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D of E Expedition Kitlist

D of E Expedition Kitlist

The expedition section of the award takes the principles of the D of E and condenses them in to a few days of tough hiking and camping. Many of the participants will have never experienced hiking and camping before, and this creates a real headache for parents:

how am I supposed to be able to afford to buy all this equipment for my child for a 2 day expedition when they might never use it again?

Well…the  best advice is don’t!

Tips to reduce the cost

  • Beg, steal & borrow *
  • Christmas / birthday gifts
  • Buy used kit
  • Buy Army surplus

MOD surplus kit

Few kids want to wear full camo gear on their expedition, looking like a walking tree, but army surplus gear has a number of real advantages:

  • It’s built to last – tough, rip-stop material that can take the demands of barbed-wire fences and accidental detours through forests.
  • It’s got all the tech – Army waterproofs from that last 15 years are almost all Goretex.
  • It’s cheap. You can high quality gear for the price of cheap stuff
  • It’s less likely to go walkies. Unlike £200 North Face jackets, no-one wants to steal army gear!

This tip is especially useful for waterproof trousers. When students aren’t wearing them, they can be packed away in their bag, when they need to use them, no one cares what they look like because all they care about is staying dry.

* figuratively speaking.


Sleeping bag

The most important item in the D of E expedition kitlist is a sleeping bag. There is nothing that prepares you better for a full day’s walking than a warm, comfortable night’s rest. An ideal sleeping bag for D of E needs to be warm and lightweight.

Key points

  • 2 1/2 or 3 season bag minimum
  • Comfort 3 degrees (not limit /max!)
  • less than 2 kg
  • Mummy bags are a good option

DofE Recommended

Vango Nitestar

Vango Nitestar 250 £30

Great bag, with a comfort rating down to 3 degrees C, more than you will need for your bronze and silver awards.

Mr West’s Kit

D of E Expedition Kitlist

Snugpack Elite 5 £95

You will only have to buy another bag if you travel to the high arctic in winter. This heavy duty bag (and heavy weight) will keep you comfortably warm at -15C. Totally unneccessary for DofE but put here for reference!

Roll Mat

Roll mats are a great budget buy. They offer both excellent thermal insulation, together with some protection from bumps. They are also the most robust mattres, able to take more abuse than other more expensive options.

Inflatable mattress

Inflatable hiking mattresses offer both excellent insulation, as well as brilliant protection from stones and twigs. Even though they are inflatable they are still quite robust.

In both of the above options, when you pay more money for a mattress, all you are getting is a weight saving of between 200 and 500 grams.

Budget Roll mat


Milestone Roll Mat – £5.99

Budget Inflatable mat


Lichfield Inflatable Mattress £11.99

Mr’s west’s kit


Thermarest Trail lite £55


The piece of equipment that is going to make the biggest difference to comfort when hiking is your rucksack. No rucksack promises to be pain free after 6 hours of hiking, but having a well made, well fitted and well packed bag will make a massive difference to your enjoyment.

Key points

  • Male and female tailored bags are available.
  • Girls – make sure that the chest strap fits over the top of your chest, not under, or you will end up with bruises / skin damage.
  • Big stores offer free bag fitting services to make sure that you pick the right bag.
  • Tall thin bags (like the ones below) are less likely to catch on gates, hedges and barbed wire fences.

Mr West’s kit

Tor 65 £39.00

Tor 65 £39.00

Solidly built bag I used to complete the 95 mile west highland way. Comfortable but a little heavier than the other bags.

D of E Recommended

Vango Contour £52

Vango Contour £52

A lightweight, well fitting bag that will last for years. About the cheapest you want to spend on a good rucksack.

Mr West’s Wishlist

Osprey Atmos £140

Osprey Atmos £140

The most comfortable rucksack in the world, according to the hiking forums. Only for serious hikers wanting to make an investment.

Walking boots

Unless you are certain you son/daughter has stopped growing, there’s little point in spent lots on a pair of walking boots. Any half decent brand of boot will be perfectly fine.

Key points

  • Try on the boots before buying to make sure they fit well.
  • It’s absolutely essential that boots are fully worn in before the expedition.
  • Experiment with different sock combinations for ideal comfort.

Karrimor HotRock £35

Waterproof Jackets

A good waterproof jacket is a great investment that will, if looked after correctly, last for years. Goretex is a waterproof breathable fabric that has been the go to fabric for decades.

Waterproof Trousers

Waterproof trousers help protect your from the elements and keep your bum dry when you sit down on wet grass. They also keep you trousers clean in very bad weather!

Waterproof trousers are the item that is likely to get ripped on DoE, as participants often take interesting shortcuts when lost! Buying expensive waterproof trousers is usually not recommended!

D of E Recommended


Craghoppers Reaction Lite £36

Budget Buy


Mountain Warehouse Spray Mens £19.99




You will be treading an average of 20,000 steps a day on your expedition, so having a good pair of socks can make all the difference to your enjoyment.

Problems caused by a poor choice of socks:

  • Blisters on toes, feet and ankles
  • Wet feet from sweating
  • Discomfort from rolled up socks

When looking for socks you should gets ones that:

  • Use ‘wicking’ technology – the help keep you feet dry, reducing blisters and the change of athlete’s foot.
  • Extend atleast 2 inches above the top of your boot. Otherwise your boots will rub on your leg, causing blisters and cuts.

One pair or two?

Some people recommend having one good pair of socks, others swear by wearing two pairs at a time – one thick, one thin. Which works best for you is personal choice, but either way it is important that you practice wearing them in your boots and walk around in them for a day before your actual expedition. It will help toughen up your feet and will also help identify problems before the expedition itself!


When choosing trousers, the two best choices are either:

  • ‘softshell’ trousers ( great for colder weather)
  • ‘Ultralite ripstop’ fast drying trousers. Lightweight and fast drying.

Using existing gear

Often, you don’t need to buy a pair of hiking trousers just for D of E, sports trousers are usually suitable.

The good

  • Sports trousers
  • Thick leggings (bring a spare in-case you get cold)
  • Running trousers (Ron Hills style)


The Bad

There are a couple of types of trousers to avoid:

Jogging Trousers (these get very heavy  when waterlogged!)

Jeans – Useless in the rain, they take days to dry and stick to your legs, making you very cold!



Gloves (if cold)

Head torch


First aid kit