Packing Tips for Kilimanjaro

Some of our most frequently asked questions are about what to pack, particularly for Kilimanjaro.  Here is my favorite advice.


A balaclava is a thing that covers your neck and goes up over your head.  I usually bring a neck gaiter, which just goes around my neck and a hat, but bring whatever you have!

Day Pack

In the day pack, take along water, sunglasses, camera, binoculars, rain pants and jacket at a minimum. Add any other items you might need during the day because you may not see the porters until the end of your trek for that day. Make sure you have everything in plastic bags, have a water proof cover for it, or have a rain poncho to protect it from getting wet.  I usually keep my camera in a separate plastic bag to be safe.

Duffel Bag/Backpack

The porters will carry a duffel bag or backpack with your remaining gear.  This is limited to 15kg.  They will carry a duffel bag on their head and a backpack on their back.

Make sure the pack is waterproof or that everything is in plastic bags.

First Aid Kit

You will only need one first aid kit for your group.


These cover your boots and lower legs.  I recommend these at the very bottom of the mountain if it is muddy and also on summit day so that you don’t get pebbles in your boots which causes blisters.


You’ll need a warm (even wool) hat for summit day and maybe even for some of the evenings, and a brimmed hat for hiking during the day.

Head Lamp

You can bring a head lamp of flashlight/torch, but I recommend a head lamp so you can use your hiking poles at night and also for easier reading in the tent.

Hiking Poles

Not everyone likes hiking poles, but these are very useful if it is muddy down low and also for coming down from the summit.  Save the knees!

Hiking Boots

For most of the trek, you could even hike in tennis shoes, but you will want at least a mid-weight, mid-height boot (waterproof) for warmth on summit day, for ankle protection, and for mud/dirt lower down.

It’s nice to have a pair of tennis shoes or sandals for relaxing at camp in the evenings.  Besides being more comfortable, this allows your boots to dry out.

Make sure you break in any new boots, and test them coming down hills to make sure they won’t hurt your toes.


I never wear sock liners except on a multi-day trek.  You don’t want blisters on this one!

You’ll need wool or other warm socks for summit day.

Sleeping Bag

We recommend a -20 degree F sleeping bag.  You might be okay with a bag that isn’t this warm, but there is nothing worse than trying to sleep at altitude and you’re cold.

Warm Clothing

On summit day, I wear just about everything I packed.  My legs have long underwear, fleece leggings, zip-off hiking pants, and rain/shell pants.  On top, I have long underwear, turtleneck, wool sweater or fleece, down jacket, and rain/shell jacket.  For my extremities, I have sock liners, wool/thick socks, hiking boots, glove liners, super warm mittens, neck gaiter, thick hat, and wrap around sunglasses.

By the time I am hiking down, I am down to my hiking pants and turtleneck….

Water Bottles

I recommend bringing a Camelbak and 2 Nalgene style water bottles.  A Camelbak is much easier to drink from while hiking.  Water bottles are nice in camp.

On summit day, put your water bottles inside your jacket so that they don’t freeze.  The Camelbak will freeze.  If you can wear your Camelbak inside your jacket that helps, and also blow the water back into the pouch to keep the hose from freezing too quickly.

Recommended by Clients

  • Fingernail brush
  • Pee bottle for in the tent
  • Comfort food
  • Baby wipes
  • Hot water bottle
  • Extra headlamp and camera batteries
  • Portable toilet

See our full Kilimanjaro Packing List >>

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