Resupplying Fuel

Carry All You Need

On-Trail Resupply

jet boil fuel canister

The CT is new, and so there aren't many, if any, businesses that meet the specific needs of thru-paddlers. You might find "outfitters" listed online or on maps, but these are almost always kayak rental shops for day paddlers, and not true outfitters in the sense of an REI. You cannot expect to purchase technical gear along the way and must bring everything you will need for the entire trip from the start.

But what about camp stove fuel?

There really aren't any stores that sell canister fuel like those made by Jetboil and MSR, nor is there a way to purchase liquid Coleman fuel, aka white gas. If you use an old MSR Wisperlite International stove, then you can use just about any flammable liquid you come across—gasoline, diesel, lighter fluid, whiskey, vodka, et cetera—and so you won't have any trouble finding fuel.

Fuel in a Maildrop

For those of us who use a Jetboil, MSR Pocket Rocket, Snow Peak GigaPower, or some other canister stove, our best option for resupplying fuel is to not resupply at all, but to bring all the fuel we will need from the start. However, estimating fuel usage is tricky, and so you'll likely run out.

If and when that happens, we can ship it to ourselves via maildrops, but that means having a potentially frustrating experience at the post office. Walk into any post office and you are likely to see the poster on the right. According to it, fuel canisters are prohibited in the mail—it’s clear as day right there in the picture.


However, according to USPS regulations posted on the USPS website, you can ship backpacking fuel canisters and non-pressurized liquid fuel if the package is marked "ORM-D" and/or "Surface Delivery Only."


"ORM" stands for Other Regulated Materials. The following two USPS documents are relevant to kayakers trying to ship fuel to themselves. Both documents contain the same information.


1)  DMM 601: Mailability 



2)  Publication 52, Section 342.22a-c


You can download the documents directly from the USPS website but I have provided them here:

Mailability of Hazardous Materials.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.4 MB
Publication 52 USPS.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 2.1 MB

It is a good idea to print out Publication 52 Section 342.22a-c (or keep the PDF on your phone) and bring it with you to the post office in order to trounce stubborn post masters who are unfamiliar with ORM-D guidelines and tell you "no" without double checking the regulations first. Expect clerks at post offices counter to be unfamiliar with the rules. So far, every person I have spoken to—at multiple post offices—has told me I could not ship a 4oz isobutane fuel can, when in fact it is allowed. Be prepared for a brief argument.


You may ship more than one canister in the same package. There is no additional paperwork and there are no fees associated with shipping fuel. You also do not need to keep the box open and show the post master the contents of your package. Simply declare the contents of the package and they will write "Surface Mail Only" on the same side of the box as the address. That’s all there is to it.


Here are the relevant excerpts that pertain to isobutane fuel canisters from USPS's Basic Standards for All Mailing Services:


10.12 Gases (Hazard Class 2)

Hazard class 2 consists of three divisions:

a. Division 2.1, Flammable Gases. A material that is a gas at 68°F (20°C) or less and 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) of pressure. Flammable gases also include materials that have a boiling point of 68°F (20°C) or less at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) and that are ignitable at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) when in a mixture of 13% or less by volume with air or that have a flammable range at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) with air of at least 12% regardless of the lower limit. These conditions must be established in accordance with ASTM E681-85, Standard Test Method for Concentration Limits of Flammability of Chemicals, or other approved equivalent method. The flammability of aerosols must be determined using the tests specified in 49 CFR 173.306(i).

b. Division 2.2, Nonflammable, Nontoxic Gases. A material that does not meet the definition of Division 2.1 or 2.3 and exerts in its packaging an absolute pressure of 40.6 psi (280 kPa) or greater at 68°F (20°C).

c. Division 2.3, Toxic Gases. A material that is poisonous by inhalation and is a gas at 68°F (20°C) or less and a pressure of 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa) or a material that has a boiling point of 68°F (20°C) or less at 14.7 psi (101.3 kPa).


10.12.2 Mailability

Gases are prohibited in international mail. Toxic gases in Division 2.3 are prohibited in domestic mail. Flammable gases in Division 2.1 are prohibited in domestic mail via air transportation but are permitted via surface transportation if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material (or effective

January 1, 2021, as a consumer commodity material) and meet the standards in 10.12.3 and 10.12.4. Mailable nonflammable gases in Division 2.2 are generally permitted in the domestic mail via air or surface transportation if the material can qualify as an ORM-D material when intended for surface transportation, or as a consumer commodity material when intended for air transportation, and also meet the standards in 10.12.3 and 10.12.4.


10.12.3 Container

An other-than-metal primary receptacle containing a mailable gas may be acceptable if the water capacity of the primary receptacle is 4 fluid ounces (7.22 cubic inches) or less per mailpiece and the primary receptacle meets 49 CFR requirements. Mailable nonflammable and flammable compressed gases are acceptable in metal primary receptacles that have a water capacity up to 33.8 fluid ounces (1 liter or 61.0 cubic inches), depending on their internal pressure. A DOT 2P container must be used as the primary receptacle if the internal pressure is from 140 to 160 psi at 130°F (55°C). A DOT 2Q container must be used as the primary receptacle if the pressure is from 161 to 180 psi at 130°F (55°C). A container with an internal pressure over 180 psi at 130°F (55°C) is prohibited from mailing. Mailable flammable compressed gases are restricted to 33.8 fluid ounces (1 liter) per mailpiece. Mailable nonflammable compressed gases are permitted in individual 33.8 fluid ounce (1 liter) containers that must be securely packed within an outer shipping container. Each mailpiece must not exceed a total weight of 25 pounds.


10.12.4 Marking

For surface transportation, packages of mailable gases must be plainly and durably marked on the address side with “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only,” and “ORM-D” (or with a DOT square-on-point marking under 10.81.) immediately following or below the proper shipping name (consumer commodity). For air transportation, packages must bear the DOT square-onpoint marking including the symbol “Y,” an approved DOT Class 9 hazardous material warning label, Identification Number “ID8000,” and proper shipping name “Consumer Commodity.” Mailpieces must also bear a shipper's declaration for dangerous goods.