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Expedition Advice

#1

DON’T LET YOUR PARENTS PACK YOUR RUCKSACK!

I once met a Bronze participant in the middle of a muddy field suffering from blisters on his shoulders. We suggested he get some plasters but he didn’t know where they were in his bag because his mum had packed it. For his mum, plasters had been her first thought of what he’d need so they were the first things to go in, right at the bottom of the bag! He had to empty everything onto the mud before he found his plasters! AND there were loads of things! His mum didn’t want him to get cold or hungry so there were loads of jumpers, loads of sweets and loads of food. He went onto do Gold, but this young lad never let his mum pack for him again!

#2

BRING A LUXURY ITEM!

If I can fit it in, I always take a picnic blanket. It’s my luxury item to make the expedition that bit nicer. And it’s nicer because I put it on the floor of my tent. Firstly it helps protect me from the cold, but secondly it means when my feet come out of the sleeping bag in the morning they touch carpet, so it’s a bit more like home! So bring something which will make your trip more comfortable.

#3

TIN FOIL

Line the insides of your cooking pots and frying pans with tin foil before cooking. The heat still gets to the food but after cooking you just pull the tin foil out and rinse your pans. I know this is environmentally unfriendly, but it saves a lot of work, especially for me if I have a very lazy group and 18 trangias to clean!

#4

COMFORT BEGINS AT THE SOLES OF YOUR FEET

If you can afford it, buy some walking boots. You’ll have to if you’re doing Gold but at Bronze and some Silver level expeditions you can get away with just using trainers – as long as they have good thick soles. Boots is the one bit of kit I don’t save money on. I’ll use cheap old tents if I have to, and old stoves, but I always get my feet properly measured and boots that fit well. I’ve had too many blisters!

#5

A BULLEN TENT IS A TIDY TENT

Pack away your rubbish. Supposedly we’re never more than 20ft away from a rat, and they love campsites with all that free food lying around. My wife and I went canoeing down the Thames a couple of years ago. I thought I’d done enough by putting the bread for the bacon butties in a carrier bag and leaving it in the porch of our tent. When we woke up some of the bread had been eaten! It was so depressing not having the bacon butties which we’d been looking forward to! So little animals may even get inside your porch area to get food and will certainly have a feast on scraps of food left lying around your tent!

#6

GET YOUR TENT AS BIG AS POSSIBLE

If you’re sharing a tent with someone you want that space inside to be as big as possible, afterall no-one likes rolling over to come face to face with someone whose been walking all day and not had a wash! So when you peg out your tent, start in one corner and pull all the corners away from the start point. That way the ground sheet won’t have any folds in it and you’ll have as much space as possible.

#7

LOOK AFTER YOUR KIT AND IT’LL LOOK AFTER YOU

If you’re on a Silver or Gold expedition you need that tent to last more than just one night. So wearing muddy boots inside it on the first night will mean that for the rest of the week you’re going to have a dirty tent. Keep it clean and the whole experience will be much better.

#8

SIZE UP YOUR RUCKSACK

Most rucksacks nowadays (and all the ones we hire out) can be adjusted to fit your back. You want to get about 75% of the weight going through the hip belt which should be sitting on your hips. Most people get all the weight going through the shoulder straps with the hip belt loosely tied around their belly. Here’s some physics for you. The weight (or force) is trying to make it’s way to the ground. If all that weight goes on your shoulders, it has to travel through lots of little back bones and delicate discs before reaching your big strong legs, so use the hip belt to take most of the weight, and the force then bypasses your back and you keep a smile on your face!