Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It is also the most rewarding. Besides the training and travel prep (flights, hotels, etc.) packing is probably the most stressful part of the trip. You’re not sure what you need to pack if you’re questioning if you’ll actually use everything, or your worried about the bag weight limit, don’t worry I’ve got you. I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro twice and I’ve put together this Mount Kilimanjaro packing list for people jsut like you!
Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List
I’ve done my best to reduce the stress it takes to purchase products and pack. After reading my Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List you’ll be ready to start your climb.
Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Hats and Gloves
While it might sound silly to bring 2 hats, trust me. The hats should be different textures and different weights. A thinner hat for when it’s not too cold and a thicker one for when it is. Then if it gets really cold you can layer the 2 of them. I’m a fan of Buff hats. They have different weight and textures. Check out the Buff windproof tech hat and the Buff Thermal PRO hat.
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Gloves and Mittens
Having both a pair of gloves and a pair of mittens is essential. The gloves are great for lower altitudes when your hands need to be covered to protect from the cold and from the sun. The sun is so intense on the mountain and you can burn even when you think you are OK. I’ve gotten sunburns on my hands while hiking both Mount Kilimanjaro and Everest Base Camp. Your hands will thank you for the extra protection. Make the gloves lightweight like these Lightweight Sport Gloves.
Your mittens will get used when it gets colder and should be large enough to fit over your hands while wearing your gloves underneath. They will give you extra insulation for when it gets colder, especially on summit night. These Down Mittens are waterproof and will keep your hands warm even when the sweat.
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I never hike without a Buff. On longer hikes I usually bring 2 because of how sweaty, smelly, and covered with snot they can get. Depending on the time of year and weather they can protect you from the cold as well as any dust on the trail.
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Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Tops
2 Moisture-wicking tops
Let’s all come to terms with the fact that while you’re on the mountain you’re going to get sweaty and you’re going to smell. Mount Kilimanjaro is not a fashion show and no one cares what you’re wearing or what you look like because everyone else is working their ass off, just like you are to reach the summit.
With that said, you don’t need to bring as many clothes as you think you do. 2 moisture wicking tops will be enough to get you through the trek. Check out The North Face Better than Naked Top.
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2 medium weight tops
For your medium weight shirts a merino wool top should be perfect. Wool is water and odor resistant to an extent. And for this your tent mate will thank you.
Check out the Columbia Mid-Weight stretch long sleeve, their shirts are comfortable and not too pricey.
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I use to not be a vest person. I thought they were silly and didn’t see the need for them. Then I was given a vest and completely fell in love. I used to bring a small down jacket and now I can cut down my pack’s weight by bringing a vest instead. Not only do they take up less space, they give your core the warmth it needs, but allows underarms to breath. I’m over the moon about my Columbia Lake 22 Vest.
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Outer layer down jacket
A down jacket will keep you toasty warm as you gain altitude. You‘ll need it for summit night when the temperatures really drop and at night when it cools off at lower altitudes. The Autumn Park Down Hooded Jacket is 650-fill recycled down and a DWR coating to repel light snow and rain. The hood is great for high winds and can be tucked away if you don’t need it.
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My waterproof jacket is tried and true as I walked for hours in the pouring rain wearing it during my Everest Base Camp trek. My core was completely dry when I got to my tea house. I got a Rab Arc Jacket in a men’s size because it was a sample size at an outdoor store (and it was on sale). It also fit over my down jacket better than any of the women’s jackets I found. Rab makes great gear, and I’m so happy I stumbled upon this jacket. The jacket has been everywhere with me and is a must-add to any Kilimanjaro packing list.
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Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Shoes
For a long time I searched for the perfect hiking boot. For me, I found it in the Vasque Eriksson, and then they discontinued them.
Since then, I’ve moved on to the St. Elias FG GTX. These babies have kept my feet dry is snow, ice, rain, puddles, and streams. I very rarely get blisters, and when I do it’s cause my socks were wet because of my sweaty feet. They’re durable and comfortable which is all you can really ask for in a hiking boot. These boots are a must for any Kilimanjaro packing list.
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Long days of hiking can make being in your hiking boots the worst. When you get to camp take off your hiking boots and put on a pair of camp shoes. I have a pair of Mary-Jane Style Crocs that I always bring for my camp shoes. I can’t stand the regular style Crocs cause they take up so much space in my bag. These shoes not only take up less space, but they’re also super cute and when traveling for long periods of time can double as going out shoes.
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Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Bottoms
When I’m hiking I’m all about the leggings! When I climb with Mount Kilimanjaro I go with WHOA Travel, so I have to rock our Move Mountains leggings! They’re comfortable and Mount Kilimanjaro is on the actual leggings!
If you’re not into fancy leggings, just make sure that they stay in place when you move and they’re not see through, cause no body wants to see your butt through your pants!
When you’re on the side of a mountain the wind can really get whipping and a pair of good wind and waterproof pants can keep your legs from shivering. These Marmot women’s minimalist pants you’ll stay dry and warm because they’re made of gore-tex. The zippers are water resistant and all the seams are taped to ensure you stay dry.
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base layers top and bottom
Base layers are an important part of any Mount Kilimanjaro packing list. the base layer is a moisture wicking layer that absorbs sweat from your skin so you don’t get cold. I reccommend the Arcteryx Women’s LS Top and the bottom is the Arcteryx Women’s Phase AR Bottom. They’re both odor resistant and super soft against my skin.
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Thermal Layer Top and Bottom
It can get REAL cold on Kilimanjaro, and a thermal layer will help you stay toasty warm when the temperature drops. My thermal base layers my top is Icebreaker Women’s Everyday LS Crewe and my bottoms are Smartwool Women’s Merino 250 Baselayer Bottom.
Both items are made from Merino Wool, so they’re pretty soft and won’t get stinky after wearing them for a few days.
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Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Underwear and Socks
4 pairs warm socks and 1 pair of compression socks
You’re on your feet all day while trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro, so make sure you take good care of them with the right socks. Smartwool Socks makes socks in varying thicknesses. They’re durable and oh so comfortable. I wear them everyday on the trail. In the afternoons I put on a pair of PRO Compression Socks. They help to keep my feet from swelling and aching. I recommend wearing compression socks to everyone I hike with whether it’s while hiking or at the end of the day.
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2 Sports Bras and 3 Pairs Underwear
Hear me out on this underwear thing before you think I’m gross. The Balanced Tech Underwear that I have is odor resistant, moisture wicking, and fast drying. Because of the fast drying fabric you can wash your underwear in the evening and it will be dry come morning.
For sports bras you can’t go wrong with Columbia’s moisture wicking bra. Tag-less and breathable, Columbia’s bras offer great support.
Any Mount Kilimanjaro packing list that has you bring more bras and underwear is just asking you porter to carry more weight. You don’t need it, trust me.
Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List: Bags and Accessories
Your day pack is one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll bring with you. You will have it on your back every day for hours and hours, so it needs to be a good fit. Our bodies are all different shapes and sizes and what works for me, might not work for you. I’ve had the older version of the Gregory Women’s Maya 22 liter pack for over 9 years. When I purchased my pack I went to 3 stores and tried on over 20 different backpacks. At most outdoor gear stores they’ll help you try on packs and even put weights inside so you can find out what it feels like on your back.
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While on the mountain you’ll need a waterproof duffel to put all your gear on. Your porter will carry this for you, so the lighter the duffel the better. The North Face waterproof duffel is lightweight, has straps so it can be used as a backpack for easy carrying, and comes in many different colors and designs.
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Water Bladder and Water Bottle
When hiking at altitude it’s important to stay hydrated. I have both a 3 liter Platypus Hoser and a 32oz. Nalgene. On any high altitude hike I try to drink both of them each day. My Platypus is for hydration when I’m hiking and the Nalgene is my back-up water. The Nalgene is also great for filling at night with hot water and putting at the bottom of your sleeping bag to warm it up. The Platypus is great because it doens’t have a ton of extra plastic, making it more lightweight.
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My trekking poles have been with me for the past 2 years. They’ve been to Everest Base Camp and the Salkantay Trek in Peru with me. I love them! They don’t slip when you put pressure on them, they break down to just over a foot and a half, and the straps don’t chafe my wrists. I can’t say enough good things about my Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles!
Micro-spikes for your Mount Kilimanjaro Packing List
These may or may not be required depending on the time of year and the conditions at the summit during your climb. My first time they weren’t required, but the second time around they were. These Unizooke Ice Cleats attach to your boots and are compact and lightweight. With 19 teeth on the bottom of each foot will help you reach the summit through ice and snow.
4 Season Sleeping Bag
It can get very cold on Mount Kilimanjaro and of all the things you purchase make sure you’re sleeping bag is a good one. This Marmot Lithium Sleeping Bag is rated to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and has 850+ goose down fill. If this sleeping bag doesn’t keep you warm, I don’t know what will!
Sleeping bag liner
Your sleeping bag liner will help keep you dry if you start to sweat in the middle of the night. It is also helpful if you start overheating in your sleeping bag. You can unzip the sleeping bag, but you’ll still have the sleeping bag liner. I use the Sea to Summit Expander sleeping bag liner. I love that it has a little pocket at the top for a pillow. Instead of bringing a pillow I just stuff it with a few layers I’m not wearing.
Don’t forget to also pack:
- Headlamp and batteries: I love anything by Petzl and have used their headlamps for years. I recently purchased a Petzl ACTIK and will be bringing it with me on my next trip up Kilimanjaro. DOn’t forget to purchase batteries too!
- Polarized sunglasses: When hiking at altitude it is so important to have a pair of polarized sunglasses. The sun is so much more intense the higher you get and can do serious damage to your eyes.
- Camera and extra batteries: You’re going to want to take photos of the mountain, your trail family…everything. I would bring a camera you’re comfortable hiking with, remember you’ll have to carry it all day. The lighter the better. And make sure you have enough batteries! The cold of the mountain can drain the batteries very quick.
- Meds: If you take medication regularly you’ll want to have these in your day pack with you just in case it takes longer to get to camp each night than you thought it would. In addition, many people take extra medication while on the mountain. You should talk to your health care professional about taking medication for altitude sickness.
- First Aid Kit: Always carry a first aid kit with you while hiking, no matter where you are. You crew will have one as well, but it’s nice to have a small one to take care of minor cuts or blisters.
- Sunscreen/lip screen: In the sun I end up looking like a lobster if I don’t use sunscreen. A friend of mine get the worst sunburn while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro about 6 years ago. On top of not feeling well from the altitude, she had to deal with her skin peeling and essentially being on fire. Apply sunscreen multiple times a day on any exposed skin.
- Toiletries: This is going to be different from one hiker to the next as everyone has their own necessities. Just don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste!
- Wet wipes: Not showering for 7 days is pretty gross, but if you bring enough wet wipes you’ll be able to take a camp bath every night and it’s surprisingly refreshing after a long day of hiking.
- 2 luggage locks: You’ll need one for duffel bag on the mountain and another for the bag you leave behind where your outfitter stores your luggage. Get these TSA approved luggage locks so you can use them while flying too.
- Snacks: You’ll get fed very well on the mountain. However, at altitude, many people lose their appetites. I’m one of those people, and trust me when I tell you that you’ll want some comfort food. I bring gummies, chocolate, beef jerky, and cheez-its