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PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes
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Brian Lafleur
PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 07:31:15 MST Print View

I'm curious about shipping resupply boxes from Canada (Ontario). My wife and I will be thru hiking next year and were going to be relying MOSTLY on resupply boxes sent from home, as we have a pretty strict diet. We've been dehydrating and vacuum sealing apples / bananas and pre-packing cereals and some dinners. Now I'm worried that we'll have issues at the border when we mail packages. Does anyone have experience with this or can shed any light on what I may be able to expect?

Thank you kindly!


Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 08:20:41 MST Print View

sorry this info is not specific to Canada and you may already have it,but just incase...

Edited by annapurna on 12/11/2011 08:54:35 MST.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 12:27:54 MST Print View

I would be very concerned about packages getting held up in Customs and leaving you at a resupply stop without any food.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 13:07:29 MST Print View

+1 on the customs comment.

Also, I would be concerned about getting enough food with pre-packed mail drops. It's very easy to underestimate your nutritional needs on a long hike. I was insanely hungry on my PCT hike--even 4000-4500 calories a day left me hungry at the end of each day. I hope you're planning to take some fattier/more calorie dense foods than apple and banana chips. If not, I would plan to supplement your mail drops in stores.

Brian Lafleur
Resupply on 12/11/2011 14:07:00 MST Print View

Thanks for the comments guys. I'll have to contact the CBP to find out a concrete answer. I'd like to ideally send maildrops (that would contain a lot of nuts / bars etc as well) so I'll have to see exactly what will be acceptable and what won't.

Thanks again

Lisa Frugoli
(alfresco) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 14:24:09 MST Print View

Many out of country people organized/added to their boxes at one of the trail angels' homes before the kickoff. It might be less expensive to bring your food down to the US & mail them from San Diego.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 14:36:46 MST Print View

It will be WAY cheaper to mail in the US than from Canada!! When you get to the US, go to a Post Office and get a stack of Flat Rate Boxes. You can get all the address you need for the post offices along the way from the PCTA's website.

As well there are real issues with dealing with packages going through customs and being held up. Mail it in the US, the packages will be at the PO's in a matter of days. As read up on what is and isn't allowed (fuel of any sort including alcohol is illegal to mail in the US). This can be found on the USPS website.

IMO though even the strictest diet can buy quite a bit on the way as you hike - I supported two friends 2 summers ago on their hike.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 17:22:59 MST Print View

You can ship fuel via the USPS. It must go by ground mail (no Priority Mail which goes by air) and meet certain criteria. Here are the USPS regulations and instructions.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/11/2011 17:24:06 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 12/11/2011 18:24:26 MST Print View

It has changed:

any household items can’t go in the mail.
Hazardous materials come in a wide variety of forms and can be chemical, biological, radioactive, or a combination.

The Postal Service's™ definition of a hazardous material includes many common household and consumer products. They may not be dangerous on your shelf at home, but they can become a hazard when shaken or when the temperature or pressure changes.

Some common hazardous materials include…

Nail polish
Flea collars or flea sprays
Pool chemicals
Fuels or gasoline
Dry ice
Mercury thermometers
Cleaning supplies
Items previously containing fuel

Not sure if what you’re sending is hazardous or prohibited?

Just call 1-800-ASK-USPS or your local Post Office.

Chris Wheeler
(ChrisW) - MLife

Locale: Stratford, Ontario
Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 01/02/2012 11:48:33 MST Print View

Brian I also live in Canada and have been hiking the JMT and Sierra for the last six years. I take all my own food, and have found the best way to get resupply boxes across the Canadian/USA border is to drive across by car with the boxes unsealed. Then I take them to an American Post Office and mail them to myself. I have had no problems driving
across the border with the boxes. I have flown to the USA with resupplies, again no problem, just expect more questioning by the USA border people at the airport.

I have had luck sending resupply packages via UPS, but this is expensive, and can take
longer than you would expect.

The culture of backpacking in the USA is much stronger than in Canada. You will find it
much easier to purchase resupplies along the PCT, than you would expect in Canada. Getting fuel is easy, check Yogi's PCT Handbook for details on where to find fuel and other supplies. Another source of resupply is to order food from companies in the USA
(REI, Just Tomatoes) and have them ship directly to a resupply address ie: post office or motel.

You are welcome to send me a private email on any details.

Brian Lafleur
Re: Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 01/03/2012 07:31:21 MST Print View

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the info. I looked on your profile for a way to message you directly but I don't think I can. Fire me an email at so I can ask ya some questions. :)



drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 01/03/2012 11:23:06 MST Print View

Brian, I've been thinking it might be fun helping a thru hiker get their mail drops done this year. Let me know if you are interested. I'm located in San Diego in Section A, so you could mail it to me or yourself in San Diego, and we could sort out the final details at kickoff.

Brian Lafleur
Re: Re: Re: Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 01/04/2012 15:16:39 MST Print View

Eugene, that is an incredibly kind offer! We do have a friend of the family in Bakersfield that offered to help and have since made plans with her to send her stuff.

Thank you very much for the offer!

See you at the Kickoff,


Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A few other considerations on 01/04/2012 15:26:54 MST Print View

Two things I'd urge anyone to consider:

Make sure that a place accepts USPS or UPS. There are a few places that don't accept UPS, for example. THe same goes for a couple that don't accept USPS deliveries.

Also, if sending a bounce box or have a need to send gear out, make sure that you send bounce boxes to places that handles outbound mail. This seems pretty basic but it burns people every year.

Have fun and enjoy the hike!


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PCT Resupply Strategy - Mailing Boxes on 01/04/2012 15:29:54 MST Print View

Brian, that's awesome that you were able to get family to help out. If they participate enough, they might be able to help you figure out which places take what kind of packages, and find alternates to work with your schedule. That can help take some of the load off you.