If you're embarking on a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition then it is essential that you're fully prepared. Get ready for this exciting yet challenging adventure with our top ten tips.
- Choose your group wisely – when you’re with a group of people 24/7 in close quarters it’s important that you are compatible with them. Obviously you don’t need to be best friends with every single one of them but there should be at least one or two that you feel comfortable speaking to. Feeling isolated on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition is the last thing you want. If there are people you don’t know then make an effort to speak to them.
- Make a checklist – it’s a nightmare forgetting something you really need and only realising it when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere! Make a thorough checklist of everything you’ll need and go through it a few times in the days building up to your start date. You should make the checklist early so you have time to add anything you may have forgotten. If others in your group have done this then check yours against theirs to see if anything slipped your mind.
- Choose, pack and fit your rucksack properly – make sure your rucksack of choice is up to scratch. It should have plenty of room, good waist and chest straps, and be padded in the right areas to increase comfort. When packing you should make sure anything you will need whilst on the move (such as food, drinks, additional layers etc.) is packed near the top or in the pockets. Finally, you should make your rucksack is fitted correctly before you set out. Find out how to do this properly with our handy blog.
- Choose the right footwear and break in your boots beforehand – you can use our handy blog to help you select the right footwear for your trip. Once you’ve purchased your boots you should break them in before your expedition. Wear them around the house, on short trips out of the house, and then if you can build up to wearing them on short walks. This is also a good way to build up your fitness ahead of time.
- Check the weather forecast but don’t rely on it – check the weather reports in the days running up to your expedition but don’t treat them as gospel. You should prepare for all weather, it is Britain after all! That means taking both a waterproof jacket and a bottle of sun cream.
- Take appropriate clothing – waterproofs are essential, as mentioned earlier there’s always a chance of rain. You should also prepare for colder weather; insulated jackets are ideal but can be expensive. The best way to keep warm is to make sure your layering system is up to scratch. Under your waterproof a cosy fleece makes the ideal cold weather mid-layer. Your baselayer is just as important as your top layer. On long treks, cotton is your enemy! It soaks up moisture and holds it against your skin, not ideal in either wet or hot weather! We have plenty of moisture wicking baselayers that will keep you warm and dry.
- Choose your food wisely – the food you take should be energy boosting, with plenty of carbohydrates, and non-perishable; pasta is ideal. All food you take should be light to carry and easy to open and cook. You may be tempted to take tins but they add unnecessary weight. Beans, soups etc. also come in packets so look out for these. We also have a great range of ready to eat camping meals that are perfect for occasions such as your expedition. Another temptation is to load up on sweets for the energy boost, however sugary foods give you a ‘sugar low’ and actually leave you feeling less energised after the initial boost. Sweets and chocolate should be saved for checkpoints and used as a reward rather than an energiser. Instead, snacks such as dried fruits, nuts and cereal bars are ideal.
- Take plenty of bin bags and plastic bags – your clothes will get wet and muddy, no matter how dry it is it’s going to happen. Therefore, it is important to keep damp and dirty clothes and equipment separate from your clean, dry gear. Coloured plastic bags help you organise your gear.
- Share responsibility amongst your group – rather than taking everything you need personally it is a good idea to share equipment responsibilities amongst each other. Sharing toiletries, cooking equipment etc. is a great way to save space in your pack. However, you should find out well in advance what you’re expected to bring.
- Work as a team – this is a key part of the Duke of Edinburgh expedition experience. Work together by splitting tasks between each other to save time, e.g. two of you cook while others pitch the tent. You should also work together to keep everyone’s morale high, make sure no-one feels left out and be sympathetic towards anyone who is struggling. Finally, you should always make sure you stick together. Only in emergencies should your group be split up. Remember mobile phone signal can be virtually non-existent in the middle of nowhere!
Have you completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the past and have any helpful tips that we’ve forgotten? Let us know of Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section below.