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If you are an experienced climber/hiker/outdoors person then you probably have most of what you need for your Kilimanjaro climb already. But when you are figuring out what you need and what you don’t need for this adventure it’s important to start by taking a few basic things into account that make this climb quite different from other backpacking you might have done previously.
Carrying your gear
When climbing Kilimanjaro you’ll have a guide and a group of porters along with your group. In addition to carry all the tents, cooking supplies, food, and equipment, the porters will also carry most of your gear as well. You’ll be carrying a daypack with rain gear, water, and small personal items, and the porters are paid and happy to carry the rest of your gear.
What you’ll need
You’ll need to arrive in Tanzania with all your personal gear like clothes, rain gear, sleeping bag and mat, toiletries, flashlight, water bottle, camera, and so on. There is a comprehensive packing list linked below with pretty much everything you should consider bringing.
What you won’t need
The tour operator will provide all the common equipment for the entire group. This means: tents, tables, chairs, cooking gear, utensils, food, water, and anything else used by the group as a whole.
How much can you bring?
Since you’ll be paying porters to carry most of your gear you don’t need to buy the absolute smallest and lightest version of everything as you would on most other backpacking trips. Of course you’ll have to worry about limits of what you can bring on your flight with you, and also most companies set a weight allowance for your personal items around 15 kg (33 lbs.). If you intend to bring anything more than that you should tell them in advance so they can arrange for another porter if needed. Of course this will add to the cost of your trip, but bringing more isn’t a problem other than that.
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You can also bring gear into Tanzania that you won’t take with you on the climb itself. It’s usually quite easy to store your extra stuff at your hotel in Moshi for the time you’ll be on the mountain, but check with your operator to be certain of this.
Buying gear in Tanzania
You may be surprised to learn that buying gear at the base of the mountain is somewhere between difficult and impossible. The locals rarely climb Kilimanjaro for fun and there isn’t much of an industry of quality adventure gear near the base of the mountain. There are a few things it’s possible to rent or buy if you haven’t planned ahead, but do yourself a favor and get good gear at home and bring it. Here’s more information on getting gear near the base of the mountain.
This Kilimanjaro packing list link will take you to a comprehensive packing list of everything you should consider. You don’t have to bring each and every item on the list, but you should at least consider each one and form your own list of the things you intend to bring.
You should also look at this trekking equipment checklist page, which explains in detail why each of these items might be needed and exactly what they can/will be used for while climbing Kilimanjaro.
More suggestions on the subject
The experts know what they will bring and what they don’t need, but for a little more perspective here are a few articles with suggestions from people who’ve climbed Kili and have shared their wisdom afterwards:
More Kilimanjaro packing tips