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Kilimanjaro Packing List: What You Need (& What You DON’T)

Kilimanjaro Packing List: What You Need (& What You DON’T)

After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, here’s my recommended packing and gear list with everything you need on the mountain.

Recently, I published a very popular blog post about climbing Kili via the Lemosho Route. I was surprised by just how many emails and comments I was getting asking about the gear that I carry and wear!

So, to help out hopeful climbers, I’ve written this detailed Kilimanjaro gear list to help you plan what to pack (and what to leave at home). This list is broken down into what to pack inside your duffel bag, as well as your day pack for the trek and summit night with specific brands and product recommendations based on what I use.

Haylea with trekking duffel bags on kilimanjaro mountain

Kilimanjaro Packing List Overview

Below is an overview of what I pack for almost all expeditions & multi-day treks reaching this altitude, almost anywhere in the world. This is how I break down my gear so that it is easy to remember and pack.

  • Sleeping & Essential Gear: you will want a 100L waterproof duffel bag for your porters, a 30-40L hiking backpack, a sleeping bag (rated to at least -10°C/14°F), and a water bottle filter.
  • Clothing: break this down into base layers (top and bottom), insulating layers (fleece & down), and waterproof and windproof layers (Goretex or waterproof membrane). Additionals include socks, a sun hat, gloves, a warm hat, & thermal underwear for sleeping.
  • Boots & Trekking Poles: sturdy, worn-in trekking boots and high-quality trekking poles.
  • Tech & Miscellaneous: think camera, headlamp, sunglasses, power banks, etc.
  • Insurance: High-altitude trekking travel insurance is compulsory for all climbs. I always use Global Rescue for my expeditions around the world.

Below I will provide a full packing checklist with recommendations on brands and products that I personally use.

Olly gaspar climbing kilimanjaro in africa

Booked Your Kili Climb Yet?

More important than planning what to pack is which Kilimanjaro tour operator you choose!

I climbed with Altezza Travel and highly recommend them as the best trekking company in Tanzania. Use the code weseektravel during your initial inquiry for a 5% discount!

Essential Gear for Climbing Kilimanjaro

Before getting into the clothes, here's a list of the gear and sleeping equipment you need. Note, that Kilimanjaro is a trekking peak, which means that you don't need alpine climbing equipment.

Backpack & Duffel

  • 100L Waterproof Duffel Bag for porters - This is what all of your non-essential day equipment will go into and your porter will carry it. I recommend the North Face Base Camp duffel or similar as a good quality bag that will keep your gear dry and clean.
  • 30-40L Hiking Backpack - This is the backpack you will carry up the mountain. I used a hiking camera backpack but any comfortable hiking backpack will be sufficient.
  • Multiple Dry Bags - I use the Sea to Summit dry bags to store all of my clothes and gear inside my duffel in order to keep the duffel contents dry. This is safer than using plastic bags.
Packing gear on kilimanjaro mountain, tanzania

Sleeping & Camp Gear

  • Sleeping Bag rated to -17°C/0°F - I use the Sea to Summit Spark IV as it is lightweight and very warm. This will be loaded into your duffel and used in the tents at night.
  • Inflatable Pillow - a lightweight trekking pillow to keep you comfortable at night. The Sea to Summit Aeros is my favorite.
  • Toiletries & Toilet Paper - the drop toilets on the mountain don't stock toilet paper. Bring your own. Bring basic toiletries like soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Sunscreen is essential. Hand sanitizer can be useful to keep bacteria away when eating.
  • Lightweight Sandals or Flip Flops - very convenient to get around camp in the evenings and early mornings.
  • Earplugs - for a good night's sleep, any will do.
  • Optional: Sleeping Bag Liner - not compulsory but can add extra warmth and hygiene. I use the Sea to Summit Reactor.
  • Optional: Wet Wipes - there are no showers on Kilimanjaro. These will keep you somewhat clean.
  • Optional: Pee bottle - if you really don't want to get out of your tent at night, you can pack a large, collapsible, wide-mouth bottle to pee into. The Nalgene Cantene is a popular option since it can be rolled up and is lightweight.
2-man sleeping tent on mount kilimanjaro

Trekking Gear

  • Grayl bottle - you need a drink bottle and I recommend the Grayl GeoPress to store and filter water on the mountain.
  • Gaiters - waterproof gaiters are useful to keep water and dust out of your boots. I use the Outdoor Research gaiters that are Goretex.
  • Optional: Trail Snacks - it's a good idea to pack some extra snacks like nuts, candy, and dried fruits to keep energy up.
  • Optional: Small Repair Kit - for gear maintenance. Most quality trekking companies will bring something like this.
  • Optional: Hydration bladder - a convenient way to carry and consume water. Opt for bladders with an insulated hose to avoid freezing.
Couple trekking on kilimanjaro

Clothing and Layering

The most important thing you need to know about what clothes to pack for Kilimanjaro is that you need to layer. This involves packing multiple clothing layers that can be added or removed in response to changing weather conditions, ensuring comfort and protection across various climates.

Here is my current layering system list that I use.

Jackets

  • 1x Goretex Shell Jacket - this is your waterproof layer. I recommend quality lightweight technical membranes like Goretex or others. I use the Arcteryx Alpha SV.
  • 1x Heavy Down Jacket - this is a typical warm, compact down (belay layer) for summit night. I use a very thick one from Tahkhi, a Korean brand. I recommend finding a decent quality summit/belay jacket with plenty of 500+ down fill.
  • 1x Active Mid Layer (top) - an insulating layer that is more breathable than standard fleece jacket. I use the Arcteryx Atom LT.
  • 1x Fleece top layer – An additional, lightweight fleece layer for extra cold nights on the mountain. I use and recommend a technical "active" layer that you can also wear while moving. I use the RAB Ascendor Light Hoody.
  • Optional: Big poncho - a lightweight trekking poncho that can go over your backpack and can be useful if it is raining in the lower camps.
Man in trekking gear on kilimanjaro

Base Layers & Socks

  • 3x active tops - I recommend Merino as this material offers the best water-wicking and breathability properties.
  • 1-2x Long-sleeved trekking shirts - this will protect you from the sun and keep you slightly warmer.
  • 2x Light Merino hiking socks - your everyday hiking socks for lower elevations. I recommend and use Smartwool Light Cushion socks.
  • 1x Mid Merino Hiking Sock – I always pack a mid sock for those in-between altitudes. The Smartwool Full Cushion is my go-to.
  • 1x Summit Merino Hiking Sock – You want a warm, thick pair for summit day. I use MacPac Expedition Alpine (this might be overkill as I also them with my 8,000 m boots as well)
  • 1x Thermal base layer set (merino top and bottom) – I usually sleep in this and wear it as a base layer on summit day. I recommend finding a lightweight but warm set made from merino wool.
  • Underwear for daily wear
Climbing up rocks on kilimanjaro mountain

Trekking Pants & Trousers

  • 1x Light trekking pants – I pack one pair of trekking trousers and wear them for most of the days leading up to the summit. I use the Fjallraven Keb Agile and love them.
  • 1x Thicker trekking pants - on summit day, you want a thicker pair of trekking trousers. I'm using the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Ventilated.
Trekking the lemosho route

Additional Clothing

  • 1x warm hat - a beanie or warm hat for camp and for the summit push.
  • 1x sun hat - a wide-brim hat is best as you want something to keep the sun off your face and neck.
  • 1x buff - a buff or neck gaiter to cover your face is very useful. It will keep you warm and keep dust out of your lungs.
  • 1x Sunglasses - buy comfortable sunglasses that are cat 3 or cat 4. The best are the sunglasses with side shades.
  • 1x lightweight liner gloves - a light pair of gloves is good for cold mornings and to keep the sun off your hands. You can also wear these underneath your heavy gloves at the summit. I use Outdoor Research Waterproof Liners.
  • 1x heavy gloves - bring a warm pair of trekking gloves. I use Outdoor Research Alti Mountaineering Gloves but you can also bring mitts.
Climbers gearing up on summit night of kilimanjaro climb

Hiking Boots & Trekking Poles

You will want to bring 1x pair of trekking boots that you will use all the way from the starting point to the summit. This means you want a sturdy, lightweight, waterproof boot that is worn in and offers good ankle support.

Popular hiking boots for climbing Kilimanjaro include:

  • Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX - A durable, waterproof boot with a Gore-Tex membrane and sturdy leather construction, designed for long treks.
  • La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX - A lightweight, technical boot featuring a Gore-Tex membrane and synthetic construction, ideal for mixed terrains.
  • Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof - A comfortable, waterproof boot with a durable leather and mesh upper, offering excellent breathability and support.
  • Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX - A robust, waterproof boot with a Gore-Tex membrane and suede leather construction, perfect for technical hikes and varying conditions.

Trekking poles are optional for the Kili climb but can help distribute your weight, aiding in balance and less fatigue. You will only need 1 pair of trekking poles. I use the Black Diamond Carbon Distance FLZ but here are three other good options:

  1. Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork - A lightweight, durable trekking pole with a carbon fiber construction and cork grips, ideal for all terrains and conditions.
  2. Leki Micro Vario Carbon - A compact, foldable trekking pole made of carbon, featuring an ergonomic grip and easy-to-use adjustment system, suitable for hikers who value portability.
  3. REI Co-op Flash Carbon - An affordable, lightweight pole with carbon fiber shafts and foam grips, offering good support and comfort for a wide range of hikes.
Trekkers geared up for the trek on kilimanjaro, tanzania

Technology & Optional Extras

  • Camera - Bring a small, durable, high-quality camera or a smartphone with a good camera to capture the breathtaking views and memorable moments of your climb. Read my guide to camera gear for travel for advice.
  • Headlamp with Spare Batteries - Essential for the midnight morning summit push and navigating the campsite at night. I recommend finding a model with strong lumens and a replaceable battery. I use the Petzl Aktik but the Black Diamond Spot is very popular.
  • Powerbank - A high-capacity power bank between 10,000 - 24,000 mAh to keep your electronic devices charged throughout the trek. I used the Anker 737 Power Bank.
  • eSim - although internet is limited on the mountain, I was able to get some messages out by using the Airalo eSim on my iPhone.
  • Basic First Aid Kit for emergencies - this should include blister pads and any medication including Diamox if you are taking it (consult with your doctor).
  • Optional: Kindle or e-reader - useful for quiet afternoons and evenings at camp.
  • Optional: Hiking solar panel - I carry a lot of electronics and cameras and I use the Anker Solar Panel strapped to the outside of my bag. This charges my power bank while hiking so that I can then charge my gear in the tent at night.
Hiker with garmin inreach satellite device

How I Stay Connected Off-Grid

I've been using the Garmin InReach Mini satellite communicator for all serious treks and expeditions since 2020.

It lets me send unlimited SMS anywhere on earth and has an emergency SOS feature that could save your life.

Extras to Pack for Women

I started climbing Kilimanjaro with my girlfriend, Haylea. At the summit, I proposed, which means she's my fiancé now. Here's her take on what women need to pack specifically for Kilimanjaro.

  1. Sports Bras: Comfortable, supportive sports bras suitable for long days of hiking.
  2. Personal Hygiene Products: Include menstrual cups or tampons, biodegradable wet wipes, and facial wipes for a quick refresh.
  3. Hair Care: Bands, ties, or a buff to manage hair under hats or helmets, and a small travel-size bottle of dry shampoo if preferred.
  4. Skin Protection: High SPF sunscreen formulated for the face, lip balm with SPF, and moisturizer to combat dry, cold air at higher altitudes.
  5. Urination Device: A female urination device like a SheWee can be extremely useful for hygienic bathroom breaks without needing to squat, especially in cold or exposed areas.
  6. Extra Layers: Women often feel colder, so packing an extra insulating layer or thermal leggings can provide added warmth, especially at night or during the summit push.
Girl with trekking backpack on kilimanjaro

What Not to Pack for Kilimanjaro

Remember, you will have a weight limit for your duffel bag of 15 kilograms (33 lb) if you are booking with a reputable trekking company. The porter will be carrying this on his/her head for several days across 40-50 km.

So, packing efficiently for Kilimanjaro means knowing what to leave behind as much as what to bring.

Here’s a list of items you should not pack for your Kilimanjaro trek:

  1. Cotton Clothing: Cotton absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry, which can lead to discomfort and hypothermia in cold weather.
  2. Cash and important documents - leave valuables like cash, passport, and documents with your climbing operator.
  3. Heavy Books: Opt for an e-reader or smartphone app for entertainment to save weight.
  4. Jeans or Heavy Denim: These are heavy, absorb water, and offer little insulation, making them very impractical for hiking.
  5. Excessive Electronics: This is something I struggle with as I carry a lot of camera equipment. However, if this is your first experience trekking at high altitude, limit yourself to essentials like a camera, phone, and headlamp to save weight and minimize distraction.
  6. Single-Use Plastic Bottles: Opt for a durable water bottle or hydration system, as single-use plastics are harmful to the environment and often not allowed.
  7. Unnecessary Gadgets: Items like large tripods or other luxury electronics will add weight and are rarely used.
  8. Too Many Snacks: While snacks are essential, overpacking them can weigh you down very quickly. Plan for a reasonable daily consumption.
  9. Large Towels: A small, quick-dry travel towel is sufficient and takes up far less space.
  10. Excess Toiletries: Bring only travel-sized essentials. Kilimanjaro is not the place for full-sized bottles or multiple skincare products. There are no showers, so wet wipes will replace your routine for the week you're on the mountain.
  11. Jewelry or Valuables: There’s a risk of losing them, and they serve no practical purpose on the mountain.
  12. Oversized or Hard-Shell Suitcases: Pack everything in a duffel bag or backpack as they are easier for porters to carry and fit with the rest of the gear. I saw a few porters carrying hard suitcases and I find this very disrespectful.
Porters carrying equipment on kilimanjaro mountain

Things to Know About Packing for Kilimanjaro

Here are a few important things to know about packing for the Kilimanjaro climb.

  • Kilimanjaro's Climate Zones: The mountain features five distinct climate zones from the cultivated lower slopes to the arctic summit, making packing difficult. Your gear must accommodate tropical heat as well as freezing temperatures. For example, a breathable, moisture-wicking t-shirt is as crucial as a heavy, insulated jacket.
  • Layering: Given the varied conditions, layering is non-negotiable on the Kili trek. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer (e.g., merino wool or synthetic fabrics), add an insulating middle layer (such as a fleece or down jacket), and top with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. This system allows you to adjust your body temperature easily as you ascend or descend.
  • Packing for your climbing route: Your chosen route influences your packing list. For instance, the Marangu route offers hut accommodations, reducing the need for a tent or sleeping mat, unlike the Machame or Lemosho routes where camping is the only option. Consider the duration and amenities of your route when packing.
  • Pack weights: I recommend keeping your day pack under 10 kg (22 lb) if you can to help avoid fatigue and back pain. Your duffel bag should be under 15 kg (33 lb) for your porter to carry. This is the Porter's Society rules and only reputable trekking companies are accredited.
  • Rental gear options: To lighten your check-in bags and save on costs, consider renting gear locally in Tanzania. Key items like sleeping bags, insulated jackets, and even hiking poles are available for rent. This is especially helpful for bulky or expensive items that you might not use again.
Peak design camera clip with canon camera

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I've used the Peak Design Capture Clip for years to quickly clip my camera to my backpack's shoulder strap. This is the most comfortable way to carry a camera and will save your neck a ton of strain.

FAQ About Packing for Kilimanjaro

How much should my duffel bag weigh?

Your duffel bag, carried by porters, should not exceed 15 kg (33 lbs) as per Kilimanjaro National Park regulations. This includes all your gear, except for what you carry in your daypack.

Can I rent gear in Tanzania, or should I bring everything from home?

Yes, you can rent high-quality gear in Tanzania, including sleeping bags, jackets, and trekking poles. Renting can be a cost-effective and convenient option, especially for bulky items. However, I recommend bringing your own personal items like boots and base layers.

What type of backpack should I carry as my daypack?

Choose a 30-40L hiking backpack with comfortable straps, a hip belt, and space for your hydration system. Your daypack should carry essentials like water, snacks, a camera, sunscreen, and layers for weather changes.

Is a sleeping bag necessary, or are blankets provided at the camps?

A sleeping bag rated for at least -10°C (14°F) is necessary as temperatures can drop to below -10°C (14°F) at night. Most companies will rent you a bag, but remember, this is going to be included in your duffel bag weight.

How do I keep my electronics charged on the mountain?

It goes without saying, there are no chargers or outlets on Kilimanjaro mountain. Bring a power bank (10,000 - 24,000 mAh) to keep your devices charged. Solar chargers can also be a good idea but depend on weather conditions for efficiency.

What clothing should I wear for the summit attempt?

Layering is key and you want to be warm since the first part of the summit push is the coldest part of the Kilimanjaro climb. Start with a base layer, add a fleece or down jacket for insulation, and top with a waterproof and windproof layer. Don't forget warm gloves, a beanie, thermal leggings or trekking pants, and thick summit socks inside your boots.

Are trekking poles really necessary to climb Kili?

Trekking poles are optional but can greatly reduce the impact on your knees during descents and help with balance and support on uneven terrain.

What personal items should I not forget?

Don't forget personal hygiene items like toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, and any medications you may need. Women should also pack menstrual hygiene products.

How do I manage water purification on the trek?

Quality trekking companies will provide filtered, clean drinking water. However, I highly recommend bringing a water bottle with a built-in filter like the Grayl Geopress. Alternatively, purification tablets can treat water from streams or camps. Staying hydrated is crucial, and clean water is essential for avoiding stomach issues and altitude sickness.

Wet weather on kilimanjaro

More Tanzania Travel Blogs

I hope this comprehensive Kilimanjaro packing list has helped you plan for the adventure to the top of the highest mountain in Africa (and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world)!

Remember, if you plan to trek with the #1 company in Tanzania: Altezza Travel, use the code weseektravel during your initial inquiry for a 5% discount!

If you have any suggestions, recommendations, or questions, leave me a comment below! I answer every single one.

Otherwise, here are some more Tanzania travel guides to check out.

Related: Everest Three Passes Packing List

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

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