Resupply Strategy – Food on the Trail
Planning your resupply boxes for a thru-hike can seem overwhelming. I had a simple approach and I am going to tell you (post-trail) what worked for me and what didn’t.
Why I Sent Myself Resupply Boxes
Cost. Small towns are expensive.
Health. I wanted to have nutritious food and small towns have limited options.
Relax in town. One less town chore to do, which will give you more time to relax and enjoy the town.
Boxes not getting in on time. I had this happen with one box and made the mistake of changing the delivery address online and paying an extra $20. I then learned that if the package is sent to a post office they will change the address for free but it has to be sent to another post office.
Post office hours. A couple of times we had to wake up early to make it to town in time, but we never had problems with the post office being closed.
You have to calculate days to see if you will be there on a business day. It may also be easier to send it to a hostel/motel if you are going to stay there so you don’t have to worry about post office hours at all.
Here Is How I Did It
I started buying food for the trail around three months before starting. After having an overwhelming quantity of food accumulated in my living room and freezer I started to pack the boxes. All of our furniture was already in storage so I had space to play with.
I packed 20 boxes, all of them with roughly five days of food for two people. I didn’t bother planning town stops and specific hiking days because of the hassle and I didn’t want to be tied to a schedule. You can always get supplementary food in town.
I left the boxes with friends and family and we would text them the address of our next stop at least a week in advance.
Advice for Buying the Food
Shop in bulk. I bought bulk nuts on nuts.com. Whole Foods has a 15% discount when you buy in bulk. I bought a case of 365 peanut butter for a good price. Amazon has good bulk prices too.
Reach out to companies that you like. I wrote to a couple of companies and was able to get a whole sale price discount from thunderbird, a small and local bar company that I like.
Buy weekly discounts at your local market
Online markets. I really recommend Thrive market. I subscribed for a year and it was completely worth it. They have retail prices and good weekly discounts. I bought lots of Larabars for almost half price, amazing grass products, dried fruit, etc.
Buy at Asian markets. You will be surprised with all the stuff you can find. Like powdered wasabi!
Dehydrate it yourself (sounds like a huge commitment but it is easier that you think).
Example and Breakdown of a Resupply Box
- Tea and coffee
- Chia seeds, dried fruit (apricot pictured), oats, and coconut milk to make overnight oats or oatmeal. I also packed a little bag with cinnamon and nutmeg to add more flavor.
- 20-24 bars. I love the bars that we had, but we were getting tired of them at the end. I would recommend adding a wider variety of snacks.
- Trail mix. I bought nuts in bulk and made different types of trail mix (variety always!).
- Chocolate. I loved surprising myself with different types of dark chocolate.
- Refried beans. We eat them cold soaked on a tortilla with crunch tortilla chips and nuts.
- Cashew butter. We had mainly peanut butter, but I tried to change it up by packing a couple of different nut butters. You may be different, but I recommend not even trying sunflower butter. But really, make sure you like what you are packing.
- Store bought quick cook bulgur and red quinoa to mix with dehydrated chickpeas.
- Lotus foods ramen that I cooked with dried mushrooms and algae bought at an Asian market.
- Chickpea salad, gumbo and bean soup that I dehydrated myself.
Add-ons to dinners
- Nutritional yeast aka Nature’s Cheeto dust (yes, your life is about to change).
- TVP texture vegetable protein – soy protein.
- Yellowbird sriracha.
- Mashed potatoes.
- Little packets of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, soy sauce (just grab them from that pile in the corner of your kitchen cabinets and put them randomly in the boxes).
- Dr. Bronner’s soap.
- Conditioner. I was always happy when I picked up the box in town before taking a shower.
- Coconut oil packets. I used it a couple of times for my skin, hair or cooking, but most times went to the hiker box.
- Cotton swabs.
- Batteries for our headlamps. These didn’t last very long and I felt bad about the waste. I would recommend getting a rechargeable headlamp. If you don’t get rechargeable, it is WAY cheaper to send yourself the batteries though.
- A couple of extra Ziploc baggies. I packed 2-3 gallon size baggies but I would recommend also packing some smaller ones.
Bought in Town to Complement This Resupply
- Tortillas, loaf of bread,or bagels.
- Granola. We eat it with coconut milk or add it to our oatmeal for some crunch.
- Tortilla chips and other snacks like cookies, peanuts, dried fruit.
- I also would always buy something fresh for the first day, like avocados, peaches, etc.
- Toilet paper.
Last advice: Put some colorful tape on your boxes so you can identify or describe them easily.
Hope I just made your life a little easier 😉
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