View Full Version : maildrops or resupply @ local stores?

12-14-2005, 18:50
Maildrops are one way, but how much money am I looking to spend if I was to buy food town to town? How reliable are most of these towns?

Jack Tarlin
12-14-2005, 19:19

There are more places to buy food on or near the Trail than you might think. Unless you want to cook and dehydrate your meals in order to have tastier food and want to save a lot of packweight; or unless you're on some sort of specialized diet (vegan, Kosher, no salt, etc.) I think you'll discover that it's easier to buy most of your food as you go, rather than have it mailed to you.

Also, many hikers report that they grow sick of the food that was pre-purchased for their maildrops and wish they had something else. They frequently end up giving lots of stuff away in order to buy stuff they actually want to eat. This wastes money in two ways, as they're purchasing food twice, plus paying the postage.

There are actually very few places on the Trail where it's a good idea to have food sent to you. Otherwise, I think you'll discover it's pretty easy to buy as you go. This will save a great deal of postage cost; it'll mean you're less likely to get sick and tired of your food; and there will be lots fewer times that you'll be hurrying or altering your schedule in order to get to a town or post office in order to get your mail.

The two principal Thru-Hiking guidebooks, The Thru-Hikers Companion and the Thru Hiker's Handbook both contain detailed information on places to get food, as well as where to have things mailed. The 2006 Editions of both of these books should be available in a few weeks. You'll also find lots of Re-Supply information in the "Articles" section of this website. Lastly, if you do Searches for "Food," "Maildrops", or "Re-Supply," you'll find all sorts of threads and posts where this topic is discussed in detail on Whiteblaze.

Good luck!

12-14-2005, 19:35
Definitely check out the articles. I remember it being hard to find specific answers when I was researching for my hike...and everybody's different.

Here's my take: Can't answer the money question. I only mailed myself two food drops. You may want one at Fontana Dam (There is a limited selection in the store, if you are a little worried. Retrospect: I didn't need it). The only place, again not necessary, is Monson (two small stores w/ limited supplies), before the 100 mile wilderness. I mailed from Gorham. Other than those, the town's were more than reliable IMHO.

My information is from a 2003 thru hike.

12-14-2005, 21:09
Thats the answer I was hoping for. Mail seems like too much to worry about. Thanks for the info.

12-15-2005, 17:23
Also, the towns where you stop appreciate you more when you purchase items from their stores.
This helps out the "hiker trash" feeling that some town residents feel about thruhikers.

12-15-2005, 20:20
I started out with doing mail drops, mostly cause that was "how you are supposed to do it." at least that is what I thought. And for a while I still did it that way, out of habit I suppose. Now tho, I do mail if totally needed, but so far Iv'e had no problems doing the buy along the way, and I feel that way the trail is supporting the stores along the AT.

If/when I thru, I will decidedly do a mail drop at Fontana, the store there had NOTHING the one time I passed thru.


12-15-2005, 20:21
OOPS, I hit post afore I was done.

The added cost of food & stuff at the small stores along the AT will be made up for by shippping cost of mail drops, at least in my limited experience.


12-15-2005, 20:34
i really liked this store 15 minutes walk from the trail on etna hanover road
victor is very hiker friendly guy,he and his wife bought this store a year or so ago:cool: neo



12-16-2005, 15:46
If/when I thru, I will decidedly do a mail drop at Fontana, the store there had NOTHING the one time I passed thru.

When I went through Fontana, the store had everything. Quite a good selection for a store that is designed for a resort community.

They had all the essentials:
candy bars
other noodles
more noodles
more candy bars

This store was rather pricy becasue it was right there in Fontana Village. Also, the post office is right next door.

Jack Tarlin
12-16-2005, 16:20
I don't know what date Brock went thru, but the problem with the Fontana store is that it while it carries many items of interest to hikers, it doesn't necessarily carry a lot of them.....if you happen to come thru in the middle of hiker season, or if you get there late in the day after twenty other folks have been there ahead of you, chances are good that they'll be out of such things as peanut butter, liptons, etc. While they have a decent snack and candy selection, they're weak on other things, such as breads, cheeses, meats, unless you wanna pay $1.99 for a tiny can of tuna, or unless you want to hike outta there packing cans of chili or beef stew.

Because of the unreliability of the Fontana Dam village market, this is one of the very few places that I think it's a good idea to send a food parcel to, especially if you plan to skip Gatlinburg and go all the way thru the Smokies on what you leave here with.....I for one, would NOT want to buy 5-7 days worth of food here....I don't think I'd be happy with the selection, variety, or price, and I think it's wiser to send yourself a box. (Of course, if you're gonna leave the Park at Newfound Gap and re-supply in Gat, then you can probably get what you need here, as we're only talking about a few days of travel).

P.S. The little "outfitter" store in Fontana Dam also has some hiker food items that can supplement what's at the General Store, but these tend to be 5-7 dollar freeze-dried dinners that aren't in everyone's price range.