By Jim Ronning, Embark Trip Leader
Hello, Travelers! We are back with our series of informational messages to help you prepare as you draw closer to your date of departure.
Other topics include:
This post concerns the matter of equipment — plus its close cousin, packing it all — while staying within various applicable weight restrictions.
On the Plane
Ideally, you will each depart your home city with all your gear packed into a single, large-size, water-proof duffel bag. North Face makes a good one, and they are readily available at REI. You will also have a small backpack as carry-on luggage, to be used for over-night necessities during travel lay-overs, as well as your day-pack during the trek.
For international flights, you will be allowed one checked bag, of 50 pounds or less. Additional bags, or bags that are over 50 lbs. in weight, may result in additional baggage fees. For internal flights (such as to Zanzibar), a one bag, 20 kilogram/44 lbs. limit will apply, with an additional 5kg/11lbs. allowed as carry-on.
Considerable baggage weight can be saved by wearing your heavier items, such as boots, fleeces, and coats. They can then be shed during the flight, but remember to bring a comfortable pair of shoes in your carry-on backpack to change into during the flight. Essential or irreplaceable items, such as medicines, a change of clothes, and electronics, should also be in your carry-on, just in case your checked bag is delayed or lost.
On the Mountain
During the climb, your duffel will be limited to 18 kg, or about 39.6 pounds. Porters generally carry the baggage of only one climber, so their load is limited to under 40 lbs. This may seem like a pretty low weight limit for all this gear, but with efficient packing it can be done.
Large compressible items, such as sleeping bags, down jackets and pillows, should be carried in compressor stuff sacks (readily available at REI in various sizes) to save space and consolidate weight. Clothing should be packed into zip-lock freezer bags, grouped by type of clothing — i.e. sock, shirts, underwear, cold weather clothes, warm weather clothes, etc. — in order to organize and compress them, and to keep them dry.
Left in Town
Any un-needed or extra gear not needed on the mountain may be stored without charge at your hotel in Moshi. I have always found it handy to bring an extra canvas duffel bag along for containment of those items while in storage, or to bring home any items you may purchase during your visit to Africa. As an alternative, you will find it a simple matter to buy such a bag in Moshi, at very little cost.
Waterproofing and Security
Regardless of what brand of duffle bag you decide to use, it is always a good idea to further waterproof the gear inside it by lining the duffle with large plastic garbage or yard debris bags. Rain is always a possibility on the mountain, and because of the way our bags are carried, our porters cannot effectively wrap them in tarps or otherwise protect them from rain. Hard-sided luggage, wheeled bags, and suit cases should not be used because they do not pack well for our porters.
I don’t usually put padlocks on the zippers of my duffel during flights. The TSA often opens them anyway, but they don’t always lock them afterward, so they fall off and are lost in flight. I do, however, use them in my hotel and if they are left in storage, on the theory that even a little protection may deter an essentially honest housekeeper from succumbing to the temptation of an unlocked bag.
Gear to Bring
You will not be doing any technical climbing during this trip, so items such as helmets, harnesses, crampons, and ice axes will not be needed. The trails are stony, steep, and strenuous, however, so boots should be sturdy, mid-height to provide ankle stability, and well broken in. They do not necessarily need to be crampon compatible, although most boots of that class are. Light hikers, cross-trainers, or sport shoes are not suitable, and their use will invite injury or discomfort.
Embark has (or will) provide you with a very comprehensive list of recommended clothing and equipment. Here is a synopsis of the list, and more information is available in your Climb Preparation document.
- Sturdy hiking boots – comfortable and broken in. Do not try to break-in new boots during the trek. Spare bootlaces are a good idea.
- sleeping bag (10F rated)
- Sleeping pad
- Trekking poles – strongly advised
- Sandals or other comfortable footwear – for city and camp use
- Wind and water-proof shell jacket, with hood
- Synthetic T-shirts, long and short-sleeved, for layering (no cotton)
- Synthetic under garments, long and short-legged, for layering (no cotton)
- A warmer, fleece-type jacket
- Down puffy jacket, with hood
- Hiking Shorts
- Synthetic Hiking Pants – zip off legs kill two birds with one stone
- Light and heavy socks, several pair
- Rain gear or poncho
- Water bottles, x3 (Nalgene-style) or hydration pack
- Headlamp, with spare batteries
- Multi-tool (carry as checked baggage on all flights, it will not be allowed as carry-on, and will be confiscated)
- Warm hat, with ear covering, or balaclava
- Gloves – light poly liners; medium wind-proof gloves; water-proof over-mittens
- Sun hat
- Sun lotion, SPF 30, minimum
- Personal medical supplies (medications, spare eye glasses, contacts and solution, personal 1st Aid supplies, blister kit, etc.)
- Small Towel, bar of soap
- Toilet paper
- Handy wipes or equivalent
- Purel or equivalent hand sanitizer
- Day pack (for your daily needs)
- duffel bag for all other gear and clothing, to be carried by a porter
- Large garbage or contractor bags to line the duffel bag
(The following items are probably not crucial to the success of your experience on Kilimanjaro, but depending on your personal preferences, may contribute to your enjoyment. As always, you will know best, but this list may help jog your memory.)
- Plastic bags of different sizes (to protect clothes and organize small or related items)
- Backpacker pillow (a rolled up shirt or fleece also works well)
- Cotton T-shirt (for sleeping – synthetics are cold to sleep in)
- 750-fill Down jacket – we may encounter night temperatures in the teens, or less likely, single-digit or below. Use your own judgement about this bulky but potentially life-saving garment
- Waterproof notebook and pen for journaling
- Emergency survival gear, i.e., space blanket, at your discretion
- Small first aid kit
- Blister kit
- Electrical converter and adapter: 230v, type C, D, or M (Google it to be sure)
- Electronics, with charging cables, i.e., GPS, I-Phone or I-Pad, sat phone
- Water filtration pump or UV purifier (Steri-Pen)
- Camera – standard AA batteries are easiest. Charging can be a problem in remote areas. Bring the necessary cables
- Duct tape – wrapped on the handle of a trekking pole saves space
- Passport wallet or money belt
- Snacks or energy bars; hydration tablets
Again, these lists are merely advisory. I may have missed some items that you feel are crucial. You know best what works for you, but in the end, weight becomes the determining factor between necessity and convenience.