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Expedition Kit List

This list is based on the items required for undertaking a Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition. This is to be used as a guide only as quantities of some items depend on level and duration of the expedition. If you are unsure or have any questions regarding the contents talk to your group leader. I have compiled a checklist which is available to download from this site here. Remember that some shops offer Scout discount.


The best way to cope with changeable weather conditions is to use a layering system. This means that you have a 'base layer' then insulating layers and finally an outer waterproof shell. It may seem silly being told to make sure a waterproof is waterproof now, but when up a hill in the driving rain it will not. Gore-tex, Hyvent or equivalent materials are best as they keep water out, while being breathable, maintaining comfort on long hikes. In addition, you should maintain waterproof materials by adding special waterproofing agents to the wash.
  • Waterproof & windproof shell
Beneath your waterproof shell will be an insulating layer when required. Simple, cheap fleecy jumpers will do the job nicely. Next to your skin you want to have a material that has good wicking properties to remove sweat. Although existing clothing will be fine, outdoor clothing companies like Berghaus, North Face etc make base layers specifically designed for the job often with helpful addtions to reduce any smell. These are great outside expeditions for the gym etc too!
  • Thermal top / T-Shirt
  • Shirt
  • Sweater (woollen or fleece)
For walking, jeans are unsuitable. When jeans get wet they immediately become ridiculously uncomfortable and will be like that for quite some time. A much better choice would be Canterberrys or similar which are perfectly adequate. Keep in mind again that trousers made for walking will, unsuprisingly, be better for walking in than those not. During rain or wet terrain you will need waterproof overtrousers.
  • Walking trousers
  • Waterproof overtrousers
Perhaps the most important equipment to consider is that which concerns your feet. For hiking you need footwear that keeps streams out at the same time as providing ankle support. Unfortunately, these requirements come hand-in-hand with blisters for the unprepared adventurer. When you buy boots ensure that they are 'worn-in' before hiking miles. By moulding your boots to your own feet it reduces pressure points and so blisters. This is also the reason why it is very charitable to lend someone your boots. To wear in boots simply put them on around the house for a few days. The more you wear them, the better. The second most important item is socks. Thick, weight-bearing, hiking-specific socks are needed to support and insulate.
  • Worn-in walking boots
  • Walking socks


The kit you carry includes spare clothes, what you sleep in and food. All these need to be kept dry. The first necessity is a general waterproof liner for your rucksack in which everything is placed. It is then a good idea to place clothes, food etc in different labelled bags within the liner. Although air tight bags are available, two bin liners are perfectly acceptable. Finally, when the rain starts it is wise to have a cover for the outside of your rucksack and these are often included with packs.
When undertaking an expedition of reasonable length you will need to carry spare items, food, parts of tents etc. To do this you require a rucksack with a good back support system. Once purchased and looked after a good rucksack can last a long time. Rucksacks are sold using capacity and the size you need varies. A rucksack of about 55litres is recommended for the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh's Award expeditions while you can easily fill an 85litre sack for Gold DoE. Aside from correct adjustment of the pack's back system, it is important to pack your rucksack the correct way. An incorrectly balanced pack can reduce stability and also cause back pain easier. Go to Packing a Rucksack.
  • Large Rucksack
  • Rucksack liner
For sleeping you need both a sleeping bag with a suitable temperature rating (e.g. -7C) stored in a waterproof bag and a sleeping mat. The function of the mat is to stop water getting to the bag through a tent floor and also to flatten stones etc. making the night more comfortable.
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Sleeping Bag (in a waterproof bag)
Remember to take sufficient water storage in your pack because iodine purification doesn't taste great. Camelbaks are basically plastic bags with a hose allowing for consumption on the move. They are sometimes good but sometimes tricky to use and awkward to clean. Sigg bottles or simple strong plastic ones are fine.
  • Water bottle (~ 1-2 litres)
  • Knife, Fork and Spoon
  • Plate/Bowl
  • Mug
  • Box of Matches (sealed in a dry container or bag)
  • Small wash kit
  • Small towel
  • Spare underwear
  • Spare pairs of walking socks
  • Spare T-Shirts
  • Spare sweater (woollen or fleece)
  • Spare walking trousers (NOT jeans)
Some items are essential but easily forgotten. A survival bag must be included in case of emergency but can also be used to keep rucksacks dry overnight. Emergency rations may be a Wayfayrer food bag and a couple of mars bars. These items should still be intact at the end of an expedition as an emergency can occur at any time. Insect repellant is often essential for areas nearby.
  • Survival Bag
  • Personal First Aid Kit
  • Notebook and Pen/Pencil
  • Watch
  • Whistle
  • Small quantity of money (optional)
  • Torch and spare battery
  • Insect Repellant
  • Emergency Food Rations (NOT to be eaten until the end!)
For the campsite trainers or flipflops are good to have. If the weather is really bad waterproof gloves can help. If, like me, you find it frustrating pulling a hood back up every 30secs you may consider using a waterproof hat too. Certain hats can be used in combination with midge nets too if necessary. You should never embark on a long trek without sun cream. Skin burn can help cause dehydration which is far from beneficial. Gaiters are optional but fantastic. Their function is to stop long grass going up waterproof trousers and they also raise your water line slightly.
  • Pair of trainers (optional)
  • Hat (Warm)
  • Gloves
  • Shorts (if appropriate)
  • Sun Cream (EVEN if it doesn't look sunny)
  • Thermal long johns (optional)
  • Gaiters (optional)