Here is our advice on what to take on your DofE expedition. This is to be used as a guide and we recommend suitable products at each level of your DofE award. Hit the links below to download a printable pdf of the kit list we recommend and scroll down for more information on each item.
This is the layer worn next to the skin and allows your body's natural processes to work effectively. This layer needs to wick sweat away to keep you dry and this will in turn help to regulate your temperature, if sweat is kept in the base layer, you'll get cold quite quickly once you stop. They use natural fibres like bamboo or merino wool or synthetic fibres like polyester or polypropylene. Natural fibres are great at reducing odour and can be used on multi-day hikes. To learn more about different types of base layers, click here.
This layer is keeps you warm whilst still allowing moisture to travel through. A mid layer isn't always needed however it's a great item to keep in your bag for when you stop and you want to retain heat. The most popular mid layer is a micro fleece, these can also be doubled up to provide more warmth. In dry conditions where a waterproof isn't needed, your mid layer may become your outer layer. You can read more about what to wear in different conditions here.
This layer protects you from the elements whilst still allowing moisture to escape. Typically this will be a waterproof layer which will have differences in the level of waterproofing and breathability. You can read more technical information here, but essentially the higher the hydrostatic head the more waterproof something will be. The higher the breathability, the better the outer layer will perform to remove sweat, especially if you are doing high levels of activity.
Socks, like base layers, should wick sweat away from your feet. This reduces the likelihood of blisters. You can either use double layered socks or use a hiking sock with a liner. Socks also have season ratings, similar to sleeping bags. 1 season socks are thin and light ideal for warm environments whereas 4 season socks are thicker, ideal for cold environments. Hiking socks will be made from natural or man-made fibres designed to move moisture. They will also have specific areas of extra padding to make walking more comfortable.
A good pair of boots over say, a pair of fashion trainers, is a vital piece of kit to have whilst out on expedition. Choose a fabric boot if you want lightweight and choose a leather boot if you want something more robust. It's important to wear your boots around your home before your expedition to break them in and give them a good test.
For a more in depth purchasing guide to boots, you can read that here.
Hats will provide protection from the elements and provide warmth. Most of your heat will escape through the top of your head, so popping on an insulated hat when static will keep you warm.
Your extremities are the first parts of your body to feel the cold. Make sure you keep your hands warm so that when you need them they are fully operational. Keep a couple of pairs of gloves and rotate through them if they get wet.
Gaiters are an optional piece of kit but can be useful depending on where you are going and the conditions you'll be in. Gaiters provide additional protection to the bottoms of your legs, so for walking through wet grass, overgrown paths or in deep snow they really come into their own.
We say neck tube, it can be worn 16 different ways! Use it as a balaclava, cap, do rag, face mask, pirate, foulard, hair tie, hairband, hat liner, neck gaiter or snood, hood, sahariane, head band, sun guard, neckerchief, or wristband. It's a must have piece of kit purely because of it's versatility.
One of your most important pieces of kit after your boots as this is how you will transport all of your gear. Expedition rucksacks are typically 65 litres and that includes all of the external pockets. It's worth pointing out that very few rucksacks are waterproof so if you're stuck in a heavy downpour you need to make sure everything inside is protected. You can either use bin bags or a dedicated dry bag that will be much sturdier. You need to make sure your ruck sack fits you well, a quick video about the process is here.
You need to make sure you get plenty of rest whilst out on expedition. A good sleeping mat will ensure you stay warm and comfortable whilst you sleep. The sleeping mat reduces the amount of heat your body transfers to the ground, different mats do this in different ways and some are more effective than others. A basic foam mat does the job but is bulky to carry whereas an air mattress is a lot lighter and more compact.
Sleeping bags come in lots of different shapes and weights. The main shapes are square or mummy, with a mummy sleeping bag being the best suited to expedition use as it's more fitted and retains heat better. Sleeping bags come in different seasons, 1 - 4, and you can use this as a guide to choosing a bag for what environment you are going to use it in. Sleeping bags will also show temperatures on the packaging. 'Comfort' is, what outside temperature you will feel comfortable in the bag. Because men generally sleep cooler than women, 'Limit' is the general temperature for men, although this isn't set in stone. 'Extreme' is the temperature the bag will keep you alive.
First Aid Kit
Each member of a team should have their own personal first aid kit. This allows each member of the team to be treated for minor ailments without depleting the teams resources. Your personal first aid kit can be tailored to suit your needs such as including medication and blister pads. A team first aid kit is much bigger and holds enough supplies for everyone as well as some extra supplies for more serious injuries such as burns and breaks.
The minimalists among us may just take a spork (a spoon crossed with a fork!) and eat straight out of the pouch (see above). Others with more refined tastes in eating may prefer to empty the contents of their food pouches into a mess tin so they can see what they are eating. Or we might go full camping gourmet and break out the full plate, bowl and mug set. It's up to you. Cutlery is the same, spork or full knife, fork, and spoon. There's various options if you want to keep the weight down or if you want to have a civilised meal. Some things can double up, so a plastic plate could become a chopping board and a mess tin could also be your cooking pots and wash basin.
A must have piece of kit. It can be used as a groundsheet, emergency shelter, waterproof bag, rucksack liner (if you have 2 of them). They also come with emergency SOS instructions printed on the bag and are bright orange so you can be seen.
There are loads of options. Different tents will be more suited to different environments, and you can read more about that here. For group tents, ideally a 2 or 3 person tent is suitable as you can split the weight between the group as one person can carry the poles and flysheet and another person can carry the inner tent and pegs.
Again with stoves, so many options! The main thing to look for is who will be using it and where. Group cooking requires a bigger stove as you will need to heat more water/ food. Personal stoves can literally be the size of your thumb. Fuel is an important consideration as different fuels work better in different environments. The easiest and safest option is lightweight gas canisters.
Pots and Pans. You can go completely minimalist and take a small pot that you can heat water in to make hot drinks and rehydrate your dehydrated food or you can break out the full camp kitchen and rustle up a gourmet meal. There is an in-between, lightweight and collapsible cooking pots and pans. These are great for expeditions or car camping as they are lightweight and take up very little space.