Kilimanjaro Climb Gear List
Our comprehensive Kilimanjaro climb gear list will help you be the best type of climber, prepared with the right balance of essentials while maintaining a manageable bag weight.
At Top Climbers, we rent out a large selection of equipment which is provided on arrival at the hotel. This includes sleeping bags with cotton liners, two sizes of duffle bags, 40L day packs, assorted sizes of dry bags, rucksack covers, trekking poles, waterproof tops and bottoms, gaiters, gloves and mitts, ponchos and umbrellas, and many more. All of it can be rented at very reasonable rates on your arrival. We can provide your our rental prices on request.
Organized trips like our supported Kilimanjaro climbs come with a large team of people including guides and cooks, and porters to carry your main bag as well as tents, kitchen equipment, food, fuel, tables, and chairs and all you Kilimanjaro climb gear list. While this makes it easier for you to conserve energy and focus on reaching the summit successfully, it does mean that there is a weight limit to stick to. It’s also important to be very aware of the welfare of porters during your climb, so not over-packing is key, and bags are the most essential items on your Climbing Kilimanjaro Gear List.
Main rucksack or duffle bag (70 litres)
Porters are not allowed to carry more than 20kg in total and this allowance needs to include space for their own belongings. So make sure your bag does not exceed the weight of 15kg.
The Chagga porters carry bags on their heads, so no hard cases, please.
We rent out the Highlander Lomond Bag which you can pick up in Moshi when you arrive. Note that these bags will go into another large sack which the porters carry, in order to protect your bag further from the elements
Day pack (30-40 liters)
This is the bag you will carry every day on your back, so make sure it has room for essentials such as water bottles, spare layers, waterproofs, cameras, etc. We rent out the Vorlich 40L day pack which has its own rain cover and is perfect for a trip like this.
Dry bags / tough poly bags
Make sure all your contents are wrapped in waterproof bags to keep them dry. Use them also to store used clothes during the trek. We have various sizes for rent.
Waterproof bag covers
We will put your main bag into additional waterproof sacks in case of rain but make sure you bring a cover for your day pack which we also rent out.
Bring one other bag or case to leave in the hotel with your travel clothes inside. Some people use this as their hold bag and then transfer the Kilimanjaro clothes and kit to a rented duffle when they arrive.
On your Climbing Kilimanjaro Gear List, make sure a sleeping bag is packed. Your choice of the sleeping bag and sleep accessories will depend on your personal needs and preferences.
3 Season sleeping bags are sufficient for the warmer months but if you get cold easily, especially during the colder months around October through the new year it’s better to upgrade to a 4 season sleeping bag or use a 3 season bag with a fleece liner. We rent out sleeping bags which are 4-season bags rated to minus 5C, which come with cotton liners to keep the bag clean.
Sleeping bag liner (fleece/silk)
Liners provide added warmth and a good fleece one will convert a 3-season bag to a 4-season bag. Silk is also warm and less bulky. We also recommend a cotton liner to keep your sleeping bag clean.
These are not required for Climbing Kilimanjaro Gear List, but are an option for those who desire extra insulation for their sleeping bag. The foam mattresses we provide do work, but obviously, an extra layer of insulation is that much warmer and more comfortable. Inflatable Thermarests or lightweight Exped mats are fine but they tend to slide over the mattress, so a closed-cell camping mat is actually the best.
Pillows are very useful and the soft ones are easily packed small, or else make a pillow out of your clothing.
You are likely to want to go to the toilet at night and wear something in the sleeping bag, but keep it lightweight and not too tight. Remember sleeping bags are designed to work best without wearing layers or socks, but a T-shirt and leggings or thermal bottoms will be fine to pack on your Kilimanjaro climb gear list. If you do get cold then put your day sack between the end of the sleeping bag and the tent wall, and wear a hat.
Due to Kilimanjaro’s altitude, the mountain creates its own micro-climate above the cloud level which is cold and very changeable. You are exposed to the elements at all times and your body will experience quite a big daily temperature range, from 18°C in the rainforest to minus 5°C on the summit, which can easily be lower with the wind. Having the right clothing in your Climbing Kilimanjaro Gear List is essential and the trick is to use a system of layers that can be added or removed as conditions change. Every day will require a slight change to your clothing, adding warmer layers, gloves, and hats as you go higher.
Waterproof/ windproof jacket and trousers
Choose a breathable outer ‘shell’ layer like Goretex on your kilimanjaro climb gear list as this will help to wick out any moisture and keep you dry inside. Make sure it has a hood and that you can fit your other layers of fleece and lightweight down underneath comfortably.
A down jacket or a thick fleece
A down jacket or a thick fleece is essential for summit night and for the evenings. If you take a lightweight down jacket then you will probably need a fleece jacket as well (plus the outer shell over the top). Remember that synthetic down remains warm if it’s damp or wet and is probably the better option.
You will need a mid-layer fleece or equivalent jumper for use over T-shirts and under the jacket. One or two will be enough.
Base layers or thermals are lightweight and add a vital warm layer on cold evenings and summit nights. Women bring leggings too which are also good for the first few days of walking.
Good quality walking trousers, preferably made of a quick dry material. Remember cotton does not dry quickly and jeans are not good for mountain hiking. Many trekking trousers have zips to convert into shorts or take a separate pair of shorts for the forest stage. One or two pairs will be enough.
Trekking tops/ t-shirts
Two or three trekking shirts or tops for the first few days, avoiding cotton. T-shirts and sports tops also work but will probably need a fleece layer on top for when you stop. Choose short or long-sleeved.
It’s best to have a clean pair every day. Cotton will get damp and uncomfortable so opt for synthetic or merino wool and remember a dry bag to keep used clothes inside your duffle. Merino is a natural fiber that is naturally odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, insulates when wet, and dries fast. It is soft and comfortable against the skin and not too hot in warm temperatures. Synthetic (mix of nylon and spandex) is also soft, comfortable, breathable and fast drying, and cheaper than merino. Consider a fitted style like hipster or bikini briefs that won’t ride up or chafe. For men, the same principle applies, and best to avoid loose shorts which can bunch up.
Insulated gloves/ liner gloves and mitts
Fleece gloves, preferably with a waterproof outer, and thin inner gloves are both essential on kilimanjaro climb gear list for climbing Kilimanjaro, but on summit night a pair of mitts are best for keeping hands warm. We rent out waterproof gloves and fleece gloves.
Looking after your feet is important for mountain climbs. The right care and preparation will save you from pain and blisters, so cut your nails before setting off and keep your feet clean and dry. Foot talcum powder is quite good too but remember to wash it off at the end of the day. Take some blister pads just in case and change socks every day.
Leather boots are best, make sure they are well covered in dubbin to keep the water out. Fabric boots will get wet if it rains heavily but the Goretex-lined ones will stay dry in a shower. Boots should have proper ankle support and a stiff midsole so the boot doesn’t bend too much. You can read more about boots in our trekking boot guide. Remember also that your feet will swell at altitude and after days of walking so check first that you have some space for movement at home with your summit socks on.
Spare laces and footbed
The terrain is quite unforgiving on Kilimanjaro so do bring spare bootlaces. Also if your feet do get damp then one option is to put in a spare dry footbed the next morning.
Trekking socks for the early days will be fine – one pair per day for the first 5 days- but for the summit night a woolen mix is warmest, but check they fit comfortably in your boot with no tightness. Socks can be long or short.
Change out of boots when you get to camp and let them air out. Bring a pair of camp shoes such as trainers or lightweight walking shoes or sandals. You will also use these for toilet visits at night.
HEADGEAR / EYEWEAR
We lose half of our body heat through our heads, so keeping your head warm while trekking Kilimanjaro is essential. On the flip side, there’s also the risk of sunstroke and sunburn with the intense UV rays at high altitudes.
Buff® / scarf
The Buff® is ubiquitous on treks and climbs and is very useful to protect the face from sun and dust and wind. They can be made of stretchy thin material or fleece. You can use a scarf or snood equally well.
Eye protection is vital, as the UV rays are particularly strong even in clouds. UV400 sunglasses are a must and try to take a pair that have side protection. Be careful of prescription glasses that change color, they normally do not provide enough UV protection and the lenses often aren’t big enough to prevent the rays from getting into the eyes.
Wide-brimmed sun hat
One of the biggest risks of climbing Kilimanjaro is exposure to the sun and possible heat stroke through the top of the head. A sun hat must be worn at all times if it’s sunny and if it has a brim all the better to protect the back of your neck.
When the weather turns cold you’ll need to keep the heat in your body with a warm thermal hat. Make sure it covers your ears and isn’t too tight.
Optional for music fans who like to zone out to their favorite album or doze off to podcasts at night, but also very useful against the noises of other hikers who snore.
You can wear contact lenses on Kilimanjaro without any problem, the altitude and low pressure will not affect the fit of your lenses. The biggest issue is hygiene and handling the lenses in a tent, and also dryness of the eye caused by the wind and dry air. Dailies are easier but take saline drops as well as your usual cleaning liquids, and your glasses.
There are no permanent showers or bathing facilities on Mount Kili, but a bowl of hot water is available at camps for washing your face and hands. For larger groups, we can provide a shower tent with a bag of water warmed up by the sun. You can also ask the guides to provide a bowl of hot water for a wash in your tent.
Toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste smell bar or bottle of soap, preferably biodegradable. (we do provide soap for hand washing at the camps). Lifeventure offers a range of travel soaps in small bottles.
Dry shampoo is useful, we recommend Batiste travel-sized cans
Nail brush – a lot of the campsites are muddy and dusty
Small hair brush – your hair will get matted and tangled
Face flannel – quick dry travel towel material small towel – one for perspiration and another for drying face and hands. Bar towel size.
Hand sanitizer gel
Moisturizing cream – your skin will get very dry in the thin air at altitude. Coconut oil is hydrating and anti-microbial natural Skin Care for cracked hands and feet, insect bites, sunburn, or blisters, Green Goo is an excellent plant-based salve
Face wipes – preferably biodegradable, we recommend Simple or Rawganic or re-usable ones like Helen Round
Lip balm with SPF25 protection
Carmex is excellent deodorant – natural aluminum-free brands include Crystal, Native, Each and Every. Crystal is a salt-based stick that kills the bacteria that make you stink without all of the nasty stuff that is found in chemical-based deodorants.
Tweezers, cotton buds
Travel pack extras for men:
A small mirror, razor, and shaving cream – Elemis shave gel has aloe vera and witch hazel to help with your skin after a day in the sun and wind
Pee bottle – useful but takes some practice, use hard plastic bottle well marked.
Extras for women:
Pee cloth is useful, we recommend Kula cloth.
Feminine wipes – a natural wipe like Swipes Lovin Wipes, Goodwipes, or Rael.
Menstrual cup – these silicone cups can stay in for up to 12 hours without odor or discomfort and are reusable. OrganiCup is certified hypoallergenic and toxin-free
The guides carry an extensive first aid kit, a mountain shelter, oxygen bottles, a mask, and a stretcher on every climb. However, on your Climbing Kilimanjaro Gear List, You should still carry a personal first aid kit for minor complaints.
Anti-malarial tablets (you don’t need to take these on the mountain as there are no mosquitoes up high), a general antibiotic for a bacterial infection, Immodium or Lomotil for diarrhea, inhalers if you use them, and painkillers for headaches (Tylenol, ibuprofen for example). Also, take throat pastilles for the inevitable dry throat.
We have these in our medical kits and our guides know how to diagnose and administer them, but you may want to bring your own. These are prescription drugs and they do have side effects. There are three drugs that are used for high altitude sickness and it is vital you read the information we provide about each of them. Diamox (acetazolamide) is the most commonly known and it does help as a preventive treatment for Altitude Mountain Sickness but only if mountaineering principles are followed, namely keep a slow pace.
Dexamethasone is effective for preventing and treating AMS and HACE and prevents HAPE as well. And nifedipine, by reducing pulmonary arterial pressure, is effective in treating HAPE (pulmonary edema). Please note that in the case of serious altitude sickness the guides will effect immediate descent, night or day, and use all the facilities at their disposal to get a person to safety, including a helicopter service, rescue cars, stretchers, and a well-established Ranger network.
Oral rehydration sachets
Essential for replacing the salts in your body that are lost whilst hiking and getting dehydrated at high altitudes. Nuum is a tablet that you mix with water to help with salts and energy.
Plasters, bandages, and zinc oxide tape
Plasters will be very useful for any cracked skin and small cuts, and a bandage with tape for something worse. Compeed blister pads for your feet, plus a good quality tape to cover over hot spots if necessary.
Antiseptic cream and wipes
For small cuts and grazes. Keep small wounds clean and when possible air them out.
Dry tired eyes are common and eye drops are very useful, or a small eye bath. Dust can get everywhere too, so the drops can help with irritation.
Sunburn is a serious risk at high altitudes, so make sure you bring a strong factor of sunblock. To avoid having to reapply, choose a long-lasting, waterproof one. P20 is a good choice that doesn’t run.
Make sure you have a bottle as you’ll need to stay hydrated. Platypus or camelbacks are fine too, but the tubes may freeze on summit day and must be insulated. Note that disposable plastic bottles are now illegal on Kilimanjaro and will attract a fine from the Rangers.
On summit night you will want a hot drink to keep warm and hydrated. The guides carry large thermos flasks but you may want to bring a half-liter or one-liter flask of your own. We rent these out.
These are very useful on the first day in the forest if it is raining hard and too hot to wear waterproofs, and on the second day if there is no wind. Higher up on windless sunny days, they are again useful. We rent out large-good quality umbrellas.
These are very useful but especially for the descent which is on loose scree. Anyone worried about their knees should take a pair, preferably with suspension. We rent out poles from Moshi.
Ideal for those who have poor circulation or get cold easily. The charcoal ones that react with oxygen don’t work as well because of the high altitude and lack of oxygen in the air, but they are certainly useful for your hands inside your mitts on summit night.
Microfiber travel towel
Lightweight and dries quickly. Optional.
We do provide toilet rolls but you may wish to include your ownas well on your kilimanjaro climb gear list. If you do then please bring recycled toilet paper and keep it in a plastic bag.
There are almost no mosquitos on Kilimanjaro due to the height above sea level. However, there are mosquitos in Tanzania so repellent sprays are recommended for when you first arrive and finish descending on your Gear for Climbing Kilimanjaro.
There will be time to relax in the evenings, so include a book or kindle, a deck of cards, or a small games on your kilimanjaro climb gear list.
The best padlocks are protected by a security code rather than a key.
Plug adaptor (2-pin round)
Look for the type G plug adaptor to use in the hotel in Tanzania.
Don’t forget a photocopied version (and also a photo on your phone) in case of loss/theft.
Yellow fever certificate
This is only needed for entering Tanzania if you are coming from or via a country where there is yellow fever, for example, if you visited Kenya beforehand.
Travel insurance details and policy certificate
Keep a paper copy as well as a digital copy in case you can’t access your phone.
Make sure you include cash on your Kilimanjaro climb gear list as well as credit cards. The hotel takes cards for paying your bar bills, and in the town, you will spend mostly Tanzanian shillings. You can change sterling or euros but US dollars are most common.
Keep a paper copy because airport security like to see it when you enter the airport on the way home.