I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in late January, crossing off another bucket list item. For those that are unaware, it’s the highest peak in the Africa and the 4th highest in the world. With that said, there’s some mandatory gear to attempt this trek. A lot of the gear is the same gear I brought for the Everest Base Camp Trip, but I wanted to write a post detailing exactly what I brought to help others plan their trek.
There are several different routes to the summit ranging from 5 days to 8 days. I signed up for the 8-day trek on the Lemosho route. This route takes the longest, but it has the highest success rate. The Marangu route(the route that has the huts) is arguably one of the toughest routes. My itinerary on the Lomosho route was as follows:
Day 1 Orientation in Moshi
Day 2 Overnight in Big Tree Camp
Day 3 Overnight in Shira 1
Day 4 Overnight in Shira 2
Day 5 Overnight in Baranco
Day 6 Overnight in Karanga
Day 7 Overnight in Barafu(summit night and descend)
Day 8 Overnight in Mweka camp
The orientation on the first day lasted about 5 minutes. My friend Andrew and I were asking about duffle bags and our lead guide could not comprehend our question. After about 5 minutes of trying to convey our question, I was skeptical if our assigned guide would be acceptable. I asked our tour operator about getting a different guide with a better command of the English Language out of safety concerns in the event one of us became ill and we had to relay critical health information to our guide. The tour operator agreed to my request and made a few phone calls to see who was available. About 10 minutes later, a new guide named John showed up. This guy was far more fluent in English and I felt more comfortable with him as our lead guide. Even with this new guide, the orientation lasted a whole 10 minutes as there was nothing further to explain.
Separating Street Cloths and Trail Cloths
Just like trekking the Everest base camp trail, I needed to separate my street cloths from the cloths you want on the trail in to separate duffle bags. My street cloths were stored safely in the hotel luggage room while I was on the trek. The morning I departed for Kilimanjaro National Park, the porters carried the other duffle bag to each campsite. My daypack contained all the items I needed access to while I was trekking.
The weight of my duffle bag was limited to 15kg because the porters have weight limits imposed by Kilimanjaro National Park. Packing light helps a lot because unlike the Everest Base Camp trek we were camping in tents on Kilimanjaro. The tents are barely big enough to fit two people and two day packs. The big duffle bags were stored in the vestibule of the tent as they were too big to fit inside.
The gear I had on the Kilimanjaro Trek was as follows:
Boots – I rocked the Asolo TPS 520 GV. These boots are the favorites of many hikers. I broke a new pair in for prior to going on the EBC trek.
Gaitors – Black Diamond GTX. These were helpful in keeping your pant legs clean. It really isn’t necessary early on in the trek but I found it useful on summit day as there was snow on the ground.
Sneakers/trainers – Any pair of sneakers would do. It’s just nice to change out of your trekking boots to something that is more comfortable to wear around the tea-house.
Wools Socks – I packed three pairs of the heavy weight wools socks. One pair from Smart Wool and two from REI, either brand will work fine.
Sock Liners – I packed two smart wool sock liners from Smart Wool. I found them useful to wick away moisture and given the fact that I only packed three pairs of the aforementioned wool socks.
Trekking Pants – REI Sahara convertible pants. I lived in these pants by wearing them everyday during the trek and changed to fleece or short pants when I slept.
Fleece Pants – Again from REI, something to lounge around in during acclimatization/rest days. I also wore these pants to sleep and found them warm enough with the rented/hired sleeping bag.
Briefs/Underwear – I packed two pairs of the Exoficcio boxer briefs. These Exofficcio briefs have anti-bacterial, anti-order, and moisture wicking properties. The nice thing about these boxers is that you can wash them with sink water and they will be dry by the morning(assuming you can find a warm enough place to dry them). Their tagline is “17 countries, 6 weeks, 1 pair of underwear, well maybe two.” With that said, I wanted to test the slogan and so I didn’t change my underwear for nearly two weeks.
Thermals – Ice Breakers Body Fit 260 top and bottom thermals. These thermals are high quality 100 % merino wool. I found the Ice Breakers brand made from 100 % merino wool to be more than adequate for environments. I didn’t end up trekking on the actual trail with the top thermal layers because it got too warm once you get moving. The bottom thermal layer worked well with the REI convertible pants.
Cotton/Polyester Blend T-shirt – I packed two shirts, both of them were the Nike Dry fit shirt(50% cotton/50% polyester).
Polyester Mid layer – I brought the Arc teryx Delta LT full zip jacket. In the lower elevations, this is what I wore in the mornings when the temperature was cooler.
Light Weight Insulated Jacket – Arc Teryx Atom LT jacket. This is a light weight filled jacket. As we trekked higher in elevation, The mornings became colder and this is the additional layer I over my Polyester Mid Layer.
Soft Shell Jacket – Marmot Approach Jacket was my choice. I wore this jacket over my light insulated jacket and polyester mid layer on mornings of the higher elevations. As the temperature warmed, I stripped this layer off.
Rain Jacket – Arc Teryx Theta AR Jacket. This is an extremely high quality jacket what will keep you dry. I ended up using this jacket over my daypack when we were hiking. This jacket kept myself and the pack dry.
Rain Pants – Arc Teryx Beta AR Pants. I wore these on the day it rained and the summit day. On summit day, there was a great deal of wind and these pants block the wind, thus making it warmer for your body.
Down Sleeping Bag – I rented this from the guide company because it was too bulky to pack one and I also didn’t own a properly rated sleeping bag for the temperatures I would be facing.
Water Bottles – I packed a hydro flask insulated water bottle and I also bought one 1.5 liter water bottle, though you’re not permitted to bring any plastic bottles into the National Park.
Trekking Poles – I brought a set of poles with me, specifically a pair of Mac Pro brand that I bought in New Zealand.
Gloves – I brought two pairs. I brought a pair of ski gloves and a pair of Seirus Max All Weather gloves. The only time I needed the ski gloves was on summit day.
Baby/Wet Wipes – With the lack of shower facilities, I found these extremely useful to wipe off the day’s sweat, sun tan lotion before going to bed.
Toilet Paper – The guide company supplied a few rolls, but if you want the luxury of perforated toilet paper, I suggest bringing a roll from home.
Extra Batteries – Bring Extra Batteries for your head lamp/torch and electronic devices. There is no place to charge your electronics on the trail. I saw several people with solar charges.
Anker Battery Pack – I bought one of the 10,000 mAh battery pack to charge my iPhone when I reached camp.
Head Lamp/Torch – Got to have these.
Buff – The trail is dusty at certain points, but didn’t really used it as much as I did on the Everest Base Camp trek
Day Pack – Mountain Harware Agama. This pack was more than ample if you have porters carrying your stuff.
Sun Glasses – Julbo Dolgan. These are glacier sunglasses. I would highly recommend bringing a pair of glasses that block 100% of the UV light and limit light transmission. The Dolgan glacier glass transmits 5% of visible light so it’s a pretty dark pair of glasses.
Pocket mirror/contact lenses – I wear contacts and need a mirror to put in my contacts.
Digital Camera – I brought along a camera, specifically the Cannon S95. This a compact point and shoot camera that has options like a digital SLR. You can bring along digital SLR, but the trail is dusty and you camera will collect some of that dust if you wear it around your neck all day. Remember to bring a charger, extra memory cards, and other accessories.
Entertainment Items – iPad, books, deck of cards. There’s not much to do once you arrive at camp each day. At certain camps, we went for a little acclimatization hike
Micro Fiber Towel – Great for washing your hands as each camp site. The guide staff provided a small bowl of hot water to wash up.
Medication – Acetazolimide, commonly called diamoxx to alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. Loperamide to prevent massive “system downloads.”
Envelopes – Useful for putting tip money for each of the guides. I brought 8 total envelopes.
CAMPING ON KILIMANJARO
The porters carry all the tents and duffle bags. I was only required to carry my daypack.
The campsites have designated toilets. These toilets are the long drop squatty variety. If you’re unfamiliar with the squatty potty, watch some vides on youtube for some points. Our guide had the option of spending extra money for a toilet tent. This is essentially a port-john like tent with a portable camping tent. The advantage is that it’s cleaner than a the designated toilets and it’s setup adjacent to your tents so that it’s not a terribly long walk just to go to the bathroom.
All the meals were cooked and provided by the cook on the lead guide’s staff. The meals were served in the dining tent, which is big enough to seat 4 people. Breakfast consisted for friend eggs, sausage, and toast. Lunch was usually soup followed up by curry or beef stew. Dinner was similar to lunch. I felt we were adequately fed on the mountain.
I saw many people packing solar chargers and battery packs, but those are only good for charging cell phones and iPads. I used a batter pack to keep my iPhone fully charged to take pictures. My camera charger required a wall charger and there was no access to electrical outlets on the trek. I fully charged all my cameras and digital cameras the day before we departed for the National Park. The initial charge was sufficient for the entire 8-day trek.
The guide and his staff provided all the water. Every night or morning, we would give the guide our empty water bottle and they would fill them up with water that was boiled. Each day when we arrived to camp, we were given a bowl of hot water for washing up. Everyone in my group had camelback water containers, which makes it convenient to stay hydrated without stopping.
Buying Supplies on the Trails
It’s not possible to buy any gear on the trail. In fact, even in the Moshi, there isn’t a whole lot of stores selling outdoor gear like in Kathmandu. If you forgot a jacket or think you might need an extra later, forget about it, you’ll have a difficult time finding a store selling that kind of stuff in Moshi. In short, You pretty much have to bring all your gear needed.
I hope this gear lexicon helps trekkers plan out their packing list. I would like to note, I embarked on this trip during the late month of January. There’s two peak seasons to climb Kilimanjaro – one being in the summer months of July to Sept and just after the rainy season in Jan/Feb.