What To Pack For Kilimanjaro

What to Pack for Kilimanjaro

At 19,341 ft, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and an incredible challenge for experienced climbers. Even the most experienced climbers, however, will tell you that one of the keys to success is making sure you bring the right gear. Here are some things to keep in mind when packing for Kilimanjaro.

Quality and Weatherproof Clothing

When packing for Kilimanjaro, the first priority is to bring the right clothing. Make sure to pack layers, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the ascent. Also, the weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to bring clothing that is both weatherproof and breathable. Quality clothing is also a must: winter wear made of synthetic fabrics like fleece, down, and Gore-tex are your best bets. Bring items that you can layer, such as a t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, and a mid-layer.

It is also important to bring a hat and gloves, even if you do not plan to spend all your time outdoors. The sun is strong in the mountains, and a hat can help protect you from sunburn. A pair of wool or synthetic gloves will also keep your hands warm when it gets cold. Wool is a great option for the highest altitudes, as it is both breathable and moisture wicking.

Sturdy Footwear

When packing for Kilimanjaro, it’s important to make sure you bring a good pair of hiking boots. Make sure they fit properly and are broken in before the climb. Also, bring a few pairs of cushioned socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable. A pair of trail running shoes is also recommended, as they are lightweight and will help keep you cool during the ascent. Make sure the soles have good grip, as the terrain can be slippery.

It is also important to bring a pair of insulated boots or gaiters to wear when crossing glaciers. These boots provide additional protection against the cold and wet conditions. Insulated gaiters are a great option for those who want to be able to wear their everyday hiking shoes. They are lightweight, compact, and easy to pack.

Essential Gear

In addition to clothing and footwear, it is important to pack other essential gear for the trek. A sleeping bag made for cold weather is a must. A three-season tent is recommended, as well as a four-season bag if you will be camping in more extreme conditions. Make sure to bring a comfortable inner liner and a waterproof cover for your tent. A headlamp and a lightweight stove are also essential items.

Be sure to also bring water and calorie dense snacks. A good rule of thumb is to bring one gallon of water per person, per day. Also, bring items like energy bars and nuts to give yourself an energy boost during the climb. Of course, don’t forget a first aid kit, sun protection, and any necessary medications.

The Right Pack

Finally, make sure to select the right pack for your needs. A standard backpacking pack is a good choice for most people, as these packs usually carry up to 80 liters. Also, opt for something with an adjustable torso length, as this will ensure a good fit. Additionally, look for a pack with a hip belt or suspension system, as this will help take some of the weight off your shoulders. The right pack will make the climb far more comfortable and manageable.

Safety Equipment

When choosing what to pack for Kilimanjaro, it’s important to consider your own safety. A helmet is a must if you plan to climb the more technical routes. Also, make sure to pack a helmet and harness for glacier crossings. Crampons, which provide traction on ice and snow, are also an essential item. Bring a selection of carabiners, webbing, and a belay device as well.

Other safety items to include in your pack are an ice axe, a first aid kit, and emergency shelter. A good rule of thumb is to assume that temperatures may get below freezing, so make sure to pack items necessary for survival. A satellite phone is also a good investment, as the terrain can be quite isolated and cellular reception is often spotty.

Tips for Packing

When packing for Kilimanjaro, there are a few tips that can help make the process easier. Pack everything in organized layers, starting with bulky items like sleeping bags and tents on the bottom. Place items that you may need to access quickly — such as food, water or first aid — near the top. Make sure to also compress your items as much as possible to save on space.

Finally, it is important to pack light. If possible, try to trim your pack so that it weighs about 45 pounds. This is especially important for summit day, when you will be carrying the pack for several hours. Remember that you can always rent climbing gear from local vendors, so do some research ahead of time to see what is available.

The Right Mindset

Of course, the most important thing to bring on your Kilimanjaro climb is the right mindset. Climbing can be dangerous, so take the time to do your research, plan ahead, and follow safety protocols. Make sure to take regular breaks, stay hydrated, and listen to your body. The mountains can be a place of immense joy and incredible challenge – if you approach it with the right attitude, your Kilimanjaro climb can be an experience you never forget.


Mount Kilimanjaro can present extreme temperature variation, so be sure to pack accordingly. Along with polar jackets, also consider a balaclava, or face mask, as cold winds can be quite intense. Extra hand warmers can also make a big difference when it gets cold. Many climbers opt for chemical hand warmers, but some prefer the traditional “hot rock” method, which involves heating a rock in a fire and then carrying it in a pocket or under the shirt.

It is also important to consider the heat. Wearing lightweight and moisture-wicking apparel will help keep your body temperature regulated. Also, carry a few litres of water and replenish frequently. Sun protection such as sunglasses, sunscreen, and a good brimmed hat are also a must for summit day.


Adjusting to life at high altitudes is one of the key challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro, so proper acclimatization is essential. It is best to ascend slowly in order to give your body time to adjust. Climb gradually and make sure to take rest days, even if you feel like you could keep going. Listen to your body and be aware of any changes in your physical and mental state. If you start feeling tired or unwell, take some time to rest and reassess.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is no small feat and requires a great deal of preparation. By packing the right gear, acclimating properly, and taking the necessary precautions, you’ll be well-prepared for the journey ahead. Good luck and happy climbing!

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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