What to pack for Mount Kilimanjaro is a topic that will cause the prospective Kili climber no small amount of anxiety, starting from the day the trip is booked until departure. Having a ready packing list, battle-tested by a veteran, can make all the difference for a successful climb. For what it’s worth, here is mine:
Kilimanjaro Packing List
(1) Pair of Boots – leather, no expensive Gore-Tex necessary; make sure two fingers fit down the back, you don’t want them to be too tight)
(6) Pairs of Socks – worth the investment, best get 1 pair of light, 2 pairs of medium, and 1 pair of thick; in addition, get thin liners to wear underneath, helps against blisters
(1) First layer clothing – set of long johns and long-sleeve shirt, thin quick-dry material
(1) Second layer clothing – polar Tec bottom and top, weight 300
(1) Top layer clothing – wind/water proof pants and jacket shell including hood, or get a combined jacket with a zip-in liner made of 300 polar Tec
(2) Quick-dry t-shirts
(2) Quick-dry shorts
(1) Hiking pants, preferably quick-dry
(1) Warm beanie hat
(1) Sun hat
(1) Pair of good polarizing sunglasses (ones that wrap around the sides)
(1) Sunscreen with high SPF (a small tube is enough)
(2) Water bottles (700 ml/24 oz. is a good size) to fit into daypack side pockets
(1) Camelback or other bladder insert for daypack
(1) Mosquito spray (needed for hotel only)
(1) Game (or other powdered drink mix), enough for 7 days
Trail snacks/chocolate (optional)
(1) Pair of thin gloves
(1) Pair of ski gloves/mittens
(1) Pair of comfortable shoes for camp, like crocs (optional)
(1) Good sleeping bag with hood (down preferable, 10 degrees F rating)
(1) Sleeping bag liner (optional)
(1) Self-inflatable mattress
(1) Self-inflatable pillow (optional)
(1) Duffel bag everything fits in for porters, 15 kg max, no wheels
(1) Daypack (30 to 40 liters)
(1) Rain poncho or large plastic trash bags to protect against rain
(1) Headlamp, plus replacement batteries
(2) Packs of wet wipes
(2) Rolls of toilet paper
(1) Pocket knife (optional)
(1) Pair of hiking poles (optional)
Water purification tablets, enough for 4 liters a day
(1) First aid kit – blister bandages, band-aids, ace-wraps, burn shield, safety pins, small pair of scissors, Ibuprofen, antihistamine, hydrocortisone ointment, antibacterial ointment, Immodium, Drammamine, Diamox (see below), antibiotic eye drops, anti-malarial prophylaxis if needed, antibiotics, other prescription medicines as needed
To-do, several weeks/months prior to your trip:
- Check with doctor whether Diamox (for altitude sickness) is recommended and do a trial run at home to test for side effects
- Get a prescription for malaria medication if needed and start at recommended time
- Walk regularly
- Walk in your boots if they are new
Based on the travel memoir Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life.
About the Author: Eva Melusine Thieme is the author of Kilimanjaro Diaries as well as the blog Joburg Expat, where she has been chronicling her family’s adventures while living in South Africa. She currently resides in Brentwood, Tennessee, with her husband and four children, where she is working on her next book about a road trip through Namibia with six people in a five-person car.
Just finished reading Kilimanjaro Diaries, amazing, I have laughed and cried (at the end) I booked to climb Kilimanjaro a week before reading and I’m so glad I have!! My trip is planned for August 2016 and I can’t wait! thank you so so much for sharing your emotional experience with me!!
Heide – I am SO glad to hear that! I would love to hear how it goes for you next year. Still plenty of time to prepare and look forward to your amazing experience. I’m happy to know that you found my book helpful as a prospective climber. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I’m climbing Kili in December and am very grateful that you’ve provided so much tolilet related information. This genuinely has been helpful!
Hi Samantha, I’m so glad to hear that! Both about you climbing Kili (how awesome!) and about my book being helpful. Now please tell that to the reviewer who gave me a one-star review on Amazon.com for the “feces obession” – maybe you can vote it unhelpful:-) Best of luck, and please do let me know how it goes, and if you have any other questions before then.
Loved this book.feel like I have a better insight ( probably don’t).My climb is planned for June 2020 along with my good friend both of is celebrating our 60th birthdays and our 5 year cancer free anniversary
Hi Bernie – I am so touched that you reached out to me. What a wonderful cause to be climbing Kili, I wish both you and your friend a wonderful experience – it’s the journey that counts! I’m glad my good gave you a little bit of insight, but you are right – you won’t really know what it’s all about until you’re there and living it. I’m slightly jealous! Please do let me know how it goes when the time comes.
Loved the book and the way you write. I am going up in Feb 2020 and I am not longer scared thanks to you. I have 2 questions: why did you not take the toilet paper as rolls? How often would you recommend to walk to prepare for the climb and how long for? Please write more about your adventures. They are funny! Xxx
Hi Raquel! I am sorry or the slow response. I’m so excited to hear that you’ll be traveling to Kili (and up Kili!) in the near future. And a bit jealous:-). To be honest, I can’t remember about the toilet paper. Perhaps I was afraid it was get squished or maybe it was too bulky. I’d definitely recommend taking rolls, and not to be skimpy. But the best investment for sure is a lot of wet wipes! Regarding the prep walks, I think the most important thing is breaking in your boots, especially if you’re not a regular mountaineer and perhaps bought new boots for the climb. You don’t want to get blisters on your climb, so I’d walk regularly until you feel comfortable in them. Do like I did and wear them around town just to wear them in! As I said in the book, I don’t think you really have to “train” for Kili by hiking a ton beforehand, but I also don’t think it hurts. We walked about once every 2 weeks for about 2 to 3 months, and it was more for the fun of it than for serious prep work. Again, it’s good to get used to the idea of walking and what you might like to carry and what not. For instance, I carried my big camera on our practice walks and realized I didn’t want to carry it up Kili, so I left it behind. I might not have known that kind of thing beforehand. You’ll also get a feel for how many snacks you might want to bring. Stuff like that.
I hope you have a great climb and please let me know how it goes! If you have any other questions, let me know – I promise I’ll respond quicker next time:)