This page is about the KIT you need for RGS DofE expeditions.
RGS students participating on RGS DofE expeditions must have the correct kit to operate independently and safely.
Groups turning up poorly equipped may even be stopped from proceeding with their expedition if they lack critical equipment because it would be dangerous to continue. So… read on to find out what kit is needed:
On this page: a full kit list can be downloaded below and is also available in the RGS Expedition Handbook which can be downloaded on the Expedition Training page. You can also find what is loaned out by school and what groups must provide themselves. There is also advice on recommended kit such as TENTS, WATERPROOFS AND BOOTS.
Remember that RGS dofe participants must carry all their own equipment on RGS dofe expeditions. This is our strict policy. Transporting of kit for participants is not provided as it compromises safety. If injuries or illness mean you cannot carry your own kit then you are not in a condition to do the expedition safely for you and everyone else.
It is recommended to keep the weight of your rucksack as low as possible by sensible packing of appropriate kit. Over 15kg starts to get very heavy and anything near 20kg is much too heavy.
Before expeditions we will check your basic kit..
Following the advice from training and that given below on TENTS, WATERPROOFS and clothing requirements will help you to do this.
Print the kit list off (below) and read the “Big 20” listed below.
Write a kit list of what your REALLY NEED. Talk to your group about who is carrying what e.g tent (these should be split up), stove and gas and food.
AIM to PACK LIGHT.
Check EVERYTHING works before departure: fully put up your tent and light the stove (outside and well away from your tent).
Get a compass with a long base plate (these are not issued). Silva are best. Get one especially if you are carrying on to Silver or Gold.
Pack your rucksack properly: avoid sharp bits in the back, double wrap sleeping bag in plastic and pack everything inside your rucksack. Nothing should hang or be tied outside, except sleeping mat (wrap in plastic bag). If it doesn’t all fit, then chuck some things out.
Put EVERYTHING in dry bags (compulsory for Gold – plastic bags not allowed) so that, in theory, your rucksack could be thrown in a river and items would survive! Dry bags are available here
Read the advice below on different items of kit.
The pdf kit list download below applies to all DofE groups including GOLD groups going into the mountains for several days. Shorter Bronze and Silver trips on the Downs will not necessarily need all of the more specialist optional items like gaiters.
Don’t forget the BIG 20!
These 20 items are the basics of your kit to pack in your rucksack:
- Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers
- Map(s): one set of maps EACH (with routes marked on). Map cases are essential too. Cover your maps in sticky-back plastic especially for silver an gold.
- Watch (many forget theirs!): for navigation timing distance.
- Silva compass with long base plate (Bronze: try to get one or two per group; by Gold: all participants must have one)
- Torch – fresh batteries – but one between two for high summer
- First aid kit (small – put it together yourself, include antiseptic, plasters, )
- pen/pencil & emergency card (issued by RGS)
- Spare jumper/sweater / fleece: including in summer
- Full water bottle: simple plastic one is best; 1 litre at least; platypus/ hydration systems are not necessary or recommended.
- Mobile phone (charged & in a plastic bag) & Emergency staff contact numbers; use for photos of course!
- sun hat / warm hat; gloves; warm fleece
- Food! breakfast: must be more than just a cereal bar. food for expeditions
- Stove & gas & matches (sealed to stay waterproof)
- Tent: check it check it check it check it check it check it!
- Sleeping Bag: wrap it in bin bag/s: MUST be kept dry, always in rucksack
- Sleeping mat: wrap in bin liner/s
- Walking boots (buy decent waterproof boots and decent socks – get advice in store)
- Large FREEZER BAGS – TIE HANDLE type.
- Wear REFLECTIVE GEAR: slap-wraps, reflective tape, bright clothing etc.
Try to pack as LIGHT as possible but don’t forget the Big 20 essentials! As a rough rule of thumb you should be able to pick up your rucksack using one arm without overly straining. If this is difficult then try throwing stuff out to reduce the weight.
Adjust your rucksack straps properly: this can make a big difference to how comfortable the load feels.
Bring any personal medication / medicine. Report any ailments or difficulties to staff and parents should add this to consent form.
Mobile phones policy:
- Bring your mobile because they enhance safety and communication with supervisors and assessors. Keep them waterproof in a sealed bag; do not wear headphone during hikes: safety!
- Conserve batteries. Switch one phone on per day and use that.
- ONLY for essential emergency messages to staff. Do NOT call or text home or other groups. Do not use social media.
What can be borrowed from RGS kit store?
- stoves and gas
- sleeping mats
When is RGS DofE KIT STORE open?
- Every weekday lunchtime from 1.30pm and for a short time after school.
- You can start to collect kit about a week before each expedition. Leave time to check it thoroughly. Do not leave it to pick up kit the day before hikes.
Do groups have to provide their own tent?
- Yes. Please see further information below.
Please return school kit dry and in good condition directly after the trip, for use by others (lost or damaged kit can be billed). Other kit must be organised yourself, including tents.
There is no need to rush out and buy everything on the kit list. Avoid buying expensive kit for Bronze, much of it can often be borrowed from friends or bought quite cheaply. Read this webpage, attend the training sessions and, if necessary, get further advice from dofe staff at school & staff in outdoor shops before buying anything! Adequate kit can be bought cheaply from various shops or online, though it is advisable to get your walking boots properly fitted at a specialist shop like Cotswold Outdoors (Horsham or Guildford) or Mountain Warehouse (Horsham) or similar. A popular online shop for buying dofe kit is Go Outdoors. This video has some good advice..except please note that wearing SHORTS leaves you more at risk from ticks and sunburn so we recommend walking trousers instead.
The key kit to spend money on is walking boots and waterproof jacket. Everything else, especially clothing, can be cobbled together. It is advised not to wear too much cotton and certainly no jeans. This is because cotton clothing soaks up moisture and stays wet increasing heat and energy loss and discomfort and possibly speeds up the onset of hypothermia in the worst conditions. Even in summer it is therefore advisable to wear clothing which is not pure cotton.
Groups must organise and provide their own tents. These should be 2 or 3 or 4 person back-backing camping tents. Families or friends or relatives very often have perfectly adequate tents available already. Tents can be bought from a variety of outlets, including Blacks or Mountain Warehouse (Horsham), Millets (Redhill), Tesco or Cotswold (Guildford or Horsham). Search for BACKPACKING TENTS.
Do NOT bring a POP UP TENT
Any 2 or 3 or possibly 4 person sized tents will be suitable. Cheap Tesco tents are entirely adequate if looked after. Pop-up tents are not allowed. Other than that, no particular tent style is necessary but a decent porch is useful for kit storage, while two entrances, fly-pitching first, geodesic dome design, and light weight are attractive features but more pricey.
Groups can organise their tent arrangements to suit. Some groups buy them together and own them jointly. Other groups may have one person who is a keen outdoory person and willing to own a tent outright. Whichever way your group chooses to organise shelter, the important thing is to look after your tent and always dry it out thoroughly after every expedition. Put it up when you get home outside on a dry surface in a sunny position and it will dry in no time at all. NEVER store tents wet, it will rot and have to be thrown away.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Waterproof jackets and waterproof trousers are essential on dofe expeditions. They can be life savers in extreme conditions. They need not be expensive but must be durable, robust material and have decent integral hood which can be drawn over the face in bad weather.
Regatta, Sprayway, Berghaus and Karrimor and Rab are all brands which, in rough ascending order of cost, will do the job well. Try them on. Breathable fabrics like goretex (or similar other brands are available) are almost universal now. These allow sweat to breathe out and keep you drier.
Do not rely on thinner cheaper “waterproofs in a bag”. They are inadequate for all but Bronze and will not keep you dry and protected in the worst conditions on extended expeditions in wild country over several days.
Here are some waterproof jacket bundles from GoOutdoors
Waterproof trousers can be bought more cheaply because their main job is to be windproof in the utmost foul conditions when you are probably wet already. On a budget, save money by just getting a simple durable pair of waterproof trousers. However, avoid pack-a-mac style thin waterproof trousers especially for Gold.
Here is an ideal pair of waterproof trousers for DofE purposes.
More advice is available here on waterproof jackets.
Your entire expedition experience rests on your FEET! Decent, well-fitted and comfortable waterproof walking boots are essential items for DofE expeditions. Boots aren’t cheap but they should last if you look after them. It is a good idea to ask shop staff to help you get them fitted at an outdoor shop like Cotswold in Horsham or Guildford, if you are lucky you will get a very helpful member of shop staff who will spend time getting the right boots for you. Don’t rush. Poorly fitted boots can give you blisters and make expeditions painful and uncomfortable experiences.
Leather boots and fabric boots have pros and cons, either can be recommended for various purposes. At similar prices, leather boots tend to be more robust and, if treated properly, can remain waterproof for longer than fabric because they do not rely on a goretex membrane. The big plus of fabric boots is that they are usually lighter weight which is a significant consideration in trekking expeditions. However, do check they are waterproof because many cheaper fabric boots are not waterproof.
If you buy cheap non-waterproof boots then these might be just OK for Bronze but will not be at all suitable for Gold expeditions.
Here is a link to more advice on expedition boots from the official dofe website.
SOCKS are often overlooked as unimportant items of kit. Sometimes people just chuck in any old socks. This can be a mistake! Decent hiking socks that are the correct size can make an enormous difference to your feet. Good hiking socks will protect your feet and keep you comfortable and blister free even after hours and days of trekking. The best advice is to buy a few different walking socks from outlets like Millets or Blacks or Cotswold. Socks come in foot sizes and styled for different types of walking. Buy a few different ones that suit you best. You will soon find which ones work best for you.
Some people like to wear TWO socks: one thick, one thin, against the foot. There are pros and cons to this. You’ll need to try on your boots to make sure they fit your sock system. Never wear socks that make your boots too tight… this is a fast way to get blisters.
Other items of clothing
No jeans! You can wear more or less anything BUT avoid overloading on heavy cotton garments, thin T shirts are OK, especially in summer, but NO JEANS! They stay wet and are wholly inappropriate for extended outdoor expeditions.
No! Cotton hoodies and sweatshirts are not recommended because they stay wet and make you cold and are a waste of space when considerably better insulators are available that will keep you warmer and drier for much the same cost. Polycotton and artificial wicking fabrics will keep you more comfortable, especially for base layers near the skin.
Apart from this advice, pack and wear layers of clothes to suit the different conditions you will encounter.
Packing it all
- The standard advice is to pack waterproofs, food and other essential items needed during the day at the top (last).
- Sleeping bag should be double wrapped and packed first at the base.
- In between, pack items to maximise comfort and stability: heavier stuff near the bottom and your back often helps with centre of gravity.
- Avoid spiky hard objects digging into your back. Pad these out where possible.
- careful picking it up, adjust straps to fit you once it is on.
- hanging stuff on the outside of the rucksack because it apparently doesn’t fit: it will fit and it should go into your rucksack; only sleeping mats should be strapped to the outside, nothing else.
- too many clothes (what you WEAR leaving the house is probably mostly what you’ll still be wearing on your return … except underwear and socks of course … yugh!!)
- over or under-estimating food: go for filling CALORIES! Check on packets. Avoid pot-noodles and cereal bars as “meals”, these are NOT sufficient for long hikes.
- having hard stuff sticking into your back: pad out the back with clothes etc
- wearing any-old socks with boots: buy GOOD quality walking socks to go with your walked-in boots: avoid blisters by taking care of your feet during the hike – see the videos on this site.
- pack waterproofs at the top of your sack so they are easily retrieved.
What NOT TO BRING:
- KNIVES – it is illegal and dangerous to carry large knives. A small penknife and / or eating knife is permitted.
- cans of spray deodourants – roll ons and washing are better
- electronic devices (phones allowed, wrap in plastic bag)
- storm shelter: you have a tent
For more advice on buying kit please read the Expedition Training page on this website. Also, do ask Mr Collins at school for help. Our supplier Access Expeditions and Millets (Redhill) and Cotswold (Horsham, Guildford, Kingston) and sometimes Snow and Rock give dofe discounts : but take your dofe id / pack as proof.
DofE have published their own kit list here… use recommended shopping links cautiously. It is best to buy local in case something needs replacing or returning. http://www.dofeshopping.org/sites/default/files/expedition_kit_list.pdf
Interactive dofe kit list: tick what you’ve got! DOFE KIT LIST