Resupply On the Pacific Crest Trail

PCT Thru Hike Resupply Guide

As one thru hiking season ends, preparation for the next season is already underway! If you’re applying for the Pacific Crest Trail permit lottery or already have your permit issued, then congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards the adventure of a lifetime! Now the fun (…ehhh) planning begins!

For many, food is the largest source of anxiety when planning a long-distance backpacking trip. I mean, rightly so. Hiking hungry not only sucks majorly, but a diet consistently short in calories, carbs, and proteins will not only leave you feeling grouchy, but a poor diet will also lead to injuries and malnutrition over time. Not good! Hunger aside, the logistics behind keeping yourself well fed on the trail can seem daunting!

Preserving meals in advance at home is one of the best ways to save some cash. If this is your food strategy, make sure to stock up on our Just-Add-Water bags for your own dehydrated or freeze-dried meals.

The con to preparing your own backpacking meals is time. Making your own backpacking food is very time intensive, and if you’re working a full-time job or have full time obligations, finding the time to source, prep, dry, and package nutritionally balanced meals can be tough. So save yourself some heartache and add Bushka meals to your Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike prep!

 resupply while on the pacific crest trail

A Successful PCT Resupply strategy

Because the PCT is so long, you will want to put a food resupply strategy into place before you leave. This includes mapping out which towns along the trail to mail your resupply boxes. Many towns cater to thru hikers so you won’t need to send as many resupply boxes as you might initially think. Halfway Anywhere has a great, detailed report on resupplying along the PCT with hikers polling that with 9 resupply boxes they would have liked more, but with 12.5 boxes they would have liked less. So plan for somewhere between 9 and 12 with the intention to mail yourself more food from the trail as needed.

To me, two interesting facts stood out on the collected stats:

  • 24% of hikers wished they had more variety in their resupply boxes
  • 18% of hikers wished they had healthier food in their resupply boxes

Considering many thru-hikers boast about a diet consisting of candy bars, canned tuna, and prepackaged oatmeal, I can’t say this surprises me! Do yourself a favor and dehydrate your own fruit at home for cheap, healthy “sugar” snacks and ditch the pop tarts from your resupply box.

Should I Mail Myself Food?

You won't need to mail your resupplies for the entire trip as many of the towns along the trail have outdoor stores and grocery stores with shelf stable food. Consider the pros and cons of shipped resupplies to determine how many boxes you would like to mail.

Pros:

  • Being able to pack healthier foods
  • Less stress if you have a dietary restriction or diet lifestyle
  • Able to pack more variety
  • Cheaper than purchasing food in town
  • More time on zero days to relax than worry about shopping and sourcing food
  • Overall less stress knowing your food is taken care of

Cons:

  • Dependent upon post office hours 
  • Cost of shipping and possible fees if you are picking up from private businesses
  • Less schedule flexibility if you want to skip a town
  • Lack of variety if you packed the same meals in all your boxes 

Most Common Resupply Spots

Plan on mailing your resupply boxes to towns that have limited food options or have a far distance between resupply spots. In general, we recommend these towns. HOWEVER! Please do your own research as there are so many towns along the 2600+ mile route.

Check out PCTA.ORG for planning information.

  • Warner Springs, CA
  • Kennedy Meadows (South) Inyokern, CA
  • Independence, CA
  • Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR) Lakeshore, CA
  • Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • Sierra City, CA
  • Crater Lake, OR
  • Shelter Cove Resort Crescent, OR
  • Sisters, OR
  • Timberline Lodge, OR
  • Trout Lake, WA
  • White Pass, WA
  • Snoqualmie Pass, WA
  • Stehekin, WA

 PCT Trail Sign in Crater Lake

How To Order For A Thru-Hike

Sending a resupply box to yourself on the trail is simple. The biggest mistake we see is trying to send a box through USPS to certain places that only accept UPS or FedEx. If we see this mistake, we will fix it and inform you (and this shouldn’t delay getting your box out to you.)

when ordering freeze dried food for a thru hike include your ETA

Some general guidelines:

  • If you mail to the post office, mail through General Delivery. You will need an ID to pickup, but it does not cost extra to have them hold the package.
  • Check how long places will hold the box before returning to sender. Post offices hold boxes up to 30 days which gives the best flexibility. Stores, hotels, and other private businesses usually hold for shorter duration. Confirm with each location how long they will store packages.
  • If you are mailing somewhere other than a post office, check which mail services they receive. Not all receive USPS.
  • Use the comments field during our checkout to include your Trail Name and your ETA.  We will include your trail name on the package and will use your ETA to determine when to mail the box.
  • If you decide to not stop in town or decide to have your box shipped to a town further down the trail, contact us as soon as possible. We will do everything in our power to reroute the box if it hasn’t already been shipped.

When we ship a box, we include as much information as possible to make it easy for you to pick up.

Label example:

Legal Name on ID
Hiker Name - PCT Thur Hiker
c/o General Delivery
City, State, Zip
Please hold for Thru-Hiker (ETA: MM/DD/YY)

backpacking in yosemite pacific crest trail

Buy In Bulk

Another tip to saving some cash on your thru-hike is to purchase food in bulk. We sell all of our meals by the case (24 pouches) which saves you 20% and each case ships for free! This gives you more flexibility if you are creating your mail drops at home before you leave for the trail.

Our Bundler is our most popular package to purchase as a maildrop that we ship to you on the trail. Order Two Bundlers and that ships to your destination for free (6 entrees, 2 breakfasts.)

Read More Links

Happy trails!

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Bushka's Kitchen provides ready-to-eat, lightweight freeze dried food for every type of busy lifestyle, whether that's backpacking, traveling, parenting, or an active life. Browse our nutritious, gourmet freeze dried meals and stock up for your next adventure!





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