There are so many packing lists on the internet for climbing Kilimanjaro. Some I found useful, some had a ridiculous amount of unnecessary items that you just don’t need.
One even said to take make up…
You’re climbing a mountain, you do NOT need make up.
I’ve therefore compiled a list of what I took, as a female, and things I wished I had taken as well!
These are obviously the most important.
1. Make sure you have a fantastic pair of boots, preferably with ankle support.
They don’t have to be the top brand, best boots in the world ever, but they must be worn in and they have to be the most comfortable things you’ve ever put on your feet, as you will be wearing them all day, every day on inclines. There are parts of the climb that were loose sand and scree, ill fitting shoes will only increase your chance of twisting an ankle or similar. My boots fitted perfectly and I still managed to injure myself!
2. A pair of shoes to wear around camp.
I took my Keen Clearwater Sandals, and they were fantastic as you could just slip them on over socks, no worries. Others took trainers. Ideally just something comfortable, with good grip.
Layers are the most important thing to consider when hiking, especially on Mount Kilimanjaro, as you go through forest, jungle, heath and moorland, alpine desert and the summit.Lots of light, moisture wicking layers are the key here!
(do not wear cotton, it won’t wick away moisture, does not dry at high altitude and will make you feel cold if the temperature changes)
– 2 x long sleeve moisture wicking tops
– 2 x t shirts
– 1 x strappy hiking top
– 2 x sports bras
– 1 x base layer leggings
– 1 x base layer top for summit night
– 5 x underwear, again not cotton
Middle and Outer Layers
– 1 x Fleece– 2 x hiking trousers (one zip off pair)
– 1 x thin waterproof trousers
– 1 x pair of trousers for summit night. You can either layer up your normal ones with thermal base layers or wear a thicker pair. I wore my North Face ski pants, and they were incredibly warm!
– 1 x normal gloves and 1 x thick cosy gloves for summit night, ideally waterproof.
– 1 x wool/knitted hat for when it gets chilly in the evenings and for summit night. I took my Fjallraven Byron hat and have never been warmer in my life!
– 1 x sun hat with peak or a bandana (I took both a baseball cap and a Buff)
– 1 x down jacket.
– 1 x waterproof jacket with hood (GoreTex / breathable)
– 1 x sunglasses (preferably wrap around)
– 1 x pair of gaiters (optional, I took them in case of rain/snow, but aonly used them to stop scree getting in my boots)
– Daysack (up to 36L) – Ideally one that works with your hydration bladder. This will be used to carry everything you need for the day’s hike. It’s useful to have a rain cover for it as well, just in case!
– Duffel bag (80-100L) for all of your clothing/sleeping bag etc… This will be carried ahead of you by the porters and stashed in your tent, ready for when you arrive. You could use those packing cubes to organise, but I found that I didn’t need these at all. Lots of previous cadet trip experience! This cannot weigh more than 12-13kg as porters have to carry it, thy will weigh it before you climb!
– CamelBak or hydration bladder (2-3l)
– Sleeping bag (0 to around -30C)
– Hiking poles. I was dubious about needing these, but they are a necessity. If you don’t want to buy them, you can hire them from most of the trek companies for a small amount.
– Headtorch and spare batteries (needed for when it gets dark in camp and also for summit night as it will be pitch black)
You should have had your travel vaccines prior to flying to Tanzania, but this is a short list of things to take with you up the mountain!
– Your Malaria medication
– Diamox (for altitude sickness) – I started on half a tablet twice a day for the first 2 days and then ramped up to one whole tablet twice a day. I genuinely believe that the Diamox and copious amounts of water were the reason I didn’t suffer from any altitude sickness.
– Immodium or Dioralyte (Just in case)
– I also took tea tree oil (it has a multitude of uses from antibacterial properties, to healing a sore throat etc)
– Blister plasters (again, your boots should be worn in, but it doesn’t hurt to have them on standby)
– A small first aid kit (plasters, tweezers, wipes etc…)
– A compression bandage (I managed to do my knee in prior to the summit and wouldn’t have made it up without this) you may not need one but I’m a firm believer in taking things like this, just in case!
– I also took some antibiotics with me (glad I did as I ended up with a chest infection post summit, possibly from the dust)
Some of these you may not need, these are just things I took with me upon advice from others!
– Toilet roll
– Sun cream and a protective lip balm. I took Factor 50 and still managed to get windburn/sunburn… See above photo of my face for more details!
– Wet wipes. Ideally biodegradable, but I took some of those sanitary disposal bags and just took everything back down the mountain with me and got rid when I was at the hotel. You do get warm water for washing at each camp but there’s so much dust that it doesn’t go a long way!
– Antibacterial hand gel. Lifesaver.
– Pantliners – Ladies, I was dubious about this, but it was such a good idea to keep your clothes fresh.
– Carabiners – Useful for clipping wet towel/clothes to your daysack to dry off in the heat/attaching your hat/items for quick access.
– Deodorant. Obvious one.
– Hairbrush, bands, clips, dry shampoo (I took dry shampoo but never actually used it, as I just gave up on looking like a normal human being after day 2)
– SheWee – I was so against this, and thought it ridiculous, but when nature calls and you’re bundled up in hundreds of layers in the evening and it’s cold, or on summit night, this is a lifesaver!
– Microfiber towel
– Camera / GoPro & spare batteries
– Charger, if you’re taking phone/camera. My camera was charged and I didn’t want to use my phone so I didn’t need this but others took them.
– Copies of your passport/any insurance documents etc…
- Padlock for your duffel bag.
– Snacks. I took Clif Bars (YASSS), some gels and a lot of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake. THE BEST THING EVERRR.
– Electrolyte tablets for water. These were a godsend!
– A book. I didn’t take one as I passed out instantly after dinner and slept right through!
– Ear plugs. I’m a very light sleeper and was passing out at around 9, when a lot of others were still awake. Camp can be noisy!
– A sentimental item for the summit (I took a toy dog I’d had since childhood and one of HMS Victory’s white ensigns)
Want an easy list to check off?
Click the download link below!
A sense of humour, motivation and an ability to keep going.At points you will be cold, you will be tired, you will want to stop.
Your legs will always carry you and just putting one foot in front of the other is enough for them.
Mind over matter.