View Full Version : How to plan your mail-drops

William Prescott
08-15-2012, 19:03
hey there i have done some searching(but maybe i missed it) and i have not been able to find ANYTHING about how to go about mail drops.

this is something that i am having SLIGHT problems with

i have the directory of all the post offices,great, i have the thru-hikers companion, Awesome, but how do i take this info that i have and make an accurate plan.

for instance: to get to the Franklin,NC post office its a 20MI. round trip detour, then the next one in Bryson City is a 26MI. round trip.

it seems like there should be alternates to this so its not a day or 2 just to get resupplied...the other option would to seemingly have to carry over 7 days worth of food at times.

Maybe this is just how it is, and if it is then ill deal with it but i was hoping that there were some options.

i know some hostels will hold mail, but how do you know where everyplace that will hold mail in relation to where you are on the trail

08-15-2012, 19:41
Unless you have a weird diet then it's not even necessary to do mail drops, there's not a lot of info on it because most people buy at the grocery stores in town instead of sending themselves packages in the mail. The only place on the trail that I would think about sending a mail drop to is Andover, ME. You can still get by without sending a mail drop there, it's just that the little general store there is really expensive and sending food makes financial sense.

08-15-2012, 19:45
for instance: to get to the Franklin,NC post office its a 20MI. round trip detour, then the next one in Bryson City is a 26MI. round trip.

it seems like there should be alternates to this so its not a day or 2 just to get resupplied...

If you hitch hike into those places it only takes about 20 minutes instead of 2 days. And you can go to Gatlinburg instead of Bryson City, it's a lot easier to get to.

08-15-2012, 19:58
On the WB homepage, the menu on the left side has a selection for Resupply Info. It's a very good plan for how and where to resupply. It's a great piece of information for first time hikers.

08-15-2012, 20:34
Hi William,
Here's the direct link (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php?15) to the WB re-supply articles. They may seem dated but still apply for planning purposes. I carried printed copies of them on my thru hike as a reference. Very helpful.

I agree you can get by with little or no maildrops. It depends on your comfort level. To me a bounce box was more convenient to include stuff that's hard to find in trail towns (travel size toiletries, extra hydration bite valve, spare tyvek, etc...).

Don't worry about figuring all this stuff out. You'll be amazed how fast you learn how to do re-supply once you hit the trail, determine your hiking pace, and understand how to navigate your trail guidebook. Plus, you'll have a whole lot of other thru's there to help.


BTW, I'm enjoying a homebrew porter as I type this!

Papa D
08-15-2012, 21:22
Usefulness of maildrops:

Exact item you want waiting for you at post office (i.e., specialty food, contact lenses, new rain jacket, new companion pages or maps, etc.)
Ready box to send things home in - the water pump you don't need, the worn our rain jacket, and so forth
They can be sort of fun
Surprises from home (home-made cookies, etc.)

Disadvantages of mail-drops:

You can shop for just about everything you need, when you need it
You have to be at the post office on a weekday or (maybe) a Saturday morning when they are open
You are obliged to go into a town that you might realize is very inconvenient for your current pace and current hike
They are expensive - especially to ship things that are across the street at the grocery or convenience store (i.e. mac-n-cheese)
You will be shipped stuff you don't actually need - - a giant bottle of shampoo - - what are you going to do with that
Your food tastes change - you realize that you are sick and tired of potatoes and tuna fish but here is some more anyway

Use drops very sparingly - like to trade out winter gear for summer gear or perhaps some specialty items that might be hard to get. I would suggest that most thru hikers would only want a mail drop once per month (about 5, total) - they might need one (or none).

You also don't have to pre-plan a whole hike of drops - - you can always go to a PO on the fly and bounce-box yourself something (i.e. 1/3 of the companion and a different shirt)

08-19-2012, 02:02
The only drop I did last year was to Caratunk, ME. The only other place I wished I had sent one was NOC. But in both places I would have been OK without on the day I came through. If you just start hiking you'll learn about everything real quickly from everyone else on the trail.

08-19-2012, 09:08
Also consider sending packages to hostels or outfitters. Post Office hours are not at all flexible.

Josh Calhoun
10-16-2012, 11:42
also if you worried about franklin just hitch into town, you have a kmart and all kind of other stores. OR get a mail drop to NOC in wesser, only 2 days past franklin