Whilst not a technical climb in terms of climbing capability and equipment, Mount Kilimanjaro is still a trip which requires a certain level of clothes and gear (Kilimanjaro kit list) which are suitable for the high altitude of the trip and presents would be trekkers with a number of challenges.
4 Climates in 1 Climb
The mountain itself has 4 very distinct climates :
Heather & Moorland
So it’s essential to pack for these climates (whilst I was there the temperature varied from 30C to freezing) – layering is the answer here, not a problem until you realise that you are also limited to a 15kg weight limit (this is the limit the porters are allowed to carry for you). Within this 15kgs you need to have a really decent 4 season sleeping bag, all of your personal equipment and clothing and plenty of additional snacks to fuel your journey. In addition to the pack which the porter carries, you carry a day sack which would contain at least 3L of water per day, your camera, waterproofs, sunscreen, snacks etc.
Your tour company will provide you with a kit list but here’s mine along with notes of other things which I found useful and the quantities of the things that I took – this tipped my bag in at exactly 15kg’s and sustained me reasonably comfortably for my 8 day trek :-
PS – unless you are very fortunate in the looks department, we’re talking function, function, function here and not fashion !!
After all who can look fashionable wearing 5 layers of clothes and a hat which is furry and covers the ears ?? If you do, please let me know and I’ll feature you HERE 🙂
This stuff has to perform – to keep you dry and warm – and preferably both at the same time – if it matches, or is the right colour for you – then all the better.
comfort and ‘fit for purpose’ trumps fashion, matching colours or any other notion you might have about looking cool as you climb Mt Kilimanjaro
Day Pack, for you to carry (*ideally 30-35L – I found one with large outside pockets was useful for stowing water bottles/camelbacks) Quantity x 1
Large duffel bag or backpack for porters to carry. The weight limit per porter is 15kg/35lbs. Quantity x 1 (I got a 90L pack which was about the right size)
Dry bags for personal equipment. Quantity – I took a roll of small 30L size bags as well as smaller ziploc bags for smaller items
Layers are very important in Kilimanjaro because temperatures vary greatly. Although Kilimajaro may be near the equator, it can be very cold and windy as you climb toward the summit. Your inner layer should be wicking and breathable, so no cotton. Your next layer should be insulating and warm and your final layer should be water proof and breathable. We also recommend a down jacket for the summit day as it can get very cold up there.
Shorts, for first and last day Quantity x 1
Hiking pants for the day and for lounging in the evening Quantity x 1
Short sleeve T-shirts Quantity x 3
Long sleeve top Quantity x 2 – both were thermals
Long underwear Quantity x 2 – both were thermals
Fleece jacket Quantity x 1
Fleece pants, depending on how cold you get – Quantity x 1 (I took ski trousers)
Down jacket Quantity x 1 (Note : I also took an additional Ski Jacket as I get very cold)
Water proof jacket/parka – Quantity x 1 – I took a large rain cape which went over my day sac
Water proof pants Quantity x 1
Underwear. The number is based on personal preference. Quantity x 4 (don’t judge me here, you do what you have to do LOL)
Sport bras, for women Quantity x 2
Glove liners Quantity x 2 – 1 x very thin, 1 x ski type thicker gloves
Waterproof gloves to go over the glove liners – Mittens Quantity x 1 (Hired in Africa)
Wool beenie/hat Quantity x 2 – 1 woolly hat, 1 really thick hat with ear cover for summit day
Balaclava Did not take as used hat above and fleece neck gaitor
Neck gaiter Quantity x 2 – 1 cotton and 1 fleece
Baseball cap or sunhat Quantity x 1
Hand and foot warmers. Optional Quantity 2 x hand warmers for summit night
Sock liners Quantity x 4
Thinner hiking socks for warm days. Quantity x 2
Thicker wool socks for the colder days. Quantity x 1 (I invested in a pair of wool socks which kept my feet toasty warm on summit day)
Footwear – Hiking boots. Make sure to break them in before the hike. Quantity x 1 (I wore NorthFace Snow Betty boots)
Sandals or down booties for relaxing in the evening. Quantity x 1 – I took my trekking sandals which could be worn over my socks for around camp
Gaiters. Quantity x 1 (hired in Africa)
Sleeping bag rated -25 degrees C/-10 degrees F or colder is recommended. Quantity 1 – hired in Africa
Thermarest. Foam sleeping pads are provided, but thermarests are recommended. Quantity 0- I didn’t take this and was fine on the sleeping pad
Yellow fever certificate
Tanzanian visa (NOTE : I got mine on arrival – but check for your specific circumstances)
Cash, travellers cheques, credit cards. (NOTE : I took USD and Credit Cards only)
TIP : Make copies of your passport, Tanzanian visa, airline tickets, itinerary and leave a copy with someone at home and put one copy in your luggage.
First Aid/Medical Kit
(NOTE : Don’t get scared about this list – most of it came back with me not used, but I had it just in case – I mostly used painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets, blister plasters, knee supports and deep heat and painkilling gel on my knees). Oh and plenty of lipsalve and sunscreen.
Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, or Paracetamol (Quantity : Take Plenty just in case)
Moleskin Note : I use Compeed blister plaster – they are AMAZING 🙂
Sunscreen. (SPF 25+)
Lip balm with sunscreen ( I always use QV).
Disinfectant, antiseptic cream (Note : I found antiseptic powder better for feet)
Bandages and tape.
Imodium or other diarrhea medicine.
Ace Bandages (Note : I took knee support bandages too)
Melatonin (1-3mg) or other sleeping aid if you need it.
Malaria Pills. Consult your doctor.
Antibiotics. Consult your doctor.
Prescription drugs based on your needs.
Deep heat and painkilling gels
Diamox. Consult your doctor or chose based on your needs. Read up on these and decide if you want to take, there are side effects to deal with if you do. I got these and think they helped. I got this prescribed as private prescription at the Neuro Spinal Clinic in Dubai.
Toilet paper or tissues (personally I find small packs of tissues easier)
Small towel (I have a small gym material one which dries quickly)
Soap (small bar and a box or bag to keep it in)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Baby wipes (take a few smaller packs rather than large ones – then you can keep 1 in your daysac)
Hand sanitizer (I usually get the type which will clip onto your daysac)
Glasses, contact solution if you need it
Mirror (NOTE : sometimes it’s best not to know how you look !)
Water bottles and camelback. 2-3L (Note I took 1 x Camelback and 1 x Platypus as well as an insulated water pipe which was useful particularly on summit day as your water freezes – you can get away with normal water bottles if you want to
3 liters of bottled water before the trip – buy locally
Drink mix such as gatorade for flavor and electrolytes (I took GuBrew which come in handy tablet form and a variety of different flavours)
Water filter or iodine purification tablets. Water will be boiled but some people still choose to carry this. (Note I didn’t bother with this as all water was treated by the trekking company)
Cash. $400 or more in cash, including some small US, Euro or Tanzanian currency NOTE : I found it easy to get by purely using USD – and didn’t change any money into Tanzanian Shillings.
Trekking poles (Hired in Africa – never used them before but found really useful)
Camera, film, tripod
Video Camera – didn’t take
Batteries & spare memory cards
Binoculars – didn’t take
Journal, pencil and pen – took but didn’t use
Adapter – didn’t take
Energy bars, candy, snacks, personal comfort food, protein bars as per your choosing (I took Gu energy sachets, they are light & quick to give energy, cereal and nut bars, mints, and some boiled sweets – I averaged 2-3 bars per day plus 2 Gu energy sachets per day)
Playing cards, games, books, magazines, frisbee, football, kites as per your interest Note : I took 1 x kindle and am not sure you will want to be playing frisbee or football on the uneven ground of most campsites 🙂
Dry sacks and zip-lock bags for waterproofing (used garbage bags and zip-lock bags)
Sewing kit – I take a small one plus some DUCT tape
Salt, pepper, tabasco sauce or spices as per your preference (Didn’t take)
Alarm clock or watch with alarm (Not required)
Swim suit for hotel swimming pool
MP3 player and earphones (plus a good playlist or two)
I took a few ‘luxury items’ with me :
Jar of peanut butter for high protein, high calorie snack – yup – eaten straight off the spoon 😉
1 x small hot water bottle (I live in Dubai so was not acclimatised to cold but think most people would find useful)
1 x small jar of luxury coffee for morning drinks in my tent
8 Sachets of hot chocolate/bedtime drink for taking to tent each evening
Things not on the kit list which I took :-
Few Karabiners – always useful to hook things onto your bag
Nail clippers (also you might want to take a nailbrush as your hands and fingers get filthy)
Small solar charger – which kept my phones charged
Local SiM card – bought in Moshi and gave me the ability to tweet/blog etc from parts of the mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro Guidebook
Fleece sleeping bag liner (for additional warmth)
Small inflatable pillow
Union Jack flag for summit day
Gym T-Shirt for summit day (a bit of blatant advertising !!)
Compression socks and shorts – I used these after running and think they helped
A SheeWee or the equivalent (does exactly what it says) – idea for those cold nights when you don’t want to leave your tent (enough said – use your imagination for the rest !!)
I was able to beg or borrow the majority of equipment from friends or to use my existing gym gear for t-shirts etc.
I hired my sleeping bag, mittons, poles and gaitors in Africa – and could have hired more equipment if needed (I stayed at the Springlands Hotel in Moshi and they had a very good supply of relatively new equipment for hire – Hire came to about USD 75)