Families' guide

Expeditions are a great chance for young people to take real responsibility, whilst getting outdoors and experiencing adventure! 

In explorers, young people with in teams, with adults, to plan their expedition. That's everything from a route and a menu to the kit they'll need to carry. In addition, they may have something to prepare themselves (e.g. a meal).

When taking on the challenge of an expedition, usually explorers are self-sufficient. This means they'll carry everything they'll use for the duration of their expedition, other than top-up water (they'll still need a large water bottle).

Standard expedition equipment
For each expedition, adults work with young people to create a bespoke kit list. To give you an idea, for a 2/3 day expedition, these items of personal kit should be used as a minimum kit list. 

Below is a guide kit list for your personal kit:
  • Walking boots
  • Sleeping bag
  • Roll mat
  • Water bottle (1L minimum)
  • Personal medication
  • Spare change/s of clothing
  • Waterproof coat
  • Waterproof trousers (optional)
  • Walking socks
  • Wash kit
  • Torch/ spare batteries (this can't be your mobile phone)
  • Flask (optional)
  • Warm coat/ fleece
  • Uniform (top half only)
  • Your mobile phone (it's your responsibility and is optional)
  • Any food you've prepared
We will provide these items for you to carry:
  • Knife/ fork/ spoon/ mug
  • Survival bag
  • Personal first aid kit
We will provide these items for your team to split up to carry:
  • Whistle
  • Map/s of the area
  • Compasses
  • Group first aid kit
  • Map cases
  • Tents
  • Stoves/ cooking equipment
Duke of Edinburgh's Award

DofE expeditions happen in two parts:
  1. The first part involves some training (which may be a practice expedition). Training is to make sure young people are ready and have an opportunity to practice!
  2. The 'qualifying' expedition is assessed to meet DofE standards. It'll be very similar to the training (walking distance, kit, menu etc) but there may be some differences, depending how the practice expedition goes!

Preparing food
Good food = happy people, so food it important! Adults and young people will plan a group menu to make sure everyone in the expedition team is happy. Expeditions burn calories, so you need to keep going with nutritious food!

  • Food will carry food for the duration of their expedition (without a fridge/ freezer). 
  • Explorers will use boiling water to cook their food. Imagine they have a medium-sized saucepan full of water to cook with.
    • This may mean pre-preparing a batch meal (e.g. spaghetti bolognese, chilli-con-carne etc.). 
    • You could split it into portions using roasting bags and then freeze it. 
    • You'll then take it on your expedition frozen and heat it using boiling water. 
    • It's a great way to eat, and it's much cheaper than the expedition food in packets.

Our tip:
Always be happy with your food and make sure it's full of nutrients. Avoid planning a menu and then bringing pot noodles. They may be convenient but contain very little energy and nutrition. Think carb-fest, convenience and nutritious with lots of energy!

Personal kit - what do I need? Any tips?

Our best tip:
Shop around. Don't forget you get discount:
  • as a scout (usually take your necker into a store - ask before buying)
  • as a DofE participant (see here)
  • sometimes as a student (as in store)
Plus lots of outdoor shops (Cotswold Outdoor, Go Outdoors etc.) price match - so shop around!

Sleeping bag
You don't need to buy the most expensive, 4 season down sleeping bag out there! To bust through some sleeping bag jargon, see this useful guide.

  • If it's only for one use, you may want to consider something cheaper. 
  • If it's for repeated long term use, you may want to consider investing in a different sleeping bag.
  • Your sleeping bag should fit in your bag, or be secured (and covered to make sure it's waterproof) to the outside of your bag.
  • Your sleeping bag must be kept away from the rain. 
    • You could get a waterproof sleeping bag cover, or make sure your bag is waterproof.

Our tip:
The most important thing to remember is it's your sleeping bag, which you'll be carrying. You should be happy with your sleeping bag, especially if you're investing a lot of money into it! Finally, try putting it into your bag and make sure there's enough space for your (and your team's) other kit.

Similar to a sleeping bag, you don't need to buy the most expensive rucksack out there! It should be sturdy and it's two most important features are waterproofing and it's ability to help spread the weight of your kit.
  • Rucksacks come in different shapes and sizes. For a 2/3 day expedition, you'll probably need a rucksack 65l or larger.
  • Sometimes, you'll need two bags - you might need a 'day bag'. If you do, just pack a smaller (around 35l) rucksack in to your large one.
  • Make sure the rucksack you buy is good for hiking. You should be able to hold the weight of the empty bag using just the hip belt. See this handy website for more.
  • Your kit (inside) should be in a waterproof compartment.
Our tip:
You don't need to buy a waterproof rucksack, because you can get an outer layer. Alternatively, you could buy a waterproof inner and put everything inside. Finally, your hip belt makes carrying a large weight easier - make sure it fits properly (see above)!!

Remember, if you have your sleeping bag, or roll mat, on the outside of your rucksack make sure it can be covered if it's raining!

Similar to above, you don't need to buy the most expensive waterproof out there! It should be sturdy and it's two most important features are waterproofing.
  • Waterproofs come in different styles and weights. Think about when you'll be wearing it (summer, winter etc.).
  • Soft-shells (like this) are great, but aren't fully waterproof.
  • Ask about the waterproofing of a jacket before you buy. Gore-tex is a 'gold standard', but isn't necessary for most 'expeditions'!
    • Brands like The North Face and Berghaus offer their own, cheaper, waterproofing material.
    • The main difference is the longevity and the altitude at which the waterproofing will remain waterproof. Gore-tex works in higher altitudes than most others.
Our tip:
Lightweight waterproof jackets are ideal. They can be worn in the warm summer and you can add layers under them in the winter! You could also buy some waterproof trousers, but they're not essential.

Boots, trail shoes and trainers - all great for different purposes, so it very much depends what you're going to be doing!
  • For Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, you should wear hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • When you buy, be sure there isn't much movement of your foot.
    • Your toes shouldn't be pushing up against the front of the boot when walking downhill 
    • Your heel shouldn't be pushing against the back of the boot when walking uphill.
    • Often, shops have little stands you can try this on.
  • You should 'wear your boots in' but it takes much less time in fabric boots than in leather ones.
  • Make sure you're happy whilst you're still indoors and still have the labels on!
Our tip:
You may have (understandably) been reluctant to invest in a good pair of boots whilst your feet were rapidly growing. As an older explorer, your feet may have stopped growing so now's the time to invest in a good pair of boots - it's much cheaper in the long term!