Not everyone can book time off from work and home life to accommodate a big kayaking expedition. I have done many bigger, longer kayaking trips in the past few years and enjoyed every minute of them, but the time on the water and in camp during shorter, weekend jaunts have been equally as memorable and often much more enjoyable, especially the food aspects. You can take more, and much more interesting foods for a shorter trip leaving behind the freeze-dried fare as a side-dish to 101 ways to eat urchins on day 35.
On a weekend outing things get scaled back and there is a luxury born into not having to bring so much gear. Most of my weekend trips have involved a half-filled dry bag of extra clothing, a half bag of food stuffs, my kitchen bag, sleeping bag and tent. Though, sometimes it feels like I am bringing as much stuff as on a longer trip. The basics are still the basics no matter how long you plan to stay out.
So I have come up with a list for the weekender. Below is the basics, some advice and some added goodies to make the weekend enjoyable.
1). Plan ahead. Think about the place you want to visit by kayak, investigate it online and suss-out the scene. In the future I will be outlining some local Gulf Islands excursions for the weekender, but for now lets say for argument’s sake that you and a partner are planning to paddle from Salt Spring Island to Prevost Island. The paddle time varies depending on where you depart from and you should factor in ferry travel. The currents as you have discovered from planning ahead are minimal between the islands, though it can get rolling if it is windy near Scott Point. There is a lovely cove on Prevost Island with a provincial campsite in a heritage orchard setting. There is and outhouse!
Think about what you would like to eat and plan to bring at least 4 litres of water per person, per day. That breaks down to 1 litre for cooking purposes and the remainder for drinking. Drink lots of water. Food is another consideration. It is my opinion that kayak camping is all about self-propelling one’s self to a perfect location to eat a great meal. There is no reason at all why you should not eat in camp as well as you do at home. Bring the whole nine yards and then some. Perishables are not such a worry as the kayak makes for a perfect fridge, and fresher ingredients will not suffer.
When planning your meals consider what you will be using first when packing your bags and what is first will be packed last. Dinner ingredients can be pre-packed in Ziploc bags, labeled of course. Snacks, don’t forget snacks and lots of them. Salty snacks are good on hot days. Plan some light lunches that you can bring if you are going to leave camp for a day paddle. It is worth planning ahead and having a packed lunch instead of bringing your kitchen with you. Make it romantic, bring a bottle of the best and even if you are drinking from your plastic camping mug it is still a treat to sit on a beach at sunset sipping some nice Merlot.
2) The gear. Well this is where it becomes more personal preference but in my experience less is more and in the warmer months I do pare things back a bit. Dress for the weather and be prepared to suffer a bit of rain. The weather can change. Bring a tarp or two as cover over your kitchen area and for wind breaks. A tent, sleeping bags and pads, cook stove and kitchen ware. A kit box filled with extras. Lighters, fire starters (check before hand if there is a campfire ban) tea light candles, utensils etc. It is a good idea to bring a second set of clothing. I advocate the use of 2 sets. One I paddle in (they get wet and stinky) the other I put on in camp and keep dry, (Camp cloths). The paddling gear is whatever you wear to go paddling but my camp clothing bag in the summer is small. A t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, quick dry pants, socks and undies. Maybe a toque for chilly nights and a fleece jacket is always a good thing to have. You can get cold in camp even in summer. Hypothermia is a sneaky monkey. Dress for the conditions.
If the weekend kayaking adventure is all you can manage, then there are a lot of options open to you. Be sure to keep things in the realm of reasonable as far as extra travel is concerned. Plan a yummy menu and pack things in order of need. The amount of extras you would like to bring is up to you. I do like to show off on weekend trips. I bring a stove-top espresso maker for two people, and the where with all to make chocolate fondue. Standard kit you know!
For more info and tips for the weekend paddler check out my Books Tab for the Hungry Kayaker – a common sense guide to cooking and camping.