The Problems With Mail Drops (And How We Solved Them)
The following is a sponsored post written by 2014 thru-hiker, Kyrsten Slayer French from HikerBox.
In 2012, Zach posted this article–
His answer is that sending mail drops is generally a waste of effort, because you can just buy your food on the trail, unless you have some serious dietary restrictions and need specific foods.
Before starting my hike last spring, I read this, and was totally deflated. All of my efforts at preparing foods and dehydrating them for my mail drops seemed completely wasted! Oh, there are stores on the AT? What the heck am I doing all this for? So I stopped preparing. It was true, my food fixation was an attempt at calming my pre-thru-hike nerves rather than a means of putting myself at an advantage for the actual hike.
Flash forward to hiking in the spring of 2014, and I learned that while there are many areas that have ample opportunities to buy good food, there are just as many areas that are overpriced, under-stocked, and completely void of decent resupply options. But even the best of grocery stores present their own challenges to the thru-hiker: there are no white blazes inside, leading to long confusing resupply experiences; the food is packaged in quantities larger than necessary for a few days of hiking; there arent enough dehydrated food options; and some stores dont offer much variety.
So why were mail drops so bad again? Lets review. The problems with mail drops basically comes down to three big issues:
- You need to prepare your food in advance. That means you need to spend a big chunk of your food budget before you even start hiking, which leaves you committed to the food you bought, and less flexible during the trip.
- You need someone at home to help. Somebody needs to send those packages, and pay for the postage, and keep inventory for you.
- You might not like the food you chose for yourself two, four, six months back, and you will have wasted a lot of time and money on it.
I thought about these things as I walked through North Carolina, frustrated by another expensive resupply at a small convenience store. I came up with one solution to all of these issues (and then I walked for five more months, considering the solution and walking, considering, and walking).
So, whats the alternative to all these frustrations? The solution is very simple, actually: buy your groceries online. HikerBox is a simple online grocery store with products stocked specifically to suit the needs of thru-hikers. Add the items you want to your basket, and during the check-out process, indicate the location you would like your box sent. Instead of preparing your mail drop months ahead of when youll use them, you now only need to think of where you will be and what you will need three days in advance. Prices are very competitive, and new products are added all the time! Plus, if you spend $50 in one purchase, your shipping cost will be just $6, which is a huge discount from regular shipping charges, and a price for flexibility, quality and convenience that is certainly worth paying for.
Lead image via.
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