Expedition season might be over... but how do I pick the right kit for DofE?


15 October 2017


Which rucksack do I choose?

The rucksack… arguably the most essential and important decision a Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) leader can make when it comes to selecting equipment for expeditions. Get this wrong and you could end up with a group of very grumpy students, contemplating why you took on this arduous task in the first place.

Well, at The Outdoors Company we’ve been helping DofE co-ordinators select the right rucksacks at the right price for nearly a decade. Below are some features to consider when selecting rucksacks for DofE expeditions.


First of all, there’s no need to buy the biggest rucksack available. The more capacity a rucksack has, the more it will encourage one to fill it with those none essential items that every young person has, that aren’t necessary for this activity. For those conducting DofE expeditions across the spectrum from Bronze to Gold, a 50 – 70 litre rucksack would be a great place to start and ensure you get the most out of the rucksacks you buy.


Back System

The option here is to choose between a ‘fixed’ OR ‘adjustable’ back system which should be a simple decision, shouldn’t it? Sizing of both the back length and hip belt are critical for comfort. With the DofE Award open to participants from 14-24 years, one must consider a range of body sizes will be using said rucksacks. Thus making this a simple decision…. and it is a unanimous victory for the adjustable back system!
Generally, only the very basic model rucksacks in any brands range has a fixed back system, so being able to buy rucksacks with an adjustable back system should be a must, even when working within the tightest of budgets.

Some rucksacks also have a short back length option (often denoted by a ‘S’), these are great to ensure a great fit for smaller individuals.


Around 70% of the weight of a rucksack will sit on your hips. An adjustable hip belt is a common feature on most rucksacks as it helps to secure the bag around the hip area for added support and load transfer. Better padding on the hip-belt will ensure a more comfortable expedition.

Extra Features

Every expedition rucksack comes with certain features, some generic and some unique to that specific product. For selecting a DofE expedition rucksack, our advice is you don’t need to worry too much about additional fancy features. Just keep it simple and make sure it comes with one thing, a built in pull-out rain cover!

It’s one less thing to buy; it generally comes in a neon colour offering good visibility in poor weather conditions and will ensure the contents stay dry in the most severe wet weather conditions.

Our advice is, if you want to get the most out of the rucksack, choose the 60 +10’ model. It’s ideal for all levels of DofE expeditions and is the size recommended by DofE Award body.

Given feedback from our customers, the number one rucksack of choice for DofE expeditions is... The Vango Sherpa 60+10 or for more petit individuals, the Vango Sherpa 60+10S.

Features include…

·       Self Adjusting Carry System

·       Ergonomic Padded Hip Belt with Water Resistant Pocket

·       Detachable Rain Cover – included in the base of the pack to keep gear dry and aid visibility in low light.

·         DofE Approved

·       Expansion Side Zip Pockets – extra storage capacity if required

·       Shoulder fit guide

·       Sternum Strap with Emergency Whistle

·       Hydration compatible

·       Elastic cord clips to allow attachment of sleep mat

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Company registration number: 6435803
VAT number: 927 9157 85
Registered address: The Outdoors Company,
Unit 1, Greenfield Farm Industrial Estate
Congleton, CW12 4TR
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