Hiking Kilimanjaro is one of the greatest physical challenges in the world, and having the right gear will increase your chances of summiting. A trek up Kilimanjaro will pass through many microclimates, ranging from hot and tropical to below freezing and windy, so you’ll need to be prepared for all types of weather.
Since most Kilimanjaro treks are between five to eight days long, you’ll want to pack multiples of items. That way, if your pants or shirts get wet in the rain, you’ll have other options while they dry. (It’s also just nice to have something clean to put on every once in a while!)
However, keep in mind that everything you pack you (or a porter!) will have to carry up the mountain, so it’s crucial to pick lightweight items that can perform.
What to Pack for Kilimanjaro: Women’s Gear
Patagonia DAS Parka
A quality jacket can make or break your summit attempt on Kilimanjaro—when temperatures can dip well below 0, you’ll want an outer layer that will keep you warm no matter what. Patagonia’s DAS Parka will do the job, thanks to its PrimaLoft Gold Insulation that will keep heat in even if it gets wet. Fortunately, the exterior has a water-resistance endurance coating that will repel water and keep you dry.
Despite its high warmth rating, the DAS Parka weighs a mere 18.4 ounces, and can be packed into its own stuff sack on warmer days.
Osprey Eja 38 Backpack
You’ll need a pack that can fit everything you need for the day (like layers, snacks, and plenty of water), so look for a backpack that’s between 35-40L. Osprey’s Eja 38 Backpack is the perfect size, and it’s customized to fit women hikers better—plus it comes in two sizes (both with adjustable hip belts and injection-molded ladder adjustment systems that provide 4” of torso adjustability) so you can get a really personalized fit.
Weighing around 2.5 lbs, the Eja doesn’t add to your load—but it does offer features to help make carrying everything a little easier. Zippered pockets on the top of the backpack and the hip belts plus mesh side pockets help keep essentials easily accessible. Lash points and removable straps provide places to attach sleeping bags, trekking poles, and more. A layered mesh back allows air flow (and prevents sweaty backs), and the sternum strap has a built-in safety whistle.
With its lightweight and custom fit, the Eja is one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve ever tried, and it’s essential for a long trip like Kilimanjaro.
Danner Mountain 600
A good pair of waterproof hiking boots that are comfortable and fit well are potentially the most important piece of gear you’ll need for Kilimanjaro. Everyone’s feet are different, so be sure to try out a number of different styles to figure out what fits you best—and break them in on long hikes well before your trip.
We like the Danner Mountain 600s, which are waterproof, durable, and offer great traction and ankle support.
Smartwool Women’s Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks
Merino wool is one of the best materials for multi-day hikes, especially on your feet. Find it in Smartwool’s Women’s Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks, which are designed with a women’s-specific fit, including targeted cushioning in zones where you’ll need it most.
Patagonia Point Peak Trail Pants
Patagonia’s Point Peak Trail Pants were literally designed for “rugged, multi day trail conditions” (aka, Kilimanjaro). The pants have lots of thoughtful features that make them ideal for serious hikes, like adjustable cuffs to keep out water and debris, hook and loop tabs at the waist for the perfect fit, plenty of pockets, a water-repellent coating, and abrasion-resistant panels and spots where you’ll need them the most.
Outdoor Research Vigor Bottoms
The temperature on Kilimanjaro can change drastically over a day, so you want to pack clothing that can adapt, like Outdoor Research’s Vigor Bottoms. These leggings are made with a trademarked ActiveTemp thermo-regulating fabric that will wick away sweat and allow breathability, while keeping you at the perfect temperature.
Wear them as a baselayer or on their own—the Vigor bottoms are soft, but also offer UPF 30 sun protection. There’s even a hidden security zip pocket on the hip for essentials.
Eddie Bauer Polar Fleece-Lined Pull on Pants
Kilimanjaro can get really cold once the sun goes down and you stop moving, so you’ll want to have a warm camp outfit to change into once you’re done hiking for the day. Eddie Bauer’s Polar Fleece-Lined Pull-On Pants can double as your dinner outfit and pajamas. Inside, a cozy fleece provides lots of warmth, and outside, the water-repellent fabric will help keep away dirt and moisture. Cinch the cuffs at the bottom to help keep out the cold.
PrAna Wensley ½ Zip
Hate the feel of wool next to your skin? PrAna’s Wensley ½ zip features a wool blend fabric on the exterior but a soft polyester yarn on the inside, so you get the benefits of wool without the itchiness. It’s lightweight and warm, but won’t make you overheat.
Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck and Bottoms
Patagonia’s Capilene fabric is the most comfortable baselayer fabric I’ve ever tried. The material uses a unique open-grid pattern design that feels like nothing on the skin, but helps trap in warmth and wick away moisture. It also offers serious odor-control, which is essential on a trip without showers.
The Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck can be worn alone or as a base- or mid-layer. Offset shoulder seams and flatlock seams prevent chafing (even if you’re wearing it under a heavy backpack) and there are full underarm gussets so you’re not restricted when you move.
The Capilene Thermal Weight Baselayer Bottoms provide the same level of comfort on your legs—and they feature a flat, brushed waistband that won’t chafe or dig in.
Outdoor Research Women’s Ferrosi Pants
Tired of pulling up your pants throughout your hike? Try Outdoor Research’s Ferrosi Pants, which feature a newly designed waistband that won’t sag or stretch out. The pants offer just the right amount of stretch, along with abrasion resistance (so you don’t have to worry about ripping these on the trail).
The Ferrosi Pants are sun-protective, wind- and water-resistant, and quick-drying, so you’ll be prepared for all weather conditions when you wear them.
PrAna Ice Flow Legging
Layer under your hiking pants or wear them on their own during cooler days—PrAna’s Ice Flow Leggings will keep you toasty without overheating. They’re soft enough to sleep in as well, if you need some extra warmth in your sleeping bag.
What to Pack for Kilimanjaro: Men’s Gear
Gregory Zulu 35 Backpack
Hate trying to dig around in your pack to find something that’s inevitably buried at the bottom? Gregory’s Zulu 35 Backpack helps you stay organized by offering both top-loading and side-loading (suitcase-style) through zippered openings.
The Zulu is full of hiker-friendly features like a 3D foam back panel that keeps sweat away from your back and helps better distribute weight, a strap designed to hold your sunglasses on the shoulder harness, a built-in raincover, hydration sleeve, and plenty of pockets. All this and it only weighs 2.85 lbs.
Mountain Hardwear Yumalino Active Pants
With a water-resistant, softshell exterior and soft fleece lining, the Yumalino Active Pants are a great hiking pant for colder days.
The fabric is durable but still features a four-way stretch, and the hidden belt with cinch adjustability helps keep everything in place without interfering with your backpack’s hip belt.
Ibex Tranquil Hoodie Sweatshirt
Made from a cotton merino terry fabric blend, Ibex’s Tranquil Hoodie Sweatshirt features the comfort of terry with the moisture-wicking and durability of merino wool. The fabric is antimicrobial (so no odors), breathable, and itch-free, and will keep you warm no matter if you’re moving or not.
Eddie Bauer Guide Midnight Baselayer Pants
A warm, dry, and comfortable outfit starts with Eddie Bauer’s Guide Midnight Baselayer Pants as the baselayer. Designed to be worn during high-intensity activity in colder weather, the pants are breathable and heat-retaining. The double-knit construction features soft polyester on the inside and merino wool and nylon on the outside.
Mountain Hardwear Air Mesh ½ Zip
Lightweight and thin, Mountain Hardwear’s Air Mesh ½ Zip can be one of many layers or worn alone depending on the temperatures. The fabric uses a hollow tube design that’s designed to absorb sweat and quickly wick away moisture, while providing insulation and heat-retaining properties.
Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Crew Socks
Treat your feet to a little cushioning on the trail with Smartwool’s Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Crew Socks. These socks are padded throughout for extra warmth, protection, and comfort—including an elasticized arch brace to keep the socks secure on your feet.
Eddie Bauer Lightweight Merino-Blend Baselayer Crew
Made from a merino wool, nylon, and spandex blend, this baselayer shirt is soft, stretchy, odor-resistant, and breathable—all important features of a baselayer. It can be worn alone on warmer days, and offers UPF 50 protection which is essential at higher elevations.
Danner Explorer Hiking Boots
Kilimanjaro calls for a tough and durable hiking boot, like the Danner Explorer. The all-leather boot will keep your feet warm, and the GORE-TEX waterproof liners will keep them dry as well.
The Explorers have a unique half-length molded instep that helps with arch support while still allowing air flow within the boot to prevent sweat and chafing.
Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 Resort Ski Jacket
Helly Hansen’s Alpha 3.0 Resort Ski Jacket uses PrimaLoft Black Eco Insulation with a body-mapping design to deliver extra warmth in areas that are key to fighting off cold. Strategic zipper vents are placed throughout in case you overheat while hiking.
The best feature of this jacket? The trademarked Life Pocket, which is engineered to protect your phone from the elements and keep it from dying in cold weather.
What to Pack for Kilimanjaro: Unisex Gear
Outdoor Research Waterproof Liners & Mittens
Temperatures on the summit of Kilimanjaro can get as low as -20 degrees, and keeping your hands warm is critical. Start with a waterproof liner, like Outdoor Research’s, which is lightweight and breathable. These liners have touch screen-compatible fingertips, so you can use your electronics without taking them off.
When the temperature really drops, add another layer to your hands, like Outdoor Research’s Carbide Sensor Mitts, which feature trademarked SuperCinch technology to create a heat-trapping seal that will keep your hands warm.
Third Eye TE14 Headlamp
Your bid for the summit will likely start well before sunrise, so having a comfortable headlamp to light your path is key. Third Eye’s TE14 headlamp has six brightness settings (including white LED and red light options) so you can easily switch between powerful light or minimal and avoid blinding others whether you’re using it to hike or to find your way to the bathroom at night.
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel 90L
Everything you’re taking up the mountain will need to fit into a duffel bag. Eagle Creek’s Cargo Hauler Duffel is water-repellent, making it a great choice for keeping your stuff dry in case of rain. It also packs into its own end compartment, making it easy to stash in your suitcase for the trip home.
Radiant Micro Lantern
Once the sun sets on Kilimanjaro, there won’t be any sources of light other than the moon and the stars. Illuminate your tent with Nite Ize’s LED Micro Lantern, a tiny light that can run for up to 10 hours on a single charge. The attached clip makes it easy to hang the light from your tent, offering hands-free lighting to help you see.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Poncho
Sea to Summit’s Ultra-Sil Nano Poncho is big enough to cover both you and your backpack, but it only weighs 5.2 oz and packs down into a tiny stuff sack when you’re not using it. Featuring fully-taped seams, this poncho is seriously waterproof and perfect for unexpected downpours.
Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Rain Pants & Rain Jacket
Staying dry on Kilimanjaro is critical, as gear can take a really long time to dry out on the mountain once it gets wet. Dodge the raindrops in Helly Hansen’s Verglas rain pants and jacket set, which are available in men’s and women’s specific fits.
The Verglas line features exceptional waterproofing that still manages to be breathable—plus long zippers that allow you to quickly pull on the extra layers in the event of a sudden downpour.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultralight
You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for weight on the trail with Sea to Summit’s Aeros Pillow Ultralight. The tiny inflatable pillow lives up to its name, weighing just 2.1 oz. The pillow is contoured for extra comfort, and it inflates or deflates in seconds. It also features a genius “pillow lock system” that secures the pillow to your sleeping mat and prevents it from sliding around while you sleep.
Biolite Charge 40 PD
If you want to document your trip up Kilimanjaro, you’ll need to pack some extra power for your phone or camera. Biolite’s Charge 40 PD can charge smartphones 2.5 times off of one charge—and it only weighs around 0.5lbs. It also has three ports, so you can charge multiple devices at once.
Nomadix Bandana Towel
Although you won’t be able to take a shower on Kilimanjaro, you’ll be provided with some warm water to wash your hands and face. Pack Nomadix’s Bandana towel to dry off with after washing—it’s made from a quick-drying MicroSuede material that also offers sun protection and can be worn bandana-style when not in use.
Wide Mouth Nalgene Bottles
Water on Kilimanjaro must be purified in order to be safe to drink. Most tour companies will boil drinking water, so it’s important that you have a water bottle that can handle boiling water. Nalegen’s Sustain water bottles are BPA-free and can handle both warm and cold beverages. The wide-mouth design is also important, as it makes it easy for porters to refill your bottles.
Outdoor Research Wind Pro Hat
A good hat is essential for trapping in heat. Outdoor Resarch’s Wind Pro Hat has a hard-faced fleece exterior that is wind-resistant, and the inside is lined with a cozy Polartec fleece fabric. The hat is low-profile and easy to pack away in a jacket pocket when you don’t need it.
North Face ThermoBall Traction Booties
Nothing will feel better at the end of a long day of walking than slipping off your hiking boots. Pack a pair of camp shoes to change into, like the ThermoBall Traction Booties, to give your feet a break (and your boots a chance to air out). Choose a pair that slips on (for easy access when you need to get up in the middle of the night) and ones that are comfortable and warm.
What to Pack for Kilimanjaro: Toiletries and Miscellaneous Items
Although you’ll want to leave your typical toiletry bag with shampoo, conditioner, and makeup behind, there are still some toiletries and miscellaneous items that will come in handy on Kilimanjaro.
- Dry shampoo
- Travel size soap sheets
- Chapstick with SPF
- Baby wipes
- Toilet paper and small bags for “leave no trace” disposal
- Prescription Medications (ask your doctor about commonly recommended medications like Diamox and Cipro)
- OTC Medications including aspirin and Imodium
- First aid kit including blister bandaids
- Your favorite snacks
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