This post details all the gear that Alexa and I packed for climbing Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route. It should give you a good idea of what to pack but may include things you don’t need or may be missing things you want. See the post describing our climb of the Lemosho route here.
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Sleeping bag & liner – I used a Mountain Hardware Lamina 0°F sleeping bag and the Sea to Summit Thermolite sleeping bag liner. I didn’t really need the liner, but it was nice to have for the highest camp at Barafu. Alexa used two 20 degree sleeping bags since we already had them and the two bags together were warmer than a single zero degree bag. The bags were the men’s and women’s versions of the Sierra Designs Nitro 20 degree bags. The Nitro bags are very light, very warm, and use hydrophobic down so they will still work even in wet conditions.
Sierra Designs Nitro 20°F Sleeping Bag – Amazon.com
Mountain Hardware Lamina 0°F Sleeping Bag – Amazon.com
Sea to Summit Thermolite Sleeping Bag Liner – Amazon.com
Trekking poles – Very nice to have for the endless downhill stairs and rocks on the descent from the summit on Mweka trail. I also used mine on summit day to help with the up. Alexa used the Black Diamond Trail women’s poles and I used an old version of the Black Diamond Trail men’s poles.
Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
Headlamp w/ extra batteries – Alexa used the Black Diamond Spot headlamp and I used an old version of the same thing.
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp – Amazon.com
Day pack – I used the Marmot Graviton 34 and Alexa used the Osprey Skimmer 30. Here is a link to the Osprey Skimmer 28, which is the new version of her pack. I love how lightweight and comfortable the Marmot pack is and Alexa loves the lifetime warranty that Osprey provides for their packs.
Marmot Graviton 34 Day Pack – Amazon.com
Osprey Skimmer 28 Day Pack – Amazon.com
Sunglasses – Make sure you have a pair that are polarized with good coverage and UV protection. The high elevation sun can be intense. We brought glacier glasses as well. Alexa used hers on summit day because she has sensitive eyes, but I never used mine. I found that the Pepper’s brand sunglasses are a good balance of quality and price. They carry them at REI if you want to try them on.
Peppers Cutthroat Polarized Sport Sunglasses – Amazon.com
Backpack rain cover – It rained a lot on us and having pack covers was essential. Just make sure your cover fits and that you try it out before relying on it. We used the REI Duck’s Back 40L Rain Covers but they’re discontinued now. Another cheaper option is to line your pack with a tough contractors garbage bag. This can actually offer better protection for your gear, but the pack itself will still get soaked and heavy from rain.
Water bottle – Nalgene wide mouth water bottles were nice to have for drinking in the tent and so the guides could give us hot water bottles at night. Alexa and I each brought one. It also gives you something to drink out of if your hydration bladder has issues (leaks, frozen tubes, etc).
Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottle 32oz – Amazon.com
Hydration bladder – Alexa and I both use the Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoirs. We prefer them over CamelBak brand ones. There is a new version of the Platypus bladder that looks great (the Evo) but we haven’t tried them yet.
Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir 3L – Amazon.com
Platypus Big Zip Evo Water Reservoir 3L – Amazon.com
Pack towel – We got hot water to wash our hands with before every meal. One pack towel for each person (or each tent if you share) is very nice for drying off after.
Pee bottle – If you’re like me and you have to pee in the middle of the night and hate getting out of the tent, this is very nice to have. The Wide Mouth Nalgene Cantene worked great for this purpose. It packs down small, it’s light, and it holds enough to last for the night.
Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene – Amazon.com
Dry bag – It’s a good idea to have at least one dry bag per person (or less if you share) in case of rain. We got a lot of rain so it was important to have a place to put phones and cameras so they would be protected. We used one Osprey UltraLight 3 dry sack for the two of us.
Osprey UltraLight 3L Dry Sack – Amazon.com
Rain jacket – Definitely bring a rain jacket and rain pants or maybe just a big poncho like our guide had. I hope you will have beautiful weather and no rain, but if your trip is anything like ours, you will need some rain protection. In my experience, no rain gear is truly breathable and it all wears out faster than other gear. Because of this I wouldn’t recommend spending a fortune on rain gear. Alexa used the North Face Women’s Venture 2 and I used a basic lightweight rain jacket from REI.
North Face Women’s Venture 2 Rain Jacket – Amazon.com
Rain Pants – We prefer full-zip rain pants since they’re easier to put on and take off, especially if wearing crampons. I wore the Outdoor Research Rampart Pants.
Outdoor Research Rampart Rain Pants – Amazon.com
Insulated jacket – We brought medium weight puffy jackets filled with hydrophobic down. They were useful on the summit and in the mornings. The jackets we used are not currently available models previously made by Sierra Designs.
Fleece or softshell jacket – We love our Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodies. The are super comfy, warm, and lightweight. I’ve always been amazed at how warm they are considering how little they weigh.
Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody Jacket – Amazon.com
2 long sleeve shirts – Light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
2 short sleeve shirts – Light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
2 hiking pants
Fleece/insulated pants – I didn’t have fleece pants so I bought some nice Eddie Bauer Lined Pants that were super comfy and warm. I slept in them and use them for summit day. Alexa had some basic fleece pants plus the Eddie Bauer lined pants. She used them more than I did.
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Lined Pants – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
Long underwear – I wore medium weight merino wool long underwear at night and on summit day. I tried both the SmartWool and knock-off MERIWOOL ones and found that the MERIWOOL were good enough and half the price so I used those.
MERIWOOL Merino Wool 250g/m² Thermal Pants – Amazon.com
5 underwear – moisture-wicking fabric
2 sports bras
Sun hat – In addition to keeping the sun and rain off your face, a hat will also protect your scalp from getting sunburn if you’ve got thinning hair like me. The high elevation means intense solar radiation so sun protection is important. I love my Outdoor Research Swift Cap. It’s light, comfortable, and quick drying. Alexa brought the REI Women’s Sahara hat but used her warm hat more.
Outdoor Research Swift Cap Sun Hat – Amazon.com
REI Sahara Hat Women’s Sun Hat – REI
Warm hat – We both brought fleece hats to keep our heads warm and cozy. The fleece was also nice because it dried out quickly if it got wet. We each brought an REI fleece beanie.
REI Polartec Fleece Beanie – REI
Balaclava, scarf, or buff – I brought a buff and Alexa brought a balaclava. Nice for summit day with cold temps and blowing snow. I don’t think we used them otherwise.
Buff Original Neck Gaiter – Amazon.com
Seirus Innovation Neofleece Comfort Masque – Amazon.com
Liner gloves – Alexa and I like the Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Ultra Touch gloves. They are slightly water resistant, very dexterous, and light enough to hike in without overheating. We both brought them on Kilimanjaro.
Manzella Men’s Silkweight Windstopper Ultra Touch Gloves – Amazon.com
Warm gloves/mittens – Alexa wore Mountain Hardwear Compressor mittens on summit day and they worked well for her. I wore the Outdoor Research Alti gloves and I wouldn’t recommend them. They were too fat and stiff to do much of anything with my hands, but not nearly as warm as mittens. Mittens are the way to go in my opinion.
Mountain Hardwear Compressor GORE-TEX Mittens – REI
Hiking boots – Alexa and I both love our KEEN hiking boots. They are lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof. They also fit wide feet and come in wide sizes, which I need. Alexa wears the Targhee II women’s boot and I wear the Durand II men’s boots. The Durand boots are a stiffer than the Targhee and provide more support, but are less comfortable. Both break in nicely and get more comfortable as you wear them. There are new versions of the Targhee II, the Targhee III. The Targhee III is a more stable and water resistant upgrade to the Targhee II according to KEEN.
KEEN Targhee II Waterproof Hiking Boots – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
KEEN Durand II Waterproof Hiking Boots – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Hiking Boots – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
Camp shoes – We brought $3 imitation Crocs from Daiso, but most of the campsites were so muddy from the rain that we just kept our boots on most of the time. If you have better luck with the weather, camp shoes might be a nice luxury.
5 pairs synthetic socks – Wool socks work as well. Merino wool is more comfy and warm than synthetic but it dries slower so I prefer synthetic.
Gaiters – We brought them but only used them on the way down from the summit back to Barafu. The main reason we used them was to keep the fine scree from getting in our boots as we plunged down the trail. We already had them from mountaineering & snow shoeing. I brought the Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters and Alexa had the lighter and less beefy Verglas gaiters.
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
Outdoor Research Verglas Gaiters – Amazon.com Men’s Women’s
Trail Crampons – Extra traction for icy conditions isn’t always required on Kilimanjaro, but sometimes it is. On our trip we brought MICROspikes, which we love, but didn’t need them. Check with your guide company before you go to see if they’ll be necessary. You probably don’t need anything more serious than MICROspikes, but it’s possible very icy conditions or a steeper route like Western Breach would require real mountaineering crampons.
Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System – Amazon.com
Toiletries – Toothbrush and toothpaste
Prescription Medication – Diamox, anti-diarrhea, and malaria medications as desired and as prescribed. Diamox is apparently inexpensive and readily available in Moshi, but we brought ours.
Important note on Diamox: Our guides told us that based on their experience, the standard dosage of 500mg twice a day is too much. At that dosage, the benefits are outweighed by the side effects of the medication. They recommended 250mg twice per day. We were able to beak our 500mg tablets in half to take this dosage and we didn’t have any elevation sickness symptoms besides occasional headaches.
Sunscreen – Alexa’s favorite sunscreen is currently Badger Tinted Mineral Sunscreen. It effective, has a lower environmental impact when washed off, and doesn’t turn her quite as ghost white as other mineral sunscreens when applied. With that said, that’s not what we brought up Kili. We brought a couple 10.4 fl oz bottles of Target Up & Up brand SPF 50 sunscreen. They were inexpensive, worked well, and didn’t contain two of the chemicals shown to do damage to coral reefs.
Badger SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Cream – Amazon.com
Comb – 8 days on the mountain without a comb and Alexa’s hair would have been a crazy tangle. A simple plastic comb was enough to keep it in check.
Lip balm – With UV protection. I have SPF45 lip balm for high elevation and snow adventures where I might get a lot of sun exposure.
Banana Boat SPF45 Lip Protection Sunscreen – Amazon.com
Insect repellent – In a non-pressurized container. We only used it once I think. It’s only necessary for lower elevations. Above a certain point there aren’t any mosquitos.
First aid kit – I like the NOLS Med Kit 1.0. I bring it on all my adventures, although it generally just sits at the bottom of the pack and gets beat up. NOLS teaches wilderness medicine so they have a good idea of what’s useful and what’s not to have in a first aid kit. They also have bigger 2.0 and 3.0 med kits. I add an irrigation syringe and a CPR face shield to the kit and I’m good to go. Alexa carries the Adventure Medical Kits Day Tripper Lite kit.
NOLS Med Kit 1.0 – store.nols.edu
NOLS Irrigation Syringe – store.nols.edu
Ever Ready CPR Face Shields – Amazon.com
Adventure Medical Kits Day Tripper Lite – Amazon.com
Hand sanitizer – For keeping sanitary after doing business and any other time.
Toilet paper roll – The toilet tent was stocked with TP but it’s a good idea to bring an extra roll in case.
Wet wipes – Helpful for keeping yourself clean. We brought one package of flushable baby wipes.
Snacks – Bars, shot blocks, GUs, vegan jerkey, candy, etc. These items aren’t readily available near Kilimanjaro so it’s best to bring what you might want. A couple items for each day is probably enough. We were stuffed after every meal and therefore didn’t need to snack very much. It was helpful to have a few easy to eat snacks for summit day where we wanted to keep moving as much as possible and our bodies were all out-of-sorts from hiking in the middle of the night. My favorite snacks for times like these are Clif Bloks/GU Chews, but GU gels, bars, and M&Ms are also great.
Electrolytes – Alexa brought some Sprouts brand Fizzy Vitamin C / electrolyte packets. They were nice to drink occasionally.
Sprouts Fizzy Vitamin C Packets – Sprouts.com
Phone – Alexa left her phone locked at Gladys. I brought my phone and used it to look at the topo map occasionally but I didn’t really need it. I read that cell phone service is available on occasion if you have the right network/plan, but I didn’t so I never used it. Our camp waiter woke us up each morning so we never needed our phones for an alarm.
Camera – Many people will be satisfied with their cell phone cameras. I like using an actual camera. These days I would probably bring a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with a big lens, but for this trip I brought a high quality pocketable camera, the Panasonic Lumix ZS100. It has a 1″ sensor and 10x optical zoom. Overall it took nice pictures but I wasn’t seriously impressed with the image quality compared to a smaller camera with a smaller sensor.
I’ve hear nothing but good things about the Sony RX100 so if you’re looking for a camera for better-than-cell-phone pictures without jumping to a large interchangeable lens camera like a DSLR, I would recommend that one even though I haven’t used it personally. It is pretty pricey unfortunately.
Also remember to bring extra batteries or a way to charge the camera and maybe an extra memory card.
Panasonic Lumix ZS100 Digital Camera – Amazon.com
Sony RX100 Premium Compact Camera – Amazon.com
Book/Kindle – The actual hiking didn’t take that long each day (except summit day of course). Because of this, we had a lot of down time at camp. Alexa brought a book (which she quickly finished) and I brought a Kindle (which she stole after she finished her book haha). The kindle was a great camp companion that helped me relax when it was raining out or when I was too tired to be out exploring. The new kindle Paperwhite is waterproof, which would be nice to have for a trek like Kilimanjaro. Also, I wouldn’t worry about the special offers. In my experience with older kindles, I’ve never really noticed the offers and they’ve never interrupted my reading.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite – Amazon.com
Power Bank – I brought a small 10,000mAh portable battery pack to recharge my camera battery, cell phone, and kindle batteries. I think I only had to charge my camera and kindle once and that was it. I also recharged our guide’s headlamp a couple times and the battery pack barely discharged.
Aigo 10,000mAh Portable Power Bank – Amazon.com
Ear plugs – Simple insurance in case your camp mates are loud or it’s really windy. We didn’t need ours but we always bring them camping/backpacking just in case.
Locator beacon – I believe our guides had a radio or SatPhone that they could use to call for help, so a locator beacon was not very important to have on this trip. I brought it anyway just in case. I use one that doesn’t require a subscription but also doesn’t allow non-emergency messaging.
Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon – Amazon.com
Documents and Such
Passport – We locked these up at Gladys Adventure before heading up the mountain
Visa – You can apply for your visa online ahead of your trip to save yourself some time when you arrive. Print out the paper and bring it with you on the flight in case the immigration officer needs it. No reason to bring it on the mountain.
Money – On the climb you should only need to bring a few small bills for a boot wash (recommended) and however much cash you want for souvenirs when you get to the bottom. You might be able to pay for souvenirs with a credit/debit card so maybe bring one card. Before you start your climb get enough cash out for tipping, but you don’t need to bring your tip cash on the mountain (at least we didn’t need to).
Insurance Documents – Any documents required for your travel insurance, health insurance, or rescue insurance. We joined the American Alpine Club for their rescue benefits before the trip. It might not be the absolute cheapest rescue insurance you can get, but the club offers lots of other benefits including gear discounts. The gear discounts can easily pay for the membership depending on what you buy. The club also has lots of good advocacy, restoration, and education programs that make them worth supporting.