Food for a Long Weekend Canoe Trip

You know that idiom “live and learn”? Well that’s exactly what I did when I packed enough food for a small army (6 people, actually) for our 2015 Algonquin Thunderbox Tour.

Big Crow to Hogan portage as shown on Jeff's Map
Big Crow to Hogan portage as shown on Jeff’s Map

The “live and learn” moment happened on the portage between Big Crow and Hogan Lake when I carried 1 of the food barrels and the kitchen pack about 4375 meters. That included some of the portage trail and some of the cart trail. Now multiply that by 3 because I had to do a double carry. It ended up being about 13,125 meters (13.12 kilometers) if my math is correct. 

The lesson learned as shown on Jeff's Map
My lesson learned as shown on Jeff’s Map

It was a long hot day in July. After that experience, I am always trying to get our food barrel as lightweight as possible. That means no more elaborate meals unless I’m car camping. Even for a weekender, the weight of our food is considered.

So what would I take on a weekend canoe trip? It really depends on the length of portages and how long the day is. Victoria Day weekend in Algonquin Park had 2 portages of 1640 meters and 1035 meters doing a double carry. Our double carry consists of me taking our dog, Banjo, and carrying the food barrel straight through while my husband carries his Tregurtha Frost River Pack, and then goes back for our canoe Singing Wilderness (17.6′ Bell Northwind DY design kevlar). In that case, I bring more energy-type snacks to keep the momentum going.

Day 1 Breakfast

En route

Day 1 Lunch

Dehydrated (rehydrated) hummus, dried fruit like figs and apricots, an energy bar if it wasn’t eaten during the portage, crackers and cheese.

Day 1 Dinner

Dehydrated Rice and Beans


Peanut Butter Energy Bites (recipe by My Self Reliance)
Clif Bars
Peanut M&Ms

Day 2 Breakfast

Leftover rice and beans with scrambled eggs and wraps to make breakfast burritos, coffee

Day 2 Lunch

Dehydrated (rehydrated) hummus, dried fruit like figs and apricots, an energy bar if it wasn’t eaten during the portage, crackers and cheese.

Day 2 Dinner

Curried lentil bisque with bannock

Day 3 Breakfast

Instant oatmeal with a dollop of peanut butter and coffee

Food for 2 people on a Long Weekend Canoe Trip to Harness Lake in Algonquin Park
Food for 2 people on a Long Weekend Canoe Trip to Harness Lake in Algonquin Park

If we’re doing a long canoe trip, then we always have instant oatmeal. It’s super lightweight and easy to make in the morning. We also usually take 2 pizza shells and have campfire pizzas, which is one of our favourites.

We bought an Ostrom Barrel Cooler from Recreational Barrel Works (we took the last one, it was a demo). I only use this cooler on short canoe trips. I have no idea whether this cooler is being restocked since last I heard Bill Ostrom was selling his canoe pack business.


  • Keeps food frozen longer and protects perishables
  • Insulated plus a support structure that keeps it from flattening under weight
  • Velcro lid hinges in the middle for easy access
  • Easy wipe out cleaning or toss in the washing machine
Ostrom Barrel Cooler
Ostrom Barrel Cooler

So there you have it. I will definitely be sharing recipes (as I make them) that can be dehydrated for this year’s paddling season. If you have any questions, please ask and thanks for reading!


    • Yes, dehydrated hummus has changed everything for us! Some people say they dehydrate the store-bought stuff, but since we make so much of it, I put together a recipe and tried it. It’s so lightweight and you just add the powder to an airtight container in the morning and add water, then by lunchtime it’s ready.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We used to make the same mistakes: bring enough food for 10x more people than we needed. Our biggest problem was portion control. We would pack way more than we would actually eat for each meal so we’d end up packing 1/2 of it home.

    Now we are really careful about portions and it makes all the difference!

    I’m currently on the look out for an alternative to zip top bags. We use them a lot to make sure we’re taking only the portions we need. I try to re-use them but they often take a beating in the food dry sack and it seems wasteful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny you mention that, because I’m trying hard to work out portions now. I have made a big pot of chilli and mexican lentil stew and am only scooping out what I need to dehydrate and freezing the rest vs. dehydrating the whole thing!

      So much work, but worth it in the end.


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