Dining Tips & Suggestions for Kayak Expeditions

Gourmet or Minimalist

There are many ways you can go with food on a kayak expedition. Some people prefer to try their best for gourmet. For others, carrot sticks and peanut butter are the answer. Personally, I have done everything from bacon and eggs and frozen meats to a bag of rice and a fishing pole. 

While fresh food and attempts at complex meals are attractive and yummy, they tend to be very time-consuming. One must consider the goals of the time in the field. Where are the priorities? The wrong food choice can kill an expedition even if a whale comes to visit or the weather is perfect. Do you want to spend more time exploring ashore and in the kayak or cooking? There is a happy median. 

Lots of people, myself included, love the idea of foraging for their meals. This is so wonderful, AND it can take a lot of time. Seaweeds require a fair bit of preparation. Gathering shore greens is pretty easy in the right season. Catching fish for dinner is very rewarding, but… what if you don’t? In-season berries are as easy as a smile. 

Harvesting Greens

Dehydrated Food

Although dehydrated food can be ridiculously bulky and has a lot of packaging, I have found a company called Harmony House that dehydrates and packs simply and efficiently. They have a terrific selection of vegetables, soups, chilis and stews, beans, faux meats that taste like the real thing, fruits, and pretty much anything you can imagine. They started as a small-scale, organic operation and have grown bigger, but they still have their roots and organic products. I often rely on this for my dinners and as a lunch supplement to tuna, peanut butter and chocolate, cheese, crackers (pilot biscuits), and a handful of homemade gorp. Breakfasts usually include oatmeal with lots of dried fruit, nuts, and coconut milk powder. Still, when there is time, shredded potatoes and cheese with some of the Harmony House spicy chorizo is awesome.

For myself, I bring mostly dehydrated food and enough for the full extent of the trip, even if I know I am going to harvest a lot of what I eat. If you feel like you have to have greens, stick with broccoli, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. They last really well. 

In my 10 years guiding up here, I have encountered many bears, mainly on the Alaskan Peninsula far to the north, but I have also run into them here in the Southeast. It has always been a source of joy after the fact. You always want to see a bear and are always sort of glad you don’t. I have had bears walk into my camp twice. In each case, they turned around and left with some careful and polite direction. 

Berry Crumble

Don't Forget The Essentials

Some essentials for me are to bring a good selection of spices: ma ploy curry paste, sriracha, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, harissa, cayenne, chipotle, curry powder, and herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, sage (all in small zip locks that I reuse) and some fresh onions and garlic as well. I usually bring a few cans of coconut milk and a lime or two, and it’s essential to have some Better Than Bouillon, olive oil, and yes… butter. Other things are coconut powder, powdered milk, sweetened condensed milk, and any sweetener you need, such as sugar, honey, etc. The fats are especially important if you go the dehydrated route I mentioned above, as the food is all without fat. 

On most of my trips, food is sustenance that I want to be happy with. It is not gourmet, but it is easy, nourishing, and tasty. I want to enjoy the world I am in, not stare at a pot and stove for two hours. But if the people I am with have other goals, I am always happy to oblige.

Hang your food up high away from the bears

Dining In Bear Country

As a final consideration, when visiting Mr. and Mrs. Brown’s (bear) house, I am very conscious about what it would mean to fire up a pan of bacon or make cheeseburgers. I am willing to go out of my way to ensure I don’t attract them to the table. I frequently catch and cook fish, typically in a curried stew or wrapped in foil, kelp, or cabbage leaves, to help keep the cooking smell to a minimum.

Storing food: The only places for food are in your hand, mouth, or tummy, in your kayak when you are in it, or in the bear barrel or bear hang if you are ashore and away from camp. 

Never leave food in your kayak or put it in your pockets (other than your snack bar in the life vest), and never, never, never bring it (or any scented products) into your tent. 

I love food and will happily organize whatever suits a party and eat it happily.