The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is about more than hill walking – in fact it is not about hill walking at all but the expedition section is often completed by those who take to the hills and as I am an assessor and support schools doing the award I have included a section for this scheme.
You can see more about the award at the DofE website.
Here is a direct link to the Expedition section
For those doing the expedition on foot here is some direct links to the official advice about what you need to know.
There are 20 conditions that you need to fulfil on an expedition so here is the list.
Here is the information about what kit to buy but please take note that just because something says it is recommended for DofE doesn’t mean it will be the right kit for you to buy. Manufacturers can get their kit passed as fit for purpose by the DofE organisation but they don’t test the kit for weight or size when packed. It is not unusual for well intentioned parents to get ‘recommended’ kit that is useless for their child. I recently had a child trying to carry a sleeping bag that was too heavy and took up half their rucksack because parents had been told it was recommended DofE kit. If you are not sure have a word with the person running the expedition that your child is on or ask in a good outdoor gear shop and they will be able to advise you.
This is the kit list which is excellent in my opinion and every parent and participant should take note of what is on it. However, a couple of notes to make. Only take the food you need and not lots of extras or a whole packet of 10 of something when you only need 2. Take the plate and bowl only if you need them. When I carry a full pack I only take a bowl (it has a flat bottom) because I don’t see the point of a plate when I can hold all my food in a bowl. Don’t try and carry a bath towel (you might be surprised!) because for backpacking purposes a small one will do the job. Buy a cheap, small, lightweight hair brush (not a big heavy one) and reduce toiletries as much as you can – you are supposed to be roughing it. Some things on the list are repeated and you only need one of each type (e.g. stove). Try to share as much through the group as you can.
Get ready for the expedition by practising you skills. Navigation will be key and so you should be good at it (or at least competent), there is plenty of advice on this site and in other places to help you. If possible go out on the hills with a full pack (add some extra stuff to simulate the food etc you will have to carry) for short walks just to get used to carrying the load. This will also give you a chance to adjust your pack to the best fit for you. If you borrow a pack then take some time to adjust it at home when you pack everything.