A hiker box is a box or large container where random hikers, commonly referred to as trail angels, leave useful items. Usually, hiker boxes contain all sorts of things that can either provide sustenance for hikers or aid them in their adventures. It’s pretty exciting to spot one as you never know what you might find inside.
Hiker boxes are typically found in areas that thru-hikers frequent, which are most trail towns and some of the most popular hiking destinations like the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the John Muir Trail. These boxes usually contain hiker necessities, as well as items hikers, feel they no longer need to carry around.
Why People Leave Items In Hiker Boxes
As we’ve mentioned earlier, hiker boxes are physical boxes of various sizes where hikers leave items they deem useful for other hikers. These boxes are typically stored conveniently in public areas where the next hiker will easily spot them. Sometimes they can be found in motels and hikers’ resupply points of most national park services.
They contain resupply boxes, food, hiking gear, and many other items that can be used for different purposes. For instance, a hiker in the area uses his adhesive tape and then heads out to get some, maybe a little extra than he needs. So he stores what he needs in his hiking gear and leaves the excess in the nearest hiker box for fellow hikers passing by that might need it.
The Essence Of Hiker Boxes
Many people have stumbled upon cooking stoves, hiking boots, and even the occasional trekking pole, which are exceptionally useful for long-distance trails and, most importantly, helps save money and time. Often people who drive into town with extra canisters of fuel decide to leave half a canister or even more for future hikers who might need them.
Most hikers or trail angels, as we like to call them, make their donations by mailing packages in Ziplock bags through the nearest post office. However, others prefer priority mail since this postal service is slightly faster than parcel post.
Some Things You’re Likely To Find In A Hiker Box
Below are the most commonly found items in hiker boxes:
1. Toilet Paper
This is one of the commonly found items in hiker boxes. So you don’t necessarily need to buy six rolls of tissue paper before heading out, as you’ll most likely find some in a hiker box if you happen to run out.
2. Nalgene Flasks
Hiker boxes stored at the start of a trail usually contain heavy items in contrast to those found along the trail. Although finding a Nalgene flask in a hiker box can be a good thing, carrying it around as you hike a long-distance trail might not be a great idea due to the excess weight.
3. Assortment Of Condiments
It’s not uncommon to find different condiment assortments inside a hikers box. Hot sauce and a six or four pack are two frequently found and, quite frankly, the most appreciated items by thru-hikers.
4. Mystery Bags And Resupply Packages
Expect to find bags of different sizes without labels to indicate their contents. In some instances, you’ll be able to figure out what’s stored inside the bags without opening them; an example is a bag of rice or a new pair of hiking boots.
5. Portable Water Filters
These items are pretty common in National Forest Park hiker boxes since many hikers realize they no longer need their water filters once their thru-hiking trip ends.
6. Fuel Canister
Although they aren’t as common as the items mentioned above, fuel canisters are among the many items in hiker boxes.
Although hiker boxes are a huge help to people who forgot or lost something essential for their hiking trip, it’s always best to come prepared just in case. The following are some essentials you’ll need to bring along for your next thru-hike.
1. Food And Water
Snacks and water are a priority when hiking because you never know if you’ll get the opportunity to buy some once you’re at the trail town.
2. Footwear, Hiking Shorts And Extra Clothing
Remember to check the weather forecast, as doing so will help you pick the suitable clothing and footwear for your hiking trip. Also, take a few extra clothes in case of an unplanned night out.
3. Navigational Equipment
Navigation equipment is without a doubt one of the vital hiking essentials. Depending on how vast the landscape of your hike is and your hiking experience, you’ll be able to decide what items to take along with you and if you need to buy new maps.
4. Health and Outdoor Essentials
This includes everything from prescription medication, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, menstrual products, and sun protection products.
Things You Shouldn’t Pack When Going Hiking.
Any experienced Hiker would agree that traveling light is the best way to go hiking. This is especially true since you’ll have to carry most of the items you brought along for your trip while you hike the entire trail. Below is a list of items you should consider leaving behind to lose some extra weight when packing for a hiking trip. You can also check out backpacker.com for gear reviews.
1. Heavy Zoom Camera Lens
Taking a heavy zoom camera lens on your hiking trip is unwarranted, so you might want to lose the extra pound unless you happen to be a professional photographer. Suppose you’re simply interested in taking pictures for personal reference. In that case, your cellphone camera should be more than enough or at most a regular DSLR lens camera which is not only lightweight but occupies very little space.
2. Too Many Books
Reading is a splendid way to relax and kill time when taking hiking breaks, although it’s important not to pack more than one book for your trip. Once you’re through with the book, you can either trade it with someone else or leave it in the hikers’ box.
3. Jewelry and Valuables
Jewelry and all kinds of accessories, except wristwatches, are unnecessary when hiking. Such items don’t serve any purpose when hiking through rough terrains and climbing rock formations; if anything, you risk losing them. If you’d rather not lose your Rolex or expensive necklace, earrings, or diamond bracelets, it’s best to leave them at home.
Look at it this way; it’s better to go a day or two without them than lose them forever.
If you plan on going hiking, why not consider looking through the hiker box in town before making a list of items to purchase? Finding some trail magic can be a wonderful feeling when you most need it, so why not pay it forward during your next hiking trip by leaving some pop tarts, trail mix, some town clothes, or even a resupply box you don’t need in the hikers’ box. As they say, sharing is caring.