Rucksacks and packing
How to find, fit and pack a rucksack for an expedition.
How to choose and pack a rucksack for a DofE expedition
- What kind of rucksack do I need for an expedition
- DofE recommended rucksacks and packing
- Save money on expedition kit
- How to pack and look after your rucksack
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.
All Duke of Edinburgh’s Award recommended rucksacks have padded, breathable waist and shoulder straps, adjustable back systems and hi-vis waterproof covers.
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.
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:
- Borrow a rucksack. But don’t use a bag that’s too old, the wrong size or not waterproof – it’s just not worth it.
- Use a bin bag or garden waste bag as a cheap alternative to dry bags.
- You can get a FREE professional rucksack fitting before you buy, at your nearest GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors or Tiso store (Scotland only).
- Use your exclusive DofE Card or voucher to claim your discount* in all local GO Outdoors, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors or Tiso store (Scotland only) and online.
For DofE Adults’ discounts, click here.
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:
- 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.