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HIKING KILIMANJARO KIT LIST

Kilimanjaro, located in northern Tanzania, is the highest mountain in Africa at 5891m and the loftiest freestanding peak on the planet. Many underestimate its difficulty, possibly because it requires no technical mountaineering skills or experience.


Arguably, there are two main reasons people fail to summit: the first is being unprepared for the effects of altitude; the second is the potentially wide temperature range. Despite Kilimanjaro’s proximity to the equator, it has a permanent ice cap and temperatures can drop well below zero higher up (and we haven’t even talked about the wind chill factor yet…). It goes without saying that having the correct kit goes a long way. Snow+Rock Covent Garden Supervisor Rory McCrea lists the essentials:

Footwear

BOOTS

A comfortable, stiff trekking boot is ideal. While there are trails, they can be quite rough. Scree slopes also need to be crossed on the last day, and a stiff boot provides a lot more stability on unstable ground.

Make sure that the boots fit well – visit us in-store, try a few pairs on and see what style suits you best! It’s also worth thinking about sandals or flip flops for in-camp.

SOCKS

Technical socks make a big difference. Four pairs will do (one should be warm mountaineering socks kept for the last day). Smartwool do a great range. Insoles may also help with blister prevention and warmth.

Clothing

These move sweat away from your skin and add warmth. Your choice should be based on how easily you feel the cold. Have at least one top and bottom. For the warm blooded, we advise the Icebreaker 200 or Arc’teryx Phase AR; for the cold blooded, Icebreaker 260 or Arc’teryx Phase SV.

FOR LOWER DOWN & WARM WEATHER

Pack a tee or long-sleeved shirt (Arc’teryx, The North Face and Mountain Hardwear are all recommended), shorts and walking trousers (Arc’teryx, Berghaus and The North Face all have good options). If it’s especially warm lower down, you can always just use your base layer!

FOR HIGHER UP & COLD WEATHER

The best option is a softshell jacket which provides an element of weather resistance while still being comfortable to walk in. A lightweight fleece is a more economical option, however they lack the wind resistance of a softshell jacket.

Lightweight softshell trousers provide more wind and water protection than walking trousers and are more comfortable to walk in than waterproofs.

INSULATION

Either a down or synthetic insulation jacket. Remember, Kilimanjaro can be a lot colder than you’d expect, especially at altitude!

WATERPROOFS

East Africa has wet and dry seasons, but these don’t apply to Kilimanjaro due to its height and proximity to the Congo Basin. Kilimanjaro’s weather patterns are very unpredictable, which means you should expect it to rain!

When choosing a waterproof jacket, you must decide what is the most important for you: fit, durability or breathability. With waterproof jackets, you get what you pay for! You’ll also need some lightweight waterproof trousers with a zip that comes up to the mid-thigh on both legs. Make sure that you carry waterproofs in your day pack! Also pack some repairs tape – it can fix just about anything, from your waterproofs to your pack and boots.

 

Hands + Head

SUNGLASSES

If your eyes are light-sensitive, glacier sunglasses with category 4 lenses are a good idea. Otherwise, good category 3 sunglasses with polarised lenses should do. Oakley, Bollé and Julbo are all good options.

GLOVES

Two or three pairs of gloves or mitts will be needed. For lower down, use either power stretch or fleece gloves (softshell gloves are perfect); for higher up, ski gloves or mountain gloves will do the job. For those who feel the cold easily, take a pair of even warmer insulated mitts (pictured).

African sun is much brighter than the northern hemisphere!

WARM HAT OR BALACLAVA

You’ll need this for the last couple of days (a warm hat is also handy for sleeping in). Pack a Buff to use as a neck gaiter or bandanna.

WATER BLADDERS

They're good for lower down although the tube may freeze higher up! One 2L bladder and two 1L bottles should keep you sufficiently watered.

NALGENE BOTTLES

These are also a good option as they are non-metal and have a wide mouth (if the water starts to freeze, you can still drink the unfrozen water). Get a Nalgene insulation pouch to help prevent this! Nalgene bottles can also be filled with hot water before going to sleep, slipped into a sock and used as a hot water 

ELECTROLYTE MIX

An electrolyte mix lowers the freezing point of water, replenishes vital salts lost while sweating, helps prevent cramp and speeds up the body’s absorption of fluids. Use chlorine dioxide tablets, even if the water has been boiled (water boils at a lower temperature higher up).

Equipment

PACK + DUFFEL BAG

Most summit Kilimanjaro with a guiding company, so a 20-35L day pack and 80-120L duffel bag will do. If the trip is being done without a guiding company a trekking pack will be necessary. Luggage locks for your duffel bag are also recommended.

Not essential, but they will make a massive difference. In the short-term, they help with balance and load bearing; in the long-term they minimise knee cartilage impact.

SLEEPING BAG

A warm sleeping bag with a minimum of -10°C comfort rating is crucial (a sleeping bag liner will add a little more warmth). Always bear in mind that the last figure in the sleeping bag rating does not mean that you will be comfortable; it just means that you should survive at that temperature. All sleeping bag ratings are guidelines only – visit us in-store if you need some help! Affordable, good options are the Rab Ascent 700 and Mountain Hardwear Lamina 0.

SLEEPING MAT

All sleeping bag ratings are based on the use of a mat. Inflatable mats are more comfortable than the cheaper foam mats (we recommend Therm-a-Rest ProLite or Neo Air Trekker). Pack a Therm-a-Rest repairs kit too, just in case.

A better option than a handheld torch, especially for night time toilet trips. Don’t forget spare batteries – batteries discharge faster in cold climates.

DRY BAGS

Waterproof dry bags keep your kit organised, dry and protected from dust. Get one for your sleeping bag and spare clothes and a smaller one for your day bag items. They also help keep electronics like your camera dust-free!

Skincare, Hygiene + First Aid

Take at least factor 30+ sun cream and some after sun. Pack a DEET-based insect repellent too (like Lifesystems Expedition 50+). Be careful when spraying – DEET can melt plastic-based clothing. Lifesystems Bite and Sting Relief isn’t a bad idea either.

This should include a fast-drying, antibacterial travel towel, ear plugs (to combat the heavy snorer in the group), dry wash and baby wipes (avoid moisturising wipes – they mix badly with the dust). Remember, there won’t be any showers on Kilimanjaro. See checklist below for full wash kit itinerary.

FIRST AID KIT

Go for something lightweight and add some extra blister plasters (and anything else you think you might need). See checklist below for full first aid kit itinerary.


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