Eating on a Paddle-Camping Trip

From time to time, someone asks me what sort of food I bring on my paddle camping adventures.  The question usually comes from someone who is wondering how I carry all the food and drink I need without weighing myself down too much.  It’s a good question because there does seem to be an inverse proportionality between the tastiness of the meals and the ability to carry them.  The blander the food, the lighter the pack. 

But the great thing about paddling vs. backpacking is that when you’re paddling, you can carry far more weight because the board carries it for you.  Carrying a 50 lb. pack on your back will cause your feet and back to hate your guts, and you will suffer dearly.  After a rough trip like that, you will trade your beer and wine for sugary flavor packets to sprinkle in your water the next time.

But with paddling, you can bring a little extra weight, and for me, it takes the form of liquid.  My last couple trips, the extra weight takes the form of cold beer chilling in a Yeti cooler, strapped to the board behind me.  I also carried a 5 gallon cube of water on the last adventure because where we were going, there was no water available.   I can attest that after a hard day of paddling, cracking an ice cold beer around the campfire while you look at the water, does much to restore the soul. 

My trusty Starboard inflatable board loaded up and ready to go; the orange drybag on the front has my clothes, food, tent, other camping gear – basically everything. The gray bag on back is what the board was rolled up in.

The following is the menu of the food and drink I brought on my last weekend paddle adventure, which was two nights and three days of meals:

Day 1:

Breakfast – eat at home before I got on the boat.

Lunch – dry salami stick, aged cheddar cheese, crackers (keep in mind the crackers will probably be a bag of crumbs if you have to pack it with the other items); and an apple

Snack – Trail Mix

Dinner – pre-cooked sausages cooked on a stick over the fire, and placed in a bread roll (2 of them)

                Can of beans heated up over my Jetboil stove

Cold beer kept in my Yeti Hopper 8 (make sure to follow Yeti’s instructions on how to keep the contents cold.  I have noticed a marked difference when following Yeti instructions)

A couple cookies

Day 2:

Breakfast – Oatmeal, Chai Tea, Energy bar

Lunch – Salami stick (same one), aged Cheddar cheese block (again), and crackers again (same as yesterday); Dried Mango

Snack – Trail Mix

Dinner – Dehydrated meal (I get mine at REI and I like Mountain House Chili Mac)

Cold Beer again (it will still be cold if you do everything just right – keep the cooler shaded the whole time which is challenging when you’re paddling)

OR…boxed wine (you’d be surprised how tasty these are – at least I think so – I bought a small box of Cab and it was great)

Dark chocolate bar

Day 3:

Breakfast – Oatmeal, Tea, Energy Bar

Lunch – For a weekend adventure, lunch is usually at back in civilization at a restaurant; but if not, you could do another dehydrated meal.

The above has been my go-to menu for the last few expeditions.  Let me know if you’ve found some better food solutions for weekend backpacking or paddle-camping trips. 


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