Top ten tips for your Duke of Edinburgh Expedition
My Adventure is an adventure tours operator in Edinburgh, Scotland, where we run the expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Our expedition guides have vasts amounts of knowledge, experience and most importantly, enjoy leading Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions. Our guides have had all the expeditions experiences you can imagine, from adventuring in all the seasons (sometimes all in one day in Scotland) to adventuring all over Scotland (& the rest of the world) by foot, bike and boat.
Planning, preparing and participating in your Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition can seem overwhelming and you many not know how to go about this section of the award. Hopefully you have a Duke of Edinburgh Award leader that can help guide you through, but for some added support, our experience Duke of Edinburgh guides have highlighted there top ten tips for your Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Buy good equipment
Keeping warm, dry and comfortable on your expedition can be the difference between having a good or bad expedition. The kit you buy doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be good quality. Having the right walking boots and socks are important, there is no other piece of kit that will effect you like an ill-fitting boot, having a blister can be agonising and completely ruin your expedition.
Keeping dry is also essential for having a successful expedition, as soon as your inner layers are wet, you become cold which can lead to further problems such as exhaustion or even worse, hypothermia.
The final piece of kit that I can’t stress is too important is your backpack. Unless you take an extremely large packed lunch to school, you will not be used to carrying to much weight on your back- remember you have to carry everything on expedition. Buy a rucksack that has adjustable waist straps, this puts the weight onto your hips and legs instead of your back and neck, which can help prevent getting back pain on expedition.
Head over to our Essential equipment for your Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition blog here, where we highlight our top tips and favourite brands for your DOFE kit.
Eating on expedition is important, you will be on the move all day so it is essential you eat more calories than your body will burn so you can keep moving and keep warm.
We always recommend buying and trying your food before you set off on expedition, there are no shops along the way if you decide you don’t like the meals you have picked.
You will need to carry enough water on your expedition to keep you hydrated throughout the day. On an average day, a person is supposed to drink 2L of water per day, if the weather is suppose to be hot, aim for an extra 1L on top of this.
A water bladder is good for allowing you to drink small amounts of water throughout the day whilst you are on the move, although if you cannot get one of these, a sturdy 2L water bottle will do the job.
Respect the countryside
Your Duke of Edinburgh Award Expedition gives you the opportunity to head out into the beautiful Scottish countryside, where you will be coexisting with Scotland’s great wildlife. It is incredibly important that you follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code by leaving nothing but footprints and taking away nothing but memories.
Here are some things to do that can help protect the Scottish countryside:
- Take all your rubbish home
- Use a stove rather than lighting fires
- Use Campsites where possible (instead of Wild camping
- Carry a trowel to bury your poo (there may not always be toilets)
- Don’t disturb Wildlife
Throughout your Duke of Edinburgh journey you will be working within a team, this is especially useful for when you are on expedition. You will each be carrying your own kit but will be expected to share the load for shared kit, e.g tent and cooking equipment. Make sure you and your team-mates know what kit you are all carrying and ensure you have all practiced packing your bags a couple times before you take off.
- Pack the kit you don’t need until later at the bottom of your bag
- Pack heavy kit at the bottom of your bag
- Use individual Dry Bags to keep kit organised and dry
- Pack your first aid kit at the top of your bag- this is for emergencies
Check out the Duke of Edinburghs guide to packing your rucksack here
Practice your skills
Part of completing the Duke of Edinburgh Award is building and improving skills, some of which can be transferable into every day life. Practising skills before you set off on your expedition can make expedition life a lot easier, you may be able to boil your pasta at home, but on a stove when its windy outside is a different game entirely.
Skills to practice that will become useful on expedition:
- Cooking outside on a stove
- Packing your rucksack
- Pitching your tent (in windy and rainy weather conditions too)
- Changing gas on stove
- First Aid Skills (Your expedition guide will be fully First Aid trained, but it is always good to know the skills)
- Packing your tent
- Packing your sleeping bag
Wet feet are sad feet
Keep your feet dry! Don’t go deliberately jumping in puddles or splashing in bogs on the first day of your expedition. There is nothing worse than having wet socks and boots for the rest of your expedition, especially if it is avoidable. Not only is having wet feet very uncomfortable, you are highly likely to get painful blisters that can ruin your expedition for yourself and team-mates.
Layer your clothing
On expedition, you are likely to go from too hot to too cold and back again numerous times. Instead of taking one long sleeve top, one big jumper and one big jacket, take layers. Layering your clothes will make it so much easier to regulate your body temperature and act quickly if you start to overheat or get too cold. I don’t mean bring your whole wardrobe, but bring the correct layers for the weather that is forecast for your expedition- remember the weather can change so always bring spares.
Check out the Duke of Edinburgh guide to layer your clothes here
Your expedition experience doesn’t have to feel like you are training to join the army, Duke of Edinburgh is about having fun and making memories. Take some of your favourite snacks, pack zip-lock bags of tea bags, anything that is lightweight that can help boost your mood if expedition is getting tough. Remember though, you have to carry what you take, save the big bags of crisps for when you get home, but perhaps pack a bag of Haribos for a sweet treat to keep you going.
The memories you make on your Duke of Edinburgh expedition will last a life time, enjoy it! Appreciate the views, take photos, have a laugh and make friends, the Duke of Edinburgh Award is yours!
MY Adventure and Intrepidus Outdoors are adventure tours and outdoor experience providers, both based in Edinburgh, Scotland. We specialise in private and open canyoning, coasteering, mountain biking and hill walking tours, and deliver these adventurous experiences across Scotland. We are also a provider of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions where we run bronze, silver and gold level awards for young people.
- A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award: here
- A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award: Silver here
- A guide to the Duke of Edinburgh Award: Gold here
- Duke of Edinburgh award: Essential equipment: here
- Top Tips for Backpacking in Scotland: here
- The best head torches for adventures in the outdoors: here
- Stag Party Adventures Edinburgh: here
- Planning a Hen Party to Edinburgh: here
- Hen Party Adventures Edinburgh: here