Kilimanjaro packing list: What do you need to climb Africa's highest mountain?

Our definitive guide to the top kit, from walking boots and backpacks to water bladders and head torches

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The Independent Travel

Clothes

Waterproof jacket

Rab is perhaps my favourite outdoor brand, as you’ll see from a couple of my other suggestions below, and its lightweight Flashpoint waterproof folds up to pocket size. The hood is wired, so you can create a peak, and has an adjustable drawstring on the back. £200 from Rab

Down jacket

Like the waterproof, Rab’s Continuum is ultra light and compact - there are warmer down jackets out there but you’ll have lots of layers so you don’t really need any more bulk. £220 from Snow and Rock

Hiking boots

On terrain as uneven as this, you need boots with good ankle support. Lowa’s Renegade Mid GTX are extremely comfortable and snug around the ankle; the best boots I’ve ever had. £140 from Cotswold Outdoor

Other shoes

Your feet will thank you for taking non-hiking shoes to wear around camp. I went against advice and took sandals (which I combined, stylishly, with socks) but I’d recommend a pair of trainers, which will keep your toes warmer than my Birkenstocks did.

Fleece

Patagonia’s Better Sweater is perhaps the warmest fleece I’ve ever tried on, and it has three handy pockets. £100 from Patagonia 

Thermal/long-sleeved top x 2

When it comes to lightweight warmth, merino wool is king. Rohan's Merino Union 150 hooded top is made from a blend of merino and polyester - it's incredibly thin but is great at keeping the wind chill off. £65 from Rohan

I also took a couple of merino base layers I'd bought for cycling, but which were great on the mountain too; try Chapeau’s Blue and Oatmeal top. £59.99 from Chapeau

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Rohan Merino Union 150

T-shirts/vests x 4

I just took some tops I already had, but I should have invested in moisture-wicking ones as things did get pretty sweaty; Uniqlo's AIRism vests and T-shirts are designed to do just that. £7.90 from Uniqlo

Waterproof trousers

Pakka’s waterproof trousers are cheap and cheerful, with velcro at the ankles so you can get them over your boots. £12.99 from Mountain Warehouse

Zip-off trousers

You could take separate shorts and trousers, but I prefer to pack light, so I took Columbia’s two-in-one Silver Ridge Convertible Pants. They’re very thin, so great for the early, hot days of the hike, and loose enough to be combined with thermals if needed. £60 from Columbia

Thermal bottoms x 2

I call these long johns, but apparently no one else does anymore. Helly Hansen does a good range, including the Lifa Twin Pack (top and bottoms together). £40 from Cotswold Outdoor

Ski trousers

I hired these from my tour company for around US$15, but if you want to buy your own, Wed’ze’s Slide 300 have a fleece lining and come in black or a jazzy shade of turqoise. £29.99 from Decathlon

Thick socks x 6

Walking socks seem to come in absurdly broad size ranges, and I found most women’s pairs too big for my size five feet. So instead I went for Karrimor Juniors (yes, they’re for children), which fit perfectly. £4.50 for two pairs from Karrimor

Liner socks x 6

These are thin socks that go under your thicker ones, and wick away moisture to, in theory, help you avoid blisters. The Bridgedale Coolmax Liners served me well. £13.49 for two pairs from Dash4it

Gloves

So, so important for summit night. Salomon’s Element gloves are sturdy but with a nice, soft lining. They come up a little small, so be sure to go a size bigger if you plan to put hand warmers in them. £59.99 from Ellis Brigham

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Balaclava, snood or similar

I took a Buff Polar and it worked a treat; essentially a tube of thin fabric with fleece at one end, it comes in a range of different colours. £27 from Buffwear

Sun hat or baseball cap

I wore one I got for $5 at a gas station in Mississippi, but if you want something more stylish, try the Nike Metal Swoosh Logo cap. £12 from Nike

Kit

Day pack (approx 30 litres)

I took the Lowe Alpine Airzone Pro ND, which is spacious, comfortable to carry and has a side zip that I could put my water bladder tube through (try this one instead if you want a dedicated pocket for your bladder). £110 from Lowe Alpine

Duffle bag (approx 80 litres)

I took North Face’s excellent, waterproof Base Camp Duffel in size medium (69 litres), which I just about managed to squeeze everything into, but I’d recommend upgrading to large (95 litres) to be on the safe side. Remember, though, that you can only take a maximum of 15kg. £115 from The North Face

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Water bladder (minimum 3 litres)

The Best Beeway Backpack Water Reservoir is sturdy and has an insulated tube, so it takes a little longer to freeze on summit night (though it will eventually). £13.99 from Amazon (includes cleaning kit)

Water bottle (1 litre)

I didn’t take one but I wish I had, both for summit night (see above), and to use as a makeshift hot water bottle to warm my feet (I borrowed someone else’s for that purpose). Try the 1L Metallic Bottle With Karabiner. £4.49 from Mountain Warehouse

Four-seasons sleeping bag

Rab’s Ascent 900 down sleeping bag takes up a fair bit of space, but it’s extremely soft and kept me incredibly warm. £270 from Cotswold Outdoor

Roll mat

Some tour operators lend these out for free, or they can be hired. I borrowed a Thermarest from a friend, which did a great job of protecting me from the cold ground. £59.99 from Ellis Brigham

Head torch

The name of the LE Super Bright LED Headlamp says it all. Cheap but does the trick. £5.50 from Amazon

Walking poles

I hired for about US$10 and didn’t really like them, but you can buy if you prefer. Go Outdoors has a selection from £4.99

Extras

First aid kit

Hand towel

Toiletries (wet wipes, deodorant, sunblock and sunblock lip balm)

Sunglasses

Portable power supply

You won't have signal most of the time, but assuming you use your phone for taking pictures, you might want to take one or two of Varta's Portable Power Banks with you to plug into. £9.99 from Amazon

Urine bottle

Trust me, if you have your own tent (I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re sharing), you won’t regret taking one of these. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it will save you having to go out into the cold in the middle of the night (inevitable when you’re drinking at least three litres a day). Honestly. £5.99 from Boots

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