People often wonder how we can do week-long self support trips on our little boats. Part of the secret is to pack sparingly, taking only what is necessary for a comfortable trip. Of course, everyone’s definition of “comfort” is different. It’s not like we don’t make a comfortable camp; we usually take chairs, sleeping pads, a tent, sleeping bags, and cooking equipment. We just try to keep the weight and bulk down to a manageable level. Traveling to warm places and during the summer helps because you don’t need to bring along as many clothes as for a winter trip.
Another “trick” is to eliminate the large bulky coolers that many rafters take on the river to store their frozen/refrigerated foods and keep their beverages cold. This just doesn’t work well for a lot of our trips. Imagine trying to freeze and pack a bunch of perishable food for an 8-day trip into hot, humid Mexico. With the travel time and uncertainty about shuttles, weather, etc. it may be a week before you even get on the river! Try keeping the food frozen during that time without access to more ice or dry ice. For us, going the non-perishable food route is the best. It’s lighter, less bulky, and you don’t have to worry about food spoiling. For example, Lacey packed several meals intended to be used on a trip down the Rio Conchos in August/September which ended up being used on the Rio Usumacinta in January! Even a few months later, they were some of the best meals on the Usu trip.
Does that mean we don’t eat well? NO WAY! Lacey’s decades of experience both backpacking and rafting allow her a unique perspective on meal planning and allow her to create scrumptious meals that are low in bulk, lightweight, and nonperishable. We eat a full menu including appetizers at dinner and some desserts. The meals are easy to prepare, take little time, and are tasty and nutritious. More recently she has begun experimenting with new recipes using “raw foods” as many raw items will keep for several days without refrigeration and provide a tasty and nutritious alternative to processed foods.
Below is a sample from a trip down the Middle Fork Salmon River in Idaho. This represents ALL of the food for 10 people for the entire 8-day trip!
If you are interested in learning more about how to use non-perishable foods on your trips, check out the No Coolers website and order a copy of Lacey’s book “Camp Cooking WITHOUT Coolers II.” This book provides an easy to use seven day meal plan using recipes made from nonperishable, light weight, healthy, and affordable ingredients purchased primarily from the grocery store. Follow the step by step directions for a hassle free outdoor kitchen, even if this is your first time organizing food for an outing. Lacey’s latest e-book is full of recipes that don’t even require a stove!