View Full Version : Bounce box
Just exactly how do you use a bounce box?
First make sure it is bolted together real well so it don't break. Then bend the hoop from round to square. Take your best shot.
A bounce box is what you use to send items on ahead to the next trail town, that are too heavy to carry on the trail. Or a bunch of supplies that you don't want to carry all at once. Or that pound of pot your mom gave you when you only need an ounce for the next 150 miles. Or your winter bag that you don't want to use again till the other end of the trail. Or whatever.
You just mail it to yourself General delivery? Do you send it ahead to every town? Can I call your mom? Do alot of people do this (use a bounce box not call your mom)?
I just used a sturdy cardboard carton and it lasted the whole trip. I sealed it with packaging tape and tied heavy cord around it to provide extra support so it wouldn't burst open when it got knocked around.
Before starting out I worked out where which places the box would be bounced to and pre-printed large address labels on my laser printer and stored them in the bounce box.
When preparing the bounce box for it's next destination I would place the next address label in one of those clear plastic sleeves (that go in document folders) that was taped to the bottom of the bounce box. I also found that the one plastic sleeve lasted the whole trip.
In theory, a bounce box is used to send ahead supplies that you don't want to carry in your backpack.
Items might include boot waterproofing, sho goo, extra film, maps, refills of various things, laundry detergent, extra clothing, maybe town clothes, and such.
In order to use, you need to allow several days, probably a week between post offices. And then you need to be there to pick up the bounce box, or phone the post office and have it forwarded up trail further.
Frankly, getting to a post office when it is open can be hastle. Most thru hikers agree that if they were to do the trail over, they would have fewer mail drops.
When you think about it, isn't it kinda dumb to forward and reforward your heavier sleeping bag from Pearisburg all the way to Glencliff? Send it home and then get it back 1000 miles and 3 months later.
Myself, I got along just great without a bounce box. However, I did have preiodic mail drops from home with the next set of maps, etc. in them. These mail drops were usually sent to places where there was not a convienent grocery store.
I handled a lot of mailings for my son's through hike. I made labels with:
HOLD FOR A.T. HIKER
TOWN, STATE, ZIP
From our experience it is preferable to find an alternative to a post office such as a hostel or other facility that will hold hiker boxes. You can't always predict when you will roll into town and an arrival on a weekend or the beginning of a holiday will mean a forced layover to wait for the P.O. to open. You can locate a lot of alternative mail drops by browsing this site or by having a look at the ALDHA Companion.
P.O.s will not generally accept FedEx packages if you need something in a hurry. You'll need an alternative site for that. I made the mistake of sending a Fed-Ex-- some papers that required his signature--to the post office at Bear Mtn, New York. It was delivered to the hotel instead. My son sat around most of the day waiting for delivery only to never have it arrive. He finally went to the hotel on a whim and found it there.
I also agree with Peaks -- send stuff you won't need for months home. Reserve the bounce box for things you need more often but are hard to resupply easily. My son's hiking partner bounced water purification tables, a cell phone recharger, maps needed in the near future, extra lightweight clothing layers, and so forth. Heavy sleeping bags, cold weather gear and clothing, and things like that went in and out of basecamp (my basement) as they were needed....
Well said Don!
Keeping in mind also, that if you compressed your sleeping bag in a hot bounce box for 3-4 months as it went from PO to PO, it would probably be ruined. Is it still free to keep bouncing as long as you send it first class? I seem to recall my options as of late being priority or parcel post.
Thanks ya all, I'm listening.
We used ours for consumables that we difficult and expensive to get in the small towns - batteries, advil, aleve, dr. Bronner's soap, guide book (we took out the pages we needed for the next section), cliff bars, extra food (my wife's mom sent us Mt. Houses along the way and we just put extras in there), uh, I don't know... lots and lots of stuff. It worked out really well. We would bounce it about 2 weeks up the trail. It was pretty easy to get to the P.O. because we knew round about which day of the week we would be getting into town, and thus picked P.O.s at which we expected to arrive at in the middle of the week. That way if we slipped a day one way or another, it was no biggie.
A bounce box is something that you will start if you need it on trail. You can always send it home if you don't. We bounced our tent body up a few towns because we weren't sure we really could do without it. Once we knew we could, it went home. That's the beauty of a bounce box!
Do not use cardboard boxes for a bounce box. They will decompose relatively quickly, they hold only a small amount of stuff, you have to reseal them with tape all the time, and they are awkward to carry in town if they are anywhere close to a useful size.
Instead, go to a hardware store and buy a 5 gallon plastic paint bucket with a lid. It should cost you about $3. The lid will stay on quite well without taping it on. 5 gallons is plenty big enough to store maps and data book pages, back up clothing and gear (like stakes, lighters, etc), film and batteries, a stash of vitamins and ibuprofen, tobacco, etc. The bucket is very durable and they have a nice wire handle that you can use to carry it around town. Plus, you can use it as a seat and make your hiking friends jealous as they lounge on the concrete. By the middle of California, I was having to guard my bucket against envious thru hikers whose boxes were in tatters.
There is no way I would hike without a bounce box, but I know lots of people who do. I don't use maildrops from home as a resupply method, so I have to use a bounce box to keep myself completely supplied with certain consumable goods. This is also a much more flexible method of hiking, as you don't have to predict, in February, how much film you will need for some stretch in Virginia. Or when you might lose your tent stakes.