You are finally going trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether you have already booked your Kilimanjaro trekking adventure, or you are still looking: There will come a time that you have to think about what to bring to the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. If you have ever been exposed to the elements, you know that gear and equipment are essential. We want to make it easier for you and therefore we present you the ultimate packing list for trekking on Kilimanjaro.
If you are out in the mountains, you want to make sure you have the right gear on you. Gear is so to say your best friend. A jacket can be too thick or too thin, your shoes can give you blisters and you have forgotten to bring fresh underwear. What is just a tiny nuisance in daily life, can turn into a life-threatening situation on a mountain like Kilimanjaro. Okay, you can make a plan for your dirty underwear, but don’t compromise on comfort when it comes to staying warm. The upper climate zones of Kilimanjaro are definitely no beach holiday.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a mountain that is easily underestimated. In this blog post, we present you a list of stuff that you definitely need. Our partners usually see two kinds of trekkers. They are either equipped for a climbing expedition to the peak of Mount Everest or they bring too little gear. There is no sacred middle way, nor is there a standard. Everyone is different. This packing list may not be ultimate to you, but it will cover the necessities.
Carry the Right Bags
If you have to carry something for a prolonged time and you choose what you carry, then don’t compromise. The bags that you bring on your trekking should be of decent quality and you want to be used to them. Don’t swap a winner backpack for a new untested one a week before you get on the plane. Assuming you will have porters to assist you on your trek, you need the following:
- Duffel Bag: Waterproof and about 80L. Must be heavy duty as it could be carried by your porter or it can be strapped on the back of a donkey. We repeat: Waterproof.
- Rucksack with Rain Cover: The last thing you want is to have wet clothes. They can be quick drying, but it’s better to prevent them from getting wet: Raincover! The size of your bag will depend upon trekking duration. Less is more, but don’t compromise.
- Daypack: A 30-liter daypack in which you can carry your personal items is an absolute must. These days you can even get packs with pockets in the front for easy access and soft flasks. Get something comfortable, because your daypack is your best friend.
Wear the Right Clothes
It doesn’t matter whether you hike the Marangu or the Umbwe Route, the trail can be a bit of a catwalk as some people like to sport the latest and most expensive outdoor fashion trends. You don’t have to go overboard. Find a healthy balance between comfortable and durable.
- Thermal Baselayer: Your base layer is your second skin. Merino is the way to go. Make it a lightweight one.
- T-Shirts: Bring comfortable synthetic t-shirts. Cotton is an absolute no go on a multi-day trekking adventure. It just doesn’t dry.
- Fleece Pullover or Jacket: Fleece can just add that extra bit of comfort when the weather turns brisk.
- Light Weight Thermal Tops: Synthetic t-shirts when the season allows it, but always some lightweight thermal tops. They can also be comfortable when they are not serving you as a base layer.
- Waterproof Jacket: Your hardshell should protect you from wind, rain, and snow. A good waterproof jacket can turn hell into heaven when the weather goes bad.
- Sports Bra for Her: A good sports bra is highly recommended when on the move in the mountains. It should wick moisture away from your skin.
- Hiking Shorts: At lower altitude and under the sun, it can be comfortable to wear a pair of hiking shorts. They can also be highly fashionable zip-off pants ;-)
- Hiking Pants: Lightweight, nylon, quick drying, UV-protecting. Anything that protects you from the elements. Although you look great in your 501s, you should leave your jeans at home.
- Waterproof Pants: We heard you wondering about pants when we mentioned a waterproof jacket. Of course, you also need waterproof pants.
Tie the Right Shoes
Give your shoes the attention they deserve. They can definitely do with a little bit of love when you are putting so much weight and strain on them. Your feet make it possible for you to reach Uhuru Peak. Don’t let blisters or other inconveniences ruin your Kili trekking.
- Hiking Boots: You thought you could get away with trail running shoes? It’s up to you, but your ankle can get really tired and that can lead to injury. Opt for a quality pair of boots instead.
- Sandals or Shoes: In the mornings and in the evenings, around the camp, you don’t want to wear your boots. This is when you can wear a comfortable pair of trail running shoes or even sandals. Give your feet a break.
- Hiking Socks: Good quality hiking socks should keep your feet dry and comfortable. Bring enough socks. Preferably a fresh pair for every day that you are trekking.
- Trekking Poles: If you know how to use them, they can help you take the strain from your joints. Try them, practice with them and bring them along if you like them.
- Inner Socks: To support your hiking socks, you can consider bringing thin inner socks. This will help you wick moisture away from your feet.
Get the Right Gloves
Your hands are just as important as your feet. They are likely to go cold first, so make sure you look after them. Bring something warm and durable. Your fingertips will thank you later.
- Fleece Gloves: You can’t wrong with something light and comfortable. Fleece is a good all round option.
- Heavyweight Gloves: When you know you are going to have to deal with low temperatures, then bring a pair of heavyweight gloves. Waterproof!
Wear the Right Headwear
There are multiple reasons for covering your head. Whether it’s sun, snow or rain: It is likely it strikes your head first. Protect yourself against the African sun and bring something that keeps you dry when it gets rough.
- Wool: That woolen hat can come in handy when it gets cold. This might not happen during the day, but in the evenings it can be really comfortable.
- Sunhat: Whether you want to bring a trucker, a visor or a cowboy style hat. Just make sure it protect you from the sun. The higher the altitude, the closer you are to the sun.
- Buff: A microfleece buff can serve as a warm hat, a sunhat and as a scarf at the same time. In mild seasons it may be the only thing you need. Bring two!
- Sunglasses: The world sometimes looks better through the lenses of a sunglasses. And it protect you from the sun! Prevent headaches and snow blindness. Beat the UV.
- Headlamp: To find your way in and around the campsite, you want to have a headlamp. It can make it easier for you to find your way to the long drop toilet in the middle night.
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A good night of sleep is the best recovery. Your wellness during a trekking relies partly your nightrest. Our partners in Tanzania will sort you out with basics like mountain tents for all seasons and comfortables mattresses. You can also always rent some gear.
- Sleeping bag: Sleeping on Kilimanjaro can be a struggle when you are cold. Make sure you are bringing a proper expedition style sleeping bag. Check the label to see if it covers the minimum temperatures that you can experience.
- Pillow: Don’t bring the pillow you use at home. Just consider bringing an inflatable pillow. It can make a huge difference, especially if you are used to sleeping with a pillow.
- Ear plugs: It won’t be a rockshow, but where there are people it can get loud. If you are a light sleeper and easily wake up when there is noise, then consider bringing a pair of ear plugs.
Extras for Trekking
No one is the same and everyone has his own level of comfort. There will be things missing on this list, simply because you attach more value to them than others. Bring what you want to bring. The next things are definitely worth bringing:
- Sunscreen: It is a no-brainer really. You will be at high altitude and therefore closer to the sun. The sun in Africa can be merciless.
- Water Bottles: If you want to prevent altitude sickness, you will have to drink plenty of water. Don’t rely on bottled water along the trail. They are less environmentally friendly and costly. Bring a bottle that you can refill. They can be soft flasks as well.
- Wet Wipes: Water is not always readily available. Bring wet wipes to suit some of your sanitary needs. Opt for biodegradable ones.
- Sanitizer: For the same reason you bring along hand sanitizer. Anything that helps you keep your hygiene game up while out there on the trails.
- Creams: If you have a dry skin, you want to bring something to keep your skin moisturized. Lip balm, body lotion, anything small and handy. The air can be dry at higher altitudes.
- Pain Medication: At higher altitude you may suffer from headaches. This is also one the symptoms of altitude sickness that almost everyone trekking experiences at one point. Bring something to relieve the pain.
- First Aid Kit: Your guide will be prepared for a first aid situation, but for the small stuff you also want to be able to take responsibility yourself. Bring a basic first aid kit for cuts and bruises.
- Towel: Small, quick-drying and suitable for trekking. Your accomodation along the trails are not hotels. Bring something.
- Toiletries: Probably the first thing you will forget to bring: Toothbrush. Look, when you do really forget anything - You must realize that you can still buy this in Moshi. But yes, do bring toiletries.
What You Don’t Bring
There always things that you can just leave at home. Light and Fast: The lighter your backpack, the easier your life on the trails will be. Ease is joy. Here is what you should not bring along.
- Unnecessary Electronics: Leave your iPads and tablets at home. Less is more. A phone, sure, but don’t bring too much electronic gear on your trek. Electronics also don’t do that well on altitude.
- Jewelry: Because you will be living out of your bag, you are likely to lose things on the way. Don’t bring any jewelry. Unleash the inner hippie and just come as you are.
- Classic Towel: Heavy, too large and they don’t dry. Bring a small quick-drying towel, as mentioned above.
Rather back too little than pack too much. Eventually, your porters are the ones who have to carry most of the burden. You also don’t want to have any expensive surprises when checking in your duffel bag at the airport. In case you have forgotten something or left something behind on purpose, know that you can also sort out your gear in Moshi. Either your tour operator can be of help, or you can rent equipment at one of the shops you can find in Moshi or Arusha.
Find out what the best season is for trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Want to polish up your Swahili skills? Have you been trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro recently? Do you feel we missed something crucial? Let us know in the comments.
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