ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Bump Box: A Thru-Hiker's Guide

Updated on October 19, 2009

Logistics can be a thru-hiker’s greatest challenge. What are you supposed to do about battery chargers and cell phones? These are items you know you will need, but not every day. Many hikers end up carrying heavier packs because they aren’t sure how else to handle such items. One solution to consider is using a bump box.

What is a bump box?

A bump box contains extra gear and supplies that you will need on your hike. Sometimes it is called a bounce box, drift box or bump bucket. It is not the same as a food drop, which I will discuss in a separate article.

Hikers often begin a bump box before leaving for their hike and mail it to the first town along the trail. Others begin one after they’ve been on the trail for a while. All you need is a sturdy box fit for mailing. Many use buckets from Lowes or Home Depot.

What are the advantages?

There are two main advantages to using a bump box.

First, it allows easy access to items that are difficult or costly to restock during your hike. Some examples of these items are disposable contact lenses, prescription medication, vitamins and specialized batteries.

Second, it is a convenient way to manage gear you need but don’t want to carry in your pack such as a cell phone, battery chargers, glasses, town clothes, winter or summer gear.

Are there any disadvantages?

The most commonly cited disadvantage to using a bump box is, as one hiker put it, becoming “a slave” to the post office. You might find yourself rushing to town before the post office closes or waiting in town until it opens. Some hikers who covet the freedom of a long distance hike find this troublesome. Others use it as an excuse to kick back and take an extra day off in town. How you react to conforming to post office hours is probably a good indicator of whether or not you should have a bump box. Remember, it is meant to make life easier – not harder.

Another disadvantage is the cost of postage. If you’re hiking on a budget you might not want to spend your precious dollars on postage. Luckily, there are a few ways to get around this.

How can I save on postage?

You can send your box by Priority mail. It costs a little extra but allows you to forward your box at no additional charge. If you don’t need your box in the next town you can simply send it ahead.

Another way to save postage is to refrain from sending your box to every town you stop at. Instead, stock up enough to send it two or three towns forward. This will also give you a break from the post office for a few towns.

How do I address my bump box?

Complete your mailing label as follows:

Your Name

c/o General Delivery

Town Name, NC 55555

**Hold for AT thru-hiker: ETA 00/00/0000**

Be sure to include a return address where you’d like your box to be sent if it somehow gets lost or otherwise separated from you.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Every hiker is different. While one hiker might tell you s/he could not live without a bump box, another will tell you s/he has never needed one. When deciding if you should use a bump box, consider if you have enough extra gear and supplies to necessitate one. If you do, give it a try. You will soon discover from practice whether or not a bump box is right for you.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Rob Dee profile image

      Rob Dee 

      9 years ago from Florida


      i'm an avid reader and i've never read an article that explains how to do this. It would save on weight, thats for sure. As it stands, i've mastered the art of how to go out for at least 5 days without resupply. The bad part is that my pack weighs in at around 30 lbs.




    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)