View Full Version : How often should I leave the trail to resupply? (No mail drops)

03-27-2013, 00:39
I'm not using mail drops. I MIGHT end up using a bounce box as a spur the moment thing, but don't plan on it. I'm tempted to take a 1 week supply of food each time and resupply every 100 miles or so. Is this a realistic idea? I'm starting in May so I'm on a time schedule and I don't want to waste time getting off the trail to go to towns for food when I can just take more with me. Thoughts?

03-27-2013, 01:23
There are a lot of variables for you to consider. How much food do you want to carry? how fast can you hike? These are all things to consider but ultimately it really depends on where you can resupply. You shold probably take enough to get to neels gap (around 3 days) and resupply there, Figure out where your next option of resupply is and buy enough food to get there, and continue this until you get to the end. I believe there will be times when you need to spend at least a few hours getting to town and back for a resupply.

03-27-2013, 02:45
I usually carried a weeks worth of food at a time, but this was not the norm. Most people carried 2 or 3 days and hit trail towns for resupply that often. I took a lot of zero days on the trail and tended to lolly gag my way up the trail and take zero days on the trail and then pick up the pace and get to the next town when I started running out of food...so I had 7 days worth of food knowing that I was 3 days from the next town because I knew it might take me 7 days to get there. It is doable. But the extra weight might slow you down to the point where the couple hours it would take to go into town might be worth it to you. It all depends on you. I averaged 2 or 3 hours in town and didn't stay overnight very often.

03-27-2013, 16:07
On average I went in about every 4 days. This is a nice balance between going in every other day and being a sherpa (I'd classify that as anyone who went a week or more between resupplies). Going into town is a nice way to unwind and keeps you from burning out.

03-27-2013, 16:29
Here is my two cents. When you hit a resupply at least look ahead to gauge where the next one is that is within your criteria (on trail, within 1 mile etc ) or where you will be going off trail for a zero or night or meal off trail. This will determine how much food to take. Second, if I were the hiking king I would make it illegal to arrive in town with extra food or water. But that's just me, I try not carrying any extra weight if at all possible, but other arrive in town with lbs of food left over. This is an easy way to reduce your total pack weight. So based on these two suggestions, there is no standard answer for days of food carried. In some areas I think you could resupply just about every day if you are doing reasonably high mile days. So no single answer.

03-27-2013, 22:49
Use the AT Data Book or something similar that lists milage and resupply points and depending on your daily milage it's easy to figure out. During my thru I brought my food along the way every 4-5 days. A few times I had to carry 6 days worth, but not often.

03-28-2013, 07:31
You'll find that the weight of your food and fuel, especially as you are on the trail beyond a month, become a big part of your carry weight. Starting out, you can probably get by on an average of 2 lbs of food per day, but that will increase to at least 2.5 lbs/day as your hunger kicks in. That's an additional 3.5 lbs of pack weight (10-15% more) that you'll be lugging back up into the mountains after each re-supply. You will feel that after a light pack coming down into town.

I typically try to go with 3-4 days of food. I could carry a lot more, and on my section hikes I typically can't afford to spend a day off-trail to re-supply. My aging knees appreciate a lighter pack. In fact, I went to the extreme on my GSMNP section hike, paying Hike Inn to shuttle a food drop up to Newfound Gap 3.5 days into the hike, which saved me from going down into Gatlinburg or lugging 6 days of food through the Park.

03-28-2013, 09:37
Eventually you get to a do a 10 day resupply in the 100 mile wilderness. As you go north into NH and ME, the number of towns and the distance to them increases so folks tend to run longer between town stops. Of course at that point most thruhikers are in shape and used to it.

03-28-2013, 12:13
I go into town once a week ( 6 day resupply ) except for the 100 mile wilderness and it was 8 days, on both my NOBO's

03-28-2013, 13:37
Town can be quick if you make it. Hitch a ride to the grocery store and resupply, then get some fast food, then back to the trail. You can do this in an hour and you just have to add some time for hitching.

03-28-2013, 14:01
As often as you want to. Sometimes you'll want to stay in the woods and sometimes you'll want to go into town. It's a long hike and you'll go through town phases and woods phases.

The Old Chief
03-28-2013, 14:45
Go to the articles section of Whiteblaze and read the re-supply articles by Baltimore Jack. They will give you all the info you need for re-supply on the trail. Jack advises and I agree that its a good idea to send a mail drop to Fontana Dam. I did this from Hiawassee and it was there when I got there. I also did this for Delaware Water Gap and saved a lot of time. You won't need 10 days worth of food for the 100 mile wilderness. By the time you get there you'll easily walk much more than 10 miles a day. Take about 5 or 6 days of food and if needed duck into Whitehouse Landing, eat lunch and re-supply for 1 or 2 days to Abol Bridge.

03-28-2013, 15:16
So much depends on how fast you hike. Do you know how long will it take you to hike 100 miles? Some NOBO thrus can do that in 4 days by the end of their hikes. A few can even do it at the beginning.

But your "plan" is fine. That's what I did. For example, I took off with about 75 miles worth of food, but found food for sale right on the trail in about 30 miles. So I bought a little more and that enabled me to go over 100 miles before my first town stop. I often skipped towns that were more than a mile or two off trail. I didn't even hitch until I got to New Hampshire, over 1700 miles into the hike. I was often surprised by the availability of food and meals right on trail, for instance at the AMC huts in New England, and I was constantly adjusting my resupply plans.

For what it's worth, if I were to hike the AT again, I'd probably start in May too. Good luck.