During my preparations for my thru-hike of the Eastern Continental Trail, I did some online research to see if I could mail camp fuel in my resupply packages. I was concerned because it is against federal law to pack them in a checked bag and there aren’t a lot of places that sell them (yet) along the Florida Trail nor Alabama Walk portion of the trek.
I have an MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s lightweight and it cooks pretty fast. The fuel I get for it is an called IsoPro, an 80/20 blend of isobutane and propane also produced by MSR. Their company is known not only for their well-made camp stoves, but also for having one of the cleanest burning fuels.
One 227g/8oz canister lasts me 15 to 20 days, sometimes longer. That means I should probably get a new canister in every other time I resupply, since I resupply weekly. Knowing I’d need a new canister every other week or so, I went online to seek information on how to make sure I’d be able to get them.
Lots of thru-hikers have blogs, but each one was giving me different information about whether I could mail them or not. So I went to the Post Office and asked.
Even the USPS is prohibited from shipping fuel by air, it must all be ground shipped. However, under Domestic Publication 52, § 342.22c (August 2014), of the United States Postal Service, mailing consumer commodity only camp fuel is permitted so long as the following conditions are met:
1) You must declare that you are sending camp fuel when you present your package to the Post Office;
2) You must mark your package with fuel shipping code ORM-D / Consumer Commodity; and
3) You must mark the package for Ground/Surface Shipping Only underneath the fuel code declaration.
These instructions are not to be construed as legal advice nor as an official statement of the USPS. They are simply guidelines based on personal experience in having camp fuel successfully mailed to me on the trail.
If you encounter any problems trying to send camp fuel, ask to speak to the Postmaster and explain your situation. I’ve given you official publication reference codes above, but if you need a visual, here is a link to a PDF of the USPS Keep Mail Safe poster to help you.