Imagine paddling up to a secluded beach, dragging your boat onto the sand, and making camp at sunset in private cove. Embarking on an overnight or multiday kayak camping adventure is easier than you might think—as long as you plan your menu around some basic constraints. Ingredients will be crammed in a bulkhead compartment that may be wet at times, fresh foods tend to get squished, and you’re bound to want fast calories after long days on the water. Making delicious meals is manageable, though. For your next paddle trip, check out these tips and test out our simple and delicious recipe: savory pancakes.
Space Matters, Not Weight
In many backcountry sports, like backpacking, climbing and skiing, weight is of paramount concern. Ounces make pounds, the saying goes, and pounds make pain. But on paddling trips, the extra energy it takes to move a few extra pounds is negligible, which makes bringing a handful of heavier ingredients well worth the effort. As long as you can fit your food stores in your hatches, you’re good to go. Practice moderation, of course, but feel free to toss in some great sources of protein like small tins of seafood (salmon, tuna, sardines, oysters, etc.), one or two cans of beans (black, red, pinto, etc.), and your favorite nice cheese.
A Few Freshies Go A Long Way
While you might be used to packing freeze-dried meals for the backcountry, keep in mind that when you’re packing for a kayaking trip, a few fresh ingredients can go a long way toward making meals tasty, satisfying and healthy. When you’re planning your menu, look for recipe ingredients that are durable, travel well and don’t need to be refrigerated: fresh garlic, an onion or two, maybe some ginger root or a sweet potato. For midday snacks, consider bringing some long-lasting fresh snacks, too: a couple of apples, a small bag of celery sticks, even an orange for the first day out on the water.
Incorporate Foraged Foods
In many places around the world, this is one the joys of paddling trips: You’re surrounded by delicious food. Consider foraging for local berries, incorporating seaweed into your soups or stir-fried dishes, or making a fresh salad from hand-picked local greens. For inspiration, check out Wild Edibles: A Practical Guide to Foraging by Sergei Boutenko and Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by Christopher Nyerges. Always make sure you’re confident in your plant identification skills before sampling what you’ve harvested.
Still looking for inspiration? Try this easy crowd-pleasing twist to turn a favorite breakfast food into a satisfying anytime meal.
Savory Pancakes for Indian Curry
Makes 4 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups instant powdered pancake mix (the kind that only requires adding water)
- Garlic (fresh, freeze-dried or powdered)
- Onion (fresh, freeze-dried or powdered)
- Chives (fresh, freeze-dried or powdered)
- Salt and pepper
- Oil, butter or cooking spray
- Optional: Spicy dish to pair with pancakes, like a freeze-dried curry
- Fire up your camping stove. Place frying pan over the flame to preheat.
- In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups powdered pancake mix with enough water to make a batter the consistency of a beaten egg. Stir in onion, garlic, salt, pepper and chives. (Bonus: If you have any other savory vegetables, feel free to add them too—these pancakes would be great with finely chopped and sautéed carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc.)
- When the pan is evenly warmed, grease it with oil, butter or cooking spray. Spoon the batter into the pan to form pancakes that are roughly 2 inches in diameter. (If you’re pressed for time or short on cooking fuel, you can also make larger pancakes, which feel and taste more like naan.) Watch the pancakes closely, and when you see tiny bubbles start to form, flip them with a spatula or a fork. When they’re browned on both sides, serve immediately.