rate" box would have cost me. I also added nuts and other items. You need to be able to plan these a few stops in advance as they ship "slower" than the "promised" shipping schedule of a flat rate box. though in practice I never had an issue. Just ship early and they actually get there in about the same amount of time.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  8. #8
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Buying #10 cans on sale and repacking using a vacuum sealer(mostly to make them moisture proof in case of a backpack leak) can make very cheap meals. I have not done the mail drop routine because I not only had no trouble carrying 10 days of food, I actually pooched up and combined my selected food and the rest from repacking so I did 10 days and came home with 7 days of food. I doubt that was even 2lbs extra freezed dried food. In fact the single heaviest food item turned out to be Gatorade powder- I gobbled up over 2lbs of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    I saw photos taken by a lady prior to hiking the PCT.
    She purchased a huge number of #10 cans of food from Mountain House.
    She repackaged the food in meal sized portions and added them to food boxes which someone back sent out to her as needed.
    She stipulated that she had eaten the Mountain House Meals on numerous previous hikes and liked the food.
    Your Mileage May Vary.
    Wayne

  9. #9
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Some additional info on mailing stuff:
    In addition to your name and general delivery also mark the box clearly with a Sharpie, "Hold for AT Thru-hiker". PO's in trail towns are used to handling thru-hiker mail and many have a dedicated shelf(s) for thru-hiker boxes. You will need photo ID like a Driver License to pick up your package. If you will be late picking it up (past the 30 day hold window), call and let them know and ask them to please hold it if possible. Otherwise have them forward it to somewhere you can pick it up.

    Check the hours of operation. Lots of smaller PO's have cut back hours.

    Be advised that USPS is cutting back on staffing and also replacing many "regular" career employees with lower paid part-time employees. Many are new, and some aren't particularly well trained. This can be problematic particularly when mailing flammables or if they aren't familiar with forwarding procedures.

    If you mailed it Priority and don't need to open the box, and just want to forward it FOR FREE, tell the window clerk you just want to forward it to another PO up the trail. Once you take it and walk away from the counter, you'll have to pay postage again.

    If you are mailing gas canisters (three small ones is the max allowed) or anything else flammable, they can only be sent by "Retail Ground" (the old Parcel Select, and even older Parcel Post). They can ONLY be sent by ground, and must be labeled "Consumer Commodity ORM-D" AND "Surface Mail Only".

    Take a list of PO's and their addresses and phone numbers (most of the trail guides have them listed) so that you can call or send a postcard requesting the PO to forward your box up the trail if you need to - like you arrive in town after closing on a Fri or Sat and don't want to hang around until Monday (or Tues on a holiday weekend).

    Often a regular box sent Priority is cheaper than a flat rate box, especially with bounce boxes when only sending it 100 to 200 miles up the trail.

    EDIT: Mailing to yourself - If you have someone back home mailing out boxes to you as you progress up the trail, if it's going Priority have them send it out a full week before you plan on picking it up, and two to three weeks before if it's Retail Ground.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 04-29-2019 at 19:18.

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