Trekking across Wales on UK Adventure Academy with Secret Compass


Breaking down what it means to be expedition ready

Written by Kerry O'Neill

If I got £1 for every time somebody asked the question, “Am I fit enough to join one of your expeditions?” I would be in a position to retire, buy a yacht, stock it with rum, employ Johnny Depp to serve it to me, and cruise the world forever. Alas I don’t get £1 (or any rum, or Johnny) I just reply to each person with an email outlining fitness requirements for our expeditions. This blog post is designed to answer most of your initial questions about fitness, putting into ‘prose’ the information you will find elsewhere on our site about how fit you need to be to join a team. Enjoy!

About me

Just so you know where I am coming from with this advice, I am a normal person. That is to say, I am not super fit or super human, I don’t run marathons (let alone Marathons des Sables), I don’t find carrying 25kg easy or fun, but periodically I set myself a bit of a challenge, something to look forward to, and I get fit and prepared for it, as with the 2016 expedition to Armenia for instance. If you are already super fit, fantastic. If you trek a lot carrying weight on your back, you’re probably perfect to join one of our teams, we’ll look out for your Application Form and take it from there. If you are not (or are not sure if you are) fit enough, there is always time to get there. This blog post will help you decide if you are fit enough, with advice for if you’re not plus links to our 12-week training programme.

What info will I get about my expedition

You apply for an expedition having fallen in love with it on our website with the outline information that is there. On your Application Form you provide lots of information about your current state of health and fitness, and tell us a bit about your relevant adventure travel/ outdoor activity experience. We’ll then send you further information in the form of a Travel Instructions document. This document will contain lots of information about visas, flight, kit and, importantly, what the expedition will entail and therefore what you’ll need to be prepared for on the fitness front.

Find some general expedition clothing advice here or watch some of our short kit videos on youTube. Cotswold Outdoor (15% discount for teammembers) have expert in-store staff as well as some really useful online guides too to help you choose the right rucksack, daysack and kit.


Secret Compass grades its expeditions according to their degree of difficulty. Find our Expedition Grading advice here. This is quite broad brush, for a jungle expedition has different challenges to a desert one, but the grading will give you a great idea as to whether you are physically ready for the challenge.

If you don’t currently lead an active lifestyle with lots of multi-day trekking experience or activity under your belt, going from sit-down office hero to ‘trekking for 14 days straight carrying 25kg on your back’ with a 360° expedition might not be the best idea. If you plan to and, more importantly, actually do the work to get fit in time for said 360° expedition: that’s brilliant. This will take time, commitment and weekends away. Keep this in mind if you are currently sedentary but love the idea of a big trek in six months’ time for example.


We have devised an outline Expedition Training Programme for anyone considering getting fit for a trekking styled expedition where you will be carrying weight on your back. In the UK, weekends to places like the Brecon Beacons, the Peaks and the Scottish hills provide perfect training ground for the activities suggested. We’ve also put two new blog posts up from our director Tom (talking about trek training) and from explorer Levison Wood (talking about expedition preparation). Take a read now for useful tips and pointers. 

Secret Compass teams often have 12 people from a handful of different countries on them and so organising group training or physical assessments is just not feasible so it is up to you to provide us with full and honest information on your Application Form and to ensure that you are as fit and prepared as you’ve told us you’re going to be. This is for the safety of both you and the team, and to ensure that our planned itinerary can be kept to. For any advice on training, just call us on 0207 096 8428 so we can provide more guidance if you feel the information in your Travel Instructions or in the training programme isn’t quite enough.

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