Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and does not require any technical climbing! All you need is walk slow but steady. For the summit to be reached, your body must sufficiently acclimatize itself. It is important to be physically, emotional and spiritual prepared for the Kilimanjaro Expedition. Another important part of the preparation is having the proper equipment before you depart to Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro Climb Gear List
Top quality mountaineering clothing and equipment is an investment that will see you through years of adventures. It is wise to choose carefully, and not to skimp on quality. The companies and products you see listed below can serve as starting points of reference for you. Take this list to your local outdoor specialty shop. Feel free to use this list as a reference as you prepare for your trip, but note that not all brands and models are current.
Running shoes or lightweight trail shoes: For travel and easy walking. Some days on the mountain you will hike in these shoes. It is important to be able to change footwear to aid in prevention of blisters and other foot discomforts.
Hiking boots: Leather with sturdy mid-sole and a Vibram sole. ½ or ¾ shank, boots should be warm and fit well over light and heavy sock combination. Combination fabric and leather trail shoes that come over the ankle for support might also be acceptable. Fit is much more important than brand. Take time to select a pair that fits, and break them in well.
Gaiters: For mud in the forest and screen on summit day. Short, simple gaiters are best, such as Outdoor Research’s Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters.
Sport sandals: Excellent in camp during evenings and on Safari, open toe model that can be worn with socks (Teva).
Camp booties: Down or synthetic, optional luxury, any brand with thick foam soles. Mountain Hardwear Chugach Booties are excellent.
Lightweight socks: Three pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Bridgedale, Patagonia, Smartwool). Heavy socks: Three pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Smartwool, Bridgedale).
It is very important that your clothing fits loosely and comfortably so you can layer your clothes appropriately. This is key for maintaining a comfortable body temperature.
Lightweight pants: One pair (any brand Supplex or “stretch woven” pant).
Hiking shorts – One pair (any brand of Supplex short). Will often be worn over lightweight long underwear bottoms.
Lightweight long underwear top: (Patagonia-Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op)
Mid-weight long underwear top: Zip T-neck design is good. Light colors are better for tops because they are cooler when hiking in direct sunlight and just as warm as dark colors when worn underneath other layers. ( Patagonia , North Face, Mountain Hardwear)
Lightweight long underwear bottom: Dark colors are preferable. (Patagonia-Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op)
Mid-weight underwear bottom: Dark colors are preferable because they do not show dirt. ( Patagonia, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op)
Briefs: Four pairs synthetic or cotton. Running shorts also work well for underwear.
Short-sleeved shirts: Two synthetic; most nylon running shirts or athletic shirts work well. Shirt material should have vapor wicking capabilities. (North Face, Patagonia-Capilene)
Fleece or synthetic jacket: Polartec 100 or 200 is good. An even better alternative is a synthetic fill jacket made of Primaloft or Polarguard (Wild Things, Patagonia)
Synthetic-fill pants: such as Mountain Hardwear Chugach 3D Pant. Full side zips are recommended. Fleece pants are an acceptable alternative, but they will be heavier, bulkier and not as versatile.
Down insulated jacket: Medium weight, hood is preferred, but not required. North Face Lhotse Jacket or Summit Jacket.
Waterproof breathable jacket & pants: Such as Gore-Tex. Jacket must have hood. It is recommended that pants have full-length side zips. These garments should be large to fit over your other layers.
Head & Hand Gear
Liner gloves: They should be lightweight and synthetic. (Patagonia Capilene)
Windstopper fleece gloves: (Any brand of Windstopper fleece)
Mittens w/ pile liners: (Outdoor Research)
Bandana: Two to three traditional cotton styles. This is an important item with many uses, large sizes are best.
Sun hat: Any lightweight hat with a good brim or visor.
Wool or fleece hat: Any brand of warm hat that can go over ears.
Balaclava: Should fit underneath your wool or fleece hat or be thick enough to be worn alone.
Sunglasses #1: For high altitude. One pair of high quality 100%UV and 100%IR with a minimum of 80% light reduction, side shields such as those found on “glacier glasses” are not recommended, but size and shape of lens should offer maximum protection from bright light on snow.
Sunglasses #2: One pair high quality 100%UV and 100%IR, for lower elevations, also as a backup. It is important to have a spare pair of sunglasses.
Headlamp w/ spare bulb: AA or AAA battery powered (Petzl or Black Diamond)
Spare Batteries: Bring plenty for reading in tents at night.
Backpack: 3000 cubic inches or more, internal frame. Top opening mountaineer’s rucksack style is best. Avoid large zipper openings and excessive outside pockets. Larger packs are better than smaller, because they are easier to pack with cold hands and they distribute loads more effectively.
Pack cover: A big enough size to fit over your backpack to protect from rain and dust.
Sleeping bag: Minus 10F to 0F Down 700 fill minimum (Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face).
Sleeping pad: Inflating, full-length (Thermo-a-rest).
Foam pad: (Ridgerest).
Water bottles: Two1-liter, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles).
Lightweight steel thermal bottle: One-liter size. Optional but very nice on the long summit day. Water in Nalgene bottles will freeze unless kept next to the body; it is easier to stay hydrated with warm drinks at 19,000 ft. (Zojirushi “Dura Bottle”, Nissan, Outdoor Research).
Pee bottle: Optional. One 1-quart, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles).
Pee funnel for women: Optional but highly recommended (Freshets).
Pack towel: Small or medium size pack towel. Do not bring ‘terrycloth’ they are too bulky and difficult to dry. Bandanas work in a pinch. (Pack owl)
Trekking poles: Useful for going up and down steep, muddy trails in the forest, and general trekking in the higher elevations. Adjustable poles are best so that you can strap them on your pack when not in use. Remove the ski baskets; you will use them for walking. (Leki 3-section, Black Diamond).
Swiss army knife: Remember not to leave in carry-on bags for any international or domestic flight. Scissors are probably the most useful features; you will seldom need the knife blade.
Medical & Personal
Sunscreen: SPF 30 or higher, non-oily (Dermatome or Terrapin)
Lip screen: SPF 30 or higher (any brand)
Toiletry kit: Toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, soap, comb/brush, shave kit, (bring travel size bottles to keep your kit small).
First-aid kit: Ibuprofen/Aspirin, assorted band-aids, moleskin, Neosporin-type suave, small gauze pad, roll of adhesive tape, tweezers, safety pins. Include any prescription travel meds that might be prescribed by your doctor (antibiotics, Diamox, sleep aids).
Large trash compactor bags: For waterproofing some items inside your duffel.
Zip-loc bags: These are always useful.
Earplugs: Very useful for sleeping in tents and lodges. Available in most hardware stores.
Water purification tablets: Such as Potable Aqua brand iodine tablets. You will be given plenty of purified water during your trek, but one bottle of backup purification tablets is always a good idea for your travels.
River Dry Bag: 1, 15-liter size. This will be the bag carried by porters on the mountain. (Cascades Design Boundary Bag, Cabela’s, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
Large expedition duffel bag: For flying to Africa with your dry bag and other belongings. Will be stored at your hotel in Arusha while you are on the Mountain and again while you are on safari. (Eagle Creek, Wild Things “Burro Bag” North Face Expedition Duffel, XL). Hockey bags also work.
Small travel bag: Important. Your duffel bag will stay in Arusha while you are on safari. You will take this small bag in the Land Cruiser for nights while you are away on safari. (Wild Things “Carry On”, North Face, Eagle Creek).
Nylon stuff sacks: Two or three, for organizing, light colors preferable for labeling.
Clothes for safari: Two or three changes depending on the length of safari. Comfortable travel clothes. Days are dusty, cool in the mornings, warm in the middle of the day. At the end of the day we return to our lodge where you will shower and change for a nice dinner.
Lightweight travel jacket: Simple wind-shirt or light fleece. Average evening temperatures in Arusha, Tanzania and Nairobi is in the 40’s F (5 – 8 C) in July and August. December and February are warmer, but evenings and mornings at higher altitudes on safari are always a little cool.
Work-out clothes and/or bathing suit: Simple and versatile, for hotels.
Binoculars: Optional. High-quality, 8×32 or 10×42. Great for safari
Camera, lenses, video camera: Bigger lenses and cameras for safari can be stored in Arusha if you prefer.
Film and/or memory cards for digital cameras: Bring plenty, as well as plenty of camera batteries. Film is expensive in East Africa, and memory cards are generally not available. Be sure to keep film in your carry-on luggage, in clear zip-loc bags so that it can be inspected.
It is very important that your body is properly prepared for the physical challenge of the Kilimanjaro. The better prepared you are, the better you plan to conquer the highest point of Africa. Good preparation will make a significant contribution to your own confidence and your mental strength.
Mt Kilimanjaro is an amazing experience and anyone is able to reach its summit (Uhuru peak). Think about this when you prepare yourself for the expedition. You will not be alone as WILD ROOT SAFARIS Kilimanjaro Team will make you feel welcome and will be there with you all the way. Always think positively and you WILL enjoy the climb! Remember to make it a journey and not a destination.
How will i get fit?
The type of condition is more important than the degree of fitness. Kilimanjaro is a walk and the interesting part of it is you take your time, no rush, so the best preparation you can have is to walk, preferably under simulated conditions. Although to some extent it helps to go running/jogging, your muscles are still not preparing for seven days of quiet but heavy walking. I suggest that you will regularly walk long distances. Ignore the elevator and take the stairs or even take your dog for a walk.
Go walk, for example, in addition to regular fitness to let your muscles develop more. And try to opt for regular walks with altitude, so you can practice walking up and down at different incline levels.
If you can walk 80 kilometres (50 miles) in one week, you have done the Kilimanjaro Machame Route. Train your body for extra resistance for your muscles, because on the mountain the inclination varies.
In a period of eight weeks, using the gym and the many hikes, you can become fit enough for Mt Kilimanjaro climb.
Before starting a physical training program, it’s always wise to get the approval of a doctor. Also knowing your health conditions from the doctor is a very essential key as you will be hiking at a high altitude and its very risky if by a mistake you didn’t consult a doctor and found out you have heart or lung problems and you need evacuation from kilimanjaro.
What to know about Altitude Sickness while climbing kilimanjaro
If you are planning to climb Kilimanjaro we highly recommend reading our altitude sickness (Acute mountain sickness) guide to be familiar what it is, its cause and prevention.
The definition of altitude Sickness (Acute mountain sickness)
Is an illness that ranges from a mild headache and weariness to a life-threatening build-up of fluid in the lungs or brain at high altitudes. Acute altitude sickness is the mildest and most common form. Because more people are traveling to areas of high elevation like climbing kilimanjaro.
High Altitude: 1500 – 3500 m (5000 – 11500 ft)
Very High Altitude: 3500 – 5500 m (11500 – 18000 ft)
Extreme Altitude: above 5500 m (18000 ft)
Altitude Sickness Causes
Altitude sickness symptoms occur when the rate of ascent into higher altitudes is too quickly that the body doesn’t get time to acclimatize. Altitude sickness generally develops at elevations higher than 8,000 feet (about 2,400 meters) above sea level and when the rate of ascent exceeds 1,000 feet (300 meters) per day.
The following actions can trigger altitude sickness:
Ascending too quickly (rapidly)
Overexertion within 24 hours of ascent
Inadequate fluid intake
Consumption of alcohol or other sedatives
One way to avoid altitude sickness is allowing the body to get used to the altitude slowly (Acclimatization)
Acclimatization is the process by which the body adjusts to high altitudes.
The goal of acclimatization is to increase ventilation (breathing) to compensate for lower oxygen content in the air.
To compensate for this extra ventilation, blood needs to have a lower ph. In response, the kidneys excrete bicarbonate into the urine, which in turn lowers the body’s pH to accommodate for this extra respiratory effort.
Altitude Sickness Symptoms
Acute altitude sickness may be associated with any combination of the following symptoms:
Shortness of breath during exertion
Swelling of extremities
People with acute altitude sickness often attribute their symptoms to other causes such as an uncomfortable bed, bad food, or a hangover. However, it is important to recognize that these symptoms may indicate a high-altitude illness which are High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and High altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) fluid buildup in the lungs, an advanced form of acute altitude sickness, causes the following progression of symptoms:
Shortness of breath at rest
Wet cough with frothy sputum
Onset of HAPE can be gradual or sudden. HAPE typically occurs after more than one day spent at high altitude.
High altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is fluid buildup in the brain. It can begin with confusion.
A person developing HACE begins having trouble keeping up with the group.
Next, walking and coordination become impaired.
As the brain continues to swell, lethargy and then coma will develop.
If left untreated, HACE will ultimately result in death.
Both HAPE and HACE are potentially fatal but are thankfully extremely rare during a well-planned Kilimanjaro climb.
Altitude Sickness Treatment
Delay further ascent until symptoms improve.
Rest and stay warm.
Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headache. (Ask your doctor for subscription)
Do not use sleeping pills or other central nervous system depressants to treat insomnia because they can suppress breathing.
If symptoms continue, do not travel any higher.
***In cases of HAPE or HACE, immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure (2,000 – 4,000 feet [610-1,220 meters]). Anyone suffering from HAPE or HACE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.
What is Acclimatization?
Acclimatization is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a gradual change in its environment.So, while your climbing kilimanjaro your body undergoes a process of trying to adapt the altitude transformation.
So, physiologically, what happens during acclimatization is, as you ascend higher into the atmosphere, there is less atmospheric pressure pushing all the air molecules together, so oxygen molecules become few and far between.
What to do to Acclimatize and prevent altitude sickness while climbing kilimanjaro
Walk Slowly (pole pole)
When you climb Kilimanjaro, you will hear the phrase ‘Pole, pole’. This means ‘slowly, slowly’ in Swahili. The best way for your body to adapt to altitude is to move really slowly. This allows the intelligent body to adapt to the effects of altitude on Kilimanjaro. The higher you climb the higher the altitude and the harder it takes your body to cope up with its environment.
Drinking allot helps and its renown to be one of the BEST method while dealing with acclimatization. We recommend at least drinking 4-5 Liters of water a day while climbing kilimanjaro. It is usually good to keep an eye on your urine; if it gets too dark, you need to drink more.
Climb high sleep low
Another practice is “Climb high; sleep low.” What this means is that you should do day hikes that gain significant altitude, s and then return to sleep and recuperate at lower altitudes.
Avoid tobacco and alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills. These depressants further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of the symptoms.
Eat nutritious rich food
Eat a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.
In case you notice altitude symptoms
If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don’t go higher until symptoms decrease. (infact, you should go to a lower elevation until you feel better)
Diamox (Acetazolamide) allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation. This is especially helpful at night when respiratory drive is decreased. Since it takes a while for Diamox to have an effect, it is advisable to start taking it at least 24 hours before you go to altitude and continue for at least five days at higher altitude. While taking Diamox Possible side effects may occur and they include tingling of the lips and finger tips, blurring of vision, and alteration of taste. The side effects subside when the drug is stopped.
WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND Contacting your physician for a prescription. Since Diamox is a sulfonamide drug, people who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not take Diamox. Diamox has also been known to cause severe allergic reactions to people with no previous history of Diamox or sulfa allergies.
Dexamethasone (a steroid) is a prescription drug that decreases brain and other swelling reversing the effects of AMS. Dosage is typically 4 mg twice a day for a few days starting with the ascent. This prevents most symptoms of altitude illness.
WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND Contacting physician for prescription because of possible serious side effects. It may be combined with Diamox. No other medications have been proven valuable for preventing AMS.