What to Pack for Kilimanjaro

You never set your alarm for 1 a.m. but this time you do it with pleasure. When the alarm goes off, you’re already awake and bubbling with anticipation. It’s cold and pitch-black outside, not warm and cozy like your tent and sleeping bag. Wind can pick up here at 15,239 feet. You suit up, slurp some hot tea, click on your headlamp, and begin a sunrise ascent, hiking Kilimanjaro to the Roof of Africa.

Today will change you. Today is summit day.
Easy Travel Kilimanjaro Guide Frank_3

Let Us Begin!

Trust me: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is unlike any experience you’ve ever had. I say that with confidence because there’s (literally) nothing like it on the planet. Kilimanjaro’s highlights are many: tallest mountain in Africa, highest freestanding mountain in the world, glacier-hemmed calderas, seven official routes through five unique ecosystems in one climb.

All of this is what you get when saying, “yes” to climbing Kilimanjaro. You get adventure. You get challenge. And with Easy Travel you get camaraderie, dancing, delicious meals, world-class sunsets, and an indelible memory that will stick with you forever.

But make no mistake. The beloved Kilimanjaro is no cakewalk. This mountain is a serious undertaking, a challenging physical effort over multiple days, reaching to elevations few people on Earth ever dream of going. Our team of expert guides will make your expedition as safe as possible, but here are the most essential things you can pack to be as prepared as possible for reaching that summit.

Clothing: Think Waterproof and Windproof

 Multifunctional layers – On the ascent you will climb several thousand vertical feet over five ecosystems (Source). Because of this, temperatures and canopy cover will fluctuate, so the most important things to pack are layers that breathe, wick moisture, and can be slapped on and off with ease.

Rain and Wind Gear – If you could invest in one single piece of gear for Kilimanjaro, make it a feather-down jacket or a Gortex/Windstopper raincoat. Nothing compares to down for warmth, and cutting wind and rain is absolutely necessary for this climb. Stay dry. Stay happy.

Hats and Gloves – You will use a cap, a beanie, and your gloves every single day of your trek, promise. Look out for your extremities, as heat escapes through your head and hands if the rest of your body is clothed (Source). Again, wool, Windstopper, and fleece are all great options.

Buff/Scarf – This is the most underrated piece of gear I took on my Kilimanjaro trek, it was a buff. These are multipurpose head wraps and it can be used for shielding sun, added warmth around your ears, and also a handkerchief. Scarves do the trick too, and are typically warmer. (Source)

Hiking Shoes/Gaiters – There’s a lot of reviews about footwear when approaching Kili. The first thing you mustn’t do is compromise comfort. Choose a pair you know and love. Second, that old clunky trekking boot might be overbuilt and unnecessary for this climb. Easy Travel’s robust team of porters and guides will be carrying the bulk of your gear for you, so ankle-support is less of a concern because there won’t be fifty pounds on your back. That said, depending on the season, more aggressive footwear might be advisable. For the majority of the routes a modest hiking shoe will do the trick.

Camping in Mount Kilimanjaro

Technology: Bring Backups

Headlamp – This is an essential piece of hands-free gear you’ll use a thousand different ways: getting to the loo in the middle of the night; rifling through your bag for that favorite pair of polka-dotted hiking socks; scribbling notes in your journal. Oh, and summit day starts at night!

Sunglasses – For most of the trek, you will be above tree line and have little canopy cover to shelter your skin from the sun. At these elevations the sun is exponentially more intense and dangerous. Grab a pair (or two) of polarized shades to reduce the glare and pack sunblock and chapstick, too. Here’s one dermatologist’s experience on Kilimanjaro: (View More)

Camera – Digital, phone, film. Whatever strikes your fancy, you’re going to want to capture this experience (duh), so bring backup memory cards, batteries, and bags to keep them all dry. (Insider tip: keep electronics in your sleeping bag at night. The cold can drain batteries!)

BatteriesOne thing you won’t find in Tanzania is a reliable battery. Pack extras for your headlamp and your devices (and consider a power pack for extended battery life). Also, I found lithium batteries to perform poorly in cold environment (Source)

Other Essentials:

Water bottlesWith every thousand feet of elevation you gain, the air gets thinner and your body demands more water to function. Hydration is absolutely essential for a successful summit, and you’ll be asked to carry multiple liters at all times. Better to bring your own vessels.

Plastic bags – No matter what gear you choose, if it all ends up wet then it’s no good. Make sure you arrive with your pack lined in waterproof materials. Find upscale solutions at your outdoor store. Ziplock bags and garbage bags work, too.

Trekking poles –Trekking poles are all-stars, especially for the Kilimanjaro summit day. They come in handy during technical terrain, ascents, and descent, while models (like BD Z-distance) are ultralight. (Buy One Today)

Journal – Your experience up Kilimanjaro will take you to new heights, and you’ll want to capture every moment, every song, every nuance. Pack a notepad and pen; you’ll be happy you did.

Bottom Line?

Think warm. Think dry. Plan for multipurpose and multilayered but also simple. Kilimanjaro is a nontechnical walk, but it’s also a strenuous ascent and must be taken seriously. With these dozen items, you’ll be well positioned to wake up on that alarm clock on summit day and reach up to the Roof of Africa. Now, lace up and let’s go.

Easy Travel supports responsible and sustainable tourism and is a proud member of KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project).

Getting You There?

Easy Travel’s team of guides and porters has decades of experience climbing Kilimanjaro any season, any time of the year. We want you to reach new heights, so contact us today, or visit our hiking tours to learn more about why we have been doing this for over 30 years.