I have to admit I a) was a bit more relaxed on my second (PCT) thru-hike than on my first and b) I only had 3 weeks being stuck in Colombia to prepare anyways. That limited my options.

Also in my year there was a lot of hype and partly fear mongering which went into the re-supply strategies. But, after completing the PCT I will summarise my experience and recommendations here. Obviously this is my personal opinion and it’s definitely neither right nor wrong. It’s one way. My way.

I did send a few food boxes ahead because I also didn’t know. But to make a long story short I would highly recommend to just wing it all the way. If you are not the person who dehydrates food in advance (which is amazing and I have to admit I was jealous many times for your meals) or if you have any special dietary needs I don’t think it’s worth sending any packages ahead except a couple of spots.

Why would I wing it again? I don’t see a lot of benefits in sending packages compared to the many downsides of it. The clear advantage is that you will be able to send certain items to more remote places where you will probably not have a great variety. But now the reasons why I would not send any packages:

1. All resupply points have food
Almost every single resupply point has a decent selection of food and supplies. All business owners along the way know about the PCT and stock accordingly. Even if it says “limited selections” in some comments I have always found enough stuff to make it work. Most of them were actually pretty well stocked with everything we want & need including dehydrated food, beef jerky, tuna, granola bars and you name it. Will it always be the most exquisite food? No. But it’s not a gourmet journey anyways. The worst I had to deal with was actually in Mt. Hood since there is no shop for resupply in the lodge. So I ended up stuffing 30$ into the candy machine taking every single Snickers, Twix, and candy bar out collecting the most jealous looks from all the kids – only therefore it was already worth it 😂. Was it fun to go three days on Snickers. No. But it worked and the first burger in Cascade Locks was even better.

2. Price difference
The price difference or mark up you have to pay in some of the remote areas are usually not too bad at all. And even if you end up paying 15-20% more on some of the items you will also have to add up the fees you have to pay for sending packages which easily exceed 20$. And on top some places will charge you to receive and hold your packages. You will need to buy a lot of food to balance this.

3. Amount of food
Also something which is not easy to plan is how much food you will need when you get to places. Why? Because you will get faster along the way. And I usually carried a bit of a safety amount anyways. And with this you roll into town with food left. If you have a resupply package with extra food in it you end up ditching it into the hiker box and the advantage of buying cheaper is gone even more.

 

4. Type of food
At the end of the trail one of the most challenging things for me was to find stuff that I actually could still eat. And then I found myself with two big packs of Sour Skittles which I really loved four weeks earlier but couldn’t stand anymore now. Getting sick of food happened quickly for me – within one stretch food that I loved went on the no-go list for the rest of the trail…

 

5. Logistics
You will massively depend on opening hours of post offices which can be an annoying factor. Having to pull huge days to make it to town before the post office closes and then still not making it by five minutes sucks. And you might end up being stuck in a town for two days to be able to pick up your package. On top you will also depend on opening hours to send packages which can be annoying – not as bad as picking up usually but still something to consider.

 

6. Change of plans
In case shit happens or plans change having resupply boxes sitting all over the country is a hassle too since they won’t be stored forever. In our year with almost everybody flip-flopping we all had resupply packages sitting in spots where we didn’t need them and ended up with extra cost to send them, ditching them completely or having food which went bad. Special year in 2017 but you never know if you have to take an unexpected break or so.

 

6. Hiker boxes
I know this is nothing you can plan and rely on. But on our tour there was tons of stuff in the hiker box and I truly enjoyed using them. Not because I couldn’t afford buying food in the stores but I really love the concept of not wasting stuff. And with reusing food which went into the hiker boxes ensures we don’t throw food away someone is not willing to carry anymore. The best meals I had on the trail where the un-labeled home-made dehydrated meals from other hikers – a big thank you!!!

 

7. Only exception – Kennedy Meadows South
The only package I would send is to Kennedy Meadows South since the guy in the General Store is an as…., it’s way overpriced and limited. And you will probably end up sending extra gear into the Sierras anyways. But do yourself a favour and send it to “The Grumpy Bear” – the owners are really nice and supportive and you can send your packages to them.

 

So all in all I don’t think it’s worth sending a boxes. You will get everything you need in all resupply points. Yes, food here will be a bit more expensive but I fully believe that with hiker boxes, less stuff you have to ditch because you have too much, saving postage and storage fees and maybe the one or other extra night in town to wait for the post office to open will more than over-compensate the cheaper sourcing costs in big supermarkets. And saving the mental hassle to deal with the packages also makes it more enjoyable. And if you don’t get something you really need there is always the possibility of catching a ride to the next bigger town.

So, WINGit baby 😎🤘

Happy trails & merry Christmas fellow hiker trash 🎅

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