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Can You Order Delivery While Camping?

by Staff

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Treadiquette is a monthly column helping hikers calibrate their moral compasses. Have a burning question about ethics or etiquette on the trail? Send your predicaments to [email protected]

Dear Backpacker,

Last summer, I saw a group of long-distance hikers at a campground chowing down on takeout burgers and fries. Turns out, they’d ordered delivery to the trail! Seems like cheating to me. What do you say?

—GORP Purist

Dear GORP,

Ordering delivery to a convenient road crossing or even a campsite isn’t totally unheard of for thru-hikers traveling through more populated sections of trail. Take it from Kali “Clementine” Myers, whose Instagram Reel about ordering Uber Eats on the Appalachian Trail went viral last year.

When Myers and her tramily reached the Four State Challenge, where hikers attempt to hike the 40-plus miles from the West Virginia border to Pennsylvania in under 24 hours, she joked about ordering pizza to celebrate.

“I opened my delivery apps and was shocked that there were so many options,” said Myers. “We were ready for a resupply, but decided to go with a light pack and eat like royalty for a few days.” During the following stretch of trail, Myers and her friends ordered Mexican food, milkshakes, pizza, and hotdogs from the trail.

The phenomenon isn’t unique to the AT: Pacific Crest Trail alum David “Zookeeper” Gleisner describes a section of trail near Acton, California, where thru-hikers typically indulged in the local cuisine.

“There was one stretch where you would get service 2 miles out from this firehouse, order pizza to it, then pick it up when you got there,” he said.

Before going any further, let me make one thing clear: There’s no such thing as cheating in backpacking. Myers and her friends had more than 1,000 miles under their hipbelts when they decided to indulge in a little taste of civilization. If you’ve ever spent extended time walking in the woods, you know just how good a milkshake sounds after a few days.

Pie in the mountains? Why not. (Photo: Zoe Gates)

That said, there are some measures you can take to respect delivery drivers should you choose to create a little trail magic for yourself. Make sure to meet your delivery driver at a convenient spot on the road or at a valid address—never make them hunt down your campsite. If there could be any confusion, leave detailed instructions in your order notes so the driver knows what they’re getting into when they accept the delivery. Better yet, call ahead and explain the situation to a real human. Local businesses in trail towns might even be accustomed to serving hungry hikers.

“We made sure to camp in state parks or within walking distance from a road to meet our drivers,” said Myers. “The drivers were all so nice and loved that they were helping us with trail magic.”

The group sought out easy-to-find delivery addresses, like an abandoned church or public parks, which offered the added bonus of trash cans so they didn’t have to pack out extra garbage. “We did have one section where we set up camp and then walked 1.2 miles to the road, got the food, and walked back,” she said. “We never asked the drivers to come to us.”

Always follow the guidelines for whatever delivery service you use. If your location requires something of a delivery driver that a normal delivery to a house or office wouldn’t (like hiking in to you, navigating a campground at night, or having to guess which shelter belongs to you), skip it. (That said, one delivery driver online said that finding a tent with detailed instructions could be easier than navigating some apartment complexes.)

Last but not least, share the love: Make the drive to you worth someone’s while by getting your entire tramily in on the order—and the tip. Don’t skimp.

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