Knowledge Centre

A resource providing information, news and inspiration about walking expeditions.

DofE Expedition Requirements

 

What are the required environments for expeditions?

At Bronze level, expeditions should take place in normal rural countryside which is familiar and local to groups.

At Silver level, expeditions should take place in normal rural, open countryside or forest which is unfamiliar to groups.

At Gold level, expeditions should take place in designated wild country (remote from habitation) which is unfamiliar to groups.

What are the required durations for qualifying expeditions?

At Bronze level, qualifying expeditions comprise a minimum of 2 days and 1 night including 6 hours of planned activity each day.

At Silver level, qualifying expeditions comprise a minimum of 3 days and 2 nights including 7 hours of planned activity each day.

At Gold level, qualifying expeditions comprise a minimum of 4 days and 3 nights including 8 hours of planned activity each day.

When can expeditions take place?

Expeditions will usually take place between the end of March and the end of October. However, they may take place outside this period; if so, non-camping accommodation options (such as camping barns or bunkhouses) should be considered.

How much assistance can leaders provide to expedition teams?

All expeditions must be unaccompanied and self-sufficient. The team must be properly equipped, and supervision must be carried out remotely.

 

DofE Expedition Equipment

 

Which equipment should I buy and which should I borrow?

We recommend that, if at all possible, participants buy their own boots. These are the most important items of equipment with regards to safety and comfort on expeditions. Also, it is important to get boots professionally fitted at a specialist outdoor shop, rather than buying them online. Many other items of equipment could be borrowed successfully.

How much money should I spend on equipment?

The higher the level of expedition, the longer its duration and the more challenging the conditions will be, so the more worthwhile it becomes to invest in buying your own good-quality equipment. If you tell them what you will be using the equipment for, the staff at a specialist outdoor shop will be able to advise you on appropriate equipment for your needs and budget.

What boots should I buy?

You will carrying a heavy rucksack over ground which is often uneven, wet and slippery. For this reason, your boots must have ankle support and a deep tread. If possible, they should also be waterproof. Leather boots are soft, durable and waterproof and are highly abrasion resistant, making them long lasting. Fabric boots are lighter, cheaper and a good option if your feet are still growing. Always try on boots whilst wearing expedition socks and then walk around in them. You will need to buy your boots well before your expedition because you will need to wear them in to reduce rubbing and to improve comfort.

What waterproofs do I need?

For all expeditions, regardless of the weather forecast, you are required to provide both waterproof jacket and trousers. Key features to look out for are being fully waterproof (rather than just showerproof), with taped seams and waterproof zips. Being breathable and lightweight are also important. With jackets, an adjustable hood and plenty of pockets are useful features. If there is reflective trim, that’s a good safety feature. For waterproof overtrousers, look for zips at the ankle for ease of getting on and off, especially over muddy boots.

What size rucksack should I get?

Rucksacks are measured by their capacity in litres (normal and expanded), so 60:70 means a normal capacity of 60 litres and a capacity of 70 litres when fully expanded. Get the right size rucksack for your expedition: 60 litres should be fine for Bronze, but Gold will often need 70 litres. You need to be able to fit all your equipment inside (with the possible exception of your sleeping mat). Some rucksacks are designed for women and smaller men, with narrow shoulder straps and back. Most rucksacks aren’t waterproof, so you will also need to use a waterproof liner inside it.

What type of sleeping bag do I need?

To get a good night’s sleep on your expedition, you need to have a sleeping bag designed to keep you warm at the lowest temperature you may experience. Sleeping bags come in season ratings: 1 = summer, 2 = mid-spring to mid-autumn, 3 = spring to autumn and 4 = year-round. Synthetic bags are lower cost, although bulkier and heavier than down, but offer better heat retention when wet. Down bags offer the best insulation, are lightweight, easily compressed and very warm, but more expensive than synthetic and must be kept dry. Overall, a 3-season synthetic bag is the best option for DofE expeditions.

What advice can you give on clothing?

Use multiple layers rather than one thick garment. Layers are key to feeling comfortable on your expedition and allow you the flexibility to regulate your body temperature and stay dry. Always choose wickable fabrics over cotton. Cotton holds moisture and takes a long time to dry. If moisture is held next to the skin, it is unpleasant and can contribute to a drop in body temperature. Choose garments with zipped pockets so that you can stash small items securely. Have a separate set of clothing for use at camp. You can then air or dry your walking kit.

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DofE Camping Procedures

 

How should I put up my tent?

Choose an appropriate location: one which is not under trees, not liable to flood, on level ground (or, if unavoidable, with the head uphill) and sheltered from the wind (where possible). Keep the flysheet taut to avoid it flapping around in the wind. Guylines should be positioned in line with the seam to which they are attached. Pegs should be put in angled away from the tent and pushed in using hands rather than feet to avoid bending them.

 

What are the safety rules regarding stoves?

Gas must always be in re-sealable cartridges and liquid fuels must always be in specialist safety bottles. Stoves must always be used at least 3 metres away from any tent, well away from any walking routes and preferably against a barrier such as a hedge or fence. Participants must always keep to one side of a stove, rather than sitting around it, to reduce the likelihood of people stepping over the stove. Spare fuel must always be kept at least 3 metres from any tent or stove whilst stoves are being used. At night, once all cooking has stopped, stoves and fuel should be stored in the porches of tents, with gas cartridges separated from stoves.

DofE Expedition Presentations

What should we choose as our expedition aim?

You should choose something that you're all interested in as your aim. That way, you will enjoy researching it more and you will gain some useful knowledge from the experience. Think about the area that you're going to, and the time of year that you're going, on your qualifying expedition and make sure to choose an aim that would be suitable.

 

How should we prepare for our expedition presentation?

You need to plan your expedition presentation well in advance of your qualifying expedition. Decide the format of your presentation and which of you will be responsible for creating each aspect of it. Depending on the nature of your expedition aim, you may well need to do some internet research beforehand to learn more about your expedition area and what you should be looking out for. Whilst out on the expedition, make sure to take plenty of photographs or videos and make any notes required.

What should we include in our expedition presentation?

Our advice on expedition presentations is as follows:

  • Presentation duration should be 5 minutes (Bronze)/10 minutes (Silver)/15 minutes Gold)

  • All team members must be fully involved in the preparation and delivery of the presentation

  • Presentation should include details of the expedition: team name, expedition aim, expedition goals, team members, dates, location, route, weather

  • Presentation should include an account of the expedition: walking, navigation, camping, cooking, teamwork, memorable events, highlights, personal comments

  • Presentation should include a report on the expedition aim: observations, recordings, research, analysis, conclusions

  • If any photographs are used that were not taken by the team on their expedition programme, they must be credited accordingly

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