I have discussed this topic before , But a little recap will not hurt !
The bounce box, also called a drift box, is a very clever, easy way to take certain items along on your extended backpacking trip or thru-hike without carrying them on your back.
By sending a small package ahead to a trail town where you’ll arrive in 5-10 days, you can lighten the weight of your backpack while still having access to things you only need on occasion.
As I am coming from the UK , I do not have the luxury of someone at home to post me things when I need them so I bring a Bounce box , mine is a 18 Liter tough box , as I have been fairly fortunate in the fact that several suppliers have given me kit and so I carry this kit in my box along with seasonal clothes and other spares.
I would also say as the AT is not as “wild” as the PCT you may not need to use a bounce box. But it’s a personnel thing so read on
Sending Your Bounce Box to a Post Office
Thank You, United States Postal Service!
Get a list of post offices that are located reasonably close to the trail. Remember, if you can’t hitch or otherwise procure a ride, you’ll be walking to the post office to pick up your package. Any of these post offices may be used for bounce boxes, resupply boxes (packages sent from home), or both.
Make Sure You Have Accurate Information
Is the post office really there?
It is critical to confirm the availability of any post office you are planning to use, particularly considering that a number of post offices are slated for closure due to budget cuts. And check the opening times you’re relying on the post office being open and if you miss it Saturday, then you are in town till Monday. TOWNS EAT money so the money you are saving with your bounce box gets eaten up
Timing is important.
Most post offices hold packages for two weeks. Your package may be held longer, but don’t count on it. Some smaller post offices may have restrictions on receiving and holding packages for thru-hikers, since they have more limited storage facilities.
Writing your estimated pick-up date on the package helps the post office staff know how best to organize the boxes they are holding for hikers.
Make sure you have photo identification with you when you pick up your bounce box
Don’t forget to thank the post office staff kindly for their help. They are doing us a tremendous service and are not always properly acknowledged.
Please be a good ambassador!
When addressing drift boxes and other mail to be sent to a post office, here’s how it should be labelled, customizing the text in CAPS:
c/o General Delivery
CITY, STATE ZIP
Attn: Please Hold for Hiker (or Thru-hiker)
Estimated Arrival: DATE
Before heading back on the trail, fill out a Change of Address form at the post office so that any mail addressed to you that arrives after you leave can be delivered to another post office farther up the trail. Have the mail delivered to a post office you’ll visit in two or three weeks to make sure you get all of your mail.
Other Places to Send Your Bounce Box
You may use locations other than post offices to receive your mail. Hostels and other businesses along the trail are often happy to hold mail for hikers who will be patronizing them. They may not have very much storage space, however, so do time the arrival of your package carefully.
Check with the hostel or other establishment to make sure you understand any restrictions on holding mail, since many of them will accept delivery of only a limited number of packages and no personal letters sent by family and friends.
With these locations you’re not restricted with timings but then if you decide you not need any items in your box then it’s a visit to the post office and pay more money
What to Send in Your Bounce Box
There are many items that can be sent up the trail in your drift box. Here are the things I typically sent ahead during my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Of course, you’ll adapt this list to your own needs and for your specific hike.
- Meds / Ibuprofen/Moleskin
- Clean Shirt, Shorts, and Socks
- Seasonal Clothes
- Extra SD cards , USB Cables
- Pens, Paper, Envelopes, Postcards, Stamps
- Batteries / Charger
- Spare Head torch
- Spare Trail shoes
DO NOT SEND YOURSELF RUBBISH!!
And do not send yourself “STUFF” that you can simply buy in town , There really is no point , If you are going to do that then don’t bother with the bounce box
Phone chargers are lightweight these days , so don’t fool yourself
The Bounce Box
Making life on the trail just a bit easier
The lighter your backpack, the more pleasant your hike! Utilizing a bounce box, also called a drift box, provides a long-distance backpacker with flexibility while reducing pack weight. And what could be better than that?