View Full Version : what's in 'your' bounce box???

10-31-2002, 15:54
I understand the basic principle behind a bounce box, but I'm still a little unsure about specific contents. Can you give me some examples of what went into your bounce box?


10-31-2002, 16:16
Anything that you don't want to carry but might need up the trail. Might be extra clothes, or old boots, extra food, duct tape, seam sealer, boot waterproofing, etc, etc. IMO, bounce boxes are not needed. So you decide you might want some.... seam sealer or boot waterproofing. You just keep bouncing it up the trail until you might need it. After all the bouncing, what did it really cost you? Not only money but time.

10-31-2002, 17:11
I didn't use a bouncebox last spring, but I will use on this summer, especially if I try to do the PCT rather than the AT. In either case, I won't have maildrops in the usual sense, but rather buy as I go, send mail drops from the trail, and use a bounce box. Into the bounce box will go things that are hard to find along the trail or are expensive on the trail. For example, batteries for Photon microlights, film, guide book sections, maps, lithium batteries (camera). I'll also be putting in extra, home-dried meals so that every few weeks I get some really nice food to eat. I will probably send one resupply maildrop of dried foods to replenish the bounce box. I'll stash some extra gear as well. Perhaps a spare pair of runners (I wear size 15) or a bivy bag (High Sierra, not desert) or mosquito netting(Sierras, not desert). Maybe a balaclava. If you use Esbit tablets, you can stash a large quantity in the bounce box and take them out as you need them. Replenish the supply with one or two maildrops. Another use that seems like it might be useful is for storing things like exposed film. You could wait until you have five or six rolls of film exposed and then mail it home or to someone. But, then you have film taking up space in your pack and potentially getting lost. You could just stash it in the bounce box until you get quantity stored up and mail it all back. You could also put some extra cash in the bouncebox as emergency money. Kept as travellers checks, you have options if the USPS looses your bounce box.

I think that if you are using maildrops as your primary resupply method, a bounce box may not be super useful. I don't think there is any single reason to use a bounce box; I think that, for some, there may be, collectively, enough reasons to use one.

By the way, I am planning to use a 5 Gallon plastic paint bucket as a bounce box. The lid seals tightly and the bucket is very durable.

10-31-2002, 17:36
I didn't use a bounce box.

However, I did use mail drops to refresh maps, sections of Wingfoot, and camera film, along with food. I also shipped cold weather gear home, and got cold weather gear back in NH.

I planned mail drops for places where a post office or hostel was more convienent than a grocery store.

10-31-2002, 18:08
Our bounce box had refills of our first aid supplies, refills of personal medications for a 6 month time frame, refills of feminine items, packing tape, tent/pack repair items, maps for upcoming sections, any food that we had bought that we need to send ahead ( for example, if we bought a huge bottle of powdered koolaid we would split it up and send what we didn't carry for the week ahead in the bouce box) spare socks, extra film and batteries, mainly we had consumables, stuff we knew we would run out of and bought ahead of time in bulk at a discount and then reuspplied from our bounce box instead of int own, where film and batteries and the like were more expensive.

10-31-2002, 20:08
My bounce box is similiar to those listed above. Also include laundry detergent. This item alone almost pays for the postage to the next PO.

The Weasel
10-31-2002, 23:51
Medication was a critical part of my box: My medical insurance permits (encourages) 90 day Rx supplies by mail order, with only 1 deductible (instead of locally-filled prescriptions for 30 days), so I was able to carry only 7-10 days of my Rx's, and bounce the rest. In addition, I included necessary supplements (especially multivitamins) and related things (my extra Tylenol 3 [w/codeine] that I got my Dr to prescribe for when things hurt BAD, regular Tylenol, my daily 80 mg aspirin, etc.).

SGT Rock
11-09-2002, 10:09
I've started thinking about the bounce box packing list, so far what I plan to include:

Large pack towel
Set of town clothes - probably just some old PT Sweats
Shampoo & Soap - stored in a zip lock
Small diamond knife sharpener
Roll of duct tape
Super Glue
Silicone seam sealer
Extra writing paper
Extra meds
Envelopes and stamps
Planning guide sections I'm not using
Maps for sections I'm not using
Spare lithium batteries for lights, camera, and radio
Small screwdriver for changing lithium batteries in LED lights
Spare Zip Lock bags
a dozen esbit tabs in case I cannot find fuel

I think that should do it.

11-09-2002, 10:50
While some hikers used bounce boxes during my time on the trail, many did not. I tried it a few times but ended up saving the cash and minimizing my trips to the PO. You get to be pretty resourceful on the trail. A towel can be nice, but it only takes a few minutes to drip dry. You can find shampoo, writing paper, zip locks, duct tape, seam sealer, and just about anything else you might need in hiker boxes (at hostels) in town, or by bartering with other hikers, or at local Dollar General stores.

I guess what I'm trying to say is.. the bounce box thing can get a little overblown in my opinion. Many of you will figure that out once you're out on the trail.

I ended up with lots of food on my hike from other hikers that had simply tired of the stuff that was being sent from home. I had many conversations that went like this in town near post offices. "Ugh, I can't eat any more of this $#!t - want some Little Bear". I also gave away or swapped lots of food that I had simply tired of. Good stuff too. Westbrae Ramen noodles with real miso broth (about $1.79 each). Gave away lots of them.

FYI - I did away will all maildrops after Port Clinton, PA. I had pretty much tired of maildrops by Waynesboro, VA - with the exception of the slide film, homemade cookies & letters from home. Of course, my winter gear was maildropped to Glencliff, NH - last stop before the White Mountains.

11-09-2002, 11:23
Originally posted by Mowgli16
You can find shampoo, writing paper, zip locks, duct tape, seam sealer, and just about anything else you might need in hiker boxes (at hostels) in town, or by bartering with other hikers

While the above is true, self sufficiency should be the rule for approaching all thru-hikes. There can be a fine line between bartering & mooching.

11-09-2002, 11:48
Everyone has different opinions about mail drops, but I agree with Little Bear. I had a few items mailed to me, like warm/cold weather gear and groups of maps, but thought that getting to a PO on a regular basis would be more trouble than it was worth to me. I bought all of my food along the way as I needed it... locating food just became another part of the adventure. I carried a small bottle of camp suds, an extra pair of underwear and deodorant with me to use when I got to shower.

It seemed to me that the folks that used regular mail drops had to schedule their hike around when PO's were open. For some folks, I think the regular mail drops were a way of keeping someone back home integrally involved with 'their thru-hike' and making it more of 'our thru-hike', which I assume worked well for them. For others, they started trading out items at 'hiker boxes' and maybe even just stopped having their mail boxes sent to them. If you use a bounce box for town items, it seems to me that you need to visit the PO twice... once when you arrive and a second time when you leave, so that tradeoff would be weight saved on the trail versus time spent going to PO's when you are in town.


Trail Dog
11-12-2002, 16:00
Hi all.

i am planning to do trip in march 04 up to New york.

i knew of the mail drops for resupply but the bounce box didnt occur to me but makes sence. now where do i get all the addresses and mail box locations along the trail? and how do i know they are or will be active when i get there? is there a frequently updated site that is reliable?



11-12-2002, 17:38
The addresses of all post offices close to the trail are listed in Wingfoot's Thru-hiker Handbook and in the ALDHA Companion.

Bounce boxes seem to work for some, but many do just fine without them. Like everything else, it's a compromise.

11-12-2002, 17:39
You can get all the PO Box addresses plus addresses for other mail drop locations by checking out the ALDHA Companion. The cost is something like $5. New versions come out each year. This years version should come out sometime this winter. You can get last years version for free online at www.aldha.org. Follow the links for the Companion.

11-15-2002, 15:45
We did the same as most people have said. It worked great for all the Aleve we bought in bulk and to send ahead extra food that people sent us. Our maildrops on the other hand were a waste of money. Shopping in the small towns is that way to go unless you have a restricted diet or are picky. But bouncing batteries, first aid supplies and the mountain house my wife's mother was sending us worked great! I definitely recommend a bounce box. Give it a shot. If you don't like it, you can always send it home. If you find you need one, you can always start one...
Just don't send anything via Uncle John's. Took him 4 months to send my tent to my mom's house... Thought that i had lost it for sure...
Gravity Man

02-10-2008, 18:36
I personally don't think I would like using a bounce box

02-10-2008, 18:38
Dribble as hard as you want, but your box just won't bounce.

I was fine without one.....

Appalachian Tater
02-10-2008, 18:38
Even some people who start out with them stop using them. It certainly is unnecessary.

Lone Wolf
02-10-2008, 18:39
a bounce box? :-?

Jack Tarlin
02-10-2008, 19:00
Wow. Really old thread, but a good one.

In addition to what other folks have mentioned, I carry a lot of spices as I like to cook real food on the Trail. So my bounce box has lots of spices in it, so I can periodically refill the 7 or 8 ziplock bags that hold my spices while I'm hiking. (Good money saving tip: Buy your spices at the dollar store instead of the big supermarkets, you'll save a ton of money).

I also sometimes have a pair of jeans and a clean shirt in there. Then if I know I'm going to be somewhere for a day or two, I'll actually have real clothes in case I'm invited somewhere nice, or going to a nice place to eat, church, whatever. Shorts and a tee shirt doesn't always make it.

What else?

Oh, I have an extra pair of glasses in mine. Also extra bootlaces. And extra Ibuprofen and extra Vitamins (I buy extra large bottles of both at the outset of the trip and re-fill myself as I go along; you save a lot of money doing it this way, otherwise you're going to spend 6 bucks in some tiny little store for 24 Advils. (And once again, Dollar stores are a good place to get generic Ibuprofen).

Two key things about bounce boxes. Don't let them get too big or too heavy. Avoid letting them become junk receptacles for stuff you no longer need, or stuff you pick up along the way.....souvenirs, mail, maps, etc. Instead, periodically send this stuff home. Otherwise, your box will fill up with junk that you'll end up needlessly mailing to yourself over and over again.

And limit how many times you send yourself your box. You probably won't need it at ALL of your town stops, unless you want to spend a ton of money on postage. And keep in mind that if you send it by priority mail, it can be "bumped" further down the Trail for free, if you get to a town and realize you don't need anything inside the box at that point in time.

02-10-2008, 19:52
I'm just curious. How did the people who did NOT use a bounce box deal with maps? Maps is really the only critical thing I plan to put in my bounce box, though I am still thinking about throwing an extra pair of boots and several spare pairs of socks in. Did those of you without bounce boxes not use maps? Or did you arrange for someone to send you the maps without using a bounce box? I just got the set of maps last week and I really don't feel like carrying all of them from the start.

02-10-2008, 19:54
Maps go with ordinary maildrops. Every 150-200 miles or so.

02-10-2008, 20:02
I take you must have home support. I don't unfortunately. Since I understand the post office won't hold package for 4 months or so in advance, my own plan is to use the bounce box for the maps. I am hoping to avoid mail drops other than the bounce box as much as possible.

Appalachian Tater
02-10-2008, 20:09
One thing you might think about is that occasionally packages are lost by the Post Office. Each time you mail something, you increase the odds of it going astray. Something irreplaceable or very expensive, you might not want to bounce the whole trail. If that is the case, try to find somebody to do some drops for you, even if you pre-address and get the postage before you leave, and then all they have to do is take it to the post office.

02-10-2008, 20:38
Now you got me worried, though I'm not sure I agree with your logic. Suppose I split the maps up into 10 different boxes and mail each box once. Wouldn't that be just as bad as mailing the whole lot of maps 10 times? The only advantage I see is that I'd just lose one set of maps in the first case rather than the whole lot in the second. But then I have to consider the probability that the person I arrange with the send the 10 boxes will fail to do so, which is pretty likely in my case. I hate to say this, but since I'm pretty anonymous here I guess I can: none of my friends/acquaintances/relatives are very reliable... Anyway, I guess its not the end of the world since I can always reorder the maps if they get lost in the mail. $200 down the tube would be annoying but it won't kill me.

So here's a question related to this thread. How many people have lost their bounce box due to mail system problems?

02-10-2008, 22:19
Don't use one on the AT but other trails:

Maps (no. 1 priority)
Gear that might be necessary ahead (like ice ax, heavier clothes, bug net, different stove?)
zip locks (they do wear out),
food items (like powdered coconut milk which i love but is very tough to find on the trail, also instant coffee, tea bags, curry powder, thai chili peppers, etc.)
town clothes (not that important but since if i'm using a box, i'll at least put a shirt in there),
finger nail clippers, spare batteries (maybe charger if you need one)
I spare top for my water bag (i use an old type like the wine box type and usually the spout will start to leak about halfway thru a thruhike)
Extra socks ( i like fleece socks and sell them so i don't want to pay retail prices)
A roll of clear tape to seal up the box everytime.
Film for my video camera (and battery charger)
Guitar strings (ultra light guage are tough to find in most trail towns)
Dehydrated food (especially hamburger which is impossible to find and i think you must dry your own) also veggies and fruits, my lentil soup, black beans with spices, etc.

I agree with whoever said to keep it light. and i don't send it to everytown. (Only about every 3rd one or when i know i might need it

Also of course, put your old maps back in as well as your clothes etc. you DON'T need on the next section. (my CDT maps have been used 4 times now)

Oh yeah, and anymore, i need the spare set of reading glasses. (getting old has it's drawbacks)

02-10-2008, 22:23
I used a bounce bucket on the PCT and ended up sending it home about halfway. More trouble than it was good. Supplies aren't hard to come by in most places, or just carry a little extra of this or that.

02-10-2008, 22:24
never had a box not make it although they have been late already (not much of a concern with a bounce box cause you should be shipping it 2 weeks before you need it) (use sense when putting the return address on there just in case)

US Postal service is very reliable. (i use them exclusively for shipping in my long underwear business and 99% of the time, they get there or come back to me because I made a mistake) They are good!

02-10-2008, 22:28
Maps go with ordinary maildrops. Every 150-200 miles or so.

this is fine if you don't change your mind and do a flip flop.
I've had this problem on the CDT one year and when i called my friend who was shipping, turned out she was on a 30 day vow of silence. Wasn't easy getting my (expensive) maps

02-11-2008, 12:12
My opinion is, A bounce box is not needed. The only exception would be if you have special needs, and you don't have anyone off thrail to send you stuff than do a bounce box.
The extra effort to get into a town for a PO stop isn't worth it. Everything a thru-hiker needs can be brought in trail towns. It may cost a little extra but if you subtract the postage you pay for a bounce box it will even out.
A thru is more enjoyable if you rid yourself of connections to the outside world. A bounce box is just another connection. Most folks do a thru to get away from all the stuff we do daily, in the real world. Some folks want to take that world with them. If you fit into the latter than do what you have to do to be happy.:sun

02-11-2008, 12:15
Bounce boxes frequently end up costing more than they are worth.

02-11-2008, 12:28
My opinion is, A bounce box is not needed. The only exception would be if you have special needs, and you don't have anyone off thrail to send you stuff than do a bounce box.

Mostly agree -- but what about maps? Carrying the full set isn't practical.

02-11-2008, 12:41
I take you must have home support. I don't unfortunately. Since I understand the post office won't hold package for 4 months or so in advance, my own plan is to use the bounce box for the maps. I am hoping to avoid mail drops other than the bounce box as much as possible.

If you don't have anyone to send you them, just send them to yourself at a determined P.O. along the way. Address them to : Your name, P.O. name, Hold for AT thru-hiker. Just pick them up when you get to the town. If for some reason you never get to pick it up, it will eventualy get returned to the return address.

02-11-2008, 12:52
I used a bounce bucket on the PCT and ended up sending it home about halfway. More trouble than it was good. Supplies aren't hard to come by in most places, or just carry a little extra of this or that.

How'd you deal with the guidebooks/maps for the 2nd half of the trail?

02-11-2008, 13:55
If you send your bounce box via Priority mail, you can forward it an unlimited number of times (as long as you do not accept/open it). Therefore, if you have things like a summer bag or winter bag/clothes, you can keep bouncing it until the weather requires it, at no additional cost.

02-11-2008, 18:49
How'd you deal with the guidebooks/maps for the 2nd half of the trail?

Sent out a couple maildrops from Ashland for Oregon, and a few in Portland for Washington. I guess I carried a couple of guidebook sections at a time, not too heavy.

I mainly used the bounce bucket to appease my partner. I pretty much thought it was a pain in the butt and a waste of money most of the time. Instead of having to make a decision about spare gear, it became our indecision catchall.

02-14-2008, 12:09
A number of questions!!

What are the advantages/disadvantages of mailing your box to a hostel/motel etc? Are they more reliable than the PO? Will some/any mail the box for you. Seems that the hours are better, the stuff is where you need it (Rock mentions towel, others clothes).

What is the best box?? I think a couple of people mentioned buckets. Does your box include tape etc or do places provide that?

Good thread!! Any "nuts and bolts" info is appreciated. I've wondered about things like Olive Oil. Don't want to carry a whole new bottle(or throw away the rest)but is it worth bouncing something like this?


02-14-2008, 12:49
I don't think it would be too nuts to bounce your favorite shampoo, soap, and deodorant in a box.
If you're allergic to certain laundry detergents, you can bounce a container of your favorite ahead (or have someone mail it to you if you have a home support team).
I haven't done a box, but I've read and thought a lot about this subject (I'm just trying to think "outside the BOX" :p)

04-01-2008, 06:59
In regards to maps and guidebooks, don't carry too many. I helped package the sets once as a volunteer for the ATC and each one is heavy, heavy. I'm not sure if the guide books are necessary, someone else may have a better opinion than my own. If you just had maps, you may be able to get away with just splitting it into two sections, one before Harper's Ferry and one after. You can just buy them at the ATC. You still may be carrying too many maps.

Jim Adams
04-01-2008, 08:24
I don't use maps on the AT so that is not an issue for me but I do send extra bounce in my box!:)