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17 Top Kilimanjaro Packing List Items for 2022 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to bring for kilimanjaro
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If you are looking for an adventure on your next overseas vacation, it would be hard to find a better destination than Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing at over 19,000 feet in elevation, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

Kilimanjaro is an excellent introduction to the world of high-altitude climbing, because it doesn’t require any technical climbing experience, and anyone who is fit, healthy, and determined has a good chance of reaching the summit. In order to be properly prepared for a crack at climbing Kilimanjaro, you will need to train hard and bring all the necessary gear. Below, you’ll find some essential items that you should make sure to pack, plus info on what not to bring and some common FAQs.

What to Pack for Kilimanjaro - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Packing Cubes

    I’ve found after more than a decade of constant international travel that organization is everything on the road. On the mountain, you’ll often have to find an item in the dark, or you’ll need to be able to locate something quickly. These packing cubes help you organize all of your gear inside your bag, so that you can find things quickly and easily. They will also help you pack more efficiently and save space, so you can fit more items in your travel bag.

  • 2. Sleeping Bag

    Kilimanjaro is close to the equator, but the high altitude makes for extremely cold temperatures at night, especially high on the mountain. Most guide services include a proper mountain tent in the package, but you’ll have to bring your own four-season sleeping bag. This lightweight sleeping bag is rated down to zero degrees Fahrenheit, so it’ll keep you warm and cozy even on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro.

  • 3. Neck Wallet

    It’s an unfortunate reality that when you travel to countries with a high level of poverty, there is a very real chance of encountering a pickpocket or thief. Chances are they are most interested in high-value items like your cash or passport. The good news is that there is a simple solution. With the HERO Neck Wallet, you can keep your most valuable belongings like your smartphone, passport, cash, credit cards, and keys safely tucked away inside your shirt or jacket. This wallet makes it almost impossible for a pickpocket to steal your valuables because they won’t even know it’s there.

  • 4. Garmin InReach Messenger

    Over the years the cell service on Kilimanjaro has improved slightly, but even today it’s highly unreliable. On most days up the mountain, you’ll only get one or two opportunities to access the internet or make a call on your cell phone. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring a backup mode of communication to reach loved ones back home. The Garmin InReach is the best all-around handheld satellite messenger on the market. With the InReach, you can send text messages to any phone or email, track your progress, and even navigate with topographic maps. It also has an emergency SOS button, in case disaster strikes.

  • 5. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    My wife always makes sure to bring along a travel umbrella on trekking vacations. She doesn’t use it very often on the trail, but in camp, it’s useful to help move from one tent to another without donning rain gear when it’s wet, and it’s perfect for shielding any resting place from the hot sun. The HERO travel umbrella is a great choice for a trip to Kilimanjaro because it’s affordable, lightweight, and easily folds to fit in your daypack when not in use.

  • 6. Duffel Bag

    When you climb Kilimanjaro with a guide service, you’ll need to bring two bags: your daypack for essential items while trekking and a duffel bag for your heavy gear. The duffel bag will be transported by the expedition porters and set inside your tent in camp. The Gonex 80-liter duffel bag is the perfect size for a trip to Kilimanjaro, and its durable and waterproof exterior will keep your belongings protected from the elements.

  • 7. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    This Quick Dry towel is a perfect companion to the Hero Cooling Towel. I like to travel with an extra towel so that one can dry while the other is in use. This one was designed with international adventures like this in mind, which is why it’s so light, durable, and packs down to a small size. It also has the ability to dry out in minutes, which is essential when you are always on the move.

  • 8. Headlamp

    A reliable headlamp is a must on any outdoor adventure, especially for mountaineering expeditions. In order to get to the summit and back in time, you will often have to rise early and start climbing before sunrise. This headlamp will help you find your way on a dark trail and around camp after dark. I love the GearLight S 500, because the led bulb extends battery life, and it has a red-light function so you don’t ruin your night vision. It comes in a pack of 2, so you can keep a spare in your bag or give one to your climbing partner.

  • 9. Cooling Towel

    This is an important item that many trekkers forget to include on their packing lists for Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s important to stay clean and dry high up on the mountain, and this microfiber cooling towel is perfect for your climb. It’s been tested to stand up to harsh environments, and it packs away in a small carrying case to fit in your bag.

  • 10. Water Bladder

    At high altitudes, your body requires more water in order to survive and you will likely consume far more liquids on the mountain than in normal life. I like to use a water bladder while hiking so that water is always accessible, even if my hands are occupied with trekking poles. This water bladder holds up to 3 liters of water and has a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning, so it’s perfect for a trek up Kilimanjaro.

  • 11. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    People don’t go anywhere without their smartphones these days, and that includes the top of Africa’s highest peak. The Joto Universal Waterproof Phone Case will keep your phone safe and dry on your trip to Africa, all the way from the plains of the Serengeti to the top of Kilimanjaro. It’s also designed to survive underwater, so you can take it along if you celebrate with a swim on the coast after your climb.

  • 12. Trekking Poles

    Mount Kilimanjaro is considered a “trekking” peak, which means that the traditional route is more like a long hike than a technical rock climb. This means that you can leave your ice axe, crampons and pitons at home. Instead, you’ll need a sturdy pair of trekking poles. These poles will help you distribute your weight on the trail, and help you trek further and faster with less effort. They will also make it much less likely that you’ll take a nasty fall on the steep slopes of the mountain.

  • 13. Portable Charger

    Every climber on the mountain wants to snap a shot of their team standing on the highest point in Africa. But what happens when your battery dies after days on the trail? This handy charger will easily fit in your pocket and adds almost no weight to your pack, but it will charge your phone or other devices in a pinch. I wouldn’t leave on a trip without one.

  • 14. First Aid Kit

    Climbing Kilimanjaro is hard on the body, and you will want to take on the mountain prepared to deal with any potential injuries. The First Aid Only Emergency first aid kit has everything you need to take care of minor injuries on the climb, from bandages to moleskin for blisters. In total, the kit has almost 300 pieces and fits in a small, travel-size pouch that weighs only one pound. On any climb, safety should be your first priority, and this travel-size first aid kit will keep you prepared.

  • 15. Travel Insurance

    Travel insurance is a good thing to get before any trip, and it’s especially important when you engage in risky activities like high-altitude mountaineering. Also, just about every guide service on the mountain requires it. Travelinsurance.com is one of the best providers available today, with excellent coverage and affordable rates. They regularly cover activities like international trekking and climbing, so you’ll be in good hands if anything happens on your trip.

  • 16. Daypack

    In order to climb Kilimanjaro, climbers are required to hire a certified mountain guide, who will usually bring along porters that will carry most of your heavy gear. But you will still need a solid daypack to carry water, snacks, warm clothing, and other essential items that you want to access while trekking. This daypack will stand up to the harshest conditions that Kilimanjaro can throw at it and easily carry all of your personal gear.

  • 17. Lifestraw Water Bottle

    Whenever you travel to a foreign country, it’s important to make sure that you have a way to purify the water. In Tanzania, it’s a good idea to filter any water that you drink, both on the mountain and elsewhere in the country. This handy water bottle automatically filters your water of 99.9 percent of all dangerous bacteria, without any need to boil or pump. Just fill the bottle from any water source and drink!

What to Wear on Kilimanjaro

As you climb Kilimanjaro, you will pass through five distinct climate zones on your way to the summit. Each zone will require different clothing to suit the conditions. Your climb begins in a warm cultivation zone between 6,400 and 9,800 feet. From there, you will ascend into a warm rainforest zone before continuing into an arid moorland zone. Next, you’ll pass through the alpine desert which can be warm during the day but is always cold at night. The final zone is the always cold and windy summit zone, where you will encounter freezing conditions and snow.

Layers are the key to successfully dressing for Kilimanjaro. This way you can add more clothing or remove layers as necessary for each climate zone. Start with a warm base layer of long underwear – make sure to bring separate sets for hiking during the day and sleeping at night. Next, you need insulating layers, like a fleece jacket or a down coat. You’ll want to cover the insulating layer with a wind and waterproof outer layer, think raincoats and waterproof pants. Finally, don’t forget about hats, gloves, sun protection, and really good hiking boots.

What should WOMEN wear in Kilimanjaro? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Since all climbers on Kilimanjaro must dress based on the weather conditions, there is not a whole lot of difference between sexes with regards to the clothing packing list. Of course, women will want to bring a few comfortable and durable sports bras for the trek.

Since climbing has been a male-dominated sport for such a long time, it can sometimes be hard to find the right size high altitude clothing for women. This is especially true for extreme high-altitude peaks like in the Himalayas, but it can also be the case when shopping for trekking peaks like Kilimanjaro. To make it easier to find the right clothing for female climbers headed to Kilimanjaro, we’ve included links to Amazon for each item on our list, so you have no difficulty finding the clothing you need for the expedition. Don’t forget to bring moisture-wicking clothing, especially for the base layer.

What should MEN wear in Kilimanjaro? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Men planning a trek to Kilimanjaro should pack like they would for any multi-day backpacking trip through a wide variety of climates. Bring plenty of layers, and choose clothing that is lightweight, breathable, and fast-drying. Lower on the mountain you may wear nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts, but chances are on the summit you will be glad you brought along the long underwear, warm layers, and a waterproof coat and pants.

Don’t forget to bring a really good pair of hiking boots on the expedition. You’ll often be hiking more than five hours a day through a wide variety of climates, so you will need shoes that are both comfortable and extremely durable.

When shopping for Kilimanjaro, try to avoid cheap off-brand products that will fall apart after a few days and choose clothing from proven outdoor companies. Our links to Amazon should help – all of these products have been reviewed by hundreds if not thousands of people and get four to five stars!

Dressing for the Seasons on Kilimanjaro

DRY SEASON #1 – January, February:

Mount Kilimanjaro is located near the equator, so it doesn’t have traditional seasons like you get in more temperate regions. Instead, there are two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. That said, there is a noticeable difference in the temperature between the seasons on the mountain. The warmest months on Kilimanjaro are between December and February. January is the single hottest month, with average highs of 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember, the temperature on Kilimanjaro differs drastically between the base of the mountain and the summit. When temps low on the mountain are in the 80’s, it’s often below 20 degrees on the summit. This time of year, sun protection is essential, along with a good pair of hiking shorts and t-shirts for the lower elevations.

RAINY SEASON #1 – March, April, May:

You are most likely to experience good weather on Kilimanjaro between April and September. This does overlap, however with the rainiest season on the mountain which is between March and May. April is the single month with the most precipitation. This time of year, lows average around 58 degrees Fahrenheit low on the mountain, with highs in the upper 70’s.

In the wet season, a high-quality raincoat is a must, along with waterproof pants and hiking boots. Don’t forget bug spray and a mosquito head net to fight off the insects.

DRY SEASON #2 – June, July, August, September, October:

June, July, and August are the coldest months on Kilimanjaro when average lows are around 48 degrees Fahrenheit near the base of the mountain and below freezing at the top. Fortunately, the cooler weather during this time of year comes with less rainfall, so trails will be easier to navigate and camp will be much more comfortable.

In the cool season, it’s even more important to bring warm base layers and insulation from the freezing temperatures near the top. Don’t forget your warm gloves and balaclava to protect your hands and face.


RAINY SEASON #2 – November, December:

The second rainy season on Kilimanjaro runs from November to December. Although these months don’t get as much precipitation as between March and May, you can still expect plenty of rain, especially in the rainforest zone. This time of year you can expect lows in the lower 60’s and highs in the low 80’s in the Kilimanjaro region.

To make sure that you don’t slip on the slick trails, bring your best pair of hiking boots to the mountain. Remember that you can expect to encounter a wide variety of conditions on Kilimanjaro no matter what time of year you choose to climb, so it’s always important to pack for everything from extreme heat to freezing cold.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)

Lower Altitude Trekking: Lower on the mountain, you can expect to encounter warm temperatures during the day, with cool nights. Wear hiking pants or shorts and moisture-wicking shirts. You are likely to encounter rain low on the mountain, especially as you pass through the rainforest zone, so you’ll want to keep your rain jacket and waterproof pants handy. Finish your outfit with sun protection and a trusted pair of hiking boots.

High Altitude Trekking: High on the mountain, you are almost guaranteed to encounter freezing temperatures, especially at night. Wear a warm base layer, with a sweater or down jacket for insulation and a good wind/waterproof coat. For your lower body, wear long underwear and hiking pants, but keep a set of fleece pants nearby in case temperatures drop. You’ll want to protect your extremities with gloves and a warm hat or balaclava.

Camping: It’s a good idea to bring along extra clothing specifically to wear while resting in camp. That way you can sleep in clean clothes each night rather than wearing the same thing that you have been trekking in. Keep a special set of long underwear just for your sleeping bag and make sure that your shorts and boots are nearby in case you need to exit the tent at night.

On Safari: Most climbers on Kilimanjaro also want to experience a safari before leaving Africa. In the lower altitude bush, temperatures will usually be much warmer than on the mountain, with drier conditions and more sun. Wear shorts or comfortable walking pants and a long sleeve shirt to protect your arms from the sun and insects. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the equatorial sun.

What NOT to Bring to Kilimanjaro

  • 1.DON'T BRING Alcohol

    Alcohol is banned inside the national park, so don’t plan on taking any with you on the climb. You’ll want to maintain perfect health to get up the peak, so heavy drinking probably isn’t a very good idea anyway. Of course, many climbers choose to celebrate with a glass of wine back at their lodge after a successful summit bid, which is perfectly fine.

  • 2.DON'T PACK Too Much Gear

    Everything you bring with you to Kilimanjaro will have to either be carried by your porters or yourself, so leave any unnecessary heavy gear back home. Most guide services limit your duffel bag to just 33 pounds, so pack lightly.

  • 3.DON'T TAKE Equipment Already Provided by the Guides

    The professional guiding packages to Kilimajaro include the most important camp gear, so you won’t need to worry about packing a tent, folding chairs, camp stove, cooking gear, or food. Instead focus your attention on smaller personal items, like medications, toiletries, and small snacks that you can keep in your personal pack.

  • 4.DON'T BRING Computers and Tablets

    You won’t be able to connect to wifi once you begin your trek up the mountain, so there is absolutely no reason to bring a computer or tablet along for the climb. Most of this gear is too fragile to survive an expedition up Kilimanjaro anyway, so leave the bulky electronics back at the lodge for after your climb.

  • 5.DON'T TAKE Disposable Items

    Over the years, trash has accumulated on the mountain. If you go to Kilimanjaro or any other natural place, it’s important to pack out all of your waste and leave the camps clean for the next visitors. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring reusable water bottles and eating utensils and avoid single-use plastics as much as possible.

  • 6. DON'T PACK Fancy Clothing

    On Kilimanjaro, functionality is far more important than style. Even if you plan to take a lot of pictures along the way, it’s possible to look great in trekking gear, and you would look pretty silly standing on the top of Kilimanjaro in a thousand-dollar suit. Leave your fancy clothing back at the lodge or at home.

FAQs about Kilimanjaro

  • 1. How many days will I need to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

    The exact number of days it will take you to scale the mountain will vary depending on your route, the size of your group, your fitness level, and most importantly, your acclimatization. While it’s possible to climb the mountain in as little as five days, most climbers take a week or longer to reach the summit. The shortest possible routes to the top are the Marangu and Umbwe routes, which can be completed in five days, although it’s not recommended for first-time climbers. The longer treks, Machame, Rongai, Lemosho, and the Northern Circuit take anywhere from six to ten days to complete.

    When you look at the statistics, it’s clear that those who opt for the longer trek have a significant advantage. In 2003, 85% of climbers who took eight or more days to reach the summit were successful, while only 27% of the climbers who chose the five-day trek successfully completed the climb.

  • 2. Will I get altitude sickness on the mountain?

    This is the main reason that you want to take your time on the way up the mountain. If you have ever had altitude sickness before, you know that it’s no joke. The summit of Kilimanjaro is over 19,000 feet above sea level, which is plenty high to develop serious altitude sickness if you don’t take time to acclimatize. If you go slow and allow time for your body to adjust to the altitude, you have a very good chance of making it to the top.

    Fortunately, the professional guide services that will lead you up the mountain factor in plenty of time for you to acclimatize to the trek. On the expedition, you will alternate between climbing and resting while your body adjusts to the lower oxygen level at high altitude. The only people who should attempt a fast ascent of Kilimanjaro are experienced alpinists who spend a lot of time at high altitude and climbers who have arrived directly from another climb and are already acclimatized to the altitude.

    Will I get altitude sickness on the mountain?
  • 3. Do I need to hire a professional guide to climb Kilimanjaro?

    Some experienced climbers may be curious if they can climb Kilimanjaro on their own, but unfortunately, this is not possible. In 1991, the government of Tanzania changed its policy towards unsupported treks on the mountain and now requires every climber to be accompanied by a registered and licensed guide. You will also need to register with the park’s authority before setting out on the climb and will be required to sign in at each camp along the route. These regulations ensure that safety standards are met on the mountain and allow Kilimanjaro to be a significant source of income for this very poor country.

  • 4. How fit do I need to be to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Due to the fact that Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb, it attracts thousands of novice climbers every year, and the mountain is the first introduction to high-altitude climbing for many climbers. While it is true that you don’t need to be a professional mountaineer to climb Kilimanjaro, you still need to have a high level of physical fitness and stamina in order to safely attempt the trek.

    I recommend training for your climb at least two or three months before you depart for Tanzania. Start by hiking daily with a small pack, and add weight until it’s up to 20 to 30 pounds. By the time of your climb, you should be comfortable hiking uphill for five hours carrying a 30-pound pack. People suffering from obesity or serious health issues should not attempt Kilimanjaro.

  • 5. Are dangerous animals a risk on the mountain?

    Africa is famous for its wild animals, and many hikers may be worried about running into a dangerous predator on their hike through the African wilderness. While it is true that Mount Kilimanjaro supports a rich ecosystem teeming with an abundance of animals and plants, it’s highly unlikely that you will encounter an angry lion or elephant on your trek. On the mountain, you are much more likely to see a blue monkey, white-necked raven, bush baby, or Jackson’s chameleon. Many climbers like to celebrate after their summit with a safari to the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, where they can spot lions, cheetah, wildebeest, giraffes, and many other iconic African animals.

    Are dangerous animals a risk on the mountain?
  • 6. Is there cell or internet service on Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Cell service has been getting better on Kilimanjaro, but it still has a long way to go before you can make a phone call from any location on the mountain. You can expect to get reliable service once or twice per day on the trek, but most of the time you will be outside of any cell network. I recommend taking along a satellite messenger to keep in touch with friends and family back home. You can find wifi and reliable internet once you have returned from the mountain, but there is no wifi at all in any of the mountain campsites.

  • 7. Can I take a safari before or after my climb?

    Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a major feat in itself, but it would be a major disappointment to return home from Africa without a chance to go on safari and spot some of the big five game animals. Many climbers pair their Kilimanjaro trek with a safari to the Serengeti National Park or Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where you can catch a glimpse of a lion, giraffe, elephant, water buffalo, and many other African animals. If you plan your trip between June and August, you can get a chance to experience the great migration in the Northern Serengeti, considered one of the greatest natural spectacles on the planet.

    Can I take a safari before or after my climb?
  • 8. How dangerous is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Climbing Kilimanjaro is not without risk, and you should treat any high-altitude trek as a serious expedition. Although climbers of all ages climb Kilimanjaro every year, people do sometimes die on the peak, usually due to an accident or complications from altitude sickness. If you prepare ahead of time, train hard, and take your time to acclimatize on the mountain, chances are you will have no problem getting up and down in one piece. Just remember, the summit is only halfway, it’s getting down that’s most important.

  • 9. How much does it cost to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

    Due to the national park fees and the required professional guide, an expedition to Kilimanjaro isn’t a low-budget adventure. The average cost per climber to join a guided trek to the summit varies, but most climbers pay between $2000 and $6000 USD to get a stab at reaching the top. This includes food, drinks, and all other expenses on the mountain, but don’t forget to budget for the cost of flights and any other sightseeing you want to do before leaving Africa. Some climbers may be inclined to find a lower-budget operator, but remember that any guide service offering a package for less than $2000 is likely cutting corners and not paying their guides fairly.

  • 10. Do I need technical climbing skills to climb the mountain?

    One of the best things about Kilimanjaro is that it is accessible to novice climbers because the primary routes up the mountain don’t require any technical experience. If you have done a lot of hiking and backpacking, and have some experience with high altitudes, you should have no problem embarking on an expedition to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Unlike some of the other Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro requires only a very long hike all the way to the top with no need to look out for crevasses or scale a rock wall. Just don’t underestimate the mountain – Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding peak in the world!

    Do I need technical climbing skills to climb the mountain?