Get Prepared For Your Youth Expedition

Whether you’re heading out with Girlguiding, The DofE Award or World Challenge, taking part in expeditions is an exciting way to learn valuable skills and experience the great outdoors. To get the most from your adventure, it’s essential that you not only have the right kit, but know exactly how it all works before you set off. We’ve put together some advice on choosing walking boots, a rucksack and a sleeping bag to help you get these basics spot on, as well as some handy tips to make sure your expedition is a great success. And don’t forget, visit your local Cotswold Outdoor store for expert advice on the right kit for your expedition.

Choosing the right boots

Your boots are going to see you through your whole expedition, and it’s important to get a pair which fit well and are suitable to avoid the dreaded blisters!

 

First, consider which material best suits your needs: leather boots are the most durable option as well as being highly water resistant, whereas fabric boots tend to be lighter and often have a waterproof, breathable membrane for your comfort. If you’re planning to use your boots mainly for footpaths, your walking boots should bend naturally and easily, so fabric may be a better option. If you’ll be hill walking, your boots need to have a degree of stiffness to support your feet and ankles, which leather will provide.

 

Once you have a general idea of the boots you’re looking for, it’s time to get fitted. Visit your local Cotswold Outdoor for a free boot fitting service with an in-store expert, to find the perfect boots for your adventure. You can find out more about boot fitting here.

Choosing a rucksack

You’ll be carrying your kit around for a good few days, so a bag which can comfortably fit it all in and not slow you down is essential! When you’re looking for a rucksack, the first thing to look out for is an adjustable back. Most rucksacks have an adjustable back system or offer different back length sizes. There are also rucksacks made specifically for women to ensure a better fit.

 

A great feature to look for is side compression straps. These are designed to keep the load close to your back and keep everything stable and compact inside. They can also be used to secure a tent or walking poles. Most rucksacks use durable fabrics in areas susceptible to wear and tear, with lighter fabrics used elsewhere to reduce the weight.

 

Look for a strong, well-designed, padded hip belt and shoulder straps that contour properly and offer a good degree of adjustment. The hip belt should carry 80% of the load so it’s important that it fits properly. Our in-store experts offer a free rucksack fitting service, to help you choose the right pack for your adventures as well as adjusting it for you to make sure it fits perfectly. Find out more about rucksack fitting here.

 

Once you’ve found the perfect pack for your expedition, take a look at our handy guide on how to pack your rucksack here.

Choosing a sleeping bag

A good night’s sleep after a day’s adventure is always welcome, and you’ll need a comfortable sleeping bag with the right filling for your expedition. The sleeping bag filling you go for will be determined by the conditions you’ll be using it in. Down is a fantastic natural insulator, gives a high warmth-to-weight ratio and packs down smaller than a synthetic sleeping bag. However, getting a down-filled sleeping bag wet can spell disaster, as the down stops performing as well and can be irreparably damaged.

 

Synthetic sleeping bags are filled with polyester microfibres which retain warmth well, even when wet, and are easy to dry and clean. However, these sleeping bags don’t pack down as small, and are heavier than down.

 

Our sleeping bag buying guide contains more useful information on choosing a sleeping bag, or alternatively our in-store experts will be able to help you choose the right sleeping bag for your expedition.

Choosing a waterproof jacket

Changeable weather is guaranteed on any expedition, but it doesn’t have to spoil your adventure. A good waterproof will be a life saver if the rain comes!

 

Look for one that is lightweight and waterproof, with a minimum 1,500mm hydrostatic head rating. A breathable jacket will also ensure that your inner layers stay dry and wick sweat away from your skin when you’re working hard.

 

Look for a jacket with an adjustable hood and cuffs to keep the wind and the rain out, draw cords that can adjust the fit of the jacket and control ventilation, and a hood that is large enough to accommodate a warm hat. For more advice on choosing a waterproof, have a look at our waterproof buying guide, or visit us in-store.

More useful tips

1. Take the time before your expedition to make sure all of your kit fits, works well and packs up properly. If you have a practice expedition, use this as your opportunity to spot anything that isn’t working and get it changed before the real thing!

 

2. Speaking of practise – make sure you’ve gone over pitching your tent a few times before attempting to do it for real. You don’t know what conditions you’ll be pitching in on your expedition so knowing what you’re doing will be invaluable.

 

3. Also have a go at cooking on your camping stove before you go and trying some of the food you’ll be taking with you. There’s nothing worse than being hungry at the end of a long day and realising you don’t like your food or can’t get your stove working!

 

4. Buy specific walking socks, and pack plenty of them! It may seem excessive, but it’s a necessary step to prevent blisters. Have a look at our handy preventing blisters guide for more advice on not letting those small but very painful spots ruin your adventure.

 

5. Nail the navigation basics before setting off! It’s really important that everyone in your group knows how to navigate and that it’s not just left to one person. Make sure you’re familiar with using a map and compass, and know what to do in emergencies.

We hope this guide has been useful, and wish you the best of luck for your expedition!