View Full Version : Hostel Maildrops

01-30-2006, 14:38
In planing for a thru-hike I am planning on doing about 20 mail drops. Because I don't want to be tied down in town on a Sunday waiting for the PO to open, is it reasonable to send 20 drops, evenly spaced along the trail to hostel's where which I can access on Sunday. I will have my son mail them out about 10 days from the day of arrival. Any recommendations on who to use or stay away from? FiveWay:confused:

01-30-2006, 14:53
You could do it for the most part but there will be gaps where it's generally easy enough to buy locally.

I don't have a list, maybe someone can quickly make one but, check the updated 2006 Companion when it comes out Feb. 9th. or the online version if you need to make plans now.


Jack Tarlin
01-30-2006, 15:35
Your Thru-Hiker's Companion or Thru Hiker's Handbook will list just about all of the non Post Offices that will hold hiker mail (It's wise NOT to send stuff to a place unless you're absolutely sure they provide this service). This includes hotels, Outfitters, motels, etc.

20 maildrops seems like a lot, especialy if we're talking food drops (there are actually only a handful of places where it's a good idea to send a food-drop, unless you've dehydrated your food ahead of time or are on some sort of special diet, such as vegan, kosher, no-salt, etc). My guess isyou can get by with fewer than 20. This means fewer worries about picking up mail, worries about it getting there on time, worries about lost or delayed packages, etc. The fewer the drops, the fewer the hassles.

Be aware that a few places on the Trail charge a small fee for holding hiker mail, especially if it's a lodging place that you don't plan to stay at. Also, if you do pick up mail at a place you're not going to stay at, you should offer them a few bucks anyway, for their courtesy in holding and safeguarding your mail.

If you look in the "Articles" section of this website, you'll find all sorts of useful info on Re-Supply, shopping, lodging, how to send and receive mail while en route, etc.

01-31-2006, 01:08
Thanks for the info Jack and Sly. I know you are right about the mail drops as being more of a hassel, I quess I just needed someone to tell me that. I will get it down to 8 to 10 if I can space them, it not then I won't worry about it.

Jack Tarlin
01-31-2006, 13:32

My first time thru I had something like 30 maildrops. (I had a friend who managed a supermarket and I was able to get amazing discounts on food, film, etc. so I figured that even when throwing in the cost of postage I was still ahead of the game).

What I discovered, tho, was that there were LOTS more places to buy food en route than I'd originally thought. The money spent on postage could have gone for better things. I was also spending a lot of time doing big miles, often more than I wanted, in order to get to a town or Post office before it closed for the weekend or a holiday so I could retrieve my mail. I also discovered quite early in the trip that I didn't really like a lot of the food that I'd pre-bought, but was now stuck with.

My last time around (2003) I had maybe three or four boxes that actually contained food, as there are really not that many places where you need to send it. I think I sent a small parcel to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (lousy selection of food there and over-priced); to Fontana Dam (the little market in the Village isn't that great); Bear Mountain, NY; and Port Clinton, PA.

Many folks also send a box to the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry, as there's no market in town except a 7-11, and it's a bit of a pain getting the shuttle bus to the supermarket in Chares Town. (If you stay at the hostel across the river in Maryland, there's a decent market within waliking distance of the hostel).

Note: There's been all sorts of construction and changes in Bear Mountain in recent years. Do NOT send mail or parcels there unless you're sure the Post Office will be open.

01-31-2006, 13:40
So i guess im crazy for planning over 20 maildrops......even though 90% of them are being sent to businesses/hostels along the way so i wont have to deal with post office hours.....

Thing is i dont eat meat......have no problems shopping for breakfasts and lunches along the way....but i just dont forsee enough variety being available when it comes to dinners....and on the trail....dinners are my most important food.....a great dinner at the end of a long day's hike really lifts my spirits......

So since ive had plenty of time to prepare for my hike.....ive purchased a dehydrator and the great Lipsmackin Vegetarian Backpackin book.....ive picked out over 20 dinner recipes....and im in the process of preparing about 6 servings for each recipe.....all in all i should have over 130 trail dinners ready to go......with enough variety to never get my sick of what im sending myself....

Am i crazy??

01-31-2006, 13:47
Am i crazy??
You're not crazy. It's just a matter of experience and personal preference. When my wife hiked in 2001 she had at least 20 mail drops. They became more and more a problem as she got further north.

When it came time for my hike I decided to buy as I went and only ship myself food drops where I knew shopping would be a hassle (a total of 3).

If you have special eating needs then all those drops might be the best thing for you. Think about this too ...you might get VERY tired of eating all the stuff you prepared in advance when it seemed like the right thing to do.

Enjoy your hike ...regardless of how many mail drops you decide to set up.


Jack Tarlin
01-31-2006, 13:53
Slogger's right....you're not crazy at all. Do what works for you. For people with specialized diets, or people who have the time and forsight to dehydrate good meals ahead of time, a lot of maildrops is the way to go; sounds like you have a good plan and you'll do just fine.

01-31-2006, 13:57
Amen Jack.....if every trail town had a co-op like yours does......i wouldnt send 1 drop......