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Packing for Kilimanjaro

This is the packing list we created with input from our American clients. If you are traveling from another country, some of the retail options and links may not be relevant to you; however, most of this article you should find helpful.

You will have 2 bags on your hike:

1. A Duffel (70-100 L)

2. Day Backpack (30-50 L)

  1. Each day, your porter will carry your duffel. You will pack all the things that are not needed during the day’s hike (this includes your sleeping bag, clothes, toiletries, etc). Porters will setup camp before we arrive & have your duffel waiting in your tent each evening. Your duffel MUST BE at below 33 pounds/15k. This is the absolute maximum weight, so we recommend keeping it closer to 25 pound /11kg.

  2. Your dayback is a lightweight hiking backpack used just for the essentials you will need while you hike: water, snacks, extra layer, camera, etc.

When preparing for your flight, you will check your duffel bag and carry-on your day backpack. It is recommended you wear your hiking boots on the flight to guarantee your boots do not get lost. If you choose not to wear them on your flight, at least carry them on with you to make sure they DO NOT get lost.

In rare occasions, checked luggage can be lost. You can rent replacement equipment in Moshi if that happens, but you DO NOT want to rent boots, nor do you want to rent a day backpack. The items for rent are appropriate, but you would be lucky to find items that fit you.

Your guides will inspect your gear the night before the climb and gather any equipment that we may be lacking.

Overall Packing List:

  • Waterproof leather boots $130-200+

  • Day Backpack (30-40L with hydration bladder)

  • Hydration bladder

  • Sleeping Bag 0 to-20 Degrees Fahrenheit (-17 to -30 Celsius)

  • Duffel 80-100L (waterproof/water resistant)

  • Trekking poles

  • Headlamp

  • Socks 8-10 pair (wool recommended)

  • Fleece jacket

  • Insulated down jacket (synthetic NOT recommended)

  • Face covering or Balaclava

  • Outer Shell Jacket water/windproof

  • Rain pants

  • Snow/ski pants (water resistant & fleece lined)

  • Lightweight Gloves

  • Winter Mittens (waterproof)

  • Sunglasses

  • Base Layers (2-3 wool or silk recommended)

  • Altitude prevention medication (talk with your doctor)

  • Hat for blocking sun

  • Winter toboggan for summit night

  • 1-3 hiking pants

  • 1-3 Shirts

  • 1-2 lightweight t-shirts

  • 8+ underwear

  • Camp shoes (sneakers, slides, hiking sandals)

  • Extra water bottle

  • Personal wipes

  • Protein bars, granola bars, or trail mix

  • Basic toiletries

  • Travel pillow

  • Passport

  • Visa Application Approval Form Printed

  • Yellow CDC card showing Yellow Fever Vaccination (requirement varies dependent on travel origins & layovers)

Shopping Recommendations from our American Clients

  • Waterproof leather hiking boots

    • It is definitely worth it to spend more money on these

    • Things to consider:

      • Leather or Gortex?

        • Gortex is lighter, cheaper, more comfortable on first wear, and they look much more stylish than leather, but they’re just not as durable. They are ready to go without much break-in, but many climbers with gortex boots have worn holes or sole separation. This may not happen as many people hike with gortex, but if it does, this could be devastating. You want to break in your shoes, but unfortunately gortex has a tendency to break down during break-in period.

        • Leather is heavier and takes more time to break in, but they are more reliable and with proper leather care can last for years.

      • Other considerations—you want a hefty tread and good toe protection.

      • It’s recommended that you break them in with 30+ miles of hiking before the climb.

  • Day Backpack

    • 30-40L with water bladder capability

    • Another item worth a visit to REI to purchase. Let them know this is not a full-on backpackers backpack you’re looking for. The size you’re looking for is often for day hikers and even rock climbers.

    • Make sure to get a rain jacket for your backpack. A lot of models include one, but if not, they cost $15-30.

    • You will NOT be carrying your food, backpack, tents, etc, so, you only need one that can carry a couple layers of clothes and has capability of adding a water bladder

      • Many people use Osprey, REI brand, Fjallraven, Outdoor Research, Deuter, Gregory among many others

      • Keep in mind that Osprey backpacks need to be fitted on you. Again, REI sales reps (or other outdoor retailer) will help measure you and size you. It is important to be measured and know what size you need. Some backpacks, like mine aren’t adjustable, so you have to just make sure you buy the right size for your torso length.

      • We do not recommend purchasing one on Amazon or other online discounter unless you are very familiar with the brand and model. This is the 2nd most important piece of gear you want to be comfortable for you for long hikes. This is an item to prioritize quality, fit and comfort over discount.

  • Hydration Bladder

    • Osprey has the best warranty, and the sales reps will definitely try to push these, and they’re worth it if you’re going to use them long after the climb for other hikes.

    • But the generic brand bladders also performed just as well as the name brand bladders did on the hike.

    • This is something you can look for deals on, but make sure you test it out ahead of time on some hikes before you fly over.

  • Sleeping Bag 0 to-20 Degrees Farenheit

    • Keep in mind degree ratings are determined arbitrarily by the manufacturer, so take these ratings with a grain of salt.

    • Watch for ratings that may be in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit! you can be easily tricked into a bag that's really not going to be warm enough if it says 0 Degrees Celsius.

    • Consider the down rating and the style. You can get by with a 0 Degrees F sleeping bag if the down rating is at least:

      • 650FP Duck Down

      • Several clients have purchased these on Amazon. See link below

  • Mummy-style with drawstrings for the face and neck collar is essential. Look for extra padding or a “shelf” around the neck to provide extra warmth, and if the neck shelf includes another drawstring, this also helps keep you warm.

  • Feet area—look for a bag with a little extra padding in the feet as your feet can get cold at night. This isn’t the biggest issue, but it can help you be more comfortable.

  • Duffel

    • 80-100L (waterproof or water resistant)

    • Eagle Creek, Thule, North Face and a few other brands make nice ones. The Eagle Creek 90L is reasonably priced. Some of the REI brand duffels had bad reviews for water resistance.

  • North Face was the nicest & most expensive of the duffels.

  • FYI–No bag is going to be 100% waterproof even though they may be made of “waterproof materials,” the seams and zippers are always to going have some vulnerability, but it’s not a big deal because the porters carry your duffel inside another canvas bag, so you have pretty good water protection.

  • Trekking poles

    • A cheap $20 pair from a discounter can work fine, but better quality material on the handles can be more comfortable.

    • Cork is much more comfortable for most clients, but there are some with high quality foam that could also be comfortable…it’s up to your preference.

    • Double handle is helpful—many times climbers find themselves grabbing the poles below the handle suddenly during steep descents. There are poles designed with a “second foam handle” for this, and we do like that feature for comfort.

    • Black Diamond and Leki brands are good quality, but it all depends if you are going to use these just for this trip or for long-term.

    • Carbon fiber or Aluminum?

      • Carbon fiber is lighter, but aluminum is more durable.

    • If you are going to use these after your climb, it is worth it to invest in something like a Black Diamond that I runs about $140 at REI.

  • Here's another one we found that works well on Amazon:

  • Headlamp

    • Buy a cheap one. Bring a couple extra batteries. Don’t sweat this one.

  • Socks 8-12 pair (wool recommended)

    • We are huge advocates for wool socks. On summit night, you will wear 2 pair of socks: one will be a liner-type of sock (again we recommend wool), and a thicker longer, boot sock over top.

    • Sierra sells these cheap when they have them. If you wait to the last minute, they can be expensive.

    • Extra socks don’t take up much room, but they can be a life saver if your socks get wet or sweaty.

    • Darn Tough is a favorite brand among hikers & backpackers with good reason. They are amazingly comfortable, durable & come in great colors & designs. You can find these year-round on Amazon, REI, Sierra…

  • Snow pants

    • You want 1 pair of water resistant, fleece lined pants for summit night. Eddie Bauer has the best price I’ve found on these. You may find them online.

  • Fleece jacket

    • You need a fleece layer which can be a jacket, hoodie or vest.

  • Insulated jacket (down highly recommended)

    • Down is amazing!

    • Those who wore a big synthetic jackets are going to be very cold on summit night. Large, poofy coats take up a lot of room and are not necessarily warm.

    • Also lightweight packable down jackets may not be enough, so be careful. Some packable downs have a good down rating, but many of them do not have the little details that keep the cold out

    • We like REI brand down jackets over Eddie Bauer with a hood and nice bungee drawstring on the bottom to hold in body heat better.

  • Face covering or Balaclava

    • Take time to figure out which style works for you. Some face masks make you feel like you’re suffocating and can make it hard to breath in the highest altitudes.

  • Outer Shell Jacket water/windproof

    • Eddie Bauer sells a nice affordable storm jacket that works well.

    • This layer is to be used just in case of rain, so you want it to be as water resistant as possible but remember that no jacket is ever completely waterproof.

    • Storm jackets can also be helpful wind jackets too.

    • Buy one that is roomy enough for all the layers. On summit night, you will wear it over several layers.

  • Rain pants

    • These are for “just in case of” rain, so buy a cheap, but light waterproof pair. You’re likely to only use them if it rains/snows on summit night.

  • Lightweight Gloves

    • These are your thin glove liners you would use on several days on the mountain. During summit night, you will wear snow gloves over these, so you want to make sure they will fit under your pair of warmer gloves or mittens.

    • These can be inexpensive, but we recommend wool or silk material

  • Winter gloves or mittens

    • We prefer mittens!

    • Thermal gloves or mittens to wear on summit night over your lightweight gloves.

    • Water resistant snow gloves are recommended.

    • Sometimes snow gloves work ok, but when temps drop on summit night, snow mittens are your best choice

  • Sunglasses

    • Safety glasses could be a good idea for summit night, but not essential

    • Regular, comfortable sunglasses are fine. Don’t stress on this one either. Where what you like.

  • Base Layers (2-3 wool or silk recommended)

    • The youtube video is a great tutorial on choosing base layers. They can be pricey, so keeping an eye on Sierra’s website can help you save money

This is a great resource on choosing the best base layer for your needs and budget:

  • You will wear 2 pairs of base layers on summit night, and you will wear those same clothes for 2 days without changing! So it’s recommended to set aside 2 pair of base layer pants for summit night & 1 pair of base layer top and only wear them on those days.

  • Wool base layers are expensive, but they often go on sale in the off winter seasons. If you're planning ahead, you can save money by watching for these sales.

  • Altitude prevention medication (talk with your doctor)

  • Hat for blocking sun

    • Wear what you like

  • Winter toboggan for summit night

    • No need if you have a balaclava or ski mask

  • 1-3 hiking pants

    • Zip-off pants are really convenient. You can get by with one pair of these if you have to

    • Pants that stretch a little are helpful

    • Look for fabrics that are lightweight and water wicking

  • 1-3 Shirts

    • Hiking/fishing shirts are great, especially if the long sleeves can roll up to short sleeve.

    • Shirts that have SPF protection are a plus but not essential

  • 1-2 lightweight t-shirts

    • Short sleeve or sleeveless

    • It’s nice to wear these under your long sleeve shirt and/or at night

  • 8+ underwear

    • A couple extra pair of underwear doesn’t take up much room in your duffel, so why not?

    • Since you’re not showering the whole climb, extra underwear are a nice thing to change out.

  • Camp shoes:

    • You can bring hiking sandals (Like Chacos or Tevas), but we like bringing a pair of comfy running or trail shoes that you can slide on & off easily.

    • Some clients find switching out hiking boots for trail running shoes on the very last day of descent to be helpful for comfort.

    • A pair of thin slides or flip flops may be helpful (if you have room) when going in and out of your tent.

  • Extra water bottle

  • Personal wipes (we like Dude Wipes and Unscented Witch Hazel wipes_

  • Protein bars, granola bars, or trail mix

    • Just bring a few. There will be plenty of hot food served at camp, so these snacks are only needed for breaks in between meals.

    • Be careful of eating too many protein bars. They can be really hard on your digestion. Most people do not eat them more than once per day. More than that can cause diarrhea or stomach cramping.

  • Basic toiletries:

    • Wash cloth

    • Face wipes/ hand towel

    • Toothpaste

    • Toothbrush

    • Deodorant

    • Sunscreen

    • Bug spray

    • Small travel soaps provided daily

  • Travel pillow

  • Passport

  • Visa Application Approval Form

  • Covid Travel Form (if required)

  • Covid Test Card

  • Yellow CDC card

Other Optional Consideration

  • Contacts (if you wear them)—consider bringing dailys. It can be very hard to get your hands clean enough let alone keep your contact case clean especially during the dry season.

  • Nasal moisturizing gel—the air is tough and can be very dry.

  • Hydration powder

    • We really like Liquid IV, and clients report that it really helps with altitude symptoms.

    • Other sports drink powders are helpful if you like them. For some people they can cause heartburn, so make sure you try out any before the trip to make sure you can tolerate them.

  • Cough drops

    • Again, the strong winds and altitude can really dry your sinuses. Cough drops can be so very soothing.

  • Battery pack & cables

    • If you want to keep phone or camera charged for the climb.

  • Solar Panel

    • Do NOT waste your money on solar battery packs. They are a gimmick and are a waste of weight in your bag. They are heavy and absolutely useless except that they are a battery pack only. We have tested many models and they are all useless.

    • Amazon sells lightweight solar panels for hiking & camping that easily attach to your backpack. You can plug any separate battery pack to this panel.

  • TSA travel locks for your bags

  • Water filter or chlorine tabs

    • Water will be gathered from mountain spring-fed springs that are very clean. As a precaution, the cooking crew will also boil the water, but you may bring a personal filter if want to be extra safe.

  • Flip flops or slides

  • Leg gaiters

    • This is a personal preference. If you are climbing during rainy season, they are recommended but…it’s not likely that they will be needed during the dry. However, it does help keep dust out of your boots, so we like lightweight ones for Kilimanjaro.

    • Now if you’re hiking closer to the rainy season, there is more chance of heavier snow, then heavier leg gaiters are best.

  • Lightweight sleeping pants

    • Cotton is great since most nights it isn’t freezing temps, you may actually get sweaty at night if you wear fleece or wool pants.

    • However, wool base layer pants to sleep in at base camp would be helpful since it gets below freezing.

Things NOT necessary to bring:

  • Sleeping pad (one will be provided), but if you need extra padding, feel free to bring your own for extra comfort, but you won’t need it to protect you from the cold ground. The sleeping pads provided are ample for that purpose. However, we find some clients bring small inflatable ones to add to our pads. It's best to use ones that are 1pound in weight or less.

  • Spikes or Crampons

  • Snow baskets for your trekking poles.

  • Ice picks

  • Rock climbing gear

  • Toilet paper (the porters provide plenty!)

Small things clients often wish they had brought

  • Book to read

  • Flip flops

  • Melatonin

  • Aloe vera gel for sunburns

  • Playing cards

  • $20-30


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