Kilimanjaro packing list

The Essential Kilimanjaro Packing List

There’s a reason why Mount Kilimanjaro is coveted by many mountain climbers and trekkers varying from pros to beginners. The three-coned dormant volcano, set in northern Tanzania next to its border with Kenya, is not only Africa’s highest mountain – it’s also the world’s highest freestanding mountain. At 5,895m (19,341 feet), it’s no wonder that Mount Kilimanjaro sits at the top of any adventurer’s bucket list.

Travel to: Kilimanjaro

A trek to its summit isn’t an easy undertaking and much preparation both physically and mentally is essential. Vigorous training and careful planning are vital, as is finding a knowledgeable and experienced guide and the right travel companions.

Even well thought-out planning could mean the difference between life and death. To start you off with that part, here’s a detailed list to assist you when packing for a trekking tour of Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro

What’s the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

Any packing list requires a basic yet solid knowledge of the weather in the destination to which you’re travelling. No words are truer than when you’re about to climb the summit of one of the highest mountains in the world. Every trek to Kilimanjaro not only requires a guide but also porters to carry your tent, food, cooking supplies and climbing gear.

Still, you need to know not only what type of clothes or sleeping bag to take with you, but also what special items you’ll require are dependent on the weather. Do you get cold easier than most people and need a warmer sleeping bag? Do you need hiking shoes with special support or are water-resistant? Do you need to pack snacks to tide you over until the next meal during the warmer months?

The good news is, with Kilimanjaro being so close to the equator, it really only has two seasons – dry and wet, with the driest months being the ideal time for a climb.

Kilimanjaro packing list
Camping in Mount Kilimanjaro

Dry season (August to October and December to February)

Kilimanjaro’s driest months aren’t necessarily its warmest. In fact, during the months of August, September and October you’ll experience chilly to cold weather especially at night. That means you’ll need warmer layers, wool socks, gloves and winter outwear that is also lightweight and durable. On the other hand, while December to February is warmer, there’s a chance of rain which means that you’ll need rain gear.

Wet season (March to June and November)

Its wettest months experience moderate temperatures, but heavy rains make treks a lot harder and more hazardous, so much so many tour operators simply shut down for the season. A few remain open, and it’s not unusual for some trekkers to take on the challenge. If you’re one of them, be sure to take the necessary precautions as well as the necessary gear.

When is the best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro?

The peak climbing season is from August to mid-October, and they certainly are the best months for such a challenge. You’ll experience clearer, warmer days which means better visibility and hiking conditions. If you want to avoid the crowds, however, January and February are better alternatives.

Uhuru Peak
Uhuru Peak

Miscellaneous essentials to pack for Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro packing essentials are more targeted towards survival than those for a trip to most tourist destinations, even the miscellaneous stuff. Also note that while trekking tour operators may have much of the gear you’ll need on hand for rent, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Thoughtful packing to make sure you have everything before you take off is important. Here are the sundry items you’ll need to trek Kilimanjaro:

Big items

  • A large pack: Durable and waterproof, for carrying most of your essentials. Typically, a porter carries this. Note that by Tanzanian law, porters can only carry a 33-lb (16 kg) load each so be sure to keep the weight to 33 pounds or under.
  • A day pack: Also need to be durable and waterproof, for items you need immediate access to. You’ll be carrying this yourself during the climb so make sure to only pack it with how much you can carry during the climb.
  • A sleeping bag: Check with your tour guide for what type of sleeping bag you’ll need. Since nights on the mountain are cold, even in warmer months, you’ll most likely need a cold weather sleeping bag, which is typically thicker with more padding. Invest in a lightweight one. While they’re usually more expensive, they’re worth the money as they’ll really keep you warm at night.
  • A mattress pad: Many tour operators provide this, but to be on the safe side, check with your tour operator before you go. If they don’t, you can easily purchase an inflatable, lightweight one from a recreational equipment store.
  • Ultra lightweight rain covers: These are important for your packs are important to keep your belongings dry, even if you’re going during the dry months or you have a waterproof pack. You wouldn’t want to be hiking or sleeping in damp clothing.
  • Ultra lightweight dry sacks: An essential item to put inside your pack is another rain precaution to consider when packing. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it is definitely recommended.
Kilimanjaro packing list
Photo credit: Thorsten Hansen on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

Smaller, miscellaneous items

  • Energy snacks, supplements and drinks: While not mandatory, these are invaluable to keeping your energy up during the day.
  • Non-disposable water bottles or a camelback: Essential for obvious reasons.
  • Water purification tablets: Because as fresh and purified the water is from mountain streams, they might still carry bacteria that will not agree with you. Better to be on the safe side.
  • Medication and other medical items: From prescribed medication, pain pills and diarrhoea tablets to items such as contact lens solution and EpiPens – are even more important as they are personal to you.
  • Bar of soap and small towel: For personal hygiene.
  • Head torch with spare batteries: For nighttime use.
  • Trekking poles: To assist you with your balance and give you leverage.
  • A mobile phone with a local sim card: Can prove extremely useful as many parts of the mountain have service and you’d be able to call for help during emergencies.
  • Plastic bags: Are useful for packing your dirty clothes and for waste. Remember, Kilimanjaro is a ‘Leave No Trace’ area, and you are required to take your waste back with you.
  • Sunglasses or goggles with UV filter: These are absolutely necessary for protecting your eyes from weather conditions.
  • Sunscreen: Also necessary, even on cloudy days.
  • Foot and hand warmers: These are great to have on hand, even if you are wearing the right type of socks, shoes and gloves.
  • Personal hygiene items: Deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, comb, toilet paper and lotion.
  • Hand wipes or a hand sanitizer: Might prove handy at times.
Mount Kilimanjaro
Height5,895 metres
RoutesMachame Route, Lemosho Route, Marangu Route, Rongai Route, Shira Route, Umbwe Route
Nearest AirportKilimanjaro International Airport
Kilimanjaro packing list
Photo credit: Stig Nygaard on Visualhunt / CC BY

Clothing to pack for Mount Kilimanjaro

Even during warmer months, you will need to wear warm layers to protect you from the cold, especially at night. For a seven to eight day Kilimanjaro hiking itinerary, you’ll need the following articles of clothing:

  1. Moisture-wicking shirts: These force sweat from your body onto its outer lining for faster evaporation, keeping you dry.
  2. A fleece vest or top: Can be used as an added layer to protect you from the cold.
  3. An insulated, waterproof, lightweight jacket: Preferably with a hood, is essential to protect you not just from the cold but also from the wind and the rain.
  4. Thermal tops and pants: For warmth.
  5. Lightweight pants: Well-fitted but also spacious for easy movements.
  6. Gloves with wrist straps: Are important to protect your hands from the frostbite.
  7. Thin, wool socks: These are better built for keeping your feet warm than thick regular socks.
  8. Hat or cap: To protect your face and neck from the sun.
  9. Warm beanie: Protect your head from the cold.
  10. Trekking shoes or boots: Preferably waterproof, might be more expensive than regular running shoes or sneakers. But they are worth the investment as they’re designed to last, protect your feet, and give your ankles and back better support. Remember to break in them before your hike.
  11. Underwear: To last you the whole trek.

Take a look at the most popular trekking tours to Kilimanjaro right here.

Michelle is Los Angeles-based writer, editor, and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. Her dream, next to travelling the world, is to own her own funky, boutique hotel with a small animal sanctuary so she can spend the rest of her days chilling with cats and hedgehogs. Follow her on Instagram .

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