Do I Need Trekking Poles?

Trekking poles are an optional item when it comes to our gear list. However, trekking poles are very helpful when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. trekking poles

The purpose of using poles is two fold. One, your weight is distributed between four points of contact instead of two, easing the stress on your bones and joints  Two, your poles assist in balance, reducing the wear on your stabilizer muscles.  Studies show that the use of trekking poles can reduce the impact on your joints as much as 30%.  And anyone who has used poles knows you save a significant amount of energy as well.

Poles are most beneficial during uphill and downhill sections.  On the uphill, use your arm muscles to help you ascend.  On the downhill, use your poles to lessen the impact of each step. Most people are unfamiliar with using trekking poles unless they are backpackers who carry heavy loads.  But, it’s not difficult to learn how to use them, and it comes pretty quickly and naturally as your body figures out how to hike more efficiently.

Leki makes the best trekking poles.

Leki Thermolite Aergon Trekking Poles – Pair

Can You Recommend a Sleeping Bag for Climbing Kilimanjaro?

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice. However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.


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When it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro, one of the first questions people usually ask is,”how cold does it get?”

The highest camps that most sleep at are about 15,000 to 16,000 feet high, in the alpine desert zone.  Nightime temperatures here hover around freezing, but can easily be much colder than that, as Kilimanjaro’s weather is volatile and unpredictable.  So when choosing a sleeping bag, you want a warm, four season bag.

We recommend getting a bag with a temperature rating of 0F to -20F.  Some people tend to sleep “warm” or “cold” – meaning that some get hot at night while others, in the same conditions, get cold.  Someone who sleeps warm can use a bag with a higher temperature rating than someone who sleeps cold.  However, we recommend the warmer bags (-20F) because the temperature can always be regulated by wearing less clothing while inside the bag, unzipping the bag partially or all the way, using the bag as a sheet, or not using the mummy hood.

Sleeping bags are constructed of feathers (down bag) or foam (synthetic bag).  A down bag is lighter, has a warmer warmth to weight ratio, and is more compressible, while a synthetic bag is heavier and more voluminous.  Down’s warmth efficiency comes at a price premium to synthetics.

For a quality constructed, toasty down bag at a reasonable cost, we like the REI Kilo Expedition.  The REI Kilo Expedition -20 Sleeping Bag retails for $359 and can be purchased at REI.

REI Kilo Expedition -20 Sleeping Bag – Regular

Can You Recommend a Duffel Bag for Kilimanjaro?

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice. However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.


duffelbag
While climbers are responsible for carrying a daypack during their trek, our porters will carry their other belongings from campsite to campsite.

These belongings should be stored inside a duffel bag. You want to be sure to use plastic bags to separate and waterproof your gear.

It is not necessary to purchase an expensive duffel bag for this purpose.

The REI duffel bag is made of strong Cordura Plus nylon, and has 2,900 cubic inches of space (50L), a perfect size for climbing Kilimanjaro. The duffel bag retails for $29, and can be found at REI.

REI Duffel Bag – Medium

Water Bottles Versus Water Bladders

nalgene

Climbers often carry their water in two ways – using a water bottle, such as a Nalgene, or inside a water bladder, such as a CamelBak.

There are several benefits of using a water bladder.  1) high capacity: the bladders come in various sizes which allow you to carry a large supply of water. 2) hands-free operation: all you need to do is bite down on the valve.  3) encourages consistent hydration: there is no need to stop to drink, so using a bladder increases performance because climbers consume water by consistent sipping rather than gulping periodically.

CamelBak-Hydration-Bladder

There are drawbacks to using a bladder as well. 1) inconvenient to refill: refilling the bladder requires removal of your backpack and at least partially taking out the bladder. 2) durability: bladders can leak. 3) difficulty to monitor intake/supply: because the water is out of sight, it is hard to know how much water you have consumed and how much is left, 4) hard to clean: cleaning the bladder is cumbersome. If water is left inside, mold can develop. 5) taste: bladders can make water taste like plastic.

Nalgene Wide-Mouth Loop-Top Round Bottle – 32 fl. oz.

CamelBak Antidote Reservoir – 100 fl. oz.

Can You Recommend a Rain Jacket for Kilimanjaro?

Marmot Women's Precip Full Zip Jacket

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice. However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.


All Kilimanjaro routes pass through the rainforest. Being drenched can be a real damper on the mountain, so you need a rain jacket to keep you dry when the clouds roll in.  The Marmot PreCip jacket is a waterproof, windproof, yet breathable, lightweight jacket.  The jacket has a standard fit and can be worn over a baselayer or an insulating layer.

The PreCip features an adjustable hood that tucks into the collar, pit zips to allow body moisture to escape, side pockets and an elastic drawcord hem. The Marmot PreCip rain jacket retails for $99, and can be found at REI, along with the matching Marmot PreCip rain pants.

Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket – Men’s
Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket – Women’s
Marmot PreCip Full-Zip Rain Pants – Men’s
Marmot PreCip Full-Zip Rain Pants – Women’s

Can You Recommend a Backpack for Kilimanjaro?

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice. However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.


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On Kilimanjaro, you won’t need a huge backpack because our porters carry most of your gear from camp to camp. The only things you need to carry are those that you may need while on the trail. This includes extra layers of clothing, water, snacks, sunscreen, and other small items. A medium-sized pack, about 30L, is recommended.For backpacks, we like the Gregory Z 30. It is the perfect size, and sits very comfortably on your body, as all Gregory packs do. It has a mesh back panel to keep your back dry, several back and side pockets, compression straps, and is hydration bag compatible. The Gregory Z 30 Backpack retails for $139 and is available at Backcountry.

Gregory Z 30 Backpack – 1650-1920cu in

Can You Recommend Boots for Climbing Kilimanjaro?

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice.  However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.


asolo

Boots used on Mount Kilimanjaro should be warm, waterproof and comfortable. And for these characteristics, we find that the Asolo TPS 520 GTX Hiking Boot is a top performer. These heavy duty boots are high cut, constructed of full grain leather, and have a breathable Gore-Tex membrane.  Many rave about the comfort of these boots, right out of the box.  However, always break in your boots before using them for extended periods of time.

These boots retail for $230.  You can purchase them online at REI.

Asolo TPS 520 GTX Hiking Boots – Men’s


Asolo TPS 520 GTX Hiking Boots – Women’s

Can You Recommend a Mid-Layer for Climbing Kilimanjaro?

We often get asked for recommendations on gear items. There are a myriad of quality brands and products, so what you ultimately find visually appealing, functional and economical is a personal choice.  However, we would like to point out specific products that we find outstanding.

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When it comes to mid-layers, the top choice for extreme cold is a down jacket.  With a superb warmth to weight ratio, down is a great insulator that is also highly compressible.  We like the Sub Zero Down Jacket by Mountain Hardwear. Stuffed with 600-fill power goose down, the jacket is toasty warm and lightweight. A drawcord cinches the waist to trap in heat and fleece-lined pockets keep your hands warm.The Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Down Jacket retails for $170, and is available at US Outdoor.

Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Jacket

How Should I Pack the Day Pack?

On Kilimanjaro, most of your personal gear will be carried by hardworking porters.  As climbers begin their trek in the morning, the porters stay behind to break down the tents and clean the campsite.  Then, the porters proceed ahead of the climbers at a faster rate, beating the climbers to the next campsite to set up, prepare meals and boil water.  Therefore, climbers will often not see their porters again until they have reached their overnight destination and thus will not have access to the gear that the porters have transported until then.

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Climbers are expected to prepare their own day packs and to place all other items into a duffel bag for the porters.  As far as what goes into the day pack, it depends on what you may need during the day.  This typically includes rain gear, some extra layers of clothing in case the temperature drops, and clothing accessories.  Additionally, climbers should carry sunscreen, insect repellent (at lower altitudes), first aid kit, toilet paper, snacks and water.  The general rule is only carry what reasonably can be expected to be needed.  For instance, you do not need to carry fleece, insulated jackets, and gloves in the rainforest.  The sleeping bag and pad should not be carried, and probably would not fit, in your day pack.

To pack your day pack efficiently, you should use plastic bags or dry bags to separate items based on categories.  For example, small bottles such as prescriptions, sunscreen, lip balm and hand sanitizer should be secured in a zip-lock type bag.  Extra layers of clothing should also be put into larger bags.  Paperwork, such as your passport and insurance documents into another bag.  Heavier items should be placed close to the midpoint of your back to keep your center of gravity in-line with your spine.  Placing heavy items near the top, bottom, left, right or rear of your day pack will cause you to lean forward, back, or to the side.  If your day pack has compression straps, tighten them so that your items do not move around as you walk.  Lastly, be consistent as to where you store your items (main compartment, side pockets, pant pockets, etc.), so that you do not fumble for your items when needed.  A medium sized backpack, with the capacity of  about 1,800 cubic inches (30 liters), is appropriate.

Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack – Medium

Gregory Z30 Pack