Packing for DofE? | A Guide to What You Should Bring

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When packing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. After all, you will need to make sure that you have absolutely everything you need to keep you going for the whole expedition! When you do end up laying all of your items out, you may struggle to fit them all into one rucksack! Believe me, the struggle of fitting everything in is all too real! Therefore, when packing for the DofE award, it is important that you choose items that are of high quality but are also quite small. You also need to make sure that you aren’t overpacking and taking things with you that are really not needed!

If you want to discover what you really should be taking with you during your DofE expedition and how to choose the best items, check out the rest of this article!

What items are you provided with for DofE?

When preparing for the DofE award, there are a few non-negotiables that you definitely need! This is regardless of what DofE level you are completing.

You will be provided with a compass, a map, and a first-aid kit, so make sure that you leave room in your bag for these extras! You will also most likely be provided with a tent by the organisation you are doing the DofE award with.

However, if you are tempted to buy your own, check out this page from the DofE website to discover what type of tent is recommended.

The Essentials

Now that we have discussed what equipment you will be given by your organisation, we can move on to which equipment you will definitely need to pack.

Below is a list of all the essential equipment you will need to pack for your DofE expedition:

1. A rucksack

Clearly to do any of the DofE awards, you need something to carry all your stuff! A rucksack is the best option because it keeps your hands free and is often easier to carry. After all, you will be carrying a lot of weight!

For the DofE award, you will likely need a rucksack that can hold at least 60 litres. It needs to be well padded and have a waterproof covering. Check out this article from the DofE website to discover the perfect DofE rucksack!

2. Sleeping bag and sleeping mat

Sleeping outside in a tent can be tough due to the low temperatures. Consequently, you need to purchase a high-quality sleeping mat that prevents you from feeling the cold from the floor.

Similarly, you need to make sure that you are selecting a warm and cosy sleeping bag, which also doesn’t take up too much room!

During my DofE expedition, I made the mistake of prioritising a small sleeping bag over warmth, which meant I was freezing every night!

Therefore, it may be better to get a bigger one if it means that you won’t freeze to death! If you want to discover some tips on choosing the best sleeping bag and mat, check out this article from the DofE website.

3. Water bottle

During your DofE expedition, you may have to carry all of the water you need for the day -depending on how nice your assessors are!

If this is the case, investing in a couple of large water bottles will be invaluable, as you will be very active. Having a water bottle handy will prevent dehydration.

Alternatively, you could invest in a bladder, which is a sack you can put water in, that lives in your rucksack. It is attached to a hose which you can drink out of.

Check out this article from the DofE Hero website to discover the pros and cons of water bottles and bladders.

4. Cutlery, plates, and bowls.

For your expedition, you will most likely be given cooking equipment. However, you need to make sure that you bring items to eat your food with and in! It is best to get equipment that is light and takes up as little space as possible.

Check out this page from the DofE website to discover what types of pots, mugs and cutlery is recommended.

5. Personal first aid kit

During my DofE expeditions, I was given a first aid kit by the company that were assessing us. However, it can still be useful to have your own personal first aid kit that has your own medication in.

After all, you are not actually allowed to be given medication from the company you are with, so you must make sure that you take your own!

This includes any hay fever medication or pain killers. Check out this article from the DofE website to discover what you may need in your first aid kit!

6. Torch

If you have to leave the tent for whatever reason during the night, a torch is essential! You could invest in a handheld torch, however head torches can be seen as even more convenient.

You can check out what type of torch DofE recommends if you check out their website here.


One of the things that can make or break you during the DofE award is the clothes that you wear! It is so important that you choose the right material, so that you can be sure that what you are carrying will be warm, but also light weight!

Check out the list below to discover all the different items of clothing that you need:

7. Waterproof clothing

The UK is known as a rainy country – in all seasons! Consequently, it is imperative that you have a good set of waterproof clothes to keep you as dry as possible.

Ideally, your waterproofs need to be light, breathable and also wind proof! Check out this page from the DofE website to discover what type of waterproof clothing is the best.

8. Base and middle layers

Underneath your waterproof clothes, you need to make sure that you are wearing a base and middle layer. The base layer must be breathable but tight fitting to keep you warm.

However, make sure that you are not wearing cotton! For the middle layer, a fleece could be a useful option to keep you cosy. Check out this article from the DofE website for more information on what types of layers would be best.

9. Trousers

When thinking about what to wear on your legs, you need to consider what the DofE expedition will actually entail. Many boys consider wearing shorts, however, if you end up walking through long itchy grass or brambles, this may not be the best idea.

Personally, I believe that leggings or special walking trousers are the best way to go. Anything that is flexible and isn’t made of cotton or denim will probably also be fine! Check out this page from the DofE website to discover which types of trousers are best.

10. Boots and socks

As you will be walking for hours every day, it is important that you invest in the appropriate footwear. DofE often recommends boots with ankle support and good grip.

The socks that DofE recommends have technical fibres inside of them, which are great for keeping your feet dry! You can check out the different brands recommended by DofE, if you check out their article here.

11. Extra clothing items

If you know that you are going to be cold, taking a hat, scarf and pair of gloves with you will be essential! Alternatively, if it’s sunny, it may be worth taking a sun cap with you to make sure that you don’t get sun burned!

You may also want to take an extra pair of comfortable shoes with you such as sliders or flip flops to wear in the evenings.


Food is one of the most important things to take with you on your DofE award! After all, food will give you energy to power through those days of walking.

Therefore, you need to make sure that the food you choose to take with you is calorific, to give you that energy, but also compact, so you are not weighed down!

12. Wayfarer expedition food

DofE recommends Wayfarer expedition food to be used by all participants. This is because the food is packaged up tightly, so won’t take up much room in your bag. It is also highly nutritious, gives you lots of energy and is easy to cook!

Wayfarer also offers a range of tasty meals and desserts – I can especially recommend the chocolate pudding! You can find out more about the Wayfarer expedition food on the DofE website here.

13. Oat packets

For breakfast, oats are amazing because they are packed full of fibre and energy! Consider taking little packets of oats with you, pre- portioned, so that every morning, you can just add boiling water to them and have a bowl of porridge.

If you wanted, you could also add milk powder to make it extra creamy, or add nuts and fruit.

14. Pitta breads, sandwiches, or wraps

For lunch, it is best to have something that is easy to eat on the go! Bread based meals are often useful, as you can put cheese or protein products inside.

DofE does not recommend participants to take any tinned food or meat that will go out of date quickly! You can discover more about the food DofE recommends if you check out this article from their website.

15. Snacks

You need to make sure that you are constantly eating during your DofE expedition. This is because you will be so active and expending so much energy.

Consequently, it is useful to stock up on snacks! Some good snacks include breakfast bars, flapjacks and bags of nuts. Hopefully, these will keep you going.

Useful equipment

There are also some other extra items that you will need to take with you during your expedition. You could probably live without them; however they will make your expedition more comfortable!

To discover the full list of kit you may need for your DofE expedition, check out this guide from the DofE website.

16. Washing equipment

As you will be so active, it is no secret that you will probably be sweating a lot! You will probably also get very muddy from a day of walking.

Therefore, it is important that you pack some cleaning products, such as wet wipes and hand gel. Also remember your toothbrush and toothpaste!

You can take a can of deodorant; however this is not essential and can be seen as just added bulk! Check out this article from the DofE website for more tips on what washing equipment to take.

17. Washing up liquid and sponge

Everyone hates the idea of washing up, however sadly, it is an essential task. After you have made your pots and pans all mucky from cooking, it is important that you wash them up!

Consider transferring a little bit of fairy liquid from a big bottle into a little bottle and take a small tea towel to dry up with.

18. Matches

You will most likely be provided with cooking equipment to carry with you, plus a fuel pack! If you want to find out what these look like, you can check out this article from the DofE website.

To light the gas, you will most likely need a match. Consequently, it could be useful to take a packet of matches with you!

What are some packing tips for the DofE award?

One of the best tips for packing your DofE bag is using dry bags to separate the different items! For example, you could have a bag that only contains food and a bag that only contains clothes. This will make it easier for you to find what you need.

You need to familiarise yourself with your rucksack, so you know where all of the different compartments are. It could be useful to place frequently used items at the top of the bag for easy access and food that you don’t want to get squished!

Check out this poster from the DofE website for some more tips on how to pack your rucksack.

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