What Clothes to Wear for the D of E Expedition

Do you know any teenagers about to do the D of E Expedition? Make sure they read this so that they keep warm properly.
What Clothes to Wear for the D of E Expedition

Our daughter is about to undertake her first Duke of Edinburgh Expedition, and so we’ve been making sure she has everything on her kit list, and she knows how to use it.

As you can imagine, she’s no stranger to the outdoors, and the expedition isn’t phasing her. However, we know a lot of others that don’t understand how to layer clothes correctly.

We’ve written about the importance of layering kids clothes correctly before, but this time we look at from the D of E perspective with the kit that they recommend.

This article is in two parts. The first part gives a background on some do’s and don’ts with clothes for hiking. The second part goes through the recommended clothing covering why and how you should wear it.


Outdoor clothes are boring! Can’t I just wear my jeans?

in the outdoors jeans can kill

The D of E make a point of saying “No Jeans”, not because they want to dictate fashion, it’s quite simply in the outdoors jeans can kill.

Yes, that may sound a bit dramatic, but unfortunately, it’s true.

If you’ve ever got your jeans wet or even washed them, you know how long they take to dry.  If you were out on a hike and it poured down with rain, you’d be soaked through. And wet clothes means wet skin, and wet skin means you get cold. Very cold. Hypothermia cold.

So it’s best to use the trousers (or type of trousers) recommended by the D of E. These are the Craghoppers Trekker trousers, and you can get them for both boys and girls.

Our daughter has been trying the Craghopper Trekker Trousers for months and they’ve been a good bit of kit that won’t stay damp for long if they get wet.


I don’t need all these clothes. I bought the thickest coat possible!

just buying a thick coat is another mistake people commonly make

Unfortunately just buying a thick coat is another mistake people commonly make.

The reason the D of E recommend lots of items is that you wear them in layers. You simply add an additional layer when you are colder, and remove it when you get warm.

add an additional layer when you are colder, and remove it when you get warm

It might sound like a lot of needless effort, but the reason you do it is, surprisingly, to avoid overheating.

Yes,  overheating.

When you are too warm, you sweat. This can make your clothes damp. And just like damp jeans, damp clothes can make you colder.

So relying on just a big thick coat is not the answer when you’re out hiking.


I get cold feet. Should I buy walking boots that are a larger size so I can wear two pairs of socks?

Whilst you should try boots on with walking socks on, as walking socks tend to be slightly thicker than normal socks, it’s not recommended that you wear two pairs of socks.

You want your boots to fit well to avoid blisters.

With two pairs of socks, they may not fit so well. Also, your feet could get too hot and sweaty.  If you take off one pair of socks, your boots will be too big – which is a sure way to get blisters.

The secret to keeping your feet warm is to first make sure your core is warm

The secret to keeping your feet warm is to first make sure your core (i.e. your body) is warm.

When you get cold your body will keep as much of the warmth it can for itself, letting things like your hands and feet to get cold. So the best way to avoid cold feet (and cold hands) is to make sure you’ve layered your clothes correctly and kept your body warm. Then it will let your hands and feet stay warm.

a base layer for your feet

There’s also another solution: a base layer for your feet.

The D of E recommend the Bridgedale Coolmax Sock Liner. These look like a pair of socks but are quite thin, plus they also wick moisture away to help reduce the effect of sweaty feet. These are thermal base layers for your feet, and a much better option than wearing two pairs of walking socks.


On the next page we look at what clothes the D of E recommend and how to layer them correctly.

Click to view Page 2 - What Clothes To Take and Layer >>


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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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