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Kilimanjaro Climb – Suggested Equipment for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro Climb – Suggested Equipment for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

The hardest part in planning a trip to a location that you know nothing about is deciding what equipment to bring, and also what not to bring.

Good equipment is vital to a safe and enjoyable climb. Sure, in superb weather conditions you could climb the mountain in a pair of old trainers, your oldest pair of long trousers and with a couple of sweaters thrown in you will only suffer badly during the last night of the ascent. However, let the weather change for the worse, a couple of hours driving rain soon after setting off from the Horombo area, and you could be dead from hypothermia very rapidly.


Suggested Lower Montane Mount Kilimanjaro Wear

Starting out, you will be in synthetic or fleece shorts, a polyester T-Shirt, sock liners with synthetic would hiking / trekking socks, and heavy-duty hiking boots.


Suggested Upper Montane Mount Kilimanjaro wear

Rain is common, so Gore-Tex jacket and pants are required. A cape is needed to protect the head from the sun. Sun block and lip balm are musts – as are bug repellent, water bottles and a water purifier.


Suggested Heath and Moorland Mount Kilimanjaro wear

A polypro long underwear top and bottom beneath shorts and a T-Shirt is recommended.

As a suggestion during the trek, a fleece vest or jacket must be kept at ready pauses during the climb. Gaiters are essential through the wet, knee-high grasses at this elevation.


Suggested Alpine Desert Mount Kilimanjaro wear

Fleece pants will warm you during the windy nights, which follow the summer-ice days at this zone. A warm sleeping bag will keep you warm for those few hours you get to sleep before making an attempt at the top.


Mount Kilimanjaro Summit clothing

Polypro long, a fleece middle, and Gore-Tez outer.

A balaclava and warm hat will protect the head and line gloves, wind stopper gloves and over mitts protect your hands.

Because the summit attempt day begins at around midnight or 1:0 a.m., you will need a headlamp.

Glacier glasses will keep you from snow blindness when you reach those snows of Mount Kilimanjaro.

As you can see above, because you move from the Africa jungle to arctic tundra in a matter of days, you need many different types of clothing.

You go from dressing in shorts and T-Shirts that are wringing wet with sweat to a layering system topped off by Gore-Tex to endure winds that push the chilly air well below zero degrees.

You will require the correct underwear, thermal hiking socks, gloves (preferably mittens), warm head protection, rain coat, sunglasses and sun protection cream. Also remember your hiking boots, hiking/running shoes (it is not necessary to walk with boots or climbers shoes until the last sections where scree and rocks are encountered), and very importantly, a walking stick / ski-pole. One of the most critical items of clothing is a an outer jacket.You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm, protect you at temperatures of as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, keep the wind out and yet still “breath”. Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain. A balaclava will protect your face against cold, wind, sun and snow. Other clothing like shorts, sweaters and T-shirts are strongly recommended, especially during hiking on the lower slopes, when the day temperatures are still high.

The only way to ensure that you are dressed warmly is to follow the principal of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by climbers is to wear almost everything they have and to start off with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture perfectly, and moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature, which could even lead to hypothermia. It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties (a fabric which has the ability to draw moisture away from the body) and thus enabling it to evaporate to the outside. The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Gore-Tex or Jeantex offer these properties. Short of altitude and physical exertion, cold is one of the most serious obstacles when attempting to summit Kilimanjaro.


The higher you ascend the more the suns rays burn. Something that shades your eyes is best.

…or ski mask made from some type of insulated material with just an opening for your eyes and nose. You will need it for the final ascent.

A good pair, necessary for both the desert area and for snow blindness at the summit.


Take one for every day you intend to be on the mountain, and one more, just in case.

Upper Clothing
Polo neck long sleeves loose are best, as the thin layers trap air which insulates you. Also bring at least one woolen or fleece jumper.

As good as you can afford. There are many insulated materials that are good, Polertex, Gortex/Ventex. Get one that can pack easily with big pockets and a covered zip area. Waterproof is good but not essential. All these features will be appreciated at 4am when you are climbing to the summit 🙂

Rain Gear
Simple lightweight rain suit for the rain forest and in case it snows later on. The waterproof leggings will also shield your legs from the wind at the summit.

As waterproof and as windproof as possible. Ski gloves are good.


A change for every day. Even though it’s cold you’ll still sweat which makes climbing uncomfortable.

Thermal Underwear
A pair of long-johns. If you can’t find any, a pair of elastic leggings does the same thing – nobody’s going to see them 🙂

Light jogging shorts are necessary for the first days.

Trousers or track-suit pants – anything except jeans. Jeans hold the cold close to your body and give off heat very quickly. Also, if they get wet, they are very slow to dry.

Rain Pants
Bring a good pair of rain pants of Gore-Tex or other waterproof material. Try to get a pair that are wind-proof too.


Two pairs of light socks for each day you intend to climb. Also bring a couple of pairs of woolen socks for climbing the final stage.

Probably one of the most important piece of equipment you could bring. The boots you wear shouldn’t be underestimated – a radio operator on a non-technical climb with us was killed in a fall, partly due to the fact that he wasn’t wearing suitable clothing and boots. The boots should be leather, insulated, and of good quality. Anything other than leather and your feet will freeze. Choose a good brand, and make sure they are well broken in before the climb.

Runners / Trainers
Optional. These are to wear in camp after a day of hiking.

Feet problems:

Poor fitting, new or little used boots will result in blistering feet. Even if boots are only slightly to small, your toes will get bruised , particularly on your descend. It is it therefore also important to keep your toe nails short for the climb. Developing blister should be treated immediately as soon as the “hot spot” is felt. Remove the boot and cover the area with a zinc oxide tape or something similar

About 40 – 60 liter capacity. Get a rucksack with lots of side pockets for storing raingear, torch, water, camera etc. The rucksack should be frameless, with strong, comfortable padded straps, both at the shoulders and at the waist. Otherwise the rucksack will literally cut two grooves in your shoulders.

Sleeping Bag
Again, get as good a sleeping bag as you can afford – it gets extremely cold on the mountain at night. Try to get a three/four season bag, preferably light and compact.

Camping Gas and Cooking Equipment
A small lightweight gas stove and one or two camping saucepans should be enough for the climb.
Important – You aren’t allowed to bring compressed gas on the aero plane, and the only camping gas available in Tanzania and Kenya is the small “bluegaz” cylinders which the stove pierces – not the screw-on type. I didn’t know this and had to buy a new stove when I got there.

A head torch is vital as you will need both hands to climb with for the final 1000 meters. Bring a couple of sets of batteries for final ascent. Keep the batteries warm, the cold will kill them.

Walking Stick
Definitely necessary. Get a telescopic aluminum one or even two. It helps a lot to use your arms as well as your legs. They can be rented for about $12 at the base of the mountain.

High factor essential. Don’t forget it start putting it on from the start and don’t stop.

Water Bottles
Get insulated bottles as the water freezes at higher altitude. Drink at least 4 liters of water per day to prevent dehydration.

Swiss Army Knife
Every mountaineer should have one. Get a knife with a few good features, i.e. tin opener, bottle opener, sharp blade, scissors, etc. It saves on packing individual items.

You can use US dollars pretty much everywhere, but exchange about $30 into Tanzanian shillings for small items such as soft drinks etc. Take small notes, lots of $1 bills are useful.

Money belt
Take a waist belt, the small flat type that can fit inconspicuously under your clothes. Put your money and passport in it and keep it on all the time. Things have been known to go missing at the camps.

Ziploc Bags
These bags are very useful for holding loose items.

Matches and Lighter
You’ll need these to light your gas stove….

Bring a good, light camera. People will tell you that the shutters freeze on good cameras at the top. They are wrong – it’s the batteries that freeze. BuyLithium, not Alkaline batteries and you should be ok. Bring a couple of spare sets and store them in your clothes close to your body so that your body heat will keep them warm. Bring a camera that’s easy to use so that someone else can take your picture at the top without messing it up. It ‘s an important photo and you can’t expect someone else to focus it at 5895 meters and get it right. Because of the high altitude bring a polarizing filter and a UV filter. Take plenty of film – ASA 200 film is good for taking shots with relatively little light.

A first aid kit should be brought on any climb. Specialized compact kits are available, but if you don’t have one, the following medical items should be brought.

Bandages of all shapes and sizes

Scissors – always handy for cutting bandages, gauze, etc.

Antiseptic Cream – for cuts and grazes.

Headache Tablets – lots of them 🙂 Be careful that they don’t have any nasty side effects though, dizzy spells at the edge of a 100m drop are generally not good.

Altitude Sickness Tablets – Diamox tablets to be taken twice a day from 13,000 feet to the top. This drug is widely used in high altitude mountaineering. I couldn’t get any and I suffered because of it. Thanks to the group of Swedish climbers who gave us some of theirs.

Please note that this is a basic first aid kit. I’m not trying to say that these are the only items you should bring, but they are a basis to which you can add more items as you see fit.

Toilet Paper
For when nature calls…Be warned – toilets usually consist of a tank buried in the ground.

Garbage Bags
Don’t leave rubbish on the mountain. Pack it up and take it down with you. Also good for separating wet and dry clothing.

Pen and Notepad
Useful for taking notes on the climb. Take a felt tip pen so the ink won’t freeze.

Travel Insurance
The medical facilities are not too good in Tanzania. Take out a fly out insurance in case of an accident.

Pack Sensibly
Every day you will need to change. try to pack in a way that you can get to the next days kit easily.

Mountain Water
The stream water high on the mountain has been tested and has been found to be fit for drinking. However, if you would like to be on the safe-side, use water purification tablets or boil drinking water in the evenings.

Eating Tips
Eat as much as you can as you lose your appetite as you ascend. Drink lots of water, 4 liters a day – do not dehydrate.

Keep all spare batteries close to your body so they don’t freeze.

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Trip Planning for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Bobby Tours Mountain climbing department has a vast experience in leading hikers and climbers to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Our experienced mountain guides have a proud summit success rate averaging between 96% – 98% and have safely guided over 10000 clients to the top of the mountain.

This section aims to provide the potential Mount Kilimanjaro climber with valuable and accurate information on climbing Kilimanjaro, which will hopefully contribute towards increasing your chances of a successful summit attempt.

Below, we have complied this information, after years of experience as well as from feedback from previous climbers.

Climb Preparation
The following pages gives you more information on factors such as WHEN TO GO, HEALTH REQUIREMENTS …. Read more

Be properly equipped
An essential part of your preparation will be to ensure that you are well equipped for your summit attempt. Print our suggested final checklist and mark it off, to ensure that you are. Please check our : Suggested Checklist page, for all the necessary equipment you might need.

Be physically prepared
It is important that your body is adequately prepared for the physical challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mental preparation
It is possible to summit Kilimanjaro successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be topmost in your mind when preparing for the summit attempt. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may possibly encounter on the mountain and try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group. Your mental stamina will, with out a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like from Kibo to Uhuru or from Barafu to Uhuru, easier to complete. Remember if you are properly equipped, you have taken everything as indicated on the final checklist, you are physically prepared and  have all the knowledge gained from this section – you will be mentally confident for the physical part of Kilimanjaro..

Adequate travel insurance
Make sure that you have adequate travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for the climb up Kilimanjaro.

Drink enough water
Make sure that you drink at least 3 – 4 liters of liquid a day – preferably water. For both the Marangu and Machame routes, it is possible to buy mineral water at all the huts and camps. Although a little bit more expensive on the mountain, this is probably the most convenient option – we are however at this stage, not to sure how reliable the supply lines are. For your first day it is recommended that you take along fresh water which is purchased before your climb.

The stream water high on the mountain Kilimanjaro has been tested and has been found to be fit for drinking. However, if you would like to be on the safe-side, use water purification tablets or ask your guide to boil the water for you. This can be done in the evening. You can fill your flasks in the morning, ready for the next part of the climb.

If you are not used to fresh water in nature, prevent any inconvenience by using water purification tablets. REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!

Walk high – sleep low
If possible and especially on your acclimatization day “walk high – sleep low” Try to do a short evening stroll to a higher altitude and then descend to sleep at the camp at a lower altitude. This is essential on your acclimatization day.

Climb light
Climb as lightly as possible, this becomes even more important on your summit night.

Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 5 or 6 days. You need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to  pack items individually in your bag. These individually packed items should be wrapped in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet in case of rain or of being accidentally dropped in a stream.

Suggested Equipment
The hardest part in planning a trip to a location that you know nothing about is deciding what equipment to bring, and also what not to bring. The following pages will give you more information on factors such as CLOTHING, EQUIPMENT, FIRST AID, OTHER ITEMS, TIPS & TRICKS … Read more

Useful Information:

Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! This is also very important during your first days of climbing. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery.

New batteries
Replace your head lamp and camera batteries with new ones on your summit night.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS commonly affects people at high altitude, who are not accustomed to high altitude conditions. AMS can be lethal if not treated immediately or if its symptoms are ignored. Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarize yourself with this condition and take preventative care. Click Altitude Sickness for more information on this medical condition.

Wet wipes
There is no washing water at Kibo and Arrow Glacier camps. Wet Wipes are very useful.

Take enough snacks like energy bars etc.

Adequate sun protection
Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses (with UV protection) and use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+

Thermal flask
Use a thermal flask for your water on the summit night, other water bottles might freeze solid.

Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at the summit of Kilimanjaro is possible, and most people do this. The secret is to always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas at high altitude. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold do not cease functioning, but remember, that if you keep your camera inside your jacket and the lens becomes warm, chances are that it will form condensation when suddenly exposed to extreme cold. This condensation will freeze under conditions at the summit. Therefore, keep your camera dry at all times. Moisture will freeze at the summit which WILL cause your camera to stop functioning.