Packing for Kilimanjaro
Can we just start by saying how incredibly excited we are for you that you’re about to embark on this epic adventure?! Now that you’ve made the decision to climb the highest peak in Africa, it’s time to prepare. We know that planning a Kilimanjaro packing list can seem a daunting task, so we’ve made it as easy as possible for you by putting together an extensive packing guide that you can follow! If you pack everything in our list, you can rest assured you’ll be fine on your Kilimanjaro trek. For those who are more visual and would prefer to watch a video, have a look at our packing list video a little further down.
What do you need to climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is like hiking from the Equator to the North Pole in a matter of days, as you start the trek walking in a hot and humid rainforest and quickly ascend to a world of ice and glaciers. This means you need to pack hiking gear for all weather! We’ve put together a comprehensive packing list to help you with your Kilimanjaro preparation. The list is divided into the following categories:
Climbing Kilimanjaro is like hiking from the Equator to the North Pole in a matter of days.
Provided by Follow Alice
Ultimately, we want to keep you warm, safe and healthy! In fact, we feel so strongly about this that we included the following equipment in all of our Kilimanjaro packages at no extra cost:
- Tents. We provide clients with high-quality, four-season mountain tents. Each tent sleeps two people, so please note that you’ll be sharing your tent with one other. We also supply a toilet tent.
- Sleeping bag. You need a bag that can handle very cold conditions. We provide The North Face four-season sleeping bags suitable for at least -20° C (-4° F).
- Insulated sleeping mat. We provide you with a well-insulated, foldable mat that can handle temperatures as cold as -20° C (-4° F).
- Trekking poles. We supply you with high-quality, collapsible trekking poles.
We also provide clients with the following item, but please note the rental fee attached:
- Down jacket. We supply high-quality down jackets that can withstand temperatures up to -20° C (-4° F). These can be rented from Follow Alice at $40 per jacket. We highly recommend these!
We recommend you use our equipment for the above items as they adhere to our Kilimanjaro safety guidelines. You are, however, of course free to bring your own if you prefer. If you would like to bring your own, be sure to add them to your Kilimanjaro packing list.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE
In an attempt to reduce pollution, the Government of Tanzanian has prohibited any plastic carrier bags from entering the country. You’re therefore advised to avoid having plastic carrier bags in any of your luggage.
You need to bring the following carrying equipment to Kilimanjaro:
- 1 daypack (between 35 and 45 litres)
- 1 daypack rain cover
- 1 duffel bag (between 65 and 100 litres)
- 1 water bladder
- 1+ water bottle
Here’s a little more detail on each of the above important items …
This is the bag that you carry on your back while on the hike. All the items that you might need during the day go
Day pack rain cover
We highly recommend you pack a rain cover that’s fitted to your daypack, even if your daypack is water-resistant. Nobody needs the added challenge of carrying a sopping, heavy daypack when tackling a monster mountain like Kilimanjaro.
Your duffel bag contains everything else you need for the trek, including your sleeping bag and sleeping mat
Your daypack should contain drinking water, snacks, your camera and any extra clothes you might need that day. Everything else goes in your duffel bag, which is carried by a porter.
When packing for Kilimanjaro we recommend you include the following water carriers:
- Built-in camel bag with drinking hose (ideal, but not essential)
- 2+ water bottles
An essential item to add to your Kilimanjaro packing list is a quality water carrier or two. We cannot over-stress how important it is to have enough water to drink while on your climb. Not only are you being very active and so need to hydrate, but water also helps to ease the symptoms of Kilimanjaro altitude sickness. Every trekker should carry two to three litres of water per day. While the mountain crew carries the water needed for the entire trek, you have to carry what you need for each day in your own water vessels.
Water helps to ease the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Most hiking bags have camel bags with water hoses built into them, which is really great. This means that instead of reaching for a water bottle when thirsty, you can just pick up the mouthpiece and drink from there. You should take sips of water often – if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated!
On cold days like summit day you want to insulate your camel bag so that your water doesn’t freeze. We recommend that you also carry a full water bottle or two should the water in your hose freeze (this does happen!). Ensure your water bottles are good quality and close properly.
If you can, it’s best to keep your water bottle as close to your body as possible to avoid it freezing. A soft bottle with a clip is a good idea so that it’s comfortable and can be attached to your clothes. Putting your water bottle inside a thermal sock helps to keep it from freezing. Also, note that water freezes from top to bottom, so if you carry your water bottle upside down then you can still drink from it even if the top part has started to freeze.
You should pack the following footwear for Kilimanjaro:
- Hiking boots
- Gym shoes or sneakers
- Gaiters (optional)
The most important item on your Kilimanjaro packing list is a pair of comfortable, worn in hiking boots. As such these shouldn’t be an afterthought in your Kilimanjaro preparation. There are so many options out there to choose from when shopping for the perfect pair of boots. We recommend opting for either leather or Gore-Tex boots. The main difference between these two types of boots is that leather boots are more breathable, which is important in the prevention of blisters. The downside is that they’re high maintenance as they must be regularly waxed in order to become water-resistant. This of course means that the
Ultimately, this choice is yours to make, but be very careful to break in your boots properly before your Kilimanjaro climb. It’s recommended that you and your trusty boots cover at least 100 km together before your Kilimanjaro climb. We also like to stress the importance of either wearing your boots or having them in your hand luggage
A pair of comfortable, worn-in hiking boots is the most important item on your Kilimanjaro packing list.
Gym shoes or sneakers
After a long day of hiking, the thought of sitting back and kicking your boots off is pure bliss. This is great except for the fact that the temperature can plummet to well below freezing higher up on the mountain. When you are packing for Kilimanjaro, it’s a good idea to throw in a pair of comfortable sneakers to wear around camp.
Gaiters aren’t essential, but we do recommend using them. Their uses include helping to keep your calves and feet dry, preventing sticks and stones getting into your shoes (super annoying!), and protecting you from ticks, snakebites and other such nasties. On summit day you hike through snow, so gaiters are especially helpful during that stage of the trek.
We recommend you pack the following inner layers:
- 2+ base layers
- 1 middle layer
- 3+ sports underwear
- 2 thermal underwear
- 2+ pairs of hiking socks
- 1+ pair of sock liners (optional)
- 1 pair summit socks
Climbing Kilimanjaro means hiking through five distinct climate zones. For this reason, it’s helpful to have quite a few layers to work with.
Your base layer is the layer that sits
Your summit base layer should include long johns and a thermal, long-sleeved vest (preferably made of merino wool) that you wear for summit day only. Your summit day climb is by far the longest hike of the entire Kilimanjaro trek. In fact, you’re on your feet for around 12 to 15 hours on summit day! Having a fresh and comfortable layer for this day’s hike is ideal.
Your middle layer is for your torso and is worn over your base layer. This garment should be comfortable and easy to move in. We
You experience five distinct climate zones during a Kilimanjaro climb.
So it goes without saying that a fresh set of underwear is always a pretty good way to start each day! That’s why we recommend that you bring multiple pairs along with you. It’s best to wear sports pants (and bras) for this, as they’re comfortable and breathable. Again, avoid cotton. You want fabrics that wick away sweat.
The climate is very cold near the top of Kilimanjaro, so you need to pack thermal underwear. We recommend having two of each item – one of which you keep especially for summit day, the coldest and longest day of all.
Just like underwear, we suggest that you bring a few pairs of socks along with you. Regular hiking socks are fine. that said, it’s advisable to test out your hiking socks before coming to Kilimanjaro. Use them when you’re breaking in your hiking boots. This way you’ll be able to detect any troublesome seams or similar.
We also suggest you wear sock liners. These are great in helping to prevent blisters because the friction gathers between the liner and the sock rather than between your skin and the sock. It’s quite common for climbers to get blisters on their feet, especially on summit day when you’re on your feet for around 12 hours. Fresh sock liners help to avoid any further infection.
Summit day socks
We’re sure you’ve noticed a trend by now in the clothes packing list: have a fresh everything that you save for summit day. This certainly goes for your hiking socks. Only note that your summit day socks should be thermal socks, as you need the extra warmth to avoid cold feet.
You need to pack the following outer layers for your Kilimanjaro climb:
- Down jacket
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Hiking trousers
A good-quality down jacket is a very important item on your Kilimanjaro packing list. The first couple of days of the trek are relatively warm and humid, so your down jacket won’t be needed and can be kept in your duffel bag. From then on you keep it in your daypack so that you can haul it out whenever you want it. The jacket really shows its worth during breaks and at camp ion the evenings. You can either buy one of your own, or rent one from Follow Alice for $40.
Follow Alice’s down jackets have been designed and produced specifically for the climate on Kilimanjaro.
Waterproof jacket and trousers
Waterproof garments are essential for the first few days of your hike, especially if you climb Kilimanjaro during the rainy season. Higher rainfall is one of the reasons to do your research and choose the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. That said, it’s smart to carry waterproof gear no matter when you climb.
While regular rain gear is waterproof, it generally isn’t very breathable. Given how much you sweat when hiking, it’s important to have a rain jacket and trousers that are relatively lightweight and have inner membranes to make them breathable. We recommend a jacket that has a 2,000 hydrostatic head (this tells you how waterproof the jacket is).
A windbreaker goes a long way on Kilimanjaro. There’s nothing worse than wearing multiple layers to keep warm and the wind still cuts right through! To keep the load light, we suggest looking for a waterproof jacket that is also a windbreaker. We love a two-in-one solution!
Pack at least one pair of durable, breathable and comfortable trousers. We love convertible (zip-ff) trousers that you can turn into shorts on warm days. Again with the two-in-one winning formula! Obviously you could choose instead to pack regular hiking trousers as well as a pair of shorts. Some people like to wear trousers no matter the temperature as they protect your legs from sunburn, insect bites and scratches.
Some important accessories to pack are as follows:
- Warm hat (beanie)
- Head torch and batteries
- Gloves or mittens
Headgear is important on Kilimanjaro. Firstly, a sunhat is important for the beginning and end of the trek when you’re lower down the mountain. The heat of the sun can be very intense in Tanzania – remember that you’re near the Equator! The odd person might like to bring a headband so that sweat doesn’t run into your eyes.
As you climb higher, you need a warm hat like a beanie. A beanie can also be worn when you sleep to avoid heat escaping through your head.
We suggest you bring a balaclava for summit day as this helps to keep your head, ears and neck warm. Alternatively, consider a scar or, even better, a snood, as this stands no chance of slipping off.
Head torch and batteries
A head torch is your best friend while on a Kilimanjaro climb, especially on summit day when you leave your campsite at midnight and trek in the dark. Don’t want to trek in the dark? Maybe you should consider a Kilimanjaro full moon climb where the light of the moon guides you to the summit?! You also use your head torch in the evenings, so add a few extra batteries to your Kilimanjaro packing list – you will use them!
Gloves or mittens
You absolutely must pack gloves to keep your hands warm! We especially like mittens for summit day as having all your fingers together creates more warmth. Having said that, mittens do make it quite challenging to take pictures. So if you’d prefer fingered gloves, do ensure they’re a quality pair that offer proper insulation.
Polarised sunglasses or ski glasses are essential, and not just for looking ultra cool in pictures! On summit day you reach the arctic zone of Kilimanjaro, which means lots of snow and glaciers. The sun reflects off the snow, which can cause snow blindness. Snow blindness is a temporary but painful blindness that occurs when the human eye is overexposed to the Sun’s UV rays. No fun at all! You might also like to pack a sunglasses cord if you have ones of those noses that likes to ditch glasses at the slightest opportunity. Or you could even bring ski glasses.
Toiletries and medicine
We recommend you pack the following personal items:
- Toilet paper
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Wet wipes (you can’t shower on the mountain)
- Small, quick-drying towel
- Lip balm
- Small moisturiser (the air is very dry higher up the mountain)
- Water-purifying tablets
- Regular plasters
- Blister plasters or sports tape
- Mosquito repellent
- Malaria tablets (Tanzania is in a malaria zone)
- Diarrhoea tablets (diarrhoea is a common symptom of altitude sickness)
- Painkillers (headaches are another commom symptom of altitude sickness)
The items above are relatively self-explanatory but it’s good to note that while are on the mountain there will be no shower facilities. You will, however, get what the locals call ‘washy washy’ every day. This a bucket of water for you to use to wash your hands and face. You’ll need a small towel for drying off. Personal items tend to vary from one person to the next, so add whatever you feel is necessary to your toiletry bag.
It’s very common to experience symptoms of altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro. Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, headaches and sleeplessness. This is when meds like painkillers come in handy.
Some of the tech gear to consider packing is as follows:
- Head torch and extra batteries
There’s limited cellphone reception on Kilimanjaro, but you can get reception at some of the campsites, namely Baranco, Karanga, Barafu, Mweka, Tarn Hut and Horombo. Have a look at the description of the different Kilimanjaro routes to see which ones stop off at these campsites.
To travel to Tanzania you also need the following:
Please don’t forget your passport! We can help with replacing pretty much anything if needed, but sadly we can’t replace your passport. Make it number one on your Kilimanjaro packing list. Also, ensure your passport is valid for six months after your arrival date in Tanzania. You might like to pack a pen for filling out the flight card that you’ll receive on the plane to Tanzania. You also need a Tanzanian visa. US, Canadian, British and most European citizens can simply obtain their visas upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $100 for US passport holders and $50 for others. If you’re a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy whether or not you can obtain a visa upon arrival. You can also view the Tanzania Visa Policy.
Don’t forget your passport!
No specific vaccines are required before entry into Tanzania. That said, be aware that the Government of Tanzania does requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you’re travelling in from a country with a known risk of yellow fever. We suggest you talk to your doctor about getting the following vaccinations which are standard in developed countries: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and meningococcal meningitis. Please check the Fit For Travel website for more up-to-date information. So although you can’t really add this to your Kilimanjaro packing list, it’s good to keep it in mind throughout the preparation process.
We have a handful suggestions of other bits and bobs you may want to add to your Kilimanjaro packing list. These aren’t essential, but can make your climb even more enjoyable.
- Favourite snacks
- Playing cards or other games
- Book or e-reader
- Journal and pen
Sometimes it makes more sense to rent items as you might not need them again after your climb. Below is a list of the gear we offer for rental that isn’t included in the Follow Alice package fee.
● Warm down jacket – $40
● Hiking boots – $45
● Gloves or mittens – $5
● Rain jacket – $15
● Rain trousers – $15
● Gaiters – $10
● Water bottle – $5
● Hiking pants – $15
● Duffle bag – $40
● Head torch – $20
● Warm trousers – $30
● Poncho – $20
● Warm hat – $10
● Sunhat – $10
● Daypack – $30
● Crampons (only needed in certain weather conditions; we’ll advise you accordingly) – $25
Top packing tips
Keep important gear with you during flights
When travelling by air, we recommend that you either wear your important trekking gear or carry it in your cabin bag. This way your Kilimanjaro climb isn’t derailed if your check-in luggage gets lots or stolen. The main items we have in mind are your hiking boots, jacket, and any medication.
Have a pen and cash to hand
Save yourself some time at the airport by having a pen handy to fill out the visa form. Also have US dollars for your visa fee. Don’t crinkle or fold the money. Note that ATMs can only be found after immigration.
Packed and ready for a successful summit!
Has all this talk of packing for Kilimanjaro got you excited? Us too! Up the excitement and have a look at this short documentary that the Follow Alice team put together to show what it is really like to climb Kilimanjaro …
Other useful Kilimanjaro topics
- Kilimanjaro routes
- Kilimanjaro packing list
- Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro preparation
- Kilimanjaro safety
- Tipping on Kilimanjaro
- What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro?
- Climb Kilimanjaro cost