packing tips for kilimanjaro

When packing for Kilimanjaro, you may find yourself thinking, “where do I even start?” Well, don’t worry! We’ve got your back (actually, we’ve got your ‘back-pack’ covered). Fresh off of Mount Kilimanjaro themselves, Thomson staffers Carolyn and Heather have some pro-packing tips to share with you.

Because this is an experience like no other, it helps to chat with someone who has trekked before. Even better? Finding passionate trekkers like Carolyn and Heather, who are already planning their next Kilimanjaro adventure!

While you will be provided with a detailed list of items you need, there are a few products in particular that Heather and Carolyn have agreed were especially helpful during their 9-day Western Approach Route trek:

ear plugs for camping

1. Earplugs

At the start of your journey, your tent will be pitched on the floor of the rainforest, so earplugs can come in handy to block out the noises of playful monkeys in trees above your head.

“The first night of the trek when you’re sleeping in the forest, there were monkeys all around,” Carolyn said.It’s really important that you get as much rest as possible before your trek begins.”

For the remaining nights, as you make your way up the mountain, some find it helpful to use earplugs to block out noises from your fellow trekkers’ tents zippering and unzippering throughout the night, or simply the sounds of snoring.

Heather’s Favorite: Mack’s Ear Plugs

vaseline is a must have for multi day hikes

2. Vaseline

Used to prevent windburn, Vaseline is an essential, yet often forgotten item for skin protection.

“Everybody remembered to put on sunblock, but, only two people remembered their Vaseline,” Heather said. “By the end, we were all sharing the Vaseline, it was really windy.”

Heather and Carolyn’s Favorite: Vaseline (the one and only)

body wipes are a must for multiday hikes

3. Body wipes

Both Carolyn and Heather remembered to pack their wipes, which were crucial to feeling just a little bit cleaner on the mountain, when dirt becomes your middle name.

“Everybody brings hand sanitizer, but all that does is spread the dirt around,” Heather explained. “Whereas wipes get the dirt off. That was super important. Everything was covered in dirt and sand from the wind.”

Carolyn and Heather’s Favorite: Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes

pack merino wool for hiking kilimanjaro

4. Merino wool clothing

While there are a variety of activewear materials that you can wear to trek Kilimanjaro, merino wool is Heather’s personal favorite.

“Merino wool is antimicrobial, which kills the bacteria in sweat that creates odor, keeps you warm and wicks moisture away from your body,” Heather said. “It also helps regulate your temperature. I’m a firm believer in wool.”

Carolyn’s Favorite: Women’s Medium Crew Hiking Socks
Heather’s Favorite: Women’s Merino 150 Base Layer Long Sleeve

candy on the hiking trail

5. Candy

You may be thinking, what could I possibly need candy for while making my way up a 19,000-foot mountain? Good question!

“One of our tips, and it really helps, is to eat candy (I chose miniature Snickers) before bed,” Heather explained. “You get a little bit of a sugar rush and then you crash. This helps you go to sleep at night when you’re cold in your sleeping bag.

Carolyn’s Favorite: Kind Bar Dark Chocolate Almond & Coconut
Heather’s Favorite: Haribo Gummy Bears


dry bags for hiking kilimanjaro

6. Dry bags

Things can get damp on the mountain, so we recommend bringing dry bags for your clothing. Carolyn and Heather found these particularly helpful for keeping their dry clothes dry and their wet clothes separated.

“I wish I had more dry bags to help keep my stuff from getting damp and to keep my damp stuff away from everything else,” Heather said. “I had 3 dry bags with me, but I wish I had a lot more.”

Carolyn and Heather’s Favorite: Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks

sunscreen is a must when climbing kilimanjaro

7. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the most important items you can have on the mountain. As you can imagine, trekking outside daily can lead to some extensive sun exposure.

“I really liked having stick sunscreen in particular,” Carolyn said. “I would apply my regular liquid sunscreen in the morning and then I had the stick sunscreen with me in my fanny pack; it made it a lot easier, especially on the summit bid, to reapply every time we stopped for a break. I didn’t have to take off my mittens and my glove liners to rub it in, I could just grab the stick and roll it on.”

Carolyn’s Favorite: Banana Boat Ultrasport SPF 50+ Sunscreen Stick
Heather’s Favorite: Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 55

thomson staffers at summit of mount kilimanjaro

Both Carolyn and Heather (plus their entire Kilimanjaro trek group) summited the mountain this past October, describing it as a “life-changing experience.” Adhering to every part of Thomson’s prep guide and packing list, the duo highly recommends doing the same, paying close attention to the seven items listed above.


Have any particular questions regarding these items or any others on our packing list?
Reach out to our team today.