Paddling Food and Water Concerns


As with general camp duties, kitchen duties should be passed around as part of a rotating schedule.

There are plenty of things to be done when feeding hungry paddle campers; everything from cutting and preparing food to lighting a camp fire to finding a level spot to spread the blanket for dinner. Everyone, no matter what their age or experience level, can and should get involved.

When preparing and storing food in camp, remember to keep the campsite as clean as possible at all times. This means:

  • Collecting and disposing of food scraps after every meal
  • Collecting and disposing of wrappers, cans and other trash items
  • Cleaning dirty dishes right away
Store your food supplies in sealed, waterproof bags at night (away from your tents) to cut down on food odors and animal visitors. Store food waste and scraps with other trash items (also in a sealable bag), to be packed out and disposed of once your trip has ended.

If your paddling route takes you through bear country, familiarize yourself with the procedures needed to remain safe, like hanging food supplies properly and eating/cooking well away from sleeping areas.


Treat all drinking water taken from backcountry water sources, no matter how clean the water source appears to be. Use a water filter or purifier when possible, or bring a supply of chemical disinfectant tablets or extra fuel for boiling water.

Paddling can be thirsty work, and camps often have a lot of dishes to be washed. Treat an ample supply each night so you can avoid cold, morning dashes to the nearest stream or lake. To cut down on the number of trips you have to make to the closest water source, pack a large-capacity, collapsible water container.

NOTE: A typical adult paddler can drink anywhere from 2 to 5 liters of water per day, depending upon conditions. Remember to bring an ample supply of water with you in your boat each day (and/or a reliable water treatment system that you can use from your boat). Also remember to drink frequently throughout the day (before you get thirsty) in order to stay well-hydrated.

Coastal water supplies
Most backcountry filters (and the other treatment methods mentioned above) will not make salt water safe to drink. If you're planning a trip on coastal waters, remember to check for fresh water sources along the route before you leave home. If none are available, bring an ample supply of water with you, in durable, reliable water storage bags.

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