How to get set for autumn expeditions
It’s great to see expeditions being planned that adhere to Government guidelines and make use of our temporary expedition changes.
We’ve pulled together some kit advice for colder and wetter conditions to support expeditions that might go out during the autumn and winter months this year.
Using the right kit at the right time and adding little extras can make a huge difference in changeable weather. Being on expedition later in the year may mean that you get warm when you’re moving but cool down quickly when you stop. It’s also more likely to rain, so it’s important that you wear waterproof and windproof clothing and that the contents of your rucksack are protected from getting wet.
A good waterproof jacket is essential for staying dry, and when trying it on for size make sure it will fit over a fleece and any other additional layers. The Craghoppers Atlas jacket was designed for DofE expeditions – it’s waterproof to 8000mm, windproof and breathable. The Craghoppers’ Ascent Overtrousers don’t just keep your legs dry, they also add an extra layer if it gets chilly. Make sure that you put your jacket and waterproof trousers on at the first sign of rain.
For extra peace of mind, treat your waterproofs with Nikwax Tech Wash and TX Direct as part of your expedition preparation. Put them in the washing machine with these environmentally friendly products to add another layer of water repellency for just a few pounds.
Fleeces are lightweight and easy to take on and off so you can get warm quickly and they don’t absorb water; go for one with a hood to keep your ears warm! The Craghoppers Mannix fleece is mindfully made from recycled bottles and has zip up pockets.
Despite being winter, jeans aren’t an option on expedition. The Craghoppers Verve trousers and Velocity tights both have a splash proof finish and the Verve trousers have heel tape to prevent gapping.
The whole Craghoppers DofE range is guaranteed for life whatever weather you encounter.
Having a Buff (or two) on you is a small thing that can help a lot! The multi-function head and neckwear can keep your head and/or neck warm, keep your nose from getting cold and is breathable so can also act as a face mask. All profits from sales of the DofE Buff go to the DofE charity.
All DofE Recommended walking boots are waterproof and secure fitting to help keep your feet dry. Hi-Tec Eurotrek Lite and Aysgarth WP boots are made from leather or fabric/suede and are great value for money as they’ll last way beyond your expedition.
Having cold feet will make the rest of you cold, so we suggest that you wear Bridgedale HIKE Midweight Merino Performance or HIKE Midweight Merino Comfort walking socks. Both have padding to avoid rubbing and heel grips to prevent blisters. Add Bridgedale Coolmax liner socks for extra warmth and greater blister protection in damp conditions.
Before you set off, waterproof your boots with Nikwax Fabric and Leather proof or Suede and Nubuck proof for further protection. Also, Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather can be used on expedition if a boot springs a leak!
Packing and equipment
Whether you camp overnight or not, you’ll still need to carry your kit in a rucksack. All Vango DofE recommended rucksacks, such as the Sherpa, have their own waterproof cover to help keep your kit dry. If rain is likely, and particularly for longer Silver and Gold expeditions, we recommend Lifeventure dry bags so anything essential doesn’t get wet.
Make sure you have capacity in your rucksack for a full change of clothes.
It’s not just the contents of your bag that need to stay dry – keep on track in all weathers by putting your map in a Silva Dry Map case. Made to fit OS maps, it has cords to go around your neck to keep it to hand.
The DofE suggest the use of headtorches rather than hand torches on expeditions. You can continue your journey towards the end of the day safely, if the light starts to fade, and you won’t have to take your gloves off if it gets cold.
All groups should prepare a team meal and will need something warm and hearty. Lifesystems Stormproof matches are proven to work in bad weather, getting you a hot dinner quickly! The DofE recommends Wayfayrer and Firepot expedition food packs, both are easy to heat up and will warm you up from the inside out.
For additional safety…
All DofE expeditions require a first aid kit, which must be kept dry. Lifesystems kits, such as the Trek First Aid Kit, come in waterproof bags. Alternatively, you could make your own first aid kit and store it in a Lifeventure Dry Bag.
They’re a great addition to your kit for colder months and can keep your body temperature up if you have to stay stationary for a time.
Finally, particularly at Gold level, when you’re out for a number of days, we recommend bringing a Storm Shelter in case of emergency. The Vango Storm Shelter can be pitched in one minute and its bright orange colour can be seen from afar.
*Please note all images in this blog were taken before March 2020 prior to social distancing requirements.