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Rucksacks and packing

How to find, fit and pack a rucksack for an expedition.

/ Expedition Kit / Rucksacks and packing

How to choose and pack a rucksack for a DofE expedition

What kind of rucksack do I need for an expedition

Your rucksack is very important. Get it right, and it can make your expedition. Get it wrong, and you could be in for a long, uncomfortable journey.

Modern bags are made from lightweight fabric, with lots of padding and pockets. They’re sized in litres and some have narrow straps for smaller people.

For DofE you’ll want at least 60 litres – maybe more for the Silver and Gold Awards. But be careful not to overspend; more costly rucksacks are meant for months, not days, of travelling.

DofE recommended rucksacks

 Vango Nanga 60+10  Vango Contour 60+10  Vango Sherpa 60+10

Vango Nanga

60+10 litres | 2.2kg
A3 patented back system
Excel ripstop nylon
Red/black

View Nanga rucksack

Vango Contour

60+10 litres | 2.5kg
Quick adjust back system
Excel polyester
Red/black/green

View Contour rucksack

Vango Sherpa

60+10 litres
Self adjust back system
Excel polyester
Red/black/blue

View Sherpa rucksack 

All Duke of Edinburgh’s Award recommended rucksacks have padded, breathable waist and shoulder straps, adjustable back systems and hi-vis waterproof covers.

DofE recommended packing

Fitting everything you need for an expedition into your rucksack can be your first challenge and it’s important to try and keep your stuff dry. When packing it’s worth taking precautions to waterproof your kit, so it doesn’t weigh you down when it’s wet.

These products get your kit in your rucksack and keep it dry.

Lifeventure dristore rolltop bags  Lifeventure Compression Sacks  Lifeventure dristore loctop cases

Lifeventure DriStore roll top bags

Seven sizes from 2 – 70 litres
Roll-top squeezes air out to keep the bag compact
Buckle lock

View DriStore bags

Lifeventure compression sacks

Squeeze large soft items like clothing and sleeping bags
Extra-tough Cordura fabric
5/10/15 litres

View compression sacks

Lifeventure DriStore loctop cases

Ideal for valuables like cameras, documents or cash
Three sizes
Airtight press seal

View loctop cases

Ways to save money on your DofE expedition

Whilst buying a good rucksack might seem like a big buy, it’s really important to make sure your kit fits and that you’re dry and comfortable throughout your expedition. And there are lots of ways to keep your costs down:

How to pack your rucksack

Get into good habits to take the pain out of packing:

  • Pack the same way each time
  • Make logical groups – today’s food, tomorrow’s clothes
  • Keep stuff you’ll use a lot close to the top of the bag
  • Pack heavy gear closer to your back to help your balance
  • Don’t carry more than 25% of your body weight

For more really useful tips, download our popular ‘How to pack your rucksack guides’ here:

Download How to pack your rucksack | A well packed rucksack

How to use and look after your rucksack

  • Always use your waterproof cover if it’s raining
  • Dry anything before it goes into the bag if you can to save weight
  • Treat your rucksack regularly with Nikwax waterproofing to keep water away from your clothes

How to pack your rucksack