It seems like yesterday I was taking off on my expedition for my bronze award, and even though it was over seven years ago, I still remember it vividly.
There is plenty of room in your 70 litre rucksack
I can remember thinking I needed a bigger rucksack as I jammed my equipment and clothing into my 70 litre bag; it just didn’t seem to be enough room.
Now I’ve refined the kit I bring with me, and gained a bit more experience, I know that a 70 litre rucksack has plenty of space. If you’re finding it hard to fit everything in for your DOE expedition you may want to consider seeing if you can share items with other campers, or cut down on the unnecessary kit.
I’m glad I brought spare socks
Carrying a spare pair, or even two spare pairs of socks is possibly one of the best things you can do when you go camping. I have yet to find something that is more morale boosting than from putting on a pair of dry socks at the end of a long, wet day in the hills. I learned this lesson the hard way on my Duke of Edinburgh expedition by not carrying a spare pair of dry socks.
Climbing into your sleeping bag with warm dry feet is arguably just as good as that warm cup of tea just before bed. Store them in a drysack to be extra safe.
I didn’t even use this
I’ll admit it, I probably still haven’t learned this lesson, but that’s okay. Refining your camping kit is a life long process. I still bring kit with me from time to time that I bring home having never taken it out of my bag.
However the old saying of “It’s better looking at it than looking for it” still rings true in this situation; I’d much rather bring too much food than too little!
Tents are heavy
Carrying a tent for four people was no lightweight exercise. Even through splitting it up between us, I still remember it as being perhaps one of the single heaviest items.
These days I’ve learned to choose a tent to no bigger than it needs to be. If it’s just going to be me, I’ll bring a one man tent. If I need spare room for extra kit; an extra large dry bag is lighter than the additional weight of a larger tent.
We still have How far to go!?
Pacing yourself throughout the day is an important part of hiking and camping. It’s all too easy to set of with a fast pace filled with excitement and energy, only to find yourself struggling later in the day on the last stretch of walk.
The combination of heavy rucksacks and inexperience on my DOE expedition taught me this lesson on the first day. I didn’t walk nearly as quickly on the second day!
appreciation for the common trangia stove
At the time our Trangia seemed old fashioned, slow and a big heavy weight in our packs. It hasn’t changed since then, but my thoughts on it have.
I can now appreciate the robustness of the classic Trangia, which has lasted the test of time for many campers. Strong, wind proof and widely versatile it has gained my respect as a solid camping stove and it’s now easy to see why they are used extensively by Duke of Edinburgh programs.
I could have done with more food
There’s not much worse than going on a camping trip with too little food, especially on your first DOE expedition. I remember our food being rationed out for two days with breakfast, lunch and dinner all separated and packed accordingly.
It was the snacks in between that let me down. I simply didn’t bring enough.
Since then I’ve learned about the wonders of trail mix and have a new appreciation of just how much of a boost you can get by eating a sweet or chocolate bar when you’re feeling beat.