Camping food that doesn’t need refrigeration or an ice box.

South Australia’s Riverland is one of the coolest stretches of the Murray River, with a wealth of wetlands to explore and a wonderful variety of scenery – cliffs, lagoons, narrow winding creeks, majestic river, possums, kangaroos and more. There are places where you can go for days, seldom seeing another person. And the best way to do it? By kayak of course, taking your gear with you and setting up camp in a different spot each night: kayak camping.

Our touring kayaks will carry a huge amount of gear – but bulky eskies can be an issue! An esky won’t fit in a single kayak and only a small-to-medium esky can fit in a double kayak. (A canoe will fit an esky without trouble.)

We’re so used to having cold storage on hand, in the form of fridges and ice-filled eskies (or ice boxes), that we can feel a bit lost when those things are not available to us.

Don’t let that cause stress when you are planning meals for your multi-day kayak camping expedition. The following list provides alternatives to the usual fridge-reliant camp foods.

You can download our  list here – Non-refrigerated camping food  


  • UHT (Long life) milk is available at supermarkets in 1L, 200mL and sometimes even 15mL packs
  • powdered milk.


  • processed salami-type meat products, jerky
  • eggs (fresh, unwashed, home-laid eggs last longest)
  • Tinned (or pre-cooked and dehydrated) Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, etc.
  • Single-serve tins or sachets of tuna or other fish
  • Tinned meats, e.g. braised steak in single serve packs
  • nuts and seeds
  • protein powders


  • fresh carrots, potatoes, onions and beetroot are some vegetables that will keep for several days
  • dehydrated (e.g. surprise peas or corn) or tinned vegetables

Carbohydrates – Less of an issue as they often don’t require refrigeration.

  • rice, quinoa, spaghetti, noodles, macaroni
  • bread or flat-bread may last for a few days (depending on the temperature, and the amount of preservative)
  • dried crispbreads like Ryvita, Salada etc.
  • pre-cooked rice sachets/tubs, and deb potato cook more quickly than regular.


  • fresh for a few days, then dried, tinned or UHT plastic packed

Easy full meals

  • Supermarket prepared meals – have a look in the rice section, the tuna section, at the dried and tinned soups,  and in the tinned meat section.   We enjoy the ones in this range –
  • If you have you own dehydrator – simply dehydrate your own full meals – make sure you read up first online – e.g. fatty foods don’t store well.
  • Our first night’s meal (and in winter our second night’s meal too) is always leftovers like spaghetti bolognaise, frozen in a block and wrapped in plastic, and then layers of newspaper,
  • Freeze-dried meals from camping shops are convenient but expensive.

Bringing fresh fruit or vegetables into the Riverland 

Be aware that you can’t bring fresh fruit or vegetables into the Riverland unless you have an itemized receipt that proves that you bought them in South Australia. From time to time there is a complete prohibition on fruit or vegetables from specific suburbs because of fruit-fly outbreaks, and at times, even moving fruit and vegetables between Riverland locations is banned.  Here’s the latest information on traveling with fruit and vegetables.  Please respect the restrictions, that are in place to support many local families who rely on fruit growing, and our fruit-fly-free status, for their livelihoods. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available at several fruit stalls on the way to Berri, at Berri supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, Aldi) or Foodland Barmera.  Waikerie, Loxton & Renmark each have two supermarkets.

Wondering what else you need to pack besides food?

Take a look at for more information on what to pack, and to download a gear list.

And finally – a word on water

Preferably don’t drink the river water unless you boil or filter it first.

Ten litre boxes of water from the supermarket work well – dispose of the box and use just the bladder, fitting it behind the kayak seat. Alternatively, we use something very similar, but reinforced: the Sea to Summit Pack Tap

Depending on the season, make sure you have 2 to 5 litres of water per person per day for drinking and cooking. River water is fine for washing yourself and your dishes. A collapsible bucket comes in very handy to collect water, but folds down flat for packing into the kayak.


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