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Thread: Bounce Box

  1. #1

    Default Bounce Box

    How exactly does a bounce box work? If you mail it up trail don't you have to pay postage again to send it to the next stop if you open it? If you do not open it, can you forward it to the next stop without paying postage?

  2. #2
    Praha4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Panama City Beach, FL


    good question. I need the answer to that one too. I've heard if you use Priority Mail you don't pay if you don't open the box and just forward it up the trail... would like to hear from others who know how this works

  3. #3
    GA-ME 2011
    Join Date
    Baltimore, MD


    I believe that if you don't open the box you can forward it to the next P.O. for free. Search the forums for "Bounce Box" and check at your local P.O. for more information.

  4. #4


    Priority Mail parcels/letters that have NOT been opened can be forwarded elsewhere at no additional cost. You can do this either in the presence of your mail, or by sending a properly filled out Change-of-Address card to the Post Office which holds the parcel.

    But if you open the box for any reason, even in the presence of Post Office personnel, you will have to pay to ship the item elsewhere.

    If you decide to remail or forward parcels/mail that were not sent Priority Mail, you will have to pay again to re-ship them.

  5. #5
    Registered User DickHumbird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Frederick, Maryland
    Journal Entries


    I tried a bounce box last year. Too much hassle. If you need it, you'll pack it.
    Ink, WV->ME '09, GA->WV '10, People's Republic of Walk

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Charlotte, NC


    Actually, you don't pay unless you "take custody" of the package. I only got in one argument with a postal clerk about whether or not I took custody of my package at the window. From that point on I made sure to announce to the clerk "I'm not taking custody and want to bounce this forward".

    Silly I know but the clerks seemed to appreciate the effort.

  7. #7
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Virginia, 10 miles from the AT near SNP
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    I stopped bouncing by NE.

    Hiking Blog March 12 Backpacking Workshop Near SHEN
    AT NOBO and SOBO, LT, FHT, SHEN 500
    Shenandoah Ridgerunner, Author, Speaker

  8. #8


    A bounce box is good if you don't have somebody at home sending you packages periodically. On my first thruhike, my mother was my trail support. She sent 14 boxes. On my second thruhike, I didn't want her to bother, so I was self-sufficient. A bounce box took care of all my needs.

    We use them for:
    1. Maps or guidebook sections
    2. Batteries
    3. Medications
    4. Spare socks/underwear/t-shirt
    5. Gear you will only need at certain parts of the trail and not others (i.e. summer or winter gear)
    6. Food that you buy in bulk or at a good price in one town and want to send to a town where the selection is less. i.e. coffee, dried milk, dried fruit, advil, vitamins, etc.

    On the AT, you can find food and drug store items quite easily and there are a lot of outfitters, especially in the south. On other trails, a bounce box can be a real help. We mail ours so we get it about every three weeks.

    As others have said, if it's mailed first class, it can be forwarded free.

  9. #9


    Good points by Spirit Walker.

    Some of the things I've kept in a bounce box were things like large bottles of vitamins, Ibuprofen, Glucosamine, etc. Also, pre-bought batteries, too, and cooking spices.

    On the Trail you'll see people spend five bucks for two Duracells or six bucks for 24 Ibuprofen and they'll do this repeatedly.

    If you buy items like this in quantity ahead of time, you'll have enough to last for months and will save a good bit of money.

    So for a lot of folks, if we're talking about a reasonable ammount of times, (i.e. not every five days!) sending yourself a bounce box containing useful items can be a good idea.

    One caveat, tho: Don't let your bounce box become a junk box, i.e., knicknacks, souvenirs, mail from home, old maps, etc.

    Get ruthless. Either send stuff you don't need home or get rid of it, or at trip's end, you'll discover that your bounce box weighs 13 pounds and primarily contains stuff you don't really need or use, but somehow managed to send to yourself seven or eight times!!

    (And a lightweight set of "town clothes" in your Bounce box can't hurt either, in case you want to go out to eat somewhere nicer than Taco Bell or leave the Trail to stay/visit with "real" people; it'll also give you something to wear when everything else you've got is disgusting or in the wash).

  10. #10
    Registered User Miner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Anaheim, CA


    At most post offices, you can get free priority mail boxes which work for doing any mail drops for food (if needed) and for a bounce box. Flat rate priority mail boxes work great if you are sending things a far distance. But if you are only sending things a week or two ahead (and you aren't shipping lead weights), then they actually can cost more then using the non-flat rate priority mail boxes. I used the largest priority mail box (larger then the largest flat-rate box) as my bounce box. I'd replace it around the 4th pickup with a new one.

    I kept all my battery chargers, some spare gear/cothing (I did need it as I lost a few things along the way), any overflow of food when I bought too much, etc.

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