Food for extended trips?

I’m curious as to what type of food you guys and gals take on extended kayak trips. 3 days or more, where cold storage, and storage space is minimal. Are there any creative alternatives to dehydrated foods, maybe something more readily available?

Works if you have the room. I even like the taste of most of them.

grocery store supplies
For lightweight dried food it isn’t necessary to buy the specialty backpacking food. Things like macaroni and cheese, boil in bag rice, stuffing mix, cheese mashed potatoes, etc. can be used as the basis for backcountry meals. Bacon bits, a few cans or pouches of tuna or chicken, and such can be used to add flavor and substance. Also packages of hummus mix, couscous, instant dried beans, etc. are useful. Cup-a-soup can be a good first course if the weather is chilly. Recently I’ve also tried some grocery store items in boilable pouches for camping. I look for what’s available in grocery stores (look for packages that don’t require much extra ingredients or long cooking times) and just try experimenting.

That is exactly what we use
My wife is the cook so I just push the shopping cart.

We have never gone beyond the supermarket for our food.

Our overnighters can be up to two weeks.

I guess what helps is the fact that we are so busy having fun that we eat just out of necessity and not as part of the “camping experience”, and at the end of a day we would rather hit the sleeping bag than linger over a big meal.



Powdered Drink Mix
is now sold in little tubes, to be added to water bottles. It makes a nice change from just water.

Tasty Bites
If you like highly seasoned Indian food, there is nothing better or easier than these. They’re vegetarian vacuum packed fully cooked and really delicious. They do add alot of weight though, and are not too expensive. I like to add on box of tofu.

Other favorites:

Tortillas, cheese, dehydrated refried beans for burritos. Tortillas last for at least 10 days and can be packed on the side of the dry bag before the rest of the food is put in.

Packets of onion soup, to which you add dehydrated corn, peas, carrots.

Bisquick to make quick fried bread (aka bannock). No grease needed.

Olives and cheese seem to last forever.


How to reduce space needs
If space is at a minimum and THE HIGHEST PRIORITY must go to that then one needs to consider two ideas that will assist.

One, reduce packaging to an aboslute minimum. It is simply amazing how much room, weight, and complexity packaging creates. A great deal of weight and bulk can be done away with by putting ingredients together into complete dishes and then dishes together into meals, all with a very few zip lock super heavy duty bags laid flat.

Two, consider dried but not necessarily freeze dried foods and ones that are also calorie dense foods. Foods rich in proteins, and with some fat content will have more calories per ounce that a diet too high in carbohydrates and sugars.

Although many make their own dehydrated foods, and a good many of these foods can be put together from local supermarket shelves

I enjoy on long trips getting my food from a place in the North West that has organic dried foods beautifullly prepared and lightly but wonderfully spiced, calorie dense, but lightweight compact foods, great taste and that require very little fuel to cook them too, thus saving fuel weight and room.

The company is She is an actual person, a former pioneering forrest ranger who in mid life started a cooperative venture in her community with other women and folks to harvest their own organic foods and to provide quick and great meals to out door people of all kinds and to people who need quick organic meals.

Hope this helps,


Extended trip larder
On our extended trips wife & I also use grocery store supplies as mentioned earlier.(Don’t forget PB & J w/ tortillas to slather it upon) These meals are all boiled in water & although tasty enough in backcountry, don’t supply any crunch or mouth appeal.

An item we’ve found that really adds to our backcountry pantry is a cabbage. It stands up for an extended time even in hottest conditions. Shredded for a nightly salad, tossed w/ some dressing & sweet onion (another keeper)it really improves our menu.

I paddle a canoe so space is
never a problem but I tend to stick to simple food simply because it’s such a hassle cooking and cleaning and a time waster. Anyway, it seems like just about anything tastes good after a day of hard paddling. We dehydrate some dishes but tend to eat a lot of freeze dried food since you eat out of the pouch and only have to wash a spoon.

ditto on the tasty bites
I got turned on to them while backpacking. The weight is a bit of an issue but they are delicious and really really easy. I like to use the water I boil them in to cook couscous or Quinoax (sic?) simultaneously. It saves me a lot of time in clean up and I only have to pack one pot which offsets the weight of packing hydrated food. It also lessens the impact on the GI tract should I be out with folks who have weak compositions when it comes to spicy foods. The package they come in is super easy to pack out. I would also recommend investing in a dehydrater. Packing in your own jerky, dehydrated fruits and soups and such kind of brings the whole endeavor a little closer to the grass roots. The biggest thing is just to remember to eat and eat often. An extended trip is not the time or place to implement a crash diet. I often find that regardless of how much I eat above and beyond my normal intake I still shed a few.

ditto on maryjanes–get the larger size for two people though. ate them steadily for one month once, and never wished i was eating elsewhere. another benefit, the packaging is burnable.

Totally ditto
I so so so agree. There are a great deal of irrational and magical ideas people have about food and diet and even more extreme ideas about diet and exercise.

That aside, there is a growing body of reputable non-biased, not done by the food industry or a special iterest group research that would totally agree with what you say!!!

  1. Eat often, in fact very frequently when active
  2. Eat balanced, some fat, carbos and some protein all helpful.
  3. Understand that it is a total myth and actually harmful to think protein gives you energy (only 10% of total energy comes from protein) or that extra protein is needed to rebuild muscles for endurance sports (only a moderate increase needed), and too much actually just makes demands on kidneys.
  4. Small vitamin supplements can be helpful but largely unneeded for the general healthy person without special needs and too much vitamins can actually cause problems.
  5. Adequate hydration along with eating (so you don’t lower your total electrolyte level) is a great thing because hydrating increases the amount of removal of wastes and energy rebuilding for muscles.
  6. Dieting will lower ones total energy, vitality, and muscle healing, and can in fact cause stress, mood problems, and actual physical and health problems.

…for all the replies! This makes very interesting reading, and has been alot of help!

Thanks again!

you r options
Some options you may want to consider:

I use out local health food store/Co-op to buy bulk foods. We have a huge bulk selection of drieds soups, stews, polentas, sauces, beans and grains. Its best to make 1-pot meals such as a big pot of pasta or rice dish. Our health food coop also has great selections of asian, Indian curry and other unique foods without all the schwag you get at a corprate store where your buying a bunch of chemicals, fillers and preservatives.


Double-ditto on the Mary Jane foods
After eating a couple of those on one trip, I will not be buying the more common, overly-salty brands of camp food. MJ’s meals taste and chew like REAL food! I would happily eat them for dinner at home.

I have taken 2-week supplies of food in my kayaks, none of which are considered “big expedition” or “high volume” models. Choosing and packing the food takes a fair bit of thought, but I agree with Evans’ basic tenet that you have to use the most calorically dense (and hopefully, nutrient-rich) foods possible. For me, that means a lot of peanut butter.

Also, make sure the foods can withstand some manhandling without turning into dust. Often, this takes care of BOTH the fragility and volume problems. For example, I pack orzo instead of spaghetti, Corn Nuts instead of tortilla chips, 100% fruit leathers instead of fresh fruit, granola instead of flaked cereal, tomato paste and a small amount of dried herbs instead of tomato sauce, etc.

For 3 days, choosing and packing food will be easy. But it is a good opportunity to practice for longer trips.

Pesto Pasta for 6

Water 7 cups (7 ½ if using dry onions, pepper and mushrooms)

Rotini (vegetable spiral noodles) 1 pound

Dehydrated tomato julienne cut one envelope 3 oz

Onion, one medium or an open palm-full of dry

Garlic one or two cloves

Green Olives (sliced) - palm full or to taste

Green pepper up to one or a palm-full of dry

Mushrooms 8 oz or so fresh or a palm-full of dry

Knorr Creamy Pesto Pasta sauce mix 2 envelopes

Olive oil ½ cup

Parmesan cheese, fresh, grated ½ pound

Bring water to a boil. Add rotini and dry tomato and if using dry onion, garlic, pepper, mushrooms, add them now also. Boil 7 minutes. Do not drain. Add oil, pesto sauce, onion garlic and green pepper. Simmer three minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese, fold in till melted. Serve.

Hummus on tortilla for 6

In a baggy put

Hummus 2 X 6 oz boxes

Mild salsa one 16 oz bottle

Onion 1 medium diced

Green pepper one small diced

Olive oil 4 oz

Lemon juice 4 Tbsp. (one lemon)

Add a teaspoon or two of water as needed to get a consistency a little thinner than toothpaste, able to squeeze but not runny

Cut a corner of the baggy and squeeze mix onto tortilla

Add as desired

Cucumber (one sliced)


Cheese cheddar grated one pound

Pita Pizza for 6

Pita 12 (2 per person)

Squeeze bottle pizza sauce one

Pepperoni one small “pillow”

Onion 1 small, diced

green olives ½ cup or so

green pepper one small, diced

mozzarella cheese one pound

Pizzas can be assembled on each person’s plate and then slid into the fry pan. Cover and cook over low heat just long enough to melt the cheese. Takes only a few minutes. Or pita can be set in fry pan while on the stove, assembled, covered and cooked.

No Bake for about 8

Mix together in one bowl:

Peanut butter 4 cups (2 X 18 oz jars)

Honey 2 cups about

Mix together in a large baggie

Rice Krispies 3 cups

Quick Cooking Oatmeal 3 cups

Chocolate chips 1 cup

M & M’s 1 cup

Craisins (can also use some Raisons) 1 cup

Add the peanut butter mix and squeeze and roll until mix holds together. It should not be too sticky—it’s a finger food.

Search some of the archives
A new recipe I got from a guy in the club too.

1 box Velveeta Shells and Cheese made per directions (you can use less water).

1 Can Rotel mexican style tomatoes drained

1 pouch chicken or tuna (optional).

When shells and cheese are done add other ingredients and heat.

Good Luck


In addition to regular grocery store fare,I’ve been going to a local Chinese-oriental food store for some variety. Some interesting versions of cuppa soups,dried fish and meat,lots of one pot meals. You have to be a bit brave and experimentive but variety is important and I found the prices to be reasonable too.


Food for camping
I use pork side meat it is like bacon but salted so you don’t need a cooler. Also tuna, hamburger, chicken all come in little pouches that don’t need a cooler. They are located on the tuna and canned meat aisle of the grocery store.

Grocery Store

– Last Updated: Nov-27-05 7:43 PM EST –

Get cans [the kind with the pull ring top] of stew, ravioli, soup, etc. These are really good, and very filling for one person, especially after a day on the water. The cans are small enough that you can pack more than you need and therefore have a variety to choose from each day!

Get foil packets of chicken or tuna. Add to the stews above, or use for sandwiches.

I also pack some of those Starkist tuna lunches. Get the kind with the can, not the pouch, because the plastic package doubles as a bowl. Only problem is the leftover trash. However, I haven't found it a problem on 3-4 day trips.

For breakfast, try this. Cook oatmeal, but use only 3/4 the water you usually do. Then, take one of those individual servings of apple sauce. They come in a variety of fruit flavors. Add it to the oatmeal and mix it in. This tastes terrific ... and I HATE oatmeal otherwise.

Also for breakfast, I like those little pancake mix in a plastic bottle. Just add water ... shake... and pour on the griddle!

I always take a large bottle of diet Dr. Pepper. You quickly get used to warm pop, and look forward to it as a treat each day.