Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro clothing advice:Packing list

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Trekking up Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is no simple feat! It’s pretty doable for most people, but even the most athletic climber needs to be well prepared.

Besides the training, the planning, and the traveling, you need to be sure that you have the necessary gear to make the trip up the mountain to the Roof of Africa. Make certain you pack all the clothing and accessories you need!

You’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, so be sure to have the best Kilimanjaro experience possible by gearing up with high-quality items to ensure a smooth and safe trip.

Here is what you should be bringing with you to your Mount Kilimanjaro adventure.

Mount Kilimanjaro Gear: Feet

Looking for info on hiking shoes and socks? Everything covered in this post.

Mount Kilimanjaro Clothing: Bottom Half

  • Shorts

The bottom part of the climb is in the lowland bush of the Great Rift Valley, which is near the equator and very hot. You’ll want a good pair of shorts (or two!) for the first bit of the climb as well as for hanging out in the surrounding villages before and after your trek.

Columbia Men’s Barracuda Killer Shorts

These shorts are cool and comfortable, and they also keep you from getting weathered by the elements. This is good news, since you will be on the equator! These shorts have UPF 15 sun protection, and they are also quick-dry for rainy days.

Helikon-Tex Urban Line Tactical Shorts

These military-type shorts are also perfect for hiking! They have eight pockets designed for various uses, so you can fit a lot in them.

In addition to being perfect for carrying a lot of stuff, these shorts are also comfortable and breathable, so you won’t get too hot.

Verdict:

The Helikon-Tex shorts are my top pick. I love pockets, and it is ideal to throw shillings, snacks, and whatever else is on hand into them! You can store your hiking essentials in the pockets to avoid having to unload your backpack when you need something.

  • Trekking Trousers

Your trekking trousers need to be warm. Jeans won’t cut it, and cotton isn’t going to have enough insulation. Stick with something fleece-lined, which will help keep you warm and comfortable as you head up through the rainforest and cold areas of the mountain.

Craghoppers Convertible Trousers

Craghoppers convertible trousers are highly recommended. Not only do they look nice, but more importantly, they are comfortable and water repellant. They also block harmful UV rays.

If you get too hot while wearing these, you can just zip off the bottom portion, and you’ll be wearing shorts!

Fjallraven Men’s Vidda Pro Pant

These trousers may not look as snazzy as the Craghoppers, but they are high-quality and will keep you warm and dry during your trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Verdict

The Craghoppers are your best bet for long hiking trips. When you’re traveling quickly through elevation, it’s a good idea to keep multipurpose pants around. I love how these can switch from trousers to pants as the day heats up! The waterproof and UV-blocking technology is also awesome. While the Fjallraven pants are also good, they can’t beat the Craghopper trousers.

  • Waterproof Trousers

If the rainforest of Africa’s mountains is anything, it’s wet. There’s nothing worse than trying sleep in damp pants! Keep away the moisture with a pair of waterproof trousers. Pick something light that you can wear over your trekking pants.

Salomon Wayfarer Pant

Try the Salomon Wayfarer Pant. They aren’t particularly fashionable, but then the mountain trails aren’t exactly a runway. They do keep off the wind and the rain, and they are comfortable, which is what counts.

Yoyo Softshell Pants

These pants are designed for hardcore hiking. They are waterproof, windproof, and lined with fleece for warmth. They also protect you from UV rays.

These pants are incredible light, so you won’t be weighed down! The material is soft and breathable, so you’ll feel like you’re in your comfy clothes and not heavy-duty hiking pants.

Verdict

The Salomon pants are nice and would do the job, but I would go with the Yoyo Softshell pants every time. The fleece lining will do the best job of keeping out the elements, and it will be much more comfortable than nylon. Besides, it has more pockets, and one can always use more pockets, right?

  • Thermal Underwear

Did we mention that Kilimanjaro gets cold? Freezing your buns off for days during the last part of the ascent is not fun, so be sure to pack your thermal underwear. You should get something synthetic, and you’ll need one pair of pants and two shirts.

Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layers

A good product is Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layers.

This is a synthetic base that is engineered for optimal temperature control and prevention of chafing.

Tesla Thermal Wintergear

Another alternative is Tesla Thermal Wintergear. You’ll have your choice of colors and styles, plus high-quality material that keeps you at a comfortable temperature.

Verdict

I prefer the Patagonia base layer over the Tesla. For normal, every-day use, I would actually select the Tesla. It’s stretchier, and it comes in more colors. As far as fashion statements go, this is the winner.

However, style is not a determining factor when it comes to trekking up mountains! For a hike up Kilimanjaro, I would pick the Patagonia. It has better temperature control and is designed to top chafing—which is critically important.

Mount Kilimanjaro Clothing: Top Half

  • T-Shirts/Shirts

This is pretty much a no-brainer. You are going to need to wear some shirts during your Kili trip. The challenge comes with choosing which shirt. You want shirts that are comfortable for constant movement, for one thing.

You also need to pack some shirts that will keep you cool in low elevation, and some that will keep you warm in high elevations. Don’t go for cotton; you’ll need something synthetic that can wick away sweat and moisture.

Icebreaker

Check out Icebreaker’s shirts. They have everything you could want in a trekking shirt, plus more; they are lightweight and have a good fit for most people.

One of their less techie, but certainly necessary, qualities is their ability to avoid stinking for up to two weeks. So you won’t suffocate in your own BO as you climb up Kilimanjaro.

Minus33

Another great option is the Minus33 Merino Wool shirts. These are pretty pricey, but they are also extremely comfortable and will keep you warm all the way up the mountains.

Verdict

The Minus33 shirts are pretty awesome, and they are very warm. However, they are also extremely expensive! Maybe it’s worth it, but it can’t compete with the Icebreaker shirts. These are lighter and they don’t hold smell, which is something that will be very important after a whole day of walking up a mountain.

  • Fleeces

Do not skip this one under any circumstances! Because of the change of temperature during your ascent, you’ll need one light fleece and two heavy fleeces. You’ll want to layer these as you go up and peel off the layers as you come back down.

Before you pack them, put them all on (I know, you’ll be dying of heat) and make sure they fit over each other. Good fleeces are available from North Face.

North Face 200 Shadow Full Zip Jacket

The 200 Shadow Full Zip Jacket is a great product. It features a zipper, which makes getting the fleece on and off easier. It’s warm and very breathable.

Patagonia R1 Fleece Hoody

This jacket is made with Polartec Power Grid fleece fabric. It’s ideal for cold conditions, and it includes a hoody to keep your ears warm. The chest pocket is good for storing small items.

Verdict

The winner for this comparison is the North Face 200 Shadow! I like this one better than the Patagonia R1 Fleece Hoody because of several reasons. First, it zips all the way. This is important when you’re shedding a lot of layers because you won’t risk taking other things off with it. It also has better pockets.

While the Patagonia has two open pockets and a zippered chest pocket, the North Face jacket has two large, zippered pockets. Although it doesn’t have as many color options as the Patagonia, it’s still a better choice.

  • Shell Jacket

The more layers, the better, right? You will need this as your outer layer on the mountain, especially in harsh weather.

North Face Resolve Jacket

North Face also makes excellent core/shell jackets. The Resolve Jacket comes highly recommended for its warmth and comfort. It’s durable, and it comes with a removable hood and that can be comfortable stowed when not in use.

Plus, it’s waterproof. It’s also very reasonably priced, which is nice for budget trekkers.

Wantdo Mountain Waterproof Fleece Ski Jacket

This jacket is built for cold conditions, and it has everything you need to keep warm and dry! The material of the jacket is both wind and waterproof, and the closure includes snaps, a zipper, and a weatherproof flap. Plus, it also includes a hood.

Verdict:

These jackets are both pretty awesome. I had a hard time deciding which one was best, but when I looked at the options, I had to go with the Wantdo jacket. The extra pockets and diverse color choice swayed my decision, but I especially liked the zipper-snap combo on the closure and the attached hood.

  • Waterproof Jacket

Remember that rain and snow we talked about? A waterproof jacket will keep you from being totally miserable during the really cold, wet parts.

Gore-Tex

Gore-Tex makes the best jackets for Kilimanjaro climbs. Gore-Tex uses an ingenious technology that can be used for a variety of uses from heart patches to shoes.

You want this technology in your jacket for your big Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Check out the Roc Hard Jacket, a great outer layer for hardcore mountaineering. It’s designed for the harshest of weather conditions.

Another good option is the Stormfront Gore-Tex jacket. This is similar to the Roc Hard jacket in some ways, but it has different pockets and design.

Verdict

I would definitely go with the Roc Hard jacket. While both the Roc Hard and the Stormfront are made by Gore-Tex and use the high quality Gore-Tex technology, the Roc Hard is more durable and fit for long trekking trips. While the Stormfront is designed for hunting trips, the Roc Hard is designed for harsh weather conditions.

  • Rain Poncho

You don’t have to take a rain poncho, but they sure are nice in the rain forest portion of the climb. Especially if you are female and have hair that is unmanageable and uncomfortable when it gets wet.

US Waterproof Ripstop Hooded Nylon Festival Poncho

One of the best rain ponchos out there was designed for the United States Army.

It is made of ripstop fabric that was engineered for the U.S. military, and it’s completely waterproof. You can convert it to make it have sleeves, or it can even be used as a sleeping bag cover.

Waterproof Rain Gear by AllWeatherWare

If you don’t want to go quite as hardcore, you can use this AllWeatherWear rain poncho. It works well to keep off the rain, and it is breathable.

Verdict

The US Waterproof Ripstop Hooded Nylon Festival Poncho is by far the better choice between the two ponchos. You can get away with taking the AllWeatherCare poncho, especially if you’re hiking Kilimanjaro in the dry season, but it’s not nearly as high quality as the military quality poncho.

The US poncho is a lot more expensive, but it is created for harsh conditions and tough climbs. You can be sure it will last for a long time.

  • Gloves

Don’t let your fingers freeze! Fleece-lined gloves are the best, and it’s even better if you layer some mittens over them. You’ll also want to pack a thinner pair in addition to you super-warm ones.

Black Diamond Gloves

For a good waterproof pair, try the Midweight Waterproof Gloves from Black Diamond.

They’re totally waterproof, and they’re specially lined for very cold temperatures.  They also feature neoprene cuffs, which seal out the cold weather and seal in the warmth.

Dakine Gloves

A cheaper yet still effective alternative are the Dakine Scout gloves. These are waterproof, weatherproof, and very warm. They don’t have a real fleece lining, but they do have a polyurethane lining.

Verdict

I would buy the Black Diamond gloves over the Dakine gloves. Remember, Kilimanjaro gets very cold toward the top! Nice features like the neoprene cuff, the hardshell fabric, and the fleece make this techie glove better than the rest. It’s ideal for being in the cold for a long time. You won’t have to worry about cold fingers when you wear this!

  • Sunhat

It’s hard to imagine getting sunburned in the freezing cold and the rainforest, but remember, you’re pretty much on the equator. With the location comes intensified sun rays and higher risk of sunburn. Be sure to get a sunhat that covers your face and neck well so you’re not dealing with a miserable sunburn during your trek.

Sunny Afternoons Adventure Hat

One of the highest recommended sunhats is the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat from the Sunday Afternoons company.

It’s not super stylish, but it is effective at its purpose, which is to keep the sun off your face. The hat has a wide brim to keep your face shaded, and the back has a long flap to protect your neck. It’s also very breathable and comfortable. It’s priced well, and is more than worth the money it costs.

Tilley Airflo Hat

This hat doesn’t have the same level of coverage as the Sunny Afternoons hat, but it does boast a wide brim and durable construction. It is water repellent and wicks moisture away, so you can be comfortable no matter the conditions.

Verdict

As far as looks go, I would much rather get caught in a photograph with the Tilley Airflo hat. However, the awkward-looking flap on the back of the Sunny Afternoons Adventure Hat is exactly what makes it a preferable choice. In addition to the superior coverage, this hat also costs less than the Tilley hat, which is another reason I’d choose the Sunny Afternoons option.

  • Sunglasses

Ultraviolet eye protection is a must. You’re going to be outside pretty much 24 hours a day, and the snow at the top only intensifies the rays. You may want to pack an extra pair, just in case your first pair decides to stay behind in basecamp or take a dive off the side of the mountain.

Smith Pivlock Arena Max Sunglasses

One of the best models is the Smith Pivlock Arena Max Sunglasses. It offers maximum protection from brow to cheek, so no slivers of UV light penetrating your eyes through cracks! It wraps around the side of your head, too, giving you the peripheral vision you need for your trip up Mount Kilimanjaro.

The glasses come with three different lenses that you can switch out, depending on the natural lighting. You’ll get a dark lens, a light lens, and a rose lens. They are fairly easy to switch out, too.

Most lenses are water repellent and keep themselves free of annoying dust and dirt so you can see clearly. That is a huge plus when you’re wearing bulky gloves—you won’t have to take them off to clean them as often.

Oakley Jawbreaker

The brand name says it all. Oakley sunglasses are known for being high-quality—and high-priced. If you can front the cash for this expensive yet excellent pair of glasses, you’ll love wearing oversized lenses and frames that don’t slip.

Verdict

Although the Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses boast a better name, they also boast a high price. Even with the higher costs, they can’t beat the Smith Pivlock Area Max sunglasses. The Smith Pivlock sunglasses offer better peripheral vision.

They also come with a variety of lenses, and the Oakleys only come with one per frame. The Smith Pivlock’s best feature is the water repellent lenses that keep clean in grimy situations. This will make your trip less of a hassle, which makes them more than worth it.

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By Breana Johnson