Say you calculate that you need to carry 6 months of supplies, yet your backpack only fits 1 month. This is a dilemma.
That is where a bounce box comes into play.
What you do is fill a cardboard box with all of your supplies, gear, and food that is not needed for the next portion of the trip. You then send the box to a location that you will visit in the future.
Let me elaborate. Marty & I left a hostel called the "Purple Cow" in Wanaka, New Zealand. The next location we were hiking to was Queenstown, NZ. This was maybe 5 days away hiking.
In Wanaka, we went to the local grocery store, asked for a leftover cardboard apple box container, filled it with everything we did not need for the next leg of the trail, and then shipped it to a hostel in Queenstown. We then arrive in Queenstown and ask for our box and rejoice!
Make sense? If not, let me elaborate with a drawing...
And you "bounce" the box from location to location.
tip: a bounce box is perfect for sending your "town clothes" ahead of you. That way you have something warm, clean, and fashionable and do not have to carry it on the trail.
Useful Items to Put in a Bounce box:
note - all of these items are extras or unnecessary for the next segment of your journey. i.e. you may bring bulk amounts of food and divide this up throughout the trip
- Electronic supplies
- laptops / camera not needed on the trail
- town clothes
- extra layers
- shoes not needed
- Bulk food
- protein bars, nuts, and other bars
- dried fruits
- Medical supplies
- extra pump supplies
- extra test strips
- extra low snacks
- waterproof treatment
- duct tape
- ZIP LOCK BAGS (we often needed more)
Labeling the Bounce Box and Shipping
You may be wondering how this box actually gets sent around. I would say that the post office will handle everything, but you will bump into other circumstances.
First, the label:
ADDRESS OF DESTINATION
c/o YOUR NAME
CITY, STATE, ZIPCODE
Attn: Expected to arrive DATE
Contact: My phone #
Cost of shipping a bounce box
Everything depends on shape and weight (use priority boxes if that fits your stuff). Each time we shipped the box it was roughly around $15-25 dollars. Our box held the supplies for three people.
The shipping costs can rack up to a few hundred dollars. However, the convenience of not having to carry that weight on your back is well worth it. Plus, anything in your backpack is going to be damp and smell like the outdoors (for better or worse).
Advice on shipping
Sometimes, you are leaving on a hike at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. and the post office is not open to send your box. The kind woman that you may have been flirting with, or that cute guy, agrees to send the box for you. Awww, thanks ;)
Note: try to avoid keeping CRITICAL items in this box
However, people tend to forget.
So give them a call a day after you leave to double-check that box was sent.
A few more thoughts:
You can also have multiple bounce boxes. Why?
Say you have some bulky gear that will not be used for a longer stretch. To make up a scenario, our hiking group could have winter gear or heavy jackets that are no longer needed. This long-term bounce box could be sent to a destination far down the itinerary. In one month, you will pick up this box at a hostel, a friend’s house, or some hotel.
Then the other items that you need more regularly like town clothes, extra protein bars, that extra medicine, can be a smaller box that is bounced a few days ahead of you. This frequent box can bounce from hostel to hostel until one day you reach the long-term bounce once again.
So get bouncing people!