Resupply Strategy


Me with the resupply boxes!!!

When aspiring thru-hikers first decide they want to hike a long-distance trail, they usually go right into this super-planning mode and usually over-plan every meticulous detail down to the last mile.  At the start of my pre-hike preparations, I definitely found myself doing this.  But do I really know exactly when I’ll be at any given point?  No, I guess at it!  Eventually, I realized that many seasoned hikers found there to be more freedom in not having a down-to-the-mile plan.  I mean the kind of restrictive plan where every day is pre-determined and you feel bound to keep to a strict schedule.  This would prevent one from doing spur-of-the-moment side-trips or competing in a 24-hour challenge whereby thru-hikers hike non-stop to see who can make the most miles during that period.  As an organizational machine and natural categorizer , I just had to do some planning but the tradeoff was that I would keep things flexible.

For the five months I’m on the PCT, I have some pre-packed resupply boxes that contain food and basic supplies. The average resupply is every 5-7 days and is based on the miles it takes me to get to the next town (resupply point).  In addition to these boxes, I will be buying some supplies in town, which is known as a hybrid strategy (send some maildrops but also buy in towns).  While there are advantage to both methods, I prefer maildrops primarily for budgeting reasons.  I’ve heard of hikers running out of money because they spent too much in towns and, as a consequence, had to prematurely get off trail.  This way, I know I’ll have enough food to last the entire thru-hike.  One disadvantage to maildrops is that you can get sick of the kinds of food that you send yourself.  To overcome this, I’ll be sending a rainbow-variety of foods that I eat in normal life (not just trail mix and Power Bars) but also shopping/eating out some meals in the towns so I can eat whatever my hiker hunger craves!

Priority Mail Flat-Rate resupply boxes lined up ready to be shipped.
One of my resupply boxes with box tag showing Box Number and Number of Days. You can also see my easy-to-recognize Zebra Duck Tape!

Decorative duck tape is used to easily identify the box so that the postal clerk can easily retrieve your resupply box amid the mountains of other packages.  I used an easy-to-recognize Zebra Duck Tape on all of mine!

For my 4×6 shipping labels on the resupply boxes, I used the format recommended in Yogi’s PCT Handbook. I also added mileages in the lower left corner (current mileage/mileage to next resupply) and the Map Section of the trail in the lower right corner. The ETA will be handwritten on the label prior to shipping (only a guesstimate).

Typical 4×6 Shipping Label using Yogi Handbook format

The box tags on my resupply boxes show the Box Number and Number of Days.

Some boxes have extra gear (warmer clothes, microspikes, ice axe etc.) depending what part of the trail I’m hiking.
The Mojave Rig box will be the first box sent out containing food, sun protection clothing, and extra water bags for the 700-mile desert section.  I’ll have this box shipped to Scout and Frodo’s where I’ll be staying in San Diego the night before getting dropped off at the southern terminus.
Ziploc Storage Gallon Bag (Walmart brand) of typical personal supplies that will go in with my food.
Starbucks Via
Instant Starbucks Via coffee for the trail. Gotta have the coffee!
Honey Stinger
Ordered 6 different flavors of Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels for additional calories. There is 1 gel for each day on the trail.
Snickers (about 250 calories per bar) are a staple of the thru-hiker diet.

As part of my food resupply strategy, I pulled the trigger on a  NESCO brand dehydrator from Amazon.  I will be dehydrating ground beef since it can be so hard to come by on trail.  The ground beef can be mixed with just about anything and will also be a much-needed source of protein for my overall nutrition.

One round of resupply shopping…
I may never want to eat another pasta side again in my life but oh well!
I made a point to use the self-checkout so as not to annoy the grocery clerk.
Attempt at organizing these calorically dense meals.
NESCO brand dehydrator purchased on

One thing I’m learning with my resupply strategy is that although it needs to be well thought out, it does not have to be perfect.  Adjustments can be made along the way.  It is always recommended to thru-hikers not to tape-seal the boxes until right before sending so that adjustments to the resupply boxes can be made prior to sending.  Resupplying is a science that I will improve and become more efficient at over time with practice!

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2 thoughts on “Resupply Strategy

  1. Raymond Sherrier March 27, 2018 — 10:52 am

    Thank-you for all the info. Looking forward to the trip. Lots of work (prep) for a big adventure.


    1. Best to you and your travel endeavors!


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