Equipment Advice

The following is intended as advice on suitable equipment for doing a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.  You can hire or borrow some  items from the schoolexpedition stores, click here to go to the equipment list and hire form. Items available for hire or to borrow are indicated on the hire list at the bottom of that page. You are not expected to buy lots of expensive kit, but please remember you are expected to have as much of your own equipment as you can.
1. Boots
Boots are one of the most important pieces of kit. Unsuitable or poorly fitting boots can ruin your expedition so it is important that proper, comfortable boots are used. Trainers or walking shoes without ankle support MUST NOT be worn. Ankle support is required as expeditions cross some very rugged terrain.

Walking boots should have a stiff leather, fabric or Goretex upper. Leather boots can be further waterproofed using a wax such as Sno-seal or Nickwax. The sole on walking boots should be reasonably rigid and cleated (Vibram soles are among the best). New boots may cause blisters and so it is advisable to wear new boots on several smaller walks before tackling the expedition.

2. Socks
For a two day expedition it is advisable to have at least three pairs of socks. There are different opinions on how many pairs of socks should be worn when walking. Some people prefer to wear one thin pair and one thick pair together – others wear only one thick pair.
Thick loop stitched socks provide extra cushioning and added comfort. Socks can be wool although the new socks available now (such as Thorlos) are a mixture of man-made fibres and can be more comfortable and cooler than wool. Nylon should be avoided.

3. Trousers
Two pairs of trousers are needed for a two day expedition – one to wear and one spare. Jeans are NOT suitable for walking in. When wet they are extremely heavy and take heat away from your body instead of insulating it. They also take a long time to dry out.

Suitable trousers include:
• Tracksuit trousers (not shell suits) – ones made from polycotton and or nylon are good as they dry quickly and have some wind proofing.
• Cargo pants (not cotton).
• Walking trousers such as those made by Rohan, Berghaus, Lowe Alpine, etc (can be expensive but they are ideal for expedition walking).

4. Upper layers
It is more convenient to take a few thin layers on an expedition rather than one thick layer as this allows for adjustment to different weather conditions. If all you take is a thick fleece and the sun comes out you will probably overheat and this can slow your progress.

Inner layer
An inner layer is the one that is worn next to the skin and there are a variety of garments that could be worn. Modern thermal tops are ideal to wear as an inner layer. They are very light and are made from material that wicks sweat away from your skin keeping you more comfortable and reducing the chance of chilling. On warm wet days these are comfortable when worn on their own under a waterproof jacket. Cotton t-shirts should be avoided as they hold sweat next to the skin and this can cause severe chilling and discomfort.

Middle layer
The middle layer should be put on when you are starting to get cold and should be removed when you are feeling hot. Two or more middle layers are useful so that an extra layer can be applied if you get cold. Suitable middle layers would be thin fleece jumpers or thin woollen jumpers. Again – avoid cotton. Sweatshirts are often made of cotton as are rugby / hockey shirts. These are heavy when wet, take a long time to dry and, when wet, take heat away from your body.

Outer Layer – Waterproofs
Waterproof jacket (with hood) and trousers are essential. They keep out the rain but are also useful in windy conditions. Please ensure that your waterproofs are fully waterproof and not just showerproof. There are many suitable waterproof materials available – Goretex is good as it is waterproof and breathable and so allows sweat to evaporate from your body. There are suitable waterproofs available made from other breathable materials. Some fabrics are waterproof and not breathable – these are suitable when it is raining but can generate much condensation on the inside so are not usually comfortable to wear when the weather is dry.

5. Other Essential Clothing
Hat – wool or fleece (not baseball cap). A sun hat also may be required in hot, sunny weather.
Gloves or mitts – wool or fleece or ski gloves. Mitts are warmer than gloves. Both of these are essential even in summer. In bad weather, lots of heat can be lost from your head causing severe chilling of the body. A hat is also useful in your sleeping bag; summer nights in England can be cold and wearing a hat can help you feel warmer at night.

6. Navigation
• Each person will be supplied with a map for their training expedition.
• Compass – this is an important navigational aid to be used in conjunction with your map. It is especially useful in misty weather. Each tent group should carry at least one compass. Again, we will supply this.

7. Survival Gear – All will be provided
As well as taking the essential clothes described above, there are other important items which you should take on your expedition.
• Torch plus spare batteries (no pencil torches). The torch is useful forgetting around the campsite or tent in the dark but more importantly it may be needed for finding your way or navigating in the dark.
• Survival bag (bivvy bag). There are a variety of survival bags available on the market. They will probably never be used but are  essential if for some reason you require immediate shelter due to an accident or emergency situation. They will protect you from wind and rain and the two man version allows body heat to be shared. You will require at least one survival bag per
tent group. Survival bags are available from the school expedition stores. Foil blankets are less suitable for this purpose.
• Whistle – this is essential for attracting attention in emergencies and all tent groups should carry one.
• First Aid Kit – a personal first aid kit for every group member is the ideal but failing this each tent group should have at least one
well equipped kit. It should contain blister treatments. Suitable blister treatments such as Compeed (medium size are most useful) are well worth taking. The kit should also contain some fabric Elastoplast, a few sterile dressings, a roller bandage and a triangular bandage. Basic First Aid kits are available from the school expedition stores but you can take your own. Do not forget to take any personal medication that you require on the trip such as an inhaler or epi-pen. You will not be allowed to take part in the expedition without it.
• Pencil and Paper – to write down the location of your group etc. in an emergency.

8. Emergency Food Rations – These should be kept for use in emergency situations and should have a high calorie content and be light weight.

9. Other kit –  There are other pieces of equipment or clothing that you may need to take but remember you are going to have to carry everything for two days! Even the lightest extras add to the total weight of your rucksack. Keep washing items to a minimum – a toothbrush, toothpaste and a small amount of soap should be enough. Do not take a heavy bath towel – a small hand towel (the older and thinner the better) or a tea towel will be more than enough for two days.
Water bottle – this is essential – even in bad weather conditions you will need todrink plenty of water. It is also useful at the campsite to carry water from thestream to your tent. Remember water from streams should be boiled before drinking.
You will also need a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat and there will be group items you will need to take as well – including a tent, stove and fuel – so do not overload on non-essential items (makeup and nail polish are NOT essential!!). Your staff instructor will show you how to use the school Trangia stoves and how to set up the school tents. These items can be divided amongst tent group members to share the load.

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