A Complete Packing List for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
In my last post, I shared “24 Insider Tips for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.” But before climbers attempt the journey, they must be prepared. Packing for such an adventure can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know what gear is needed to survive. If you are wondering “How do you even pack for something like this?” I am here to help!
While preparing for my own journey, I found that packing lists varied and often were not really helpful nor thorough enough. I was still left with so many questions about what to pack so I’ve compiled a list packing pointers that I wish I had. I hope it answers many of your questions.
Remember, do not wear cotton! It does not dry at high altitudes and can chafe. Wear fabric this is breathable, synthetic, and moisture-wicking.
- Moisture wicking long sleeve tee-shirts (2)
- Moisture wicking tee-shirts (2)
- Moisture wicking sports bra tank – two-in-one is a space savor! (1)
- Moisture wicking sports bra (1)
- Long underwear pants (1)
- Underwear (3 total, 2 that are moisture wicking)
Did you know you go through five temperate climates in just a few days? Be ready with lots of layers and pack lightly for all seasons. Before leaving, test that you can actually wear your clothes over each other.
Middle & Outer Layers
- Mid-weight, moisture-wicking Smartwool long sleeve shirt (1)
- Sweatshirt for warmer sleeping (1)(optional)
- Fleece jacket (1)
- Waterproof hard shell jacket with hood (1): breathable and water-resistant
- Fleece pants (1): I only wore these summit night over long underwear and under my waterproof pants
- Convertible shorts-to-pants hiking pants (1): you will wear these everyday
- Waterproof pants (1): worn over fleece pants summit night
- Gloves or mittens: warm, waterproof recommended
- Medium gloves: something warmer than glove liners, but not as heavy as summit gloves
- Glove liners: thin and synthetic, to be worn under gloves for added warm and protection from frostbite
- Knit hat (that covers ears)
- Sun hat with brim or bandana (I used bandana)
- Ankle high supportive hiking boots: break these in before the climb
- Shoes for lounging around camp: you’ll want to give your feet a break from the boots, I used Keens because they were easy to slip on over socks
- Spare plastic bag to hold your dirty camp shoes
- Hiking socks (3) pairs: Smartwool suggested
- Sock liners (2) pairs: pack thin, synthetic—they stretch and cause blisters if too small
What I Rented
Rent what you don’t already own or need to own after the climb.
- Insulated down parka
- Walking poles: these were my BFF— seriously, I don’t know how people climb without them
- Sleeping bag: warm, four-season sleeping bag. -15° C/ 0° f
- Warm, thick winter gloves
- Gaiters: try them on first, apparently not one-size-fits all (I learned this the hard way)
- Toilet tent: it is so worth your money
- Sleeping pad
- Duffel bag
Sleeping & Carrying Equipment
- Medium sized daypack (25-30 liters): used to carry essentials needed during the day like clothes, water, raincoat, warm clothing, camera, and food
- Daypack rain shield cover: some daypacks already come with one
- Sleeping bag liner (brought but never used)
- Dry sacks: I had a 4L, 8l, 16L, and 32L Sea to Summit bags to stay organized, or you can also use plastic bags to protect equipment from rain
Do not carry any water on the outside of your pack on summit night, it will freeze. Protect it with insulation or under clothing.
- Platypus water bag: ideal so you don’t have to stop to drink
- Camelbak 32 oz water bottle (as backup)
- Water filtering iodine chemical tablets
Personals & Toileteries
- Basic toiletries: soap, deodorant, tooth brush, cotton Q-tips, floss, hairbrush, toothpaste, etc…
- Bug spray: Deet 25-50%
- Toilet paper: you can buy travel packs from Target or take the cardboard out of a roll and store in plastic zip lock bag
- Feminine hygiene cleansing wipes
- Wet wipes: used for “showering” and cleaning hands and face—bring more than you think you need, and then some (inexpensive drugstore ones work fine)
- Anti-itch cream for bug bites: the mosquitoes are only in the rain forest and are enormous
- Face cleanser: I found it easiest to use Neutragena face wipes
- Sun screen and lip protection, SPF 30+
- Contact solution & case
- Dry shampoo (optional)
- Nalgene bottle to pee in: the last thing I wanted to do was leave the warmness of the tent in the frigid night air to go to the toilet tent
- Go Girl or a pee funnel: for use with the Nalgene pee bottle (didn’t wind up needing either, but glad I had it)
- You are climbing a mountain, not entering a beauty contest. No need to bring makeup.
- Panty liners to keep underwear fresher longer
- Headlamp: a non-negotiable must
- Sunglasses: UV protection
- Money to tip porters & guides
- Plastic bag for trash: you cannot leave anything on the mountain but the porters collect the trash for you daily
- High energy snacks: trail mix, cliff bars, chocolate bars or m&m’s
- Ginger cookies or tea bags: said to help AMS.
- Ziploc bags: protect items like camera and binoculars from dust and rain
- Camera: use one that fits in your hip pockets of the daypack for easy access, convenience, and comfort
- Journal and pen: the experience goes by in a blur; you’ll be grateful you wrote it down
- Cards, book, iPod, etc: items to entertain yourself around the campsite at night
- Sterile needles: (optional in case you need an injection, I did not bring this)
- Small unbreakable travel mirror
- Extra memory card
- Extra batteries for camera & headlamp: leave extra batteries in a pair of socks to protect and keep warm
First Aid Items
- Advil: this helps with Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), I took two every morning and never ached or got sick
- Mini first-aid kit that includes ace-bandages, blister kit (tape, neosporin and band-aids), antibacterial cream, antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea, antihistamines, cold and flu medications, throat lozenges, and altitude medications. (I wrapped the ace bandage over the Bandaids; this was a savior)
- Back-up emergency meds: Ciprofloxacin (travelers diarrhea & bladder infection) and Azithromycin (aka z-pack), Immodium for anti-diarrhea, Pepto-Bismol
- Malaria tablets: I took generic Malarone
- Diamox (Acetazolamide): This prevents and combats altitude sickness, I took the generic brand and showed no symptoms of AMS. The only person in my group who got sick summit night was the one who did not take Diamox. Note: It is a diuretic—To avoid needing to pee during the bitter cold night, I hydrated enough during the day so I could cut myself off from drinking water at 6pm. *hydration is crucial so do not limit water intake if you have not drank enough yet.
I used 4L waterproof Sea to Summit bag to protect passport, money and valuables.
- Airline ticket
- Yellow fever certificate (if required)
- Proof of travel insurance
- Medical insurance & medical evacuation insurance
- Did you get all your shots needed to enter the country? Visit the CDC website
Lastly, and I repeat this because it is the most important thing to bring with you: a positive mental attitude. As cheesy as that sounds, it can make or break your goal of reaching the Summit Sign. Believe in yourself—you can do it! Good luck and have fun on your journey.
If you have any questions on what to pack or what it is like, please feel free to shoot me an email. I’m excited for you to embark on this amazing life-changing journey.
Have you ever climbed Kilimanjaro or done a long climb? What did you wish you knew beforehand? Share your tips and advice below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caryn Levy is a late 20-something working professional and hobby blogger who currently lives in Washington, DC. It was her lifelong dream to volunteer in Tanzania and she knew that she couldn’t leave without tackling Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s passionate about making a positive impact in other people’s lives and is on a quest for self-discovery by spreading happiness and encouragement. Caryn enjoys running and yoga, eating a healthy GMO-free diet, and believes that traveling rejuvenates and resets the soul. Check out Caryn’s blog,thecleandiabetic.com and reach out to her on Twitter at @Caryn_Levy.