With so many options available it is only natural that you will have questions surrounding which gear is going to be better for you during your school expedition. We’ve compiled this list of the most frequently asked questions about expedition kit lists. If you have further questions remember you can also contact your Customer Support Advisor.
Q: Does it matter if my main backpack opens from the front or top?
A: Both are fine! Top opening bags have the advantage of being easier to use with waterproofing bags however if you have already got a rucksack that opens from the front don’t rush out to buy another one!
Q: What size does my backpack need to be?
A: You main pack needs to be at least 65L. If your bag is any smaller you will have trouble carrying all the kit needed for an expedition.
Q: Does it need to be waterproof or have a waterproof cover?
A: The backpack itself does not need to be externally waterproof. We recommend that you waterproof from the inside out, meaning that you use an internal waterproof bag (see section on liners below). The reason for this is that external covers cannot cover all the bag and gear inside may still get wet.
Q: When I bought my main backpack it came with a small bag – can I use that?
A: Generally the answer here is no. We recommend a bag with 20 – 30L capacity and most bags that come with larger backpacks are only 15L. It won’t fit everything you need especially if you’re going to a destination where you have a fully supported trek and may be trekking with your daypack only.
Q: Does my day bag need a proper harness with a waist strap?
A: Yes, it’s vital, if you will be using it on treks, that you have the support of a waist strap – it will be more comfortable! You can get away with a day bag without a waist strap for treks that are unsupported(i.e. treks where you’ll be using your main pack and leaving the day bag behind)
Q: Does it have to be able to fit in my main pack?
A: No! Definitely not, there will be no stage where you need to fit one into the other, when you carry 2 bags (i.e transiting from one place to the next) you carry your main bag on your back and your small bag on your front. When you are trekking you can leave any non-essential items behind in your day pack if it is not needed on the trek.
Q: Do I have to spend a lot of money on a bag liner or will garbage bags suffice?
A: You do not have to buy a reusable liner for your pack, a heavy duty plastic bag will suffice. Just ensure that it’s not black (so that you can see what you’re packing into) and that it won’t tear easily, the garden waste variety are usually great.
Q: I already have a sleeping bag but it’s really big and I’m concerned it will take up too much room in my pack. What can I do?
A: You can buy an inexpensive compression bag to carry your sleeping bag in, it will make it smaller.
Q: I want to invest in a new bag but should I buy a down or synthetic sleeping bag?
A: This comes down to personal preference. Either are fine. Down is a natural material but synthetic will dry quicker should the bag get wet.
Sleeping bag Liners
Q: Silk, cotton or polarfleece – what should I get?
A: Each liner material has their pros and cons. Silk is the best as it has the best degree of warmth and packs down the smallest however it is the most expensive. Thermal polar fleece liners are very warm but can be bulky. Cotton liners are the cheapest and are also bulky but they work well, some families like to sew up an old bed sheet to create their very own liner.
Q: Should I get a ¾ or full body mat?
A: This comes down to your personal comfort. As long as your hips and shoulders are supported this is enough, but you may feel more comfortable on a full length mat – keep in mind though they are more bulky to carry and more expensive.
Q: Foam or inflatable?
A: You should again take into consideration your personal comfort and destination. If you’ll be on the ground for more than three nights in cold weather you’ll probably prefer the extra insulation and comfort of an inflatable mat, but please don’t feel you have to buy one of these – a foam mat will suffice. Even in hammocks mats are needed as they stop you being bitten by insects through the hammock material.
Q: Will runners/ walking shoes be ok for my trek?
A: No. Due the terrain of your trek you will want a proper hiking boot that has good tread and provides ankle support – it is the best way to prevent an injury.
Q: Can I just bring thongs for my other shoes?
A: You will need a pair of good sandals or runners for working on your project site and for any water activities (for example: white water rafting cannot be done in thongs as you’re likely to lose them!) You can bring thongs as well as sturdier shoes if you like, but you may not end up wearing them much at all.
Q: My kit list says I need to be able to carry 3 Litres of water. Is that really necessary?
A: Yes – this is the requirement for any World Challenge Expedition. Given the nature of our treks, there may be times where you have limited access to water so whilst you may not always carry 3L of water you need to have the capacity to do so.
Q: Can I bring a pillow?
A: Yes, but it will take up more room in your pack. In the past Challengers have brought a pillow case and stuffed it with clothing to make a pillow.
Q: Any other tips?
A: Look to borrow or hire where you can – especially if you don’t think you will use your outdoor gear again. Also take advantage of the World Challenge Macpac discount and the World Challenge Gear store. If in doubt, talk to your Program facilitator during school meetings or call your customer support advisor to talk things over.