PCT Resupply – Part 4 – “Bounce box” and “bouncing” a box

My bounce box (bucket)

My bounce box (bucket)

It’s time to answer the following questions:

  • What is a bounce box?
  • What do you put in a bounce box?
  • Box or bucket as your bounce box?
  • Do you need to use a bounce box?
  • What is “bouncing?”
  • Why would you want to “bounce” something?
  • Word of warning about where to send your bounce box to.


What is a bounce box?

A bounce box” is something you put extra gear/maps/toiletries in… anything that you think you might need further down the trail but would be easier to post to yourself rather than carrying or buying. You take things out of it as you need them, then bounce” it further down the trail. If you have friends or family in America who can post these things out to you, you probably don’t need to have a bounce box if you can call on them when you need something sent out. If you’re coming from overseas like I was and don’t know anyone you can dump all this extra gear on, then a bounce box/bucket will be your new best friend!

What do you put in a bounce box?

  • Extra clothes – I wore one shirt for the entire trail but you might want to pack an extra one just in case, as well as extra underwear, socks, pants
  • Warmer clothes for the Sierras
  • Bug headnet, deet and microspikes for the sierras
  • Blister Plasters, vitamins etc
  • Extra toothpaste / toothbrush / antibacterial hand soap / shampoo
  • Snow basket for hiking poles for the sierras and extra hiking pole tips
  • Extra pair of shoes if you know what shoe works for you, but know that your shoe size might change – I went through 5 pairs of Brooks Cascadias (all the same size though)
  • Maps and Yogi’s town guide for the places you haven’t sent resupply boxes to yet

Box or bucket as your bounce box?

This is a personal choice but I recommend using a bucket. I used a 5 gallon bucket that I bought from Home Depot and was very happy with this choice. The bucket never showed any wear and tear, was waterproof, was big enough for all my extras and was easy for staff to find the “bucket with the pink polka dots” as opposed to one of the many boxes sitting on the shelf. My concern with using a box for repeated use along the trail is that it can wear out / get wet and not protect the contents as well as a bucket can.

Do you need to use a bounce box?

Not necessarily. If you know people in America who can post you out extra gear etc when you need it, then you won’t need a bounce box. Or if you don’t mind carrying gear for all occasions (cold/hot etc) then you also won’t need a bounce box but your pack might be unnecessarily heavy… I think it comes down to personal preference.

Bounce protein ball

What is “bouncing?”

“Bouncing” a box is when you forward your resupply or bounce box further down the trail. This is free to do if you’ve sent it using priority mail, to a post office and it’s unopened. (If you open it to take something out, you can still bounce it on, but you will need to pay postage again). It can only be bounced for free onto other post offices, not businesses. Some people think there is a limit to the number of times you can bounce the box and maybe there is, but I was able to bounce one of mine 4 times before finally picking it up.

Why would you want to bounce a resupply box?

  • You might have sent a box to a town and realize that you won’t be arriving during post office hours (ie you will arrive on a Friday after the post office has closed and it won’t re-open until Monday) so it will be easier for you to buy from the supermarket, get back on trail and call the post office to bounce your box to a post office further down the trail.
  • Your plans may change because of the people you meet or stories you hear and you decide to skip that town but you have a box waiting for you.
  • You’ve packed way too much food in your last resupply box or friends have packed too much and give you extra food so you don’t need to pick the new one up and can bounce it down the trail.


** Word of warning about where to send your bounce box to **

When posting your bounce box ahead you need to make sure you’re sending it to somewhere that has an onward mail service, as some addresses can receive mail but not send out.

I sent my bounce box to:

Mile 369 – Wrightwood Post Office – Just in case I decided I was carrying too much gear on me and wanted to get rid of some, or swap something out of the box.

Mile 702 – Kennedy Meadows Store (can post out) – This is where I picked up my warmer weather gear, microspikes, snow baskets for my hiking poles, bug headnet and deet.

Mile 907 – Mammoth Lakes Post Office – This is where I put back all the things I took out for the sierras and topped up on toiletries and anything else I needed to replace.

Mile 1716 – Ashland Post Office – This is where I took out some warmer gear (Oregon at night was really cold) and again topped up/replaced anything I needed. I also took out all of the maps here that I needed to post ahead for the rest of the trail because in Ashland I made up my boxes for the rest of the trail.

Mile 2144 – Cascade Locks Post Office – This was the last time I used my box so I replaced and topped up everything then gave the remaining contents to my husband to take home – if he hadn’t been on a holiday to surprise me at this time I would have had to post the contents back to London from here.


Any questions, let me know 🙂

10 responses to “PCT Resupply – Part 4 – “Bounce box” and “bouncing” a box

  1. How far in advance did you mail your bounce boxes? I’m planning to mail one to Mammoth Lakes post office but am not sure when to send it – thanks!


    • Hi Jenna,
      I sent food packages for most of California at the start from San Diego and had one bounce box (a large bucket with extra gear) that I kept close to me by sending it to post offices along the trail (in case I needed anything out of it). Most people said Post Offices would only hold boxes for a month so I made sure to put my phone number on them and a big label saying “please hold for international hiker” and I was fine. Happy Trails!


  2. This is such a helpful post! Can I just ask about the price of posting the bucket down the trail by priority mail, is it much more expensive than one of the PO’s own boxes? Or was it a flat rate because it was under a certain weight? A bucket seems like a genius idea and I imagine it can hold quite a lot…maybe I can bring some real Cadbury treats from home 🙂


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