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The Ultimate Mount Kilimanjaro Gear List : Be Prepared for Every Step

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By William Sanga

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that requires careful preparation and planning. Along with physical fitness and mental fortitude, having the right gear is crucial to making it to the summit. In this blog post, we’ll provide a detailed gear list for climbing Kilimanjaro, covering everything from clothing and footwear to camping equipment and personal items. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time adventurer, our comprehensive guide will help ensure that you have everything you need for a safe and successful climb. So, grab your gear list Kilimanjaro and let’s get packing!

Kilimanjaro Gear List

Kilimanjaro Headgear

There are 5 mandatory headgear accessories that you need to take on your Kilimanjaro climb.

Below we have provided detailed Gear List Kilimanjaro  descriptions on each, as well as set out some specific brand recommendations.

You are going to want to have a good hat with you for the climb to protect your face from sunburn and keep your head cool.

We like hats that have an adjustable neck cover. Make sure the hat is made from a material that breaths well. The hat should fit comfortably in your daypack, as you don’t want to have to hold the hat every time you want to take it off.

Beanie or Headband

A thermal beanie or headband is a must for summit night. You want to keep your head and ears warm. Make sure the beanie fits snug and is suitable for snowy conditions.

Neck Warmer

To protect your neck and face from blistering cold temperatures if the wind picks up, high Sun UV during the mid-afternoons at altitude, or indeed to cover your mouth and nose from dust, we recommend taking either a hiking balaclava or neck warmer. Make sure to get something that is lightweight, absorbent, breathable and quick-drying.

Headlamp

A headlamp is the best torch for night hiking as you can have your hands free at all times. You will use your headlamp on summit night (yes, you summit overnight, starting usually around midnight).

Sunglasses

When it comes to sunglasses and Mount Kilimanjaro, there are two considerations you need to take into account. First is the UV intensity, which at just under 6,000m is very high. This can be very damaging to your eyes if you don’t have good sunglasses. The second factor is the snow cover, which acts to reflect and intensify visible light. Again, too much visible light is damaging to your eyes(imagine staring into the sun to get a sense of high altitude trekking without sunglasses).

Mount Kilimanjaro Headgear

Kilimanjaro Clothing – Requirements and Recommendations for Kili!

On Kilimanjaro, you will be trekking through 4 climatic zones. Weather can range from warm and tropical at the base of the mountain to freezing on the summit.

To ensure that you remain comfortable in each zone, it is critical that you understand the concept of layering with your Kilimanjaro Clothing.

As the weather changes, it is vital to layer up and down. Layering only works if each layer is made out of fabric supporting the wicking process, allowing moisture to pass from one layer to the next. Layers should hug the skin, i.e. not be too tight, but equally not too loose.

Due to its hydrophilicity, avoid cotton, because it traps moisture and stops the wicking process.

Here are the Gear List Kilimanjaro layers for clothing that you need to take with you.

Underwear

Depending on the length of your trek, you should bring 4-5 pairs of sports underwear. Those made by Jokey or Icebreaker are excellent. Alternatively, any sporting brand underwear will work.

Women should bring three pairs of sports bras.

Base Layer

As you approach the upper reaches of the mountain, you will need to wear a lightweight base layer (or next-to-skin layer) over your underwear. Unless it is very cold, you won’t need to wear this layer for the first few days on the mountain. On summit night, this will be your most important layer, as it is the one that comes in contact with your skin.

We recommend Smartwool Lightweight Base Layers (Men) or Icebreaker Base Layers (Women). Both make products from 100% merino wool. Their products are super comfortable, of great quality and provide incredible moisture control.

If you are allergic to wool, there are great synthetic alternatives for men and women.

For treks less than 8 days, one pair of top and bottom base layers should be sufficient. For treks over 8 days, you should get at least 2 pairs, to avoid smelling terrible by the end of the hike. You won’t use this layer every day but will need it during the cold nights and on summit night.

Trekking Shirts

In terms of trekking shirts, we recommend 2 short sleeve shirts and 2 long sleeve shirts. Ideal fabric is a breathable, lightweight and quick-drying polyester, merino or nylon. Make sure that your shirts are not cotton.

Trekking Trousers

You will also need to bring 1-2 pairs of these convertible trousers made by Columbia.

Insulation Layer

For the colder stretches on the hike and for summit night, you should bring 1 mid-weight fleece jacket or parka top. This is your second layer, or insulation layer, and should be used in your layering system over your base layer, or indeed as a standalone that you wear over your trekking shirt when temperatures start to drop. They also come in great use at night when it can get very cold out.

Core Jacket or Third Layer

For the colder stretches on the hike and for summit night, you should bring one mid-weight fleece jacket or parka top. This is your second layer, or insulation layer, and should be used in your layering system over your base layer, or as a standalone that you wear over your trekking shirt when temperatures start to drop. It also comes to great use at night when it can get very cold.

Mount Kilimanjaro Gear List

Recommended Warm Jacket

In terms of a good and affordable down jacket, we recommend The North Face Aconcagua for men and women.

Recommended Insulated Trousers

For the upper reaches of your Kilimanjaro trek (>4,500 meters) the temperatures can get very cold, particularly at night. Warm trekking trousers are a must.

Here are the key characteristics to look out for: water resistance, sun protection and fleece inner lining with quick-drying polyester outer for warmth.

Women might find it useful to bring some trekking tights or soft leggings to wear underneath the trousers for easy changing straight into a sleeping bag.

Hard-shell and Rain Gear

In addition to these items, we recommend taking with you a hardshell jacket and some lightweight rain gear (unisex). In terms of the hardshell jacket, we recommend the North Face Resolve (men, women) or similar.

For a quick rain cover, you might also want to bring a poncho that sits over your body and daypack. Ideal for the lower reaches.

Kilimanjaro Gloves and Walking Poles

There are two types of gloves you should take on your Kilimanjaro trek – inner and outer gloves. Do not forget to include these in your packing Gear List Kilimanjaro

Like base layer clothing, inner gloves provide the next-to-skin insulation that is critical when trekking in cold temperatures (and it will get really cold on the upper reaches of Mount Kilimanjaro).

Kilimanjaro Gloves

  1. Inner Gloves : In terms of unisex inner gloves, you want to make sure to get Do not go for cotton inner gloves as these will restrict moisture transfer. You should also make sure that the gloves provide a good thermal lining and are lightweight. A pair that has great wicking properties (synthetics, merino wool or even silk) are good.
  2. Outer Gloves and Mitts : We cannot stress the importance of having good outer gloves or mitts. Your hands will be the first to start freezing on summit night. Cold hands are super debilitating and painful. The perfect outer gloves provide warmth and are waterproof, without being cumbersome or too bulky. Essentially you want gloves that provide some dexterity, whilst also providing exceptional warmth, water-resistance and durability.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles  is one of important Gear List Kilimanjaro, hiking is a one exercise that puts serious strain on your major leg joints and knees. This is particularly true in Kilimanjaro where the average trek length is 7 days, with 5-8 hours of hiking each day. Add in the rough terrain that undulates frequently and you can see why most people complain of sore legs.

The best way to reduce the impact of long-distance trekking on your knees and joints is by using trekking poles.

Kilimanjaro Footwear

The Kilimanjaro footwear you take on the mountain is very important. This Gear List Kilimanjaro Trek should not taken for granted 

In this detailed article, we outline the key characteristics to look for in a pair of boots, as well as provide recommendations on good but affordable shoes.

Remember your feet need to get you to the top of Kilimanjaro and back, so ensure you follow the guidance in this article, or risk having sore feet, blisters and lost toenails

Recommended Hiking Boots

Other Important Footwear

Trainers or Trekking Sandals

Thing you are going to want to do is to take off your trekking boots, and not have to put them back on until the next day.

The trouble is you are going to want to walk around the camp and perhaps do some exploring in the surrounding area.The solution – bring with you basic hiking shoes or trekking sandals that you can slip on in camp, and that can double as a trekking alternative shoe for flat terrain. 

Trekking Socks

Key characteristics to look out for include:

Flat seams. Bulky seams are prone to increases friction which results in blisters

Thick socks as they provide more cushion for the foot

Snug, not tight, fit

It is important that you bring good quality trekking socks. You should avoid cotton or cotton-blend socks as these absorb and retain moisture, keeping your feet damp and making them susceptible to blistering.

We recommend 5 x Wool trekking socks as these are the best for wicking moisture away from the foot. If you are allergic to wool we would go for acrylic or acrylic-blend alternative like those from Wigwam.

Thermal Socks

On summit night you will need to wear thermal socks  on your Gear List Kilimanjaro

Ragg Wool is the best material for thermal socks. Some people go with a polypropylene liner to assist with the wicking process.

We recommend one pair of extra thick/heavy thermal socks, the best quality thermal socks are the heavy variations made by SmartWool.

In terms of liner socks, we recommend taking one pair of Polypropylene ones by Smartwool.

Note: The extra pair of thermal socks can be used as a thermal cover for your water bottle

Gaiters

Gaiters are among of Gear List Kilimanjaro Trek they made of waterproof material that extends up from your boot to your calve muscle. They are used to keep unwanted materials out of your boots (mud, water, rocks etc.). Although the trails are very good on Kilimanjaro, if you encounter rain it is possible that your shoes will get wet and muddy. Gaiters can help prevent this.

Kilimanjaro Duffel Bag and Backpack

There are two types of bags that you need to have on your Gear List Kilimanjaro Trek– a Kilimanjaro duffel bag and a backpack or daypack.

The type of Kilimanjaro duffle bag you choose is important as it will hold all of your gear, including your sleeping bag.

Your Kilimanjaro duffle bag will be carried by your porter who will transport your gear from one camp to the next. Porters carry bags on their head so it is important that the bag is soft and weighs no more than 20kg when fully loaded (some operators limit the weight to 15kg fully loaded).

Best Value Duffel: TYTN Expedition Duffel

The TYTN Expedition Duffel (pronounced as ‘titan’) is a great quality 90L duffel bag that is just perfect for Kilimanjaro and other multi-day hiking trips. Constructed from tarpaulin material, that is combined with polyester and lined zippers, the TYTN Duffel is super durable and decently water-resistant.

It comes with loads of storage as well as a separate shoe compartment to keep your clothes clean. There are also a number of different carrying straps, including shoulder straps that allow the bag to be carried like a backpack.

Best Duffel Bag: The North Face Base Camp

The North Face duffel bag is a quality bag, but it comes at quite a hefty price. The bag will not let you down but one can’t help but feel that a premium is being paid for the North Face brand.

If you decide to go with the North Face duffel we would recommend the Large version.

Daypacks

In addition to your duffle bag (which is carried by your porter), you will be carrying your own daypack. In your daypack, you should keep all important (sun cream, sunglasses, snacks, water), personal (money, passport etc.) or small breakable items (camera, phone etc.).

Your daypack should be small and lightweight. The lighter the better.

Best Value Daypack: The North Face Borealis

Important Bag Accessories

Rain cover

Depending on what time of the year you are hiking, there is a possibility that you will encounter rain on the mountain. You want to avoid getting your daypack wet. A good rain cover is a worthy piece of kit to have as a precaution.

Hydration Bladder

If you decide to go with a daypack which can hold a hydration bladder, then we suggest you purchase the best hydration bladder on the market. There is nothing worse than a leaky bladder!

The Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir is much recommended

Travel Bag Organisers

A pro tip that we have used to great effect on Kilimanjaro are travel bag organisers, which can be used to source separate your gear for better backing and access. They also provide a great way to separate wet or dirty gear.

Kilimanjaro Sleeping Bags and Accessories

A warm sleeping bag is an absolute must for Mount Kilimanjaro, regardless of the season you plan to trek. Freezing nights on the upper reaches of Kili (>3,000m) are guaranteed, so you will be uncomfortable and cold without a warm sleeping bag. It is possible to rent sleeping bags in Moshi or Arusha or from your tour operator. But in general, we recommend bringing your own.

This way you won’t be reusing a sleeping bag where lots of smelly trekkers slept before. Of course, if you only plan to use your sleeping bag once then renting or borrowing one is easier. REI Downtime is more recommended,This sleeping bag will keep you comfortable on the slopes of Kibo

Other Sleeping Accessories

Inflatable pillow (optional)

A compact backpacking inflatable pillow that can quickly be inflated and deflated for storage is useful. Equally, you could just use a pile of clothes.

Thermal mat (optional)

Your tour company should provide a thin mattress on which you can set your sleeping bag. If you are concerned about the cold and want additional cushioning we suggest bringing a thermal sleeping pad that can be stored as a small roll in your duffle bag.

Kilimanjaro Accessories – Useful Bits and Bobs

There are various Kilimanjaro accessories that you should take on your trek. We cover these in the Gear List Kilimanjaro  at the back of Mount Kilimanjaro: Trekkers Guide to the Summit.

Here are some of the most important Kilimanjaro accessories.

Water Bottle

A good water bottle or hydration bladder is a must. To ensure you remain well hydrated and stave off the symptoms of altitude sickness you need to drink between 2-3 litres of water each day.We recommend drinking 500ml before starting your trek in the morning and then refilling before you set off. To carry 1.5-2 litres of water you will either have to take 2 x 1L water bottles or use a 2-3L hydration bladder, which sits inside your daypack with a tube direct to your mouth.In terms of water bottles, we recommend the plastic Camel Bak Eddy Water Bottle which comes in 0.75L and 1L variations.

Water Purification Tablets

Water on Kilimanjaro is collected from mountain streams by porters during your trek. It is very important that you treat this water with iodine purification tablets to avoid getting an upset stomach.

The best Kilimanjaro operators will boil and treat your water, but it is worth taking every precaution as an upset stomach can result in ending your climb early. We recommend taking 1x pack of 50 tablets. These Potable Aqua Water Purification Treatment Tablets are good.

Other Accessories

Wet Wipes and Hand Sanitiser

Trekking Kilimanjaro is strenuous exercise. By day two you are going to be a ‘smelly’, sweaty human being.

Your guides will provide you with a small bowl of tepid water and soap after each day’s trek as well as first thing in the morning; however, using a bowl of water to clean yourself is not the easiest thing to do. Much easier is using wet wipes to clean your hands and rub yourself down.

One pack of wet wipes (biodegradable) should be more than sufficient, together with either a bottle of hand sanitiser or a pack of sanitizing wipes.

Sweat-Resistant Sunscreen

Don’t just get any sunscreen. You are trekking to a high altitude where the sun intensity is high, so you will need a high SPF (greater than 30). You will also be exerting yourself so sunscreen that is sweat-resistant is important.

Make sure to bring sun protection lip cream as well.

Camera

The scenery on Mount Kilimanjaro is extraordinary.

Bring a decent camera to capture the experience. Here is a great value SLR Camera, or if you want to go super light and capture awesome videos we recommend taking a GoPro.

Spare batteries

We recommend taking spare batteries for your headlamp and camera. Running out of power on your camera just as you want to take that killer summit picture is not fun. There are no charging points on the trek so you might want to bring a backpack solar charger which is getting popular on Kili.

Ear plugs

If you are a light sleeper we recommend taking earplugs. The stillness at night means that sound travels really well. Many people stay up late sharing trekking stories, and those who get to bed early sometimes snore, which can make sleeping difficult. Moreover, your porters and guides are usually up early getting ready for the new day’s hike. If you want to ensure you get that extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning, earplugs are a useful addition to your gear.

Ziplock bags

Your day pack is going to be exposed to the elements during your hike. Exposure to dust and rain is common. To protect your valuables (i.e. wallet, money, binoculars, camera etc.), we suggest taking a few zip-lock bags.

Small lock

Your duffle bag will be carried by porters. Typically your gear will be safe but we still recommend taking a bag lock to secure your belongings.

Energy bars

Taking energy bars on your trek is the easiest and most effective way to snack and keep your energy levels up. We suggest taking 2-3 energy bars for every day you are on the mountain (so if you are doing a seven-day hike that would mean you bring twenty-one energy bars). Make sure your energy bars are not predominately milk-based as they will freeze on summit night, making it impossible to chew. High energy oat bars are good

Energy drink supplement

Many people don’t like the taste of water, especially after iodine has been added. An energy drink supplement will mask the taste of iodine as well as provide you with additional energy during your climb. We recommend using an isotonic or hypotonic Octane solution. A good rule of thumb is to drink half a litre of water first thing in the morning and then continue to drink another 2.5 litres during the hike. Gatorade is a good isotonic drink supplement.

Medications

Many people go wild on taking with them various medications. Others bring virtually nothing. The amount and type of medication you take is really up to you. We suggest taking these three medical supplies as they are the ones that usually come in the handiest.

  • Paracetamol for headaches
  • Valoid for nausea or vomiting
  • Imodium for diarrhoea

Note: your guide will be carrying a first aid pack that should have most medical supplies in it.

Blister Plasters

Trekking up to 5-7 hours a day can result in painful and debilitating blisters. Treat blisters early and take immediate measures to reduce friction. To reduce pain quickly use plasters with gel. When applying a plaster, make sure you remove excess moisture from the blistered area and use a good blister plaster-like those from Leukotape P. or Compeed. It’s a wives tale that duct tape works well. In fact, duct tape is not breathable and hence the skin saturates under the tape and the blister worsens.

Insect Repellant

A basic insect repellant is important. Make sure to get a reliable brand that has a high Deet content – greater than 90% (Repel is great). Tanzania is a malaria zone. You will not be at risk when on the mountain but will be at risk before and after your climb. You should take malaria tablets if you plan to stay in Tanzania before or after your trek.

Trekking towel (optional)

A medium lightweight trekking towel to dry your hair, face and hands after a rainy days trekking.

Toilets and toilet paper

Toilets on Kilimanjaro are notoriously bad. You can decide to brave to include  toilets in  the Gear List Kilimanjaro  or you could request that your tour operator organise a portable loo which will be carried and set up at each camp by a porter. This is completely up to you. We have used both and although a portable loo is pleasant, we feel it removes the authenticity of trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro. Portable loos can usually be hired for approximately $150-$200. You will also need to bring your own toilet paper – one roll should be sufficient.

Books or Kindle

Bring some Kilimanjaro / Tanzania reading material for context. Rick Ridgeway’s The Shadow of Kilimanjaro provides great background information to Kilimanjaro overlaid by a fascinating story about his journey on foot to the Roof of Africa.

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