Food and Gear

For anyone who finds it interesting, I’m compiling information about the gear I’m using and the food I’m eating. Folks have been interested over on my Facebook page, so I thought I’d gather the info in one place.

Trip Sponsors

P&H Sea Kayaks: P&H has given me a Scorpio LV to use for the expedition. I chose this boat because it’s a quality small boat that fits me (I’m a small paddler). I’ve used a Scorpio LV in Anglesey and Scotland while I was preparing for my 5 Star assessment.  It served me well – it’s nimble, fast, and was easy to use for all the tricky rescue scenarios.




I’ve used a Kokatat PFD since I started paddling, and Kokatat drysuits have always been my go-to. (My first pair of paddling capris was also Kokatat  – and they were AWESOME!) I’ll be wearing a tried an true Ms Fit PFD for the expedition. I’m using an Odyssey drysuit for the northern part of the trip, and then switching to a Trinity short-sleeved drytop and a pair of neoprene shorts for the southern part.


Werner Paddles: Werner Paddles has supplied me with a 205 cm Cypress with a small shaft.  I have loved this design, and worn out several, since 2005! It’s a high angle paddle that has solid power without being so big that it tires me out or hurts my shoulders. I’ve been paddling Werner paddles since I first bought my own paddle, and have always bought Werner paddles for my non-profit, Chicago Adventure Therapy.


MSR: MSR sent me four 10 liter dromedary bags and a gravity filter to refill when there’s fresh water nearby. They also sent me a good repair kit to get my 19 year old Whisper Lite stove purring along nicely for the expedition. This winter I bought a brand new MSR Hubba Hubba tent to replace my worn out, well used 11 year old Hubba Hubba. I made sure to shop around and not just replace my tent with the same tent – and after shopping around, replaced it with the updated same tent… I’ll be using a variety of other Cascade Designs gear – especially new drybags and a new Therma Rest. (I’ve always been a foam pad girl – I love my Z-Rest! – but a Therma Rest packs into a boat easier…)


PFD (life jacket): I’ve been a  fan of the Kokatat Miss Fit since it first came out. I find it comfortable, I prefer front zip PFD’s, and it has about as many pockets as any PFD out there.

Sprayskirt: I use a Seals sprayskirt. I like a lot of things about it – one of them is the fit. Some brands are decidedly fitted for men – as a small female paddlers I have to buy a skirt with a size large tube and still struggle to get it on, because the tube is sized for mens’ lack of hips. I don’t have that problem with the Seals skirts. They can build an individualized custom skirt that fits the size of the cockpit of a paddlers’ boat, and also accounts for how much space is behind the seat in the cockpit. I usually order a standard size (1.4), because I paddle a variety of boats and don’t need or want the customization.

Drysuit: My green Kokatat Meridian drysuit is THE BEST DRYSUIT EVER! I love it! It’s heading into its 4th season of hard use – so I’m looking to get a new one for the expedition. I paddle through the winter in Chicago, on the Pacific most springs, all over the Great Lakes in the summer, and on Lake Superior most falls – so I put a lot of hard use on a dry suit.It stands up well to the use.

Tow belt: I’ve always been a fan of the North Water tow belts. It’s what I’ll be using for this expedition.

Radio: I’m using an ICOM VHF radio, the IC-M73. It’s not super fancy, and not one of the more expensive models. I buy radios that give me the ability to get a weather and marine forecast and the ability to call the Coast Guard, that are waterproof, and that have a handle that I can clip to something. I don’t buy the most expensive or fanciest or floating. I’ve learned that I destroy radios withing a few  years, so I buy inexpensive ones that give me what I need.

One of the things I love about my radio recently is that I bought it at West Marine, and bought the West Marine warranty. If the radio stops working for any reason within 3 years, they replace it. No questions asked. They just replaced it about 2 weeks ago. (I spent $30 for the warranty again!)



Where to start in the description of food? Here’s a little bit about my general plan, with links to websites I’ve found helpful and specific foods I’m really happy with.

For all of the trips I’ve taken before, I’ve planned individual meals. I re-pack the food to get rid of packaging and to put a full meal together in one ziplock bag. I always pack a few easy extras, usually cous cous or ramen, in case the weather forces extra time out. This trip is a lot longer, so I’m packing ingredients instead of individual meals,  It makes the preparation quite a bit different.

I also usually don’t worry too much about space. I grew up back packing in the Rockies – camping by sea kayak feels luxurious in the amount of space available and the weight I can take. But for this trip, I’d really like to carry a month worth of food at a time. So my strategy has changed a lot – I’m paying careful attention to space. I’m avoiding a lot of the things that I’ve often taken that are super easy and convenient – fresh apples and carrots, individually wrapped small cheeses, small meat stick snacks… I think that things pack more efficiently in larger blocks of food – summer sausage instead of serving-size meat sticks, a block of cheese instead of mini babybels… I’ve dried fruit into fruit leather – which seems to pack a lot smaller than dried fruit. And I’m thinking carefully about how long various items will last. I’m preparing food before the expedition that my husband will mail to me for re-suppplies. So I’m looking for ways to make food last 4 months.

And then there’s the question of what and how much I’ll eat. When I’m out for a week, I eat more than I do when I’m at home for a week.  But not really by a lot. Paddling a minimum of 20 miles a day, likely an average of 5 days a week, for 3 1/2 months – I need to take on a LOT more calories.  And I need to be thinking about where those calories are coming from. I’m looking at formulas to help determine how many calories I need to be eating, spreadsheets that keep track of calories from carbs, fat, and protein in the meals I plan; articles about burning carbs versus burning fat.

It’s been challenging, fascinating, all-consuming to plan my food. Keep coming back to this page – I’ll be adding what food I’ve chosen, websites, menus, etc.