View Full Version : Did you choose NOT to do maildrops?

04-19-2006, 10:40

I'd like to hear from those of you who chose to do zero or extremely minimal mail drops (I know there are a few towns you can't really find good food).

I've been considering not doing maildrops. The more I read about it, the more I think they would end up dictating my hike, where my hike becomes about getting to the next town for the maildrop, instead of just letting the trail/body dictate my hike. I also think I'll get REALLY tired of the food I purchase now, and I hate wasting $. I don't want anything making me feel like I have to hurry up or stick to some rigid schedule.

Was it hard to find edible food or needed supplies?

Did you spend less/more $ hiking this way?

What problems did you encounter if any?

Would you still recommend a bounce box w/gear? (I take no medications or have special health needs, so I'm not in a position of "needing" a bounce box). Thanks everyone!!


04-19-2006, 10:44
Hiked the whole AT w/ out a single maildrop no problem.

Maildrops really arn't needed on the AT. The money you save in buying your food ahead of time in bulk you lose in all the postage charges. And how can you know what food you are going to grow tired of or what food you are craving. Without maildrops you can be a lot more flexible

04-19-2006, 10:52
Well ...almost none. I did 3 - - Harpers Ferry, Bear Mountain and Glencliff. I knew that buying food in those places would involve more coordination so I chose to mail myself about 5 - 6 days worth of food.

Turned out to be a good plan and I would do the same again ...unless of course they've openned a grocery/convenient store with a decent selection of foods since then.


chip B
04-19-2006, 13:47
i agree with the mail drops controlling your time. if you are on a roll and dont want to stop in a town, like the idea of seeing whats around when i am getting low on food or in real need of a bed and shower

04-19-2006, 14:06
I can resupply about anywhere, but on the AT below Manchester Center I used a few mail drops. For example, if you are in the main pack, one to Fontana might make sense. I sent one there in early May, but could have easily resupplied out of the store. If I was starting in early April, I might send one.

Harpers Ferry worked out ok for me, as I went to a pub for lunch, which was next to a 7-11 that was ok. The hostel at Harpers Ferry would also work fine.

Port Clinton, PA is a good place for a drop as there isn't much to buy.

The main benefit, as I see it, to minimal maildrops is that you don't have to do much before hand work and don't need someone at home to mail you things. However, sending maildrops from the trail is very feasible and the way to go.

The exception to this is if you are going to take the time to dehydrate your own meals, or if you have a specific kind of diet that you want to stick to. For example, NOC just isn't going to have organic brown basmati rice, dried mushroom-vegetable mixture, packets of soy-chili sauce, and individual sized sesame oil containers. You get the point here. Sending yourself a box full of Mac and Cheese just doesn't seem to make much sense to me when you can buy it in town.

Uncle Silly
04-19-2006, 18:04
Port Clinton, PA is a good place for a drop as there isn't much to buy.

I'd disagree with Chris here -- there's a larger town, can't recall the name, about 3 miles up the road, which has everything you'd need PLUS a huge Cabela's. There's certainly a resupply there, tho it might cost you a day trying to get to the store and back again. If you're trying not to go that far from the trail, tho, a maildrop to PC might be in order.

I went with non-essential maildrops. My dad would drop me homemade jerky, my next set of maps, chocolate covered coffeebeans, and some other goodies (like instant miso -- mmmmm), once or twice a month. I had a hard time sometimes trying to find the 3-oz tuna packets (in oil), so he'd sometimes include those in the drop. Most of this was non-essential, but made my trip more comfortable, and would've been hard to find in most places along the trail. If I did the trail again, I'd probably do the same thing -- a few hard-to-find items in maildrops, everything else from stores along the way.

04-20-2006, 09:14
Like you, I couldn't decide to do mail drops or not. I decided not to do them and I'm not sorry I did. The few times I had to go to a P.O. to pick up something mailed to me was a pain. I had no big problems obtaining the food I wanted, buying along the way.
If I had it to do over.. I'd go without mail drops.

Viking (US)
04-21-2006, 14:15
I chose not to do mail drops, mostly because I'm lazy and didn't want to take the trouble to plan out where I was going to be months in the future.

I started using a bounce box in New England, mostly for the MREs that my dear loving mother started sending me on her own accord. It came in really handy, just for extra food and gear and books and stuff that I wasn't using but might need further up the trail. I'd use a bounce box the whole way if I did it again. That's an extra expense of course.

Something I noticed in '03 is that people tend to start out with a LOT more food than they need. (I did it too!) We hear all the stories about the "hiker hunger" but it tends not to kick in until you've been hiking for a while. It's easier to calibrate how much you need to carry if you do it as you go.

Another thought is that restaurants become much easier to get to further north and can be a great temptation. If you do take advantage you may find yourself with a lot of leftover food in your pack, and that's more money too.

05-05-2006, 20:23
I've always done minimal mail drops. The few I have done, I always did while on the trail. There's always a store somewhere nearby, but if we wanted better variety, we'd buy it in a larger trail town and mail it up ahead. We did have a bump box, though on our second hike. In '98, I only did two mail drops, one at Neel's Gap and one in Monson; I didn't have a bump box in '98.
I would never do a lot of mail drops ahead of time. I don't ever know what kind of food I'm going to want that day/week. Seems like a lot of people end up dumping half of their mail drops later on down the trail because they're so sick of the food.
Plus, I'm not very good at planning ahead of time. I'd rather just go and not worry about it until I get there. :)

05-06-2006, 17:07
POs are a waste of time. They are never open when I hit town. I used drops on '03 and didn't in '04 except for places where resupply is tricky: such as Monson and Fontanna (if you go into "town"). It takes less time and is more adaptable to mail yourself a package when you expect a difficult resupply ahead.

05-06-2006, 19:12
I'd suggest you send maildrops to Neels Gap(this will lighten the load for you in the first days) and Fontana Dam (a 1$ ride to the post office from the visitor center)and other places that are right on the trail,that way you don't have to go far out of your way like I did in Troutdale.All in all I thought maildrops were better used to get letters from friends and loved ones and to get your Summer or Winter gear.There's always something you could get by with,even at the worst towns to re-supply in.

05-29-2006, 10:22
this year allthough i got only to pearisburg, i didnt use drops.next year i wont either. but if you have people to send and make them special, then i would. the boxes folks got from granny or aunte or a friend that were not needed but rather special things like easter eggs and fudge and stuff to share more than stuff to hike with, these were the cool ones.and they were great to gather round and watch as trail folks opened them not knowing what and sometimes who sent them as some were put together buy groups of family members and friends. but no box of macs and cheese or the best miso tofu diet , sent by you to you , can ever cause much glee.more fun are the trips to and from stores any way. i love bein on a hitch into town. i mean how cool is it to hitch in the year 2006? pritty cool.and theres only ever a few things in any one persons diet that cant be found. yes i missed freash ginger in some towns ,but it made it all the better when i did find it in the big towns.candles werent allways available. so what? its a luxury item. and so are all things other than food enough to sustain us. its calories we need not to preserve the diet of our choise. miss janet says it best, and i quote,"when you come out here you gotta give it up a little. " she ment things like haveing it our way all the time.

05-29-2006, 10:48
When I used supplemental drops I tried to send them to a Hostel, Motel or a place I knew I would visit this way there was no rush to reach the PO before closing.