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Duke of Edinburgh Guide

The Ultimate Duke of Edinburgh Guide

Ever wondered exactly what you need for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award? Well, our information guide is here to help.

What it involves

The DofE is an award where participants complete a set range of challenges over time.

There are three level stages in the programme – bronze, silver and gold.

As for what you do in DofE, all levels include volunteering, physical and skills challenges.

All levels also include an expedition of at least one overnight stay.

Therefore, it is important that for each part of the award, participants have the right kit.

As a guide, each level takes around 6-12 months to complete, so good quality equipment is key to success.

The Volunteering Section

For the Duke of Edinburgh’s volunteering section, the bronze level involves three months of volunteering.

For silver it is 6 months and then 12 months for the gold award.

These are all a minimum of one hour each week. If participants jump straight into gold or silver, further volunteering, physical or skills time will be needed.

Volunteering can be with a charity, school, community group, working with the environment or anything where time is given.

Participants may need specialist kit, but it will depend on each opportunity. 

The Physical Section

During DofE, participants must complete a physical aspect of their award.

At the bronze level in 2021, this is three months of a physical activity.

This has a wide interpretation and includes sports, fitness, dance and martial arts.

For an hour each week, participants follow these for the set period of time.

For silver, 3 or 6 months must be completed (if 6 months then only 3 months for skills and vice versa).

However, with gold, 6 or 12 months – as with silver there is a choice.

Appropriate kit depends on the physical activity and level of the award.

The Skills Section

The Duke of Edinburgh’s award additionally involves a skills section.

This develops the skills of participants and as a guide, is extremely broad ranging.

From science to games, animal care to music and life skills to creative arts, there is a huge choice.

Each participant will require some kind of appropriate kit to achieve their skills section. For the bronze level, working over 3 months develops the skill, 3 or 6 months for silver and 6 or 12 months for gold.

There is flexibility in the timescales to support different types of people.

The Expedition

In the DofE, participants must complete an expedition, hence they must be aged 14+ for bronze.

This is an overnight experience that is an outdoor adventure and participants complete this in supportive groups.

They work as a team and plan a programme involving something accessible outdoors such as fungi or star constellations.

This part of the award differs at each level to give a challenge and there is a significant kit list.

As a guide, bronze is one night and 2 days, silver 2 nights and 3 days, gold 3 nights and 4 days.

It is a great chance to develop some skills and get a little freedom by doing something new.

The Expedition Needs – Personal Kit

The biggest question participants usually have, is what they should take for the DofE expedition.

Well, the best prepared participants have comfortable waterproof walking boots with high quality socks.

Wet feet covered in blisters will either end an expedition or make it highly uncomfortable.

In addition, a high-quality waterproof and windproof coat and waterproof over trousers are essential.

Walking all day in rain can still be enjoyable with the right clothing.

Warmer jumpers, a hat and towel are all part of being fully prepared.

There are some kit list basics that are essential for bronze, silver and gold.

Investing in the right equipment like a rucksack, sleeping bag and sleeping mat will make for a good experience.

Cutlery and crockery, as well as a water cup, torch and personal first aid kit, are all important supplies.

But if you don’t plan on doing it again, don’t buy expensive gear, try and buy equipment you can use again.

Are you into fishing, buy a cooker you can use fishing. 

Are you into yoga, buy a sleeping mat which can also be used for Yoga.

The Expedition Needs – Group Kit

The expedition part of the DofE award must be done as a group and therefore there is group kit.

Participants will split this up and it may be best to consider the weight and bulk of each part for fairness.

As a guide one person will carry a waterproof tent and one a cooking stove.

Then smaller items including cooking pans, maps, compass, food and matches are to share between others.

It is only through experience that each team must see what is right for them.

As the levels follow on, more food, cooking fuel etc will be needed in silver and gold than bronze.

Importantly, most items purchased can be used across all 3 levels of the programme so do represent good value.

Gold Residential Needs

A residential experience is part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award.

This is 4 nights away from home with new people working to share an activity of some kind.

There are some from the Duke of Edinburgh Award group themselves, for 16-25 year olds in areas like conservation.

The National Citizens Service 2021 programme for 16/ 17 year olds represents great value as they are mainly government funded.

As a guide, university taster courses or volunteering on summer camps can also count.

Either way participants are likely to need some kit but may be able to use a number of expedition items.

Investing in Good Kit

There are 100 different things that are needed for DofE which is why investing in good kit is vital.

This guide mentions many of the basics, but depending on the programme, participants could find they require more.

Buy good quality kit though, and it will last the whole three levels.

The timings included above represent the minimum amount of time to complete the levels.

It could take longer, so consider that a flimsy tent or cheap coat will just not last the distance.

Getting the right kit during the bronze award ensures it will be reliable and available.


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