What is a bounce bucket (box)?
Traditionally called a bounce box, the bounce bucket is a 5 gallon paint bucket that you can buy at Home Depot for $3. The bucket is a great alternative to a box because it’s cheap, water proof, doesn’t fall apart, it’s easy to carry, easily identified by the USPS attendant, and you can sit on it! The purpose of using the bucket is to put all the gear and supplies that you don’t need for a current section but will need at a future date. Also when you get into summer mode you can remove gear that you don’t need like a rain jacket and send it up ahead to save weight. If you don’t know anyone in the US who can send you supply packages the bounce box is an excellent way to keep supplied throughout the trail.
What do I put in the bounce bucket?
You can put anything you want in there but here are the most useful items I had in mine.
- Tooth paste
- Shampoo and soap
- Food items (protein powder, vitamins, olive oil, left over food)
- Extra pair of shoes
- Extra clothes (gloves, shirt, long johns, socks, underwear, hat)
- First aid supplies (band aids, Ibuprofen, Pepto-Besmal)
- Repair kit supplies (thread, Velcro, needles, Teniacious tape, cuben tape)
- Bug head net
- Hiking pole tips
I purchased the bucket at the Home Depot in Seattle and lugged it back to my room at City Hostel Seattle to load up my first drop. Make sure to bring all the extra gear that you want in your bounce bucket on your flight into Seattle. The trick with bouncing is that you don’t want to send it too frequently because it will become a nuisance. When you send the bucket by priority mail you can forward it for free if you don’t open it. If you don’t want to stop in the town where your bucket is chilling you can call the post office and have them forward it. Halfmile’s app has the phone numbers of most of the post offices. Some post offices can only receive mail and can’t send mail out. Make sure you confirm ahead of time with the office that they can forward mail before you send it there or your bucket will be stranded. Note that you don’t need to use a bounce box and many people do just fine without them.
Where should I send my bucket?
- Cascade Locks, OR (mile 2144)
This is a the best spot for your first bucket drop. By this time you’ll be ready for new shoes, and you’ll be heading into warm weather so you’ll be able to get rid of your gloves, hat, pants, and potentially your rain jacket. Further there is a great grocery store where you’ll be able to buy good food items and load up your bucket with left overs.
- Ashland, OR (mile 1766)
A great spot for your 2nd bucket drop. You’ll want to take a few days in Ashland to explore the city, potentially take in a play, and you’ll have time to reload off your box. There are great stores in Ashland so you’ll be able to organize the gear you want for the next sections with full flexibility.
- South Lake Tahoe, CA (mile 1092)
Another big stop with lots of amenities, good groceries, gear stores and your final town before your venture into the Sierras. This is where you’ll want to grab your warm clothes and change your gear setup for the high Sierras.
- Lake Isabella, CA (mile 652)
You’ve now finished the Sierras and you’re getting into the desert and southern California. It’s now getting later in the season, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures, especially at night, are starting to drop. I’d recommend you keep your warm clothes all the way until the end because you still have some big mountains like San Jacinto to go over.
- Campo, CA (mile 0)
Congratulations, you finished the trail! Go pick up your bucket from the post office and lug it off to San Diego or wherever your next adventure takes you.
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