Mountain Top Goat

Kilimanjaro Packing List for Climbers: The Ultimate Guide

by Mountain Top Goat
mount kilimanjaro

Located in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro is one of the seven summits that more than 30,000 people climb every year. I was one of the lucky ones, and it’s a memory that’ll last forever. So to help other avid hikers conquer such a unique mountain, I wanted to create the most comprehensive Kilimanjaro packing list to date. 

What gear is needed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? 

Scaling this enormous 19,341 feet free-standing mountain is remarkably difficult, resulting in a summit rate of between 45 and 65 percent. So, to improve your chances of success, you need to make sure you have the right gear.

When creating a packing list for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, experienced hikers would say to focus on quality. However, I’d also recommend looking at equipment hire. Many tour guides offer this with their packages, making the climb much more affordable. 

Reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro was a lifelong dream that I was fortunate to complete. For more tips on how you could do it, click here. To help passionate hikers (like myself), I’ll showcase the packing list that helped me scale this towering mountain. 

Which Bags Should I put on my Packing List for Kilimanjaro?

Let’s start with the most basic and essential pieces of equipment, bags. When summiting any mountain, bags enable us to transport and protect essential items required throughout the climb. 

Ideally, you’ll want four bags; 

  • Pre & post-climb bag or a backpack – Tanzania and its neighbors on the East African coast have a lot to offer, such as the beautiful island of Zanzibar or the safaris around the country. For this reason, I strongly recommend packing a pre & post-summit bag that’ll enable you to travel lighter to these areas. 
  • Waterproof duffle bag – This will be your main gear bag. Using an 80-100L duffel bag will work perfectly. You’ll likely get a local porter to carry your bag with all Kilimanjaro tours. First, however, make sure the Mt. Kilimanjaro Porters Society recognizes your selected organization.
  • Daypack with rain cover – Lastly, you’ll want a 30 – 40L daypack that can store all the on-demand essentials such as snacks, medical supplies, water, etc. Also, having a rain cover feature on the backpack will further protect your goods.
  • Dry bag – Having dry clothes is mandatory for the summit. Therefore, adding a sizeable dry bag to your Kilmanjoro gear list is highly recommended.

Regarding bags, these four are what I recommend. You can probably avoid using a pre & post-bag, but it certainly makes the traveling experience more enjoyable. 

backpack for kilimanjaro

Packing List of Sleeping Equipment for Kilimanjaro Climb

As you probably already know, you can’t climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a single day. Rather, it may take anything from five to ten days, depending on your chosen route. I went with a 7-day Lemosho Route for my climb. Since you’ll be spending your nights outside ( unless you go with Marangu Route), you’ll want sufficient sleeping equipment. 

The human body requires good sleep to function correctly, allowing you to fight against illnesses and feel more energized – two essential elements that’ll help you summit. 

There are several pieces of equipment you might want to consider. The most important is a sleeping bag. Ideally, you want a 4-season (-4 °F or -20 °C ) sleeping bag with an additional liner.  

You’ll want a lightweight camping pillow, a sleeping pad, and a sleeping mat for added comfort. Together these can improve sleep quality, leaving you feeling refreshed and motivated the following day.

When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you should never undervalue the importance of getting enough rest. Without a doubt, it’s a tough climb. Therefore, purchase good-quality sleeping equipment that’ll help aid restfulness. 

sleeping bag

Clothing

The mountain base sits at around 70-80 °F (21-27 °C), and the summit sits at 19.4 to -20.2 °F ( -7 to -29 °C) for better visualization. So, you’ll want to prepare yourself for all seasons to guarantee optimal safety. 

  • Waterproofs – Having a waterproof jacket and trousers is excellent for the hike. Ideally, you’ll want waterproofs made from Goretex, as these have microporous properties that repel water, offer optimal breathability, and it doesn’t condensate like cheaper fabrics. 
  • Insulated jacket – You will need a good quality down jacket and thick fleece for cold nights and the summit push. This will help you stay warm (as being cold is not an option, especially for me!). 
  • Mid-layer fleece – A mid-layer fleece to wear with temperatures below -20.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of those who climb Mount Kilimanjaro recommend something made from Polartec when choosing a fleece. 
  • Base Layer – A comfortable long-sleeved thermal t-shirt made from merino wool is the go-to option for a base layer. However, take some short-sleeved, moisture-wicking t-shirts if you choose to hike this mountain between January to the first half of March. 
  • Trekking shorts/trousers – Durable, lightweight, and quick-drying trekking trousers are mandatory. Having trekking trousers that can convert to shorts is excellent. However, carrying a separate pair of trekking shorts is also acceptable. 
  • Trekking tops/t-shirts – It’s also not a terrible idea to pack some trekking tops/t-shirts; a mixture of two or three non-cotton short and long-sleeve tops is enough. 
  • Underwear – Like most of the pieces of attire above, don’t wear cotton as it holds water. Instead, materials like Merino or synthetic mix (nylon and spandex) work perfectly. 
  • Gloves – You should bring fleece gloves with a waterproof outer layer and thin liner gloves. Additionally, a thick pair of warm mitts are excellent for those cold summit nights.
Rain jacket must item on Kilimanjaro packing list

Footwear

Having the wrong shoes can mess up your climb. Better Health suggests it could contribute to shin splints, lower back pain, Achilles tendon pain, etc., all injuries you want to avoid on a climb. 

The two pieces of footwear you’ll want to bring are hiking boots and camp shoes. 

  • Hiking boot – Mid-weight boots with good ankle support 
  • Camp footwear – Shoes get recommended (I suggest the Altra Lone Peak 5), but some people have sandals. 

Additionally, 2-3 pairs of outer and 2-liner socks should get added to your Kilimanjaro packing list. Finally, a pair of thick thermal socks made from Merino wool will help you stay warm for the summit night. 

Pack some gaiters if you’re like me and want to be prepared for any situation. These will help protect your lower trousers and keep them clean. 

hiking boots for kilimanjaro packing list

Headgear & Eyewear 

Next, headgear and eyewear are other crucial equipment areas that need adding to a Kilimanjaro gear list. 

The most important is sunglasses. With high altitude comes high sun intensity. Additionally, Mount Kilimanjaro is close to the equator, so it’s even more intense. For this reason, pack some quality sunglasses that offer high UV protection. 

Including the above, a wide-brimmed sunhat, warm beanie, and snood scarf are all recommended. If you have all of these, you will be ready for both the warm and cold parts of the climb.

Warm beanie and sunglasses

Personal Hygiene 

Personal hygiene will ensure you don’t fall sick and stay fit for the intense hike. As a standard, both men and women should consider the following. 

  • Biodegradable soap
  • Dry shampoo 
  • Nail brush 
  • Small hairbrush 
  • Small towel 
  • Face flannel 
  • Sanitizer gel 
  • Sunscreen
  • Skin creams (face, body, feet, etc.) 
  • Biodegradable face wipes 
  • Lip bar with SPF25 protection 
  • Tissues 
  • Deodorant 

When purchasing the above, think about the size. Space is incredibly limited on this climb, so buy travel pack sizes for everything. 

For men and women, you’ll also want to consider bringing the below: 

  • Men – mirror, razor, shaving cream, and a pee bottle (please mark this well) 
  • Women – pee cloth, feminine wipes, and a menstrual cup

That’s practically everything required. However, if you need additional or special personal hygiene products to maintain health, bring these also. 

small size cosmetics for Kilimanjaro

Repair Kits 

Most online packing lists for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro don’t include repair kits. But, truthfully, it’s something you don’t know you need until you need it. 

During the climb, you could rip your waterproofs, break a jacket zip, a bag, etc. Therefore, you’ll want to prepare yourself properly.

Simple tools like gaffer tape, cable ties, and a multitool are more than sufficient. With these alone, you can fix common problems during the climb. 

Cameras & Tech 

Being a travel blogger, I took quite a bit of tech and, most importantly, a camera. However, I understand that not everyone will be the same. 

A headlamp and extra batteries are essential items on your Kilimanjaro packing list. Apart from that, the following is recommended but not mandatory.

  • GPS or Altimeter 
  • Camera or smartphone 
  • Powerbank to charge devices 
  • Plug adapter for pre & post backpack 

As with everything else on this list, you should think about the size of the cameras and tech. For example, you might want to bring a smaller point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone instead of a big camera that takes up a lot of space.

camera

First Aid Packing List for Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t a walk in the park. With the increasingly high altitude, it can become harder to breathe, your mental alertness drops, and accidents will probably occur. 

For this reason, you need to make sure you have a good first aid kit. In addition, of course, bring all of the medical equipment you require daily. Also, the following things are well worth getting:

  • Altitude drugs – More than 75% of those that climb mount Kiimanjoro experience mild altitude sickness. Many guides will have spare medication, but it’s always good to have your own. Diamox is the most common medicine people take for altitude sickness. It helps with headaches, nausea, and tiredness.
  • Sunscreen – Being close to the equator and at a high altitude means UV intensity is enhanced. Therefore, protect yourself from burning by bringing sunscreen. 
  • Eye drops – Are highly recommended for anyone who gets dry eyes from being tired. If you usually experience this, you’ll need this on Mount Kilimanjaro. 
  • Antiseptic cream and wipes – The terrain on the mountain can become rough from time to time, depending on the zone. Therefore, you could slip, graze or cut yourself. Although this will probably be minor, you don’t want it to get infected. To eliminate this from occurring, bring small, travel-size antiseptic cream and wipes. 
  • Plasters, bandages, and zinc oxide tape – The last thing to add to your packing list for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro regarding first aid are plasters, bandages, and zinc oxide tape. Together, these can help you protect a wound and limit the possibility of infections. 

I would consider bringing all of the above as a bare minimum. Although the guides or other climbers with you might have these, it is best to bring your own first aid supplies.

first aid kit for kilimanjaro packing list

Miscellaneous 

So, what equipment do you need to climb Kilimanjaro? Well, a lot, according to the above. However, it doesn’t stop there. There are many miscellaneous items I couldn’t place into a category. 

Without question, these are also incredibly important and shouldn’t get missed on your Kilimanjaro packing list. Here’s why: 

  • Water bottles – Disposable water bottles aren’t permitted on Kilimanjaro, so you’ll want to take reusable water bottles (maximum 3L). Some consider water bladders, but these can sometimes freeze on the summit night. 
  • Trekking poles – The climb is hard-wearing on your body. Trekking poles have been shown to reduce the amount of compressive force on knees by upwards of 25%, helping your climb significantly. 
  • Hand & toe warmers – It can get freezing on the summit night. To help improve warmth and sleep, use hand/toe warmers. 
  • Mosquito repellent – You’ll be happy to hear there aren’t any mosquitos on the mountain. However, it’s a different story for the rest of Tanzania. Therefore, it’s an excellent idea to pack this into your post and pre backpack. 
  • Toilet roll – Guides will probably supply this, but many like to take their own. Store it in a plastic bag.
  • Padlock – Although it’s unlikely any of your gear will get stolen, it’s better to be safe. A security code padlock will work excellent at deterring anyone from your gear pre, during, and post-climb. 
  • Earplugs – Light sleeper like me? Take some earplugs! The camps in the high altitude are extremely quiet at night, making outside noise (like people snoring) incredibly loud. 

This is everything I had on my Kilimanjaro packing list regarding miscellaneous items. Of course, there are more, but it’ll depend on the individual’s requirements and needs. 

water bottle for Kilimanjaro packing list

Documents

Not many travel bloggers discuss documents on a Kilimanjaro packing list. However, incorrect documents mean one thing – you won’t do the climb. 

A yellow fever certificate (only required from certain countries). You’ll need this before entering if you’re visiting the surrounding countries before Tanzania (like Kenya). 

Additionally, your passport, travel insurance, and flight details will all need to be copied (digital and physical). This will ensure no problems arise when you enter or leave the country. 

Lastly, you’ll want to bring some U.S dollars. Although hotels around the area accept cards, around $300 for tipping money is recommended.

Travel documents

Additional Items to Put on Your Kilimanjaro Packing List

This next section will talk about the additional items I took on my Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Undoubtedly, all of the below made the experience more bearable and enjoyable.

  • Favorite snacks – Being at a high altitude is supposed to make you lose your appetite. However, this wasn’t my case, and I enjoyed my favorite snacks while hiking the mountain. 
  • Flavor sachets – Flavour or energy sachets are also excellent; they boost motivation and keep you alert. 
  • Water-purifying tablets – It’s important to stay hydrated. Throughout the climb, there are a number of places to get water. But, of course, you don’t want to drink this without it being purified, so you’ll want to take these tablets. 
  • E-reader, notebook, and pen – I love to read and keep track of my travels, so these were essential for me. Having something that you can wind down with and get a good night’s sleep is necessary, which is precisely what these provided. 
  • Trash bags – Locals, trekkers, and guides hold the utmost respect for Kilimanjaro, and leaving trash isn’t acceptable. Therefore, take some biodegradable trash bags and don’t leave any rubbish lying around. 
  • A belt to go with climbing pants – It’s no surprise that climbing this mountain makes you quickly lose weight. Because of this, it’s an excellent idea to include a belt for your climbing trousers. 
E-book reader

Conclusion 

After reading the above, you should understand what needs to get included on a packing list for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. 

You should know the required essentials, the recommended equipment, and any other items that will make the hike more fun. When you have all these finalized, you’ll have a complete Kilimanjaro packing list to help with the climb. 


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