Are Resupply Boxes Worth the Effort?

It’s hard to envision your resupply options before setting out on a long-distance hike. You’ll be backpacking in the wilderness, right? Shopping at Walmart seems a little out of context.

That’s why many aspiring thru-hikers decide to use resupply boxes. They assume (incorrectly) that getting the food and toiletries they need will be a challenge along the Appalachian Trail.

In reality, resupplying while thru-hiking isn’t hard at all. Most people don’t need resupply boxes, but they can be helpful if you have specific needs or tastes. Are you gluten free or do you have a food allergy? Resupply boxes might be just what you need.

What I Learned

I’m a hopeless contingency planner, so I prepared eight boxes for my husband to ship to me while hiking. I expected to get one about every three weeks to supplement my food options and replace things like vitamins, Aleve, and razors, etc., that tend to come in large quantities.

I also wanted to save some money by shopping sales ahead of time, instead of being stuck paying retail (or more) at the tiny trailside shops I pictured as my resupply stops. I bought my favorite candy bars in bulk at a deep discount and saved enough that I came out ahead, even with shipping costs factored in.

Fuel was another concern of mine, but I decided not to send any due to complex shipping rules. The same for lighters and anything with alcohol.

All in all, my plan was about 50% successful. I learned a lot, including what to do differently for my next hike, as I explain in this video.

When Should You Use a Resupply Box?

Three ideal uses for resupply boxes are:

  • If you have special dietary needs.
  • To send homemade items, like dehydrated food.
  • For small quantities of replenishables you can’t easily get on the trail.

Helpful Links

Here are the links to resources I mentioned in the video:

1. Download my resupply box packing list and shipping spreadsheet.

2. USPS Regional Rate Boxes

These boxes are currently available free of charge in packs of ten or 25.

3. USPS Click-n-Ship (account creation required)

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