You should pack two sets of clothing: one for safari and one for the trek. Your safari duffel bag (soft kit bag) – if you are going on safari as well – has a size limitation.
Your climbing gear should go in a separate duffel bag, which has a size restriction of 40” x 18” x 18”, and a weight restriction of 15 kg (33 lbs). This weight restriction is STRICT! Please weigh your bag BEFORE leaving home, and make sure it is not over 33 lbs. If your bag exceeds this weight, we will be forced to separate the contents of your bag, hire an extra porter, a charge varying according to the length of the trip. We will weigh your bag at the briefing before the trek, so please make sure you comply with this weight limit (or pay extra for more weight).
It is important that you pack certain items for the trek in your carry-on bag, in case your check-in baggage is delayed. Bear in mind as you read the various packing lists that there are many items that can be rented in Tanzania as an alternative to bringing your own equipment. (See the section on rental equipment )
Important reminder: Your safari luggage should be left behind at your hotel in Arusha while you are trekking, and will be transferred to the hotel you visit after the climb. Likewise, your trekking gear can be left behind at the hotel when you are on safari.
Upon your arrival at the Kilimanjaro park gate, the porters will pack your entire trekking duffel bag into a heavy plastic duffel bag. If you cannot fit all your gear into one duffel bag, then take out your sleeping bag (and pad if necessary), and put these in plastic trash bags. The porters’ duffels are water resistant, but not waterproof. We recommend you pack all your gear into different sized plastic bags and stuff sacks to protect against possible rain.
Although porters will be carrying this duffel, you will need a day pack to hold the items you will need access to during the day; such as your rain shell, camera equipment, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, hat, gloves, rain gear, and your personal first-aid kit. Also use this daypack as your carry-on luggage while flying to Africa. For the international flight to Tanzania, make sure to pack your medications, a change of clothes and other irreplaceable items.
IMPORTANT: See the section on carry-on equiment, which is a detailed list of exactly what to pack in your daypack, for your flights into Tanzania. If your bags are delayed, the contents of your daypack will determine whether or not you can climb the mountain.
Your sleeping bag for the trip should be rated for 0 degrees F. (Inexpensive liners increase a bag’s rating by 10 or 15 degrees). During the winter months (June-September) you will experience slightly colder temperatures, and more nights sleeping in freezing temperatures. Keep your sleeping bag dry on the trek. Line its stuff sack with a plastic garbage bag, and brush frost off before it melts and soaks in. When possible, especially with a down-filled bag, lay the bag out in a dry spot in the sun to rid its insulation of the moisture your body releases overnight. At home, store your sleeping bag in a large cotton bag, to avoid long periods of compression resulting in crushed insulation.
While sleeping on the mountain, consider wearing a hat, warm socks, and long underwear to bed, (or more clothing, if required). Most importantly, stay hydrated and eat enough to keep warm through the night. When possible, lay out your bag at least an hour before bedtime to give it time to loft, and when possible try to air the sleeping bag in the sun while at camp.
Consider bringing a personal urinal system to use inside your tent during the night. In the morning, dress inside your bag and consider doing a few abdominal crunches to warm up before exiting your cocoon.
Remember the old trick of stuffing a tightly sealed bottle of hot water/tea in the foot of your bag at bedtime; it will keep your toes warm and provide needed hydration when you wake up during the night. Keep an energy bar handy for a midnight snack to fire your internal furnace if you wake up cold. Don’t resist the urge to urinate because you dread getting out of your bag…your body burns precious energy warming that fluid.
With night-time temperatures below freezing for most nights on your trek, you may need to ventilate the tent so the moisture you exhale overnight isn’t trapped inside. It may dampen your bag and clothes if the tent warms up from your body heat. Open vents or the tops of the door and window a crack. In severe cold, when condensation isn’t going to melt, trapping heat becomes the priority and you may need to close the tent up tight. Frost forms inside the best-ventilated tents. Avoid brushing your bag or clothing against frosted walls.
You’ll experience a wide range of climactic conditions on Kilimanjaro regardless of the time of year you are climbing. Temperatures on the mountain can well below freezing at night although it is often warm during the day. Dramatic changes in weather are common. Be prepared for rain, snow or a sudden hailstorm at any time of year but especially if you are climbing close to the rainy seasons. (Rainy seasons are April-May (long rains), and November (short rains)). Please also note that at most times during the year, the montane forest zone (from about 6,000 ft. (1,830 M) to about 10,000 ft. (3,050 M)) is wet, and very often muddy.
IMPORTANT: You will need to be prepared for wet/rainy/muddy conditions on the mountain (especially on the first and last day as you go through the forest zone). You’ll need to wear your gaiters, and pack a rain shell (top and bottom) and a waterproof cover for your day pack, inside your daypack. Also make sure your duffel bag and all items carried by the porters are thoroughly weatherproofed. Be prepared for mud!
Please prepare for rain, mud, and wet conditions regardless of what time of year you are climbing. Also prepare for dust during drier times. Keep a bandana in your daypack, which can be tied around the face if you trek into dusty areas.
Layering of several thin articles of clothing is the most flexible way to adjust to the weather as you trek to higher altitudes. It is critical that you are prepared for the worst possible weather. The temperatures are hard to predict any time of year, but regardless of whether it is June – August (the coldest time of year) or December -Februrary (the warmest), you’ll likely encounter sudden changes of weather conditions and temperatures, and you’ll need to be ready.
Be sure your rain gear is sized to fit over all your other layers. It is critical that you are prepared for the worst possible weather, and well-prepared for mud in the forest zone.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is essential to have a rain poncho with you at all times (pack in your daypack)
Note: An important consideration is that you must pack warm clothes for casual wear for the times you are in camp, not hiking. Bring shoes and clothes that will keep you warm when your body isn’t moving.