Trip planning: packing, food and water

In respone to the following comment from my brother, Ian (a non-paddler), I thought I’d put together a separate post.

If you’re taking a day off (!) and have time on your hands, for those of us unfamiliar with expedition kayaking, it would be interesting to hear some of the logistical consideratiotconsideratiotns for such a trip, e.g. how many days food and water do you carry, did you plan specific restocking points, what is typical day’s menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what do you eat/drink when afloat to keep energy up for 6-8 hours paddling … just generally what sort of deprivations you are suffering for your adventure!!


A sea kayak can have anywhere beyween 150 and 300 litres of storage space. Mine has 200, Rob’s is a little bigger and Dave’s is pretty much as big as they come at 300. So if you compare it with backpacking (70 – 80 litres) you can see we have considerably more room and can live in relative luxury. However mastering the art of packing a kayak to make the best use of the space is one of those lifelong learning experiences. A good mixture of different sized, shaped and coloured dry bags makes for a good start and some easily breakable things are better packed in waterproof plastic boxes.

The ubiquitous blue IKEA bags appear to have become the kayaker’s default method of transferring kit between boat and car or campsite. The general rule of thumb is if you’ve filled up more than 3 (excluding the gear you’ll be paddling in) then you’ve got too much.


We loosely agreed on carrying one week’s worth of food in the kayak and look to re-supply after 4 or 5 days thus always having a minimum of 2 days of food. On the Ireland coast you’re never likely to be more than a day’s paddle away from a shop… or pub. We did consider sending stuff ahead to post offices or the like but decided it would be more hassle than it was worth.

Wendy, my wife, is planning a trip across for a long weekend during the third week of May. She is bringing a re-supply of gas canisters and anything else we may be needing by then (new hands probably!)

We made the decision to cook separately rather than as a group. Out of the three of us I’m probably the most minimalist and plan to have pretty much the same thing every day. I have chosen only to cook things that involve boiling water. I have tea and oats with cranberries for breakfast and make up a food flask at the same time to have for lunch – rice, lentils and barley mixed together with boiling water and a vegetable stock cube. After three hours in the flask it is ready to eat and actually tastes pretty good. Dinner is just a cuppa soup with orzo pasta mixed in made in the now empty lunch time food flask. Other things eaten with lunch and dinner or as snacks include: dates, cereal bars, snickers, tinned fish, cheese, pitta bread, chocolate, apples, oranges, sugar snap peas, mange tout.

Having said that this all goes out the window when other options become available. Just had roast lamb in the pub for dinner and last night was the lovely Wendy Flanagan’s home made lasagna.

I think Guinness also counts as a food stuff but so far we’ve avoided snacking on it while on the water.


We’re all carrying water bags of various sizes. Each of us will probably use between 3 and 4 litres a day. I have bags with a total capacity of 20 litres. At the moment, on the east coast, there hasn’t been any issue in refilling and I’m only carrying 2 or 3 days worth of water. We’ll make decisions on this as we go. We also carry a few means of making dodgy water safe to drink – tablets, filters.

On another weather day I may get around to saying some words on route planning, navigation, tides, communications and safety.

5 thoughts on “Trip planning: packing, food and water

  1. 6-8 hours paddling a day must be very taxing on your arms. Did you all do lots of weights etc at the gym in the months of preparation before you set off?


    1. Hi Dave. We’re all using gas only and have pockets rockets as our backup stove. Rob also uses a pocket rocket as his main one. Dave has a small gas Trangia and I have an Alpkit BruKit.


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