Blog 21.06.2022

Expedition tips from the experts

Getting ready for expedition season can be difficult, and often more than a little overwhelming! We spoke to staff at JD Outdoors to arm you with some top tips for choosing kit (some of these were learned the hard way!).

So without further ado, here are JDO’s top ten tips to get you ready for your expedition:

Tip #1: Pack strategically

Make sure you pack your kit into your rucksack in order of necessity – do not pack something you will need to access frequently at the bottom of your bag! You’d be wise to check out the DofE’s handy “How to pack your rucksack” poster – it’s a great visual layout that illustrates what things go where in your rucksack.

Tip #2: Keep your kit dry AND organised

Dry bags are an essential item on expeditions. The weather can be unforgiving, but these will keep your items dry and coordinated. Trust me – there is no worse feeling than putting on wet clothes before you set off to hike! You can also use rubble bags to line your rucksack as a low-cost/free alternative.

Two people in a tent

Tip #3: Get a good night’s sleep

Choose a tent suitable for expeditions (if you haven’t already, it’s worth checking out the DofE Kit List for recommended expedition kit). You should pick a tent that is lightweight, strong, and most importantly, waterproof! Bonus round – tents with a porch area also offer a place to store your kit when you are sleeping. Make sure to consider your needs on expedition, instead of being tempted to just snap up the cheapest product on the market. We also don’t recommend big family tents as these are too heavy.

Tip #4: Quality boots go further

The kit you buy doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be fit for purpose. This is especially true for your walking boots – an ill-fitting boot can result in some nasty blisters. Get your boots properly fitted and don’t forget to wear them for a couple of days before you hit the trail – this will help to break them into the shape of your feet, reducing blistering. Trainers aren’t suitable for expeditions as they provide no ankle support.

Tip #5: Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows!

You’ll come across all weathers on your expedition. You’ll need a coat that can protect you from rain, wind and cold. Remember – a jacket that is marketed as water-resistant is NOT the same as waterproof!

Tip #6: On expedition, sleep is valuable currency

Sleep will give you a great source of energy for the long walks ahead of you, so a decent sleeping bag is essential. Expedition season is generally from February to October, and the temperature can vary quite drastically over this period. Ensure you get the thickness of sleeping bag right by understanding season ratings. You don’t want to be climbing into a sleeping bag that’s hotter than an oven on a warm summer’s night!

Tip #7: Wear sensible layers

Strategically layering clothing when you are walking outdoors, particularly in cold weather, is the easiest way to regulate your body’s core temperature. Make sure you have the right material that dries quickly – I’d recommend layering up a base layer (such as a sports tech top), a fleece and a waterproof jacket. No heavy hoodies! They will weigh you down and take up too much room in your rucksack.

Tip #8: The right sock goes a long way

Your socks are the only protection between your feet and your walking boots. Combine that with thousands of steps and hours of rubbing, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe to grow some nasty blisters. If your socks are poor quality, prepare for a miserable trek as your heels will quickly rub raw; if your feet get wet as well, you can even risk infection! Get socks with padding in the right places and pack plenty of pairs to ensure your journey is as pleasant as possible.

A participant eating food

Tip #9: Food glorious food

Hungry people don’t make for happy campers! Packing food that is high in calories and low density will help fuel your adventure. You will be on the move for most of the day, so you need to make sure you consume more calories than normal to keep your energy levels up. The DofE has partnered with Wayfayrer to create a handy meal planner, so you can prepare and get excited about your expedition menu.

Tip #10: Waterproof your kit!

A common misconception about waterproof clothing is that they stay waterproof forever, but that’s not the case! Waterproof items have a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to prevent water absorption, but over time, dirt and grime can build up and deteriorate this defence. Use waterproofing products to keep your kit performing at its optimum at all times. It’s also worth checking out the DofE’s waterproofing and weather protection poster for some handy tips and tricks on protecting yourself from the elements.

I hope these tips can help you feel more prepared for your next journey out into nature. Here is a little extra one for free: take a pair of flip-flops for when you aren’t walking to rest your tired feet!

It’s also worth remembering that using your DofE Card can get you up to 15% off your purchases at Go Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Tiso and Ultimate Outdoors. Every time you shop and use your DofE Card it also generates a donation to the DofE charity.

Good luck and enjoy your expedition!

Useful resources

Expedition Kit List:

https://www.dofe.org/shopping/dofe-expedition-kit-list/

Expedition Kit Guide:

https://www.dofe.org/shopping/dofe-expedition-kit-guide/

Recommended Retailers of Expedition Kit:

https://www.dofe.org/shopping/card/recommended-retailers/

Expedition Kit Resources:

https://www.dofe.org/shopping/expedition-kit-resources/