What to Pack for Kilimanjaro: Personal Health & Comfort

Toiletries, accessories, here’s what to pack for Kilimanjaro. From the comprehensive kit list that you can get here, we need the following:

what to pack for Kilimanjaro

Let’s go through this list in a bit more detail:

Toiletries

On the mountain you will not be showering, nor washing your hair. But each day you will be provided with warm water for brushing teeth and “birdbath” type cleaning.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tampons/sanitary towels for ladies >see post about Ladies here<
  • Handcream
  • Soap – antibacterial soap like “Dettol” works well
  • Deodorant
  • Fingernail brush
  • Nail clippers

Baby wipes

Take plenty. These make for a good “bath”, keeping your nether-regions nice and clean. You can also take some antibacterial ones, which are good for underarms and hand/foot cleaning. As you climb higher and it gets colder, you will have less motivation to wash your underarms every morning. A quick wipe with an anti-bacterial should do the job of keeping you fresh.

Small quick-dry towel

Microfiber travel towel (don’t bring a cotton one from home, it’ll never dry). There are various available at online retailers or your local outdoor store.

Antibacterial gel

Very important for cleaning hands before eating. Keep a small one in your daysack and a larger one in your toiletry bag. Something like Purell, or whatever the latest popular brand is. “Kills 99.9% of bacteria” is what it should say on the bottle.

Sunscreen

50+ very important. Your skin will burn easily at altitude, so make a habit of putting it on every exposed part of your body each morning. (Don’t forget the back of your ears). Keep a small one in your daypack to top up as needed.

Recommended ones are Neutrogena these are good for hiking as they dry properly so you don’t have an oily residue that attracts dust, and are sweat-resistant.

Ear plugs

For the light sleepers amongst us. Block out snoring tent-mates and noisy porters.

10-15 ziplock bags

As I’ve mentioned before, these are perfect for arranging your bits and bobs. As discussed in our Packs & Bags post, compression stuff sacks are a wonderful way of organizing your duffel bag. Ziplock bags make keeping all the small bits in order.

Pee-bottle

At night, when it’s freezing outside, the last thing you want to do is leave the warmth of your sleeping bag, find your shoes and stumble to the toilet. Since you should be keeping well-hydrated, a night-time pee is quite normal. Take a bottle like >this<, don’t confuse it with your drinking water bottle. For gents it’s very easy, for ladies a little more dexterity may be required.

Pee-funnel for Ladies

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to pee standing up, like the gents, then here’s your chance. Grab yourself a Freshette. Do I recommend this? Actually, yes. After providing hours of fun getting used to it, I did find it invaluable on summit day when I didn’t have the energy to squat down and get back up again. On a busy trail it can provide some much-needed privacy!

Headlamp and Extra Batteries

See more information on headlamps here. You’ll need a headlamp if you are doing a night-time summit attempt. Take the extra batteries as you’ll also use it for rummaging around in your duffel bag after dark.

Small torch

I always keep a small torch for times when I don’t want to put my headtorch on. I also attach it with a piece of string to the roof my tent each evening, so I’ve got some light in the tent.

Pocket Knife (Swiss Army Knife or “Leatherman”)

Useful for all sorts of things: taking stones out of the bottom of your boot, opening a wine bottle after your trek, and picking food out of your teeth. Best not to use it for threatening people. And remember to pack it in your checked bags – not carry-on – for the flight.

Spare contact lenses or glasses

If you wear them, bring them!

Camera, Go-Pro, iThings

You will be wanting to take photos! Do not rely on your iPhone to maintain it’s charge. Have a good, lightweight camera that you can pull out quickly to capture those memories. Take spare batteries, they die quicker in the cold. GoPros are becoming popular, so if you like uploading endless videos to YouTube, then try one of these.

Some people like to bring giant DSLR cameras. I’m too lazy to carry it and keep digging it out of my daypack. A good “bridge” camera or “point-and-shoot” that can be carried easily is the best bet.

iPod/MP3 player

If you want to drown out the noisy chatter of your team. Or for when you are feeling tired and irritable in your tent.

Toilet Paper

Whether you are using the public facilities or have a private toilet-tent, it’s always worth bringing your own toilet paper. The local stuff can be rough. I recommend discarding the cardboard tube and keeping the roll of paper in a ziplock bag. Keep one in your duffel and one in your daysack for toilet stops on the trail.

Personal Medications

Make sure you’ve got an adequate supply of any medications you are taking. Consult your doctor for any interactions with other medications that you may need to take, such as Diamox. Don’t wait until you arrive in Moshi only to discover that you can’t fill your Rx prescription!

Diamox

If you decide you want to take this – it’s recommended by most operators – then see our post >here< and consult your doctor (it’s available prescription-only).

Anti-malarial

At altitude you will not have any mosquitos bothering you. However, Tanzania is a malaria-zone, so you will need to consult your doctor for the appropriate anti-malarial medication to take. And always sleep under mosquito nets in hotels and lodges.

Personal First Aid Kit

Your operator should be carrying a comprehensive first-aid kit, but it’s always worth having your own for minor injuries.

  • Blister plasters
  • Moleskin
  • Antibiotic cream/ointment
  • Band-Aid/Elastoplast for minor cuts and scrapes
  • Ibuprofen/Paracetamol – over the counter pain relief
  • Skin healing ointment such as Aquaphor
  • Immodium for diarrhea
  • Anti-nausea medication

Prescription Medications

These items can be worth carrying with you, as guides are not permitted to administer antibiotics or narcotic pain relief. You should consult your doctor about any prescription medications. These are just a guide to what you might wish to carry with you:

  • Prescription pain medication – consult your doctor about what is right for you. Note: you would only use this in the case of an emergency, not to deal with minor headaches
  • Prescription antibiotic – for stomach bugs – consult your doctor

Consult your doctor before you travel to get his/her advice about what medications you should take with you.

Further Reading on what to pack for Kilimanjaro:

 

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