Kilimanjaro Equipment Guide

What equipment do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?

Having the correct clothing & personal equipment will make your Kilimanjaro climb more enjoyable and comfortable and ultimately increase your chance of a successful summit.We are fully aware that with all the different information and Kilimanjaro equipment lists out there, acquiring the correct gear can become very confusing and frustrating. To help you through this aspect of your planning, we would advise you read through our Kilimanjaro Equipment guide. It is based on our first hand experience and will walk you through the essentials and  “good to have`s” for your trek.

CLOTHING
Learn About Layering

HEADGEAR
Protect your head & face

HANDWEAR
Protect your extremities

FOOTWEAR
Which boots should I wear?

EQUIPMENT
Which equipment is essential?

ACCESSORIES
Small things count !

Where do I start?

You can begin by browsing through each section of this page to start planning your equipment requirements. To help keep track of your progress you can download our KCC Equipment guide and checklist.

CLOTHING

While climbing Kili you will be trekking through 5 climatic zones. To ensure that you remain perfectly comfortable in each zone, it is important for all climbers to understand how to best dress to cope with the mountain weather and critical that you understand the concept of layering with your Kilimanjaro Clothing.

Wearing clothing layers is to dress in multiple garments (layers) in order to regulate your body temperature, so that you do not overheat or become too cold. The clothing should transport sweat away from your skin to keep it as dry as possible, at the same time as it keeps your body warm.

You regulate your temperature by taking off or putting on layers of clothing. Wearing multiple layers of thin clothing keeps you warmer than if you are wearing a few bulky clothes.

Regulate your temperature by taking off or putting on layers of clothing

The clothing layers that together wick moisture, insulate, and protect from wind and rain, fall into three categories:

  • Base layer – Moisture Management
  • Mid layer – Insulation
  • Outer layer – Weather Protection

BASE LAYER - Moister Management

This is your next-to-skin layer. It helps regulate your body temperature by moving perspiration away from your skin. Keeping dry helps you maintain a cool body temperature in the summer and avoid hypothermia in the winter. A base layer can be anything from briefs and sports bras to long underwear sets (tops and bottoms) to tights and T-shirts. It can be designed to fit snugly or loosely. For cool conditions, thermal underwear is available in light-, mid- and expedition-weights.

MID LAYER - Insulation Management

The insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers such as wool and goose down are excellent insulators. Merino wool sweaters and shirts offer soft, reliable warmth and keep on insulating even when wet. For very cold and dry conditions, goose down is best. It offers an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible. Down’s main drawback is that it must be kept dry to maintain its insulating ability. A new innovation—water-resistant down—promises to change this.

OUTER LAYER - Weather Protection

The shell or outer layer protects you from wind, rain or snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple windproof jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric. An outer shell is an important piece in bad weather, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to feel cold. Furthermore, without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell

Upper Body

Thermal base layer: 1 x thermal base layer, ideally made from merino wool. Recommended brand is Icebreaker

Fleece or soft shell jacket: A mid-weight polartec fleece jacket is ideal for Kilimanjaro. Berghaus, Helly Hansen and The North Face all make great fleeces

Short sleeved shirt: 2 x lightweight, moisture wicking short sleeved shirts. Recommend brands include Icebreaker, Under Armour, Columbia, Berghaus

Insulated jacket: A good quality and warm down or primaloft jacket is required for the cold nights and summit push. Recommended brands include The North Face, Rab, Arc'Teryx and Mountain Hardwear

Long sleeve shirt: Go for a light or medium weight, moisture wicking long sleeve shirt (x2). Icebreaker, Berghaus and Under Armour make great breathable trekking shirts.

Hard shell outer jacket: A water/windproof hard shell outer jacket to protect you from the elements. Goretex material is best. Recommended brands include The North Face, Arc'teryx, Berghaus and Mountain Hardwear

Lower Body

Leggings: Thermal or fleece base layer for your legs. Merino wool is preferable. Recommend brand is Icebreaker.

Trekking trousers: Light or medium weight (x1) trekking trousers. Convertible trousers are an option. Recommended brands include Craghoppers and Columbia


 

Hard shell trousers: To protect yourself from the elements you need a good pair of waterproof / windproof hard shell trousers. Ideally Goretex. Patagonia, The North Face and Arc'Teryx all make good outer trousers

HEADGEAR

Protecting your head and face from the elements as you climb Kilimanjaro is vital. You could face cold, wind, rain and possibly snow – not to mention the sun during the hot and high solar radiation days. You will also need to wear a headlamp for the push on summit night.

HATS: You will need a good hat for the climb to protect your face from sun burn and keep your head cool. We recommend using hats that have an adjustable neck cover and are made from a material that breaths well. Our Recommendations

HEADLAMP: A headlamp is the best torch for night hiking as you can have your hands free at all times and is essential on summit night .

The key things to look for in a good headlamp are:

  • Light/brightness quality
  • Battery life
  • Weight

Our Recommendations

BEANIES: A thermal beanie or head band is a must for summit night to keep your head and ears warm. Make sure the beanie fits snug and is suitable for snowy conditions. Look for an outdoor, lined and fleeced beanie or headband. Our Recommendations

SUNGLASSES: With sunglasses, there are two considerations you need to take into account. First is the UV intensity, which at just under 6,000m is very high and can be very damaging to your eyes if you don’t have adequate sunglasses. The second factor is the snow cover, which acts to reflect and intensify visible light.

Our Recommendations

NECK GAITER: We recommend taking either a hiking balaclava or neck band to protect your neck and face from the elements, or cover your mouth and nose from dust. Make sure to get something that is lightweight, absorbent, breathable and quick-drying. Our Recommendations

SUNSCREEN: Trekking to high altitude where the sun intensity is high requires a sunscreen with a high SPF (30+) and sweat resistant. Make sure to bring sun protection lip cream as well.

Our Recommendations

HANDWEAR

Protecting your head and face from the elements as you climb Kilimanjaro is vital. You could face cold, wind, rain and possibly snow – not to mention the sun during the hot and high solar radiation days. You will also need to wear a headlamp for the push on summit night.

INNER GLOVES: A lightweight glove is invaluable during your trek; on the lower slopes, liner gloves offer sun protection and help prevent blistering from your trekking poles. As you climb higher, they can serve as an additional layer underneath heavier gloves or mittens.

Our Recommendations

OUTER GLOVES: A necessity for the upper reaches of the trek, especially summit night. Ideally, the outer gloves should also be waterproof, without being cumbersome or too bulky. Essentially you want gloves that provide great dexterity, whilst also providing exceptional warmth, water resistance and durability.

Our Recommendations

MITTENS: You may prefer mittens, especially if your hands tend to get cold; the greater surface area on gloves, and the fact that fingers can’t “share” the warmth they’re giving off, means they’re inherently less warm. For harsh conditions, mittens with a wind and waterproof outer layer, as well as a removable insulation layer, offer maximum protection against the elements.

Our Recommendations

HAND WARMERS: If you really suffer with cold hands, we do also recommend taking some hand warmers with you. They warm your hands while in your gloves.  We advise using the single use option as they  stay warmer longer than the reusable. Please make sure they are environmentally safe and non toxic. 

FOOTWEAR

One of the most important items you will bring to Kilimanjaro is your hiking boots!

Due to the varied terrain and weather conditions you will need a very good pair of boots. Your trek will include some even paths. But mostly you will encounter trails that are uneven, slippery, steep, stony and you will be required to navigate rocks, scree and rock scrambles.

What boots should I wear? This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our clients while they are choosing their equipment. And rightly so! After all, your feet are what get you up Kilimanjaro, so look after them.

In this section we will cover what is important in your boot selection, choosing the the right socks and don`t forget the gaiters!

5 important considerations when choosing your Kilimanjaro boots
TREKKING BOOTS: There are hundreds of different features that a pair of hiking boots can have. Many of the features that are advertised aren’t essential features, and while they may be nice to have, it is important that the boots provide the same basic features. We have covered the important features to look for when shopping for hiking boots. As long as these basic features are covered, you can have your pick of the rest. Our Recommendation

And the rest – Trekking shoes for camp, socks and gaiters......

It is your feet that carry you up Kilimanjaro and they need looking after! Choosing your hiking boots is the main thing but there are also considerations with selecting the right socks and some footwear to use while you are in camp.

TREKKING SHOES:  Give your feet a break! You are going to want to walk around the camp and perhaps do some exploring in the surrounding area so bring either some sturdy trainers or basic hiking shoes / trekking sandals that you can slip on in camp.

Our Recommendations

TREKKING SOCKS: 4-5 pairs of good quality trekking socks. Avoid cotton or cotton-blend socks as these absorb and retain moisture. Go for soft merino wool as these are the best for wicking moisture away from the foot. Our Recommendations

THERMAL SOCKS: On the upper reaches of Kili you will mostly need to wear thermal socks, especially on summit night. Bring at least 2 pairs of thick thermal socks and consider a polypropylene liner to assist with the wicking process.

Our Recommendations

GAITERS: Used to keep unwanted materials out of your boots (mud, water, rocks etc.), especially on the initial descent from the summit where there is a lot of scree.

EQUIPMENT

The equipment list for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is extensive! For this reason it is important to distinguish what is “nice to have ” and which equipment is essential.

In this section we will cover the important stuff and what you should consider before acquiring your sleeping bags, sleeping mats. You will also need something to carry all your equipment in. Don`t even think about packing a case!

DUFFEL BAG: As it holds all of your trekking gear this is one important piece of kit! Because your duffle bag will be carried by porters, make sure it weighs no more than 20kg (15kg is better) and has a soft bottom (approx 80-100 litres). Make sure your bag is waterproof, has a strong zipper system and hand and shoulder strapping system for extra versatility.

 Our Recommendations

SLEEPING BAG LINER: sleeping bag liner can help with temperatures. A silk liner can make a huge difference at the higher camps. A liner is also good for people who are squeamish about renting a sleeping bag. If you plan to travel before or after your trek, it also comes in handy if you are staying in cheaper accommodation.

DAY PACK: As you’ll be carrying your daypack, its important to keep it small and lightweight (25-30 litres). Your daypack will be used to carry water and personal items such as sunscreen, snacks, money etc. Look for daypacks with compression straps to reduce stress on your back, rain covers and side mesh pockets for easy access.. Our Recommendations

SLEEPING MAT: A good thermal sleeping mat is also a good investment. However, again  you have the option to hire these from KCC. You don’t need this on the Marangu Route but you still need a good sleeping bag.

Our Recommendations

SLEEPING BAG: Invest in a good sleeping bag that’s rated for at least -10°C/four seasons. Down sleeping bags are great. They are light, pack down small and definitely keep you warm at night, but down is of course expensive. We do offer the option to hire sleeping bags, since the real warm ones don’t come cheap and most people will not need theirs again after this trek. Our Recommendations

TREKKING POLES: Trekking poles are must have equipment on Kilimanjaro, especially for the way down. If you’ve never used poles before, our guides will introduce them to you on around day 3. Go for poles which are adjustable and made of a lightweight material (aluminium or carbon fibre) with a rubber or foam grip.  You can also hire poles from KCC.

Our Recommendations

ACCESSORIES

So you`ve taken care of all the obvious essential equipment needed for your kilimanjaro climb. Don`t forget the small things. To complete your equipment preparation, a well thought out list of accessories will significantly influence your comfort and perhaps even your health. Being well-prepared and packing the right accessories will help you enjoy your climb and summit Mt Kilimanjaro safely.

We have picked out a few of the more important items you should consider bringing with you. Some of them depend on personal needs and preferences but they serve as a good guide line.

TECHNICAL
  • Camera
  • Smart Phone
  • Power Bank
  • Spare Batteries
  • Kindle / Tablet
  • Small Torch
  • Small Headphones
  • Power Bank
MEDICAL
  • Medication
  • Ibuprofin
  • Diamox
  • Blister Plasters
  • Tubi Grip Support
  • Insect Repellent
MISCELLANEOUS
  • Toiletries
  • Trekking Towel
  • Wet Wipes
  • Ear Plugs
  • Pee Bottle (women)
MISCELLANEOUS
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Energy Bars
  • Energy Drink Tablets
  • Note Book
  • Small Lock

We would hate for any of our climbers to be in a predicament of having forgotten something and so to help you organise your gear and avoiding this situation,  download the KCC Kilimanjaro Equipment Check List and tick off each item as your preparation unfolds.

EQUIPMENT RENTAL


STEP UP TO THE CHALLENGE

Tick Kilimanjaro off your bucket list !