Kilimanjaro hiking Packing list
Sleeping Bag: Nights in Kilimanjaro are very cold and any investment in a quality sleeping bag is worth it. Given the altitude at which you will have to use the bag. The best design and shape to use is the mummy shape that fits the contours of the human body – and therefore provides better insulation.
Large duffle bag: This large duffle bag is used to carry your stuff, such as clothing, sleeping bag and other items you might have. This is usually carried by a porter – on their head, and therefore it is recommended that you keep it light as possible and not exceed 20 Kgs.Your duffle bag should be waterproof, have a strong zipper and have both a hand and a shoulder strap for ease of carrying.
Day bag (backpack): As you scale the Rwenzori, you will be carrying your day bag by yourself. In your day bag, you will be carrying important, personal and breakable items such as cameras. It is important to choose a lightweight backpack since any extra weight is a huge deal on the long hikes. Your bag should have a rain cover, a side mesh for your water bottle as well as compression straps to reduce the weight strain on your back.
T-shirts: T-shirts take close to nothing as far as space is concerned and easily dry off. This is why it is perfect to carry some T-shirts to use during the climb.
As you ascend higher, more fitting t-shirts will become a better option since they are good for your insulation in the cold mountain climate. While you might use cotton T-shirts at a lower altitude, cotton is bad material higher up because it soaks up water and doesn’t dry fast. Polyester T-shirts are favorable.
Trekking Pants: You will need to bring 1 or 2 pair of trekking trousers to use as you climb up the mountain. If you like wearing short, you could carry some zip-off trekking pants that you can easily convert into shorts.
While you could choose to wear your jeans, we advise you not to. This is because jeans can easily soak up a lot of water and take much longer to dry – which can become a burden when it rains as you trek.
Trekking Poles: Going up and down the Rwenzori ranges is a long and tiresome process and the hikes can take a toll on your major joints and ligaments. With daily climbs taking more than 5 hours, trekking poles will come in handy and help you at every turn.
According to the Journal of Sports medicine study in 1999, trekking poles reduce strain on your joints by around 25% – which is a nice thing. We recommend that you choose trekking poles that are lightweight, can be adjusted in height and have a good grip.
Several pairs of socks: To climb Rwenzori, you also need to pack sock – and lots of them. With the daily hikes taking an average of 6 hours, a change of sock will be welcome on each subsequent day. Warm but breathable socks are recommended. The other way you might need the extra socks is for the very cold nights farther up as you approach the summits. How many pairs you will need varies from person to person, but carrying enough pairs is always a good choice.
Poncho: A poncho provides the best rain cover for you and the day bag you are carrying. It works so well because it is very light, waterproof and can easily be folded away into a tiny package without needing to dry off.
A poncho doesn’t offer any insulation and you shouldn’t regard it as part of the layers meant to keep you warm through the hike.
Walking Boots: Since climbing Rwenzori is done on foot, it is best to invest in the most suitable pair of climbing shoes/boots, because those are your way of getting up there. You should choose shoes that are sturdy and very comfortable for you. Any little doubts about a pair of shoes will spoil your whole journey, especially when the shoes are either not tight enough or very tight.
Ankle Gaiters: Going through the muddy boys and crossing rivers and streams is all part of hiking the Rwenzori. You, therefore, will need a good pair of ankle gaiters to keep the mud and the water away from your shoes. Climbing with wet shoes is not something you would want to attempt.
Wide-brimmed Hat: A wide-brimmed hat will protect your face and neck from any possible sunburns. The hat also helps keep your head cool, when the sun becomes really hot. You should get a hat which is breathable because you will be sweating a lot.
Sunglasses: At the higher altitude, the UV density of the sun is high and you need protection for your eyes. Beyond protecting your eyes from the sun, the sunglasses also protect your eyes from the sharp reflections of light that occur as the sun hit the frozen ice in the higher mountains and glaciers.
Gloves: Insulated gloves or mittens and thermal inner gloves. Gloves are what will protect your hands and fingers from the very cold mountain weather. It is advisable that you carry two sets of gloves.
An outer pair/mittens that are both strong and waterproof enough to brave the elements. You should also have an inner pair of gloves that is thermal – and will keep your hands warm.
Cleaning Essentials: Remember to carry your Toothbrush and Toothpaste, Soap, deodorant. A huge packing list as this can make one forget the essential personal effects. Forgetting any of these means you might have to wait until the end of the climb to get replacements. All these items can be carried from your home (since they are small and light, or you can purchase them before starting the climb.
Travel Towel: A medium-sized trekking towel to dry your face and hands especially after it rains. A microfiber towel is recommended because of its ability to dry up very fast.
Wet Wipes: As you climb up the Rwenzori ranges, you will sweat a lot and a decent shower will be very much needed by day 2. The trouble is, you will not find the shower facilities that you will desperately need and this is where wet wipes will save the day.
Toilet Tissue: Though toilet tissue is supplied at the start of the hike, extra TP has never been a bad thing. It is better to have extra than run out when you are up in the snow. A single roll should be able to serve the purpose, but don’t limit yourself.
Lip Balm: As you go higher and higher on Mount Rwenzori, the coldness can quickly dehydrate you and cause chapped lips. Lip balm is going to help moisturize and relieve you of chapped or dry lips.
Insect Repellant: While you might already have your malaria preparation done and are not at the risk of catching it, we still recommend that you carry insect repellant that contains high percentages of DEET. This is because mosquito bites are not fun and do really hurt for some people. There are other insects as well and this insect repellant will keep them at bay. As you climb higher and the temperatures drop, the insects will become less and less, but the low ranges are very rich with insects.
Sunscreen: You will need to protect your skin from the Ultra Violet rays of the sun as you hike during the day. It is recommended that you carry sunscreen that is sweat resistant since the active hike will make you sweat.
Your Regular Medication: For the people who take regular medication, don’t forget to carry it – as it could be hard to get the same medicine once you have climbed up the mountain. It is assumed that you have discusses this with your doctor and you are following the right instructions.
Extra Medication: Beyond the regular medication, there is some medicine you should carry for nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that all result from your body adjusting to quickly changing altitude levels. You might also carry some pain killers to ease the fatigue you will get from hiking all day for so many days. While the guides do carry a first aid kit with most of these medications included, it is better to carry the drugs you have used before and reacted well with your body.
Blister Plasters / Adhesive Dressing: Trekking for so many hours each day will definitely lead to blisters and these should be properly treated with the right plasters – and bandage where needed. As you plaster the blisters, make sure that the area around the blister is dried off of any moisture. Do not use masking tape or any tape for that matter as they are not breathable and will worsen the blister.
Water Bottles: As you climb up the Rwenzori, you will become dehydrated very fast because of the intensity of the activity and you will need to drink water. Beyond quenching your thirst, you will need to drink 2 to 3 liters of water every day as a way of starving off the altitude sickness. You might choose to carry two 1-litre bottles as they will easily fit into your daypack.
High Energy Snacks: Energy giving snacks will give you that extra bit of power that you need to push harder when your body starts to tire. Hiking for several hours every day is not an easy thing to do and the climbers do need any energy they can get to complete the climb.
Headlamp: There is no electricity on Mount Rwenzori and a torch or headlamp will be your source of light for the nights. While you can carry a hand torch could be used, a headlamp is better recommended – because it leaves your hand free. This is especially important for the hikes to the summits that start in the middle of the night at around 2 am. To choose a headlamp, you should consider the light/brightness quality – that can go at least 70 meters, the headlamp’s battery life and how much it weighs. A fair balance of these three characteristics should give you a good headlamp.
Ice Axe: This is for climbing Mount Stanley and baker – on which a trail to the peaks goes through the snow. An ice axe is the perfect snow/ice hiking tool to help you both as you ascend and as you descend. Ice axes can be rented before the start of the hike, however avid mountain climbers carry theirs because they are used to them.
Neck warmer / Scarf: Another important item to carry is a neck warmer or a scarf for your neck. With the low temperatures and the high altitude breeze, a neck warmer will get plenty of use. Since a scarf might be able to serve as a neck warmer, you may carry that instead. If you can think of other ways to utilize a scarf, then it could be the better option.
Resealable plastic bag for dirty laundry: There is so much water on the mountain and ideally, you could wash some of your dirty clothes. The problem is, you are very tired and would rather store it all up for when you reach back down. A resealable plastic bag means that you will keep your dirty stuff out of contact with your other clean clothing.
If you can manage to wash from up the mountain amidst all the tiredness, all the power to you!
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