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PCT Resupply Options

Posted on July 10 2019

PCT Resupply Pacific Crest Trail Options

When planning for a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike one of the most overwhelming parts is planning your resupply. This article will make the planning and executing of resupplying much easier. There are many options when resupplying but I’m gong to break it all down so you know exactly which method is best for you.

The 4 methods hikers use to resupply:

  1. Buy food as you go from trail towns.
  2. Make a few key boxes before starting and have someone mail them out as needed; mostly buy food as you go from trail towns.
  3. Make a couple boxes before starting, prepare more boxes on trail to mail ahead; buy food as you go from trail towns.
  4. Make all boxes ahead of time and have them mailed as needed.

 

Option 1: Buy food as you go from trail towns.

     This option is best if you aren’t a picky eater and have no dietary restrictions. This option is getting more and more popular as the PCT grows because the towns are expanding options and catering to PCT hikers’ needs. I hiked with a guy who never mailed any food anywhere. He bought food along the way and wasn’t picky. There were a couple places where I know things were rough but overall he was happy with this plan. This is by far the easiest if you can live on noodles, tuna, nuts, and oatmeal - all items you will find in hiker boxes.

PROS: Easy

CONS: Can’t be picky.

             Sometimes all that’s available is junk food and oatmeal.

             Spend longer in town getting resupply ready for next section.

             Can be expensive shopping in small towns

COMMENTS: If you’re a healthy eater or have dietary restrictions you may want to choose Option 2 or 3. Also because there are many chores to do when you come to town you likely will end up spending more time in the towns. That’s fine as long as your wallet can handle the cost of more meals, lodging, and alcohol to accommodate your extra time.

 

Option 2: Make a few key boxes before starting and have someone mail them out as needed; mostly buy food as you go from trail towns.

     This option isn’t usually available for international hikers but it is still one if not the most popular option. It allows you some flexibility. If you decide you don’t need a box at a certain location then you can have it sent somewhere else. If you want to change the contents of some of the boxes, often there’s someone who is willing to do that. Hikers average about 10 boxes.

PROS: Flexible

            Incorporate more variety

            Less time in town

CONS: It could take longer in town if the Post Office or other business isn’t open.

            Boxes sometimes get lost or don’t arrive on time

            You’re relying on someone else to ensure your resupplies arrive

COMMENTS: This is a good option if you carry specific vitamins, contacts, medications, etc. It’s also great if you love healthy food. You can buy your favorite snacks in bulk and separate them into smaller quantities. Also if you have dietary preferences/restrictions, when there’s not a major grocery store you may choose to send yourself a box.

 

Option 3: Make a couple boxes before starting, prepare more boxes on trail to mail ahead; buy food as you go from trail towns.

PROS: Flexibility

             Incorporate more variety

             Self-reliant

CONS: More planning required ahead of time so you know where to send boxes

             You could spend more time in town making your boxes to send ahead.

             It could take longer in town if the Post Office or other business isn’t open. 

COMMENTS: If you are an international hiker this or Option 1 is best. It provides the most control over your resupply and makes you self-reliant. Often, people who send their own boxes eat healthier and incorporate flavors and taste they are currently enjoying on the trail. This plan is very adaptable and cost effective.

 

Option 4: Make all boxes ahead of time and have them mailed as needed.

PROS: Easiest mentally since your resupply is already complete.

            Buying in bulk can be more cost effective IF you use all the boxes or most                of the boxes you prepared.

            You can make your food around your dietary preferences/restrictions.

            You can incorporate a lot of variety in your boxes.

CONS: Requires a huge investment of time and money upfront.

             If you get sick, injured, etc and come off trail you have a lot of leftover food.

             Some people don’t put enough variety in boxes and get burned out on the               food.

             You’re relying on someone else to ensure your resupplies arrive.

             It could take longer in town if the Post Office or other business isn’t open.

             Boxes sometimes get lost or don’t arrive on time.

COMMENTS: This option is a big commitment and many people say hikers who choose this option get tired of their food. I did not find this the case for myself. I never ate the same thing in any given week (breakfast being the exception). I’ve done this for a couple different long trips and was very happy both times with the majority of my meals and definitely my boxes. I got to eat the same foods I normally eat at home. I ate mostly organic and felt great living on real dehydrated food I’d prepared. However when I got injured I did end up with extra food. 

 

After reading about each of these options I’m hoping one of them sticks out as the one that’s right for you. I think Options 1 & 3 are becoming the most popular due to the self-reliant nature of them both. They work well for international hikers and hikers who have dietary preferences/restrictions can usually find satisfying options at the big grocery stores along the trail and using Option 3 would make several boxes and send them ahead to smaller towns that lack choices.

If you have additional questions or you felt like I left something out, please leave a comment or send me a message: info@2footadventures.com. More articles coming soon!

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