Kilimanjaro Packing List - The complete guide 2017

by Kshaunish Jaini

What to pack for a Kilimanjaro trek

You’re in for a great adventure, you’ll be hiking the tallest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro being one of the famous Seven Summits (the highest mountains in each of the continents). Depending on the route that you’re taking, the Kilimanjaro trek will be around 5-10 days long, with most leaving from the town of Moshi in Tanzania. Anything that your porters aren’t carrying, you will be, and you have to deal with high altitudes, high and low temperatures and different weather conditions. There’s a lot to consider, so in this article, I'll try to give you some tips on what to pack for Kilimanjaro. Note these down, bookmark the site, add things to your checklist. Whatever you need to do to make sure that you don't miss out on something you will need out there.

Before we look at what to take, the first thing you need to know are the restrictions that will govern your kit for the Kilimanjaro climb. First, the porters will usually carry a maximum of 15 kg of your luggage for you. Of course this is a big help, but 15 kg isn’t a great deal. Anything beyond that - you’re carrying it yourself in your day pack, unless you hire an extra porter. Weight is everything! It’s a tough exercise but you need to make your pack as light as possible and minimize your luggage. Remember that at high altitude carrying a backpack is even harder and you will be going uphill, so you want it to be as light as possible, especially as you are hiking for days. But also keep in mind that you don’t need to worry about the weight of items that you will be wearing daily such as basic clothes, boots and walking poles, for example.

Before you go to the shops, be aware that many of the tour operators and companies around Kilimanjaro hire out equipment for the trek or provide it, so check first and decide what you should buy yourself, and what you can rent or get for free. You may also be able to borrow some of these things from friends. Some people go all out, buying lots of expensive trekking gear or use their existing kit, whilst others make do with cheaper goods. This is entirely your choice. However, regardless of your philosophy, there are some things that everyone needs to take for climbing Kilimanjaro .

 

Packing-for-the-Kilimanjaro-trek

Packing for the Kilimanjaro trek. Photo by Cdamian

Clothes and Footwear for Kilimanjaro

Boots for Kilimanjaro

Don’t underestimate the importance of good footwear regardless of the route you’re taking . You need a good, comfortable pair of hiking boots and out of everything else, this is where you should be prepared to invest money. If your feet are going to be in pain, or you end up with a twisted ankle thanks to low quality boots, your trek is going to be miserable and you may even have to give up. If your boots are expensive, you can always sell them after the trek, or maybe you can borrow a friend’s, providing they fit you well. You need something with lots of grip, waterproof and with adequate ankle support as the inclines can be steep. A pair of spare laces is also a good idea. If you buy boots for Kilimanjaro trek , make sure you break them in properly before you go.

When buying your boots, do cater for the fact that you may be wearing more than one pair of socks on the mountain. You should also make sure that you have some wiggle room for your toes. This is especially important as you will appreciate the comfort during the descent. In fact, when trying out the boots, wear it with two pairs of socks and make sure that you walk up and down an incline to spot potential problems with your boots.

Some Amazon suggestions:
Boots for men
Boots for women

Base Layers for trekking

Once you get up that mountain, the temperature drops and at night it can get below freezing. The best way to stay warm is to dress in layers. This basically means wearing multiple thinner clothes rather than one big thick one. This not only helps with holding warmth, as the air trapped inside acts as an excellent insulator, but also is easier to wear or remove one or two layers in case the temperature gets uncomfortable.
Get hold of some decent base layers - preferably not cotton as you will sweat more, causing you to be colder. A pair of leggings/long johns and a long sleeve top or t-shirt with thermal properties and moisture wicking provides a good foundation for warmth and saves you having to wear big and bulky layers instead. If you can afford it, base layers made from Merino wool are extremely warm and comfortable.

Some Amazon suggestions:

Women’s base layers:
Leggings
Tops
Merino Leggings
Merino Tops
Men’s base layers:
Leggings
Top
Merino Leggings
Merino Top

Upper Layers for Kilimanjaro

You need to think about layering on top of your base layer, with the ability to remove layers if you get too hot. Thinner is better but as long as you have the required warmth/resilience to weather with all your layers on, that’s what is important. You’ll want something on top of your base layer like a long sleeve shirt. On top of that should be another warm layer such as a good fleece. In addition, a t-shirt or thin long shirt or two for the humid jungle sections, and to wear in bed. For your legs, go for something durable like trekking pants and you’ll want a pair of fleece pants for the higher altitudes and that freezing night summit bid. Jeans might seem like a good choice but if they get damp or wet it will be very difficult to get them dry again. Some people take shorts for the lower sections of the Kilimanjaro trek when it’s hot, that’s up to you, or you could get some of the trekking trousers that have zip-off legs, converting to shorts. They may not look cool but they are certainly practical!

Some Amazon suggestions:
Men:
Long Sleeve Shirt
Fleece
Trekking Trousers
Fleece Trousers
Women:
Long Sleeve Shirt
Fleece
Trekking Trousers
Fleece Trousers

Socks and Underwear

Take a couple of pairs of thick hiking socks ( in case one set gets wet) and a pair of regular ones. Some people take a thin pair and a thick pair. When trekking Kilimanjaro, you’re going to have to accept that a fresh set of clothes every day is not going to happen, unless you really want to carry a backpack full of dirty clothes with you. Don’t worry, everyone is in the same boat. If you get really smelly feet you could take a small amount of shoe powder or spray to help. Sock liners are also a really good option as they allow you to extend one pair of socks to two without adding much weight. 

The amount of underwear is at your discretion but 3 pairs is a good figure, and women should opt for a couple of sports bras for extra support.

Amazon suggestions:

Underwear: Women , Men
Hiking Socks: Men , Women

Jackets for Kilimanjaro trek

On Kilimanjaro, jackets can be the difference between being constantly cold or pleasant. A soft shell jacket or thin fleece provides a good jacket base layer. Then you’ll want a good insulated jacket for the cold, either synthetic or down. Finally you need a decent wind and waterproof jacket to wear on top of or instead of these. Goretex is a good material to look for as it can handle both and is breathable. Windproofing is important as the wind can be freezing on the summit day of your Kilimanjaro climb. It can rain, and unless you want to get wet then your jacket being waterproof is wise, especially as it’s hard to dry things once you’re at high altitude. An emergency option is to buy a cheap plastic poncho (you can get these from vendors at the trek start). It could actually be a good buy even if you have a jacket, as if you don’t have a waterproof pack a poncho can be a good bag protector too.

Amazon suggestions:

Men:
Shell Jacket ,
Down Jacket ,
Waterproof Jacket
Women:
Shell Jacket ,
Down Jacket ,
Waterproof Jacket

Other Tips

Don’t forget to try on all your layers at once before you settle on what to buy or take. If you’re going clothes shopping, wear the under-layers that you want to take and take you so you can see if the new clothes fit. Always try to go for breathable and moisture wicking fabrics if you can, they will be much more comfortable as you sweat. Finally, light-weight is key - whether it’s in your pack on on your body, you need to be able to handle all of those clothes!

Hats

On your Kilimanjaro hike you will be going from very hot periods under burning sun to freezing temperatures up at the summit. For this reason, it’s advised to take two hats - one sun hat and one warm thermal hat for those cold nights and the mountain top. The sun hat is a good choice since it covers the back of your neck - hence provides protection from sunburn. If you choose not to take a sunhat and opt for something like a baseball cap, then just make sure you have something you can cover your neck with.

You can usually pick up your warm thermal hat from Moshi. There are plenty of variants from brightly coloured bobble hats to balaclavas. These are made especially for your trek to the summit and will also be a nice momento to take back, or even gift to the porters at the end of your trek.

Amazon suggestions:
Merino Beanie ,
Wide Brim Sun Hats

Gloves

Get yourself some warm gloves, and ideally waterproof ones. Thin but thermal ones are good as they’ll let you more easily use walking poles and items like cameras without having to take them off. Some people like to take a thicker pair for the freezing summit night - the only problem is that they are usually bulky. A better option is to get some thin glove liners and medium sized main gloves to give the option of added warmth without too much extra bulk. Prefer the fleece ones as they are comfortable.

Amazon suggestions:
Thermal Glove Liners ,
Waterproof Gloves ,
Very Waterproof Gloves (probably best with thermal liners) 

Little Things to pack for Kilimanjaro

Trekking Equipment for Kilimanjaro

Walking-Sticks-for-the-Kilimanjaro-trek

Walking Sticks are highly recommended for the Kilimanjaro trek. Photo by Glenn

Other Ideas for your Kilimanjaro Packing list

Get Packing!

So there you have it - a good starting point for your Kilimanjaro packing. Remember to check your weights and keep it as light and compact as possible. Every kilogram counts when you are taking it on your back for 7 hours a day, trust me! Go through everything you want to take and ask the question “do I really, really need this?”. Be honest with yourself. If the answer is no - ditch it! With your kit out of the way, you are all ready to take on the Kilimanjaro climb and the trip of a lifetime! Enjoy!

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