How the heck do you get your hands on your mail when you are on the trail?

Mailing myself things on trail has turned out to be way easier than I thought it would be. You can write your name on a package like you would a normal package:

Songbird Ultralight
1234 Post Office Street Address
Post Office City, State, Post Office Zip Code

And have that package sent TO THE POST OFFICE. It's pretty neat, the post office is required to hold mail for you for UP TO 30 days. (I'm pretty sure they call this "General Delivery"). Since starting out on trail I've used this handy feature of the post office a number of times in different states when I've been on other trips. 
Sometimes I see people saying online that you should add "HOLD FOR THROUGH-HIKER - TRAIL NAME" on the name line (ATTN TO: line). I've sent things to several post offices now without writing that. I avoid writing "hold for through hiker" on packages where possible. It is often the case that these packages have expensive hiking equipment in them, and I think this makes them a target for theft.

OR, for a a small fee (though it is often free):

 A lot of times people send packages to businesses, specifically hiker hostels, because the post offices in the mountains might:
  • Be in a really far away or weird to get to part of town. (Sometimes the post office is even in the NEXT town over. Smaller towns often don't have their own post office.
  • Be closed on the day you get into town. 
  • Have awful hours on the days that they are open (sometimes just a few hours per day.
  • Sometimes certain post offices are "known for losing packages" or being "difficult to work with". (This has not been my experience).
Where you WILL want to write "HOLD FOR THROUGH HIKER -TRAIL NAME" is on packages sent to businesses along the trail that will hold your mail for you for free (often 'with stay at hostel'). Many of the hostels along the trail will fetch your package by trail name and verify that it is your package by legal name/ID.


The names and addresses of the places that will accept packages for hikers are easily found in the popular hiking guides (linked below) that everyone uses on the longer hiking trails.
Shuttle availability and pricing, how easy they are to access from trail, and whether they charge a small fee for holding your package are all easily found in these hiking guides. Where no information is given about packages, you can call ahead. There is ALWAYS a phone number.

There are two undisputed champions of the hiking guide world:

The phone app "Guthook" is my personal favorite. Guthook uses your smartphone's built in GPS to show exactly where you are on the map of the trail. If you are ever disoriented, or if you just absolutely need to know exactly where you are in relation to your next water supply, road crossing, or camp site, there is little better available to you as a hiking and planning resource.

And the reliable, battery-free AWOL Guide ( - THIS IS MY AMAZON LINK that supports the youtube channel and blog )

If you are going for an "unplugged hike" "AWOL" may be the way to go. You can send yourself big portions of the book to hostels along the way in order to lighten the weight of the guide (unbound version available). Most people like to keep the book all together in a bound version though.