African Safari Vacation, Why Climbing Kilimanjaro is Too Expensive? Who Was the first person to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro? beginner's guide to Climbing Kilimanjaro, What to Carry in Your Daypack on Kilimanjaro, What is the Best Sleeping Pad for Climbing Kilimanjaro? Do you Shower When Climbing Kilimanjaro? Barranco Wall on Kilimanjaro, What To Wear When Climbing Kilimanjaro, Climbing Kilimanjaro in December, 12-Week Kilimanjaro Training Plan for Beginners, What to Expect on a Walking Safari in Africa, What Birds Can I See While Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, The Alpine Desert Zone of Kilimanjaro, Top 17 Jackets to Pack for Climbing Kilimanjaro, How Fit Do You Need to Be to Climb Kilimanjaro?, Top 7 Tips for Altitude Sickness Prevention

What To Wear When Climbing Kilimanjaro

What do I wear to climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a bucket-list adventure for many outdoor enthusiasts. To ensure a successful ascent, it is crucial to wear the appropriate gear. The journey from the base to the summit of Kilimanjaro takes you through several climatic zones, from tropical rainforests to arctic conditions, requiring careful consideration of your clothing choices. This comprehensive guide will detail everything you need to know about what to wear when climbing Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro, the “Roof of Africa,” is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, demanding meticulous preparation. But what about your wardrobe? Conquering this peak requires strategic clothing choices to battle diverse climates and unpredictable weather. Fear not, intrepid climber! This guide equips you with the knowledge to dress for success on your Kilimanjaro adventure.

How to Dress on Mount Kilimanjaro 

Prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro with layers: moisture-wicking base for dryness, insulating mid for warmth, and waterproof outer for protection. Opt for merino wool or synthetic fabrics to regulate temperature and prevent moisture buildup. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots and bring essential accessories like hats, gloves, and sunglasses. Adjust clothing according to altitude and weather changes for a safe and comfortable climb. What gear and clothing to pack for Kilimanjaro?

Clothing List of items to Wear to Climb Kilimanjaro
  • A warm, waterproof outer shell jacket
  • Insulating jacket—fleece or soft-shell. Fleece works better.
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • 1-2 Long sleeve shirts. They should be moisture-wicking fabric, not cotton unless it is a blend of moisture-wicking and cotton. 100% cotton is not good trekking material since it does not dry well.
  • 2-3 Short sleeve shirts, moisture-wicking fabric
  • Waterproof/ windproof pants. This is for summit night to block the wind and possible rain and snow, and any other day it may rain.
  • 1-2 Hiking pants/convertibles. Convertibles work better so you can zip off the legs. However, rolling up your pants works as well.
  • Fleece pants. These might sound like much, but you’ll be really glad you have them at camp when it gets cold.
  • Pair of shorts (optional). These are not really used. If you need shorts, a better choice is convertibles so you don’t have to carry the extra weight of a pair of shorts.
  • Baselayers, moisture-wicking fabric. You can bring one or two pairs. One to sleep in when it’s cold and one for summit night. Sleeping in fleece also works.
  • 3-4 Underwear, moisture-wicking fabric
  • 2 Sports bras (women)
Accessories Gear list to Bring on Climb Kilimanjaro 
  • Pair of sunglasses
  • Backpack cover, waterproof (optional). It really doesn’t rain enough to warrant a pack cover.
  • Good daypacks like ones from Mountain Hardwear are usually water-resistant.
  • Water bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz.) This makes it easier to take water to bed with you or to drink at meals.
  • Bladders are more awkward.
  • Water bladder (3 liters). Since you should drink at least 3 liters each day hiking, you should have a 3-liter bladder. Not a 1.5 or 2 liter.
  • A pee bottle, to avoid leaving the tent at night. Make sure you label it so you don’t mix it up with your Nalgene.
  • Stuff sacks, dry bags, or Ziploc bags, of various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate. Grocery sacks are illegal in Tanzania, but Ziplocs are acceptable.
Mount Kilimanjaro Handwear Gear List 

A pair of waterproof and windproof gloves. These can be trekking, ski, or snowboard gloves or mittens.
Pair of gloves liners or lightweight gloves for cool days or to wear under your larger gloves.

Mount Kilimanjaro headwear Complete gear list 

A cap or hat, for sun protection
Balaclava/buff/shemagh to cover your face from the windy, dirt, sun, and cold.

Mount Kilimanjaro Technical equipment gear list 

Sleeping bag, at least 0° F. We rent sleeping bags that are good down to -15° F.
Set of trekking poles, collapsable. We highly recommend trekking poles to use especially on the downhill once you are tired after the summit. We rent these as well.
Headlamp with extra batteries
Duffel Bag, 70-90L, for porters to carry your gear
Day pack, 30-35L, for you to carry personal gear

Footwear Mount Kilimanjaro Gear List 
  • A pair of hiking boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in. These can be hiking shoes with Goretex or without. Goretex is best for rainy days or through the snow.
  • Gym shoe or hiking shoe to wear at camp (optional0.
  • 4-5 Socks, wool, or synthetic
  • 1 pair of gaiters, (optional), you’ll not need these if you have waterproof pants and high cut Goretex boots.
  • Camp Slippers (optional). We highly recommend camp slippers that are warm and have hiking treads on them to walk around camp.
Additional Kilimanjaro gear list Iterms Bring
  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions – Malaria tablets (optional), Diamox (optional). Diamox may make you susceptible to sunburn, but we recommend it for the extreme altitude. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Insect Repellent
  • First Aid Kit
  • Painkillers (optional)
  • Blister kit (optional)
  • Anti-diarrhea tablets (optional)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toilet Paper
  • Wet Wipes (recommended)
  • Snacks, lightweight, high calorie (optional)
  • Electrolytes, powder, or tablets (optional)
  • Camera, with extra batteries (optional)
  • Hand warmers (optional). Hand warmers work with oxygen, since there is less oxygen at a higher elevation, they do not work consistently.

Paper Work Gear list iterms 

  • Immunization Papers
  • Trip Receipt
  • Passport
  • Visa (available to JRO)
  • Insurance Documents
Mount Kilimanjaro Layered Clothing Systems 

Layered clothing systems offer versatility and adaptability for varying conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep dry, add insulating mid layers for warmth, and finish with a waterproof outer layer for protection against rain and wind. This system allows easy adjustment to changing temperatures and activities, ensuring comfort and performance in any outdoor adventure.

Base Layer

The base layer is your first line of defense against the cold. Its primary function is to wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm. Here’s what you need:

  • Thermal Tops and Bottoms: Choose high-quality thermal tops and bottoms made from merino wool or synthetic materials. These fabrics are excellent at regulating body temperature and wicking away sweat.
  • Underwear: Opt for moisture-wicking, quick-dry underwear. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture and can cause chafing.
  • Socks: Invest in thermal, moisture-wicking socks. Merino wool is a popular choice due to its warmth and breathability.
Mid Layer

The mid layer provides insulation, retaining body heat and ensuring you remain warm as temperatures drop. Here’s what you need:

  • Fleece Jackets and Pants: A good fleece jacket and pants are essential. Fleece is lightweight, breathable, and retains heat even when wet.
  • Insulated Jacket: A down or synthetic insulated jacket is crucial for the cold nights and higher altitudes. Down jackets are lighter and packable, but synthetic insulation retains heat better when wet.
Outer Layer

The outer layer protects you from wind, cold, and rain. On Kilimanjaro, you will need to bring a full complement of rain gear – including a rain jacket (above) and rain or waterproof pants. A warm down or synthetic weatherproof jacket (above) is essential. Lastly, you can choose to bring gaiters to keep snow, moisture, and gravel out of your boots. If your pack is not waterproof, bring a pack cover.

The outer layer protects you from wind, rain and snow, making it vital for the harsh conditions on Kilimanjaro. Here’s what you need:

  • Waterproof Jacket: A high-quality, breathable, and waterproof jacket with a hood is essential. Look for jackets with GORE-TEX or a similar waterproof membrane.
  • Waterproof Pants: Pair your jacket with waterproof pants to stay dry during rain and snow.
  • Gaiters: Gaiters prevent debris, snow, and water from entering your boots, keeping your feet dry and comfortable.


Choosing the right footwear is crucial for a successful climb. Your boots should provide adequate insulation, support, and traction. Consider the following:

  • Hiking Boots: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support for lower elevations.
  • Mountaineering Boots: Insulated, high-altitude boots for the summit push.
  • Socks: Merino wool or synthetic socks that wick moisture and prevent blisters. Bring several pairs and consider layering thin liner socks with thicker outer socks.

Other Clothing & Accessories

In addition to the core layers, there are several other essential items you’ll need for your climb:

  • Hats and Gloves: Bring a warm beanie for the cold nights and a sun hat for the lower altitudes. Pack both lightweight and heavy-duty gloves for varying conditions.
  • Neck Gaiter or Buff: A neck gaiter or buff can be used to protect your face from the sun and wind.
  • Sunglasses: High-quality, UV-protective sunglasses are essential to protect your eyes from the strong equatorial sun and snow glare.
  • Headlamp: A headlamp is crucial for early morning summit attempts and navigating camp after dark. Ensure you have extra batteries.
  • Hiking Boots: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support are essential. Ensure they are well broken in before your climb.
  • Camp Shoes: Lightweight, comfortable shoes or sandals for wearing around camp.
  • Trekking Poles: These provide stability and reduce the strain on your knees, especially on the descent.
Dressing For Mount Kilimanjaro Weather Conditions

Mount Kilimanjaro’s climate is divided into five distinct zones, each presenting its own weather challenges. Here’s how to dress appropriately for each zone:

  • Rainforest Zone (800m – 3,000m)

In the lower altitudes, you’ll trek through humid rainforest. Expect warm temperatures and frequent rain showers.

Lightweight, Moisture-Wicking Clothing: Wear lightweight, quick-dry clothing to stay cool and dry.
Waterproof Gear: Have your waterproof jacket and pants ready for sudden rain showers.
Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from insects with long sleeves and repellent.

  • Heath and Moorland Zone (3,000m – 4,000m)

As you ascend, temperatures drop and the vegetation becomes sparse.

Layer Up: Start adding mid layers to your base layer to maintain warmth.
Wind Protection: Ensure your outer layer is ready to protect against increasing wind.

  • Alpine Desert Zone (4,000m – 5,000m)

The alpine desert is characterized by significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, intense sunlight, and strong winds.

Sun Protection: Wear a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against intense UV rays.
Warm Layers: Be prepared for cold nights with your insulated mid layer.
Windproof Gear: Ensure your outer layer is windproof.

  • Arctic Zone (5,000m – 5,895m)

The final push to the summit involves extremely cold temperatures, high winds, and potential snow.

Multiple Layers: Wear all your layers, including base, mid, and outer layers.
Face Protection: Use a balaclava or buff to protect your face from the cold and wind.
Insulated Gloves and Socks: Ensure you have heavy-duty insulated gloves and thermal socks.

Additional Tips for good Mount Kilimanjaro Acclimatization 

Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial. Bring an insulated water bottle to prevent your water from freezing.
Nutrition: High-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars are essential to maintain your energy levels.
Acclimatization: Dress in layers that are easy to adjust to help your body acclimatize to changing altitudes.

What type of base layer is best for climbing Kilimanjaro?

The best base layers for climbing Kilimanjaro are made from merino wool or synthetic materials. These fabrics effectively wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable. Merino wool is particularly favored for its warmth, breathability, and odor resistance.

How many layers of clothing should I wear?

You should wear a minimum of three layers: a base layer, a mid layer, and an outer layer. This layering system allows you to adjust your clothing to the changing temperatures and weather conditions as you ascend Kilimanjaro.

Are cotton clothes suitable for the climb?

No, cotton clothes are not suitable for climbing Kilimanjaro. Cotton retains moisture, which can lead to chafing and make you feel cold. Instead, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool or synthetics.

Do I need a down jacket for Kilimanjaro?

Yes, a down jacket or a synthetic insulated jacket is essential, especially for the higher altitudes and colder nights. Down jackets are lightweight and packable, but synthetic options retain heat better when wet.

What kind of footwear should I bring?

Bring sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. Make sure they are well broken in to avoid blisters. Additionally, bring camp shoes or sandals for wearing around camp and gaiters to keep debris and moisture out of your boots.

How important are waterproof layers?

Waterproof layers are crucial for protection against rain and snow, particularly in the rainforest and alpine zones. A high-quality, breathable waterproof jacket and pants will keep you dry and comfortable.

What accessories are essential for the climb?

Essential accessories include:

Warm hat and sun hat
Lightweight and heavy-duty gloves
Neck gaiter or buff
UV-protective sunglasses
Headlamp with extra batteries
Trekking poles

How do I protect myself from the sun on Kilimanjaro?

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sun hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and applying sunscreen regularly. Long sleeves and neck gaiters also provide additional protection.

What should I wear at Kilimanjaro night?

At night, wear thermal base layers and add a fleece jacket or insulated jacket for warmth. Don’t forget a warm hat and thermal socks to stay comfortable in your sleeping bag.

How do I handle the extreme cold at the summit?

What do i wear to climb Kilimanjaro? To handle the extreme cold at the summit, wear all your layers: base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. Ensure you have a balaclava or buff for face protection and insulated gloves and thermal socks for extremities

What Should I Wear for Summit Night on Kilimanjaro?

Beanie, Hiking pants, Jacket, Down Jacket, Waterproof Pant. Fleece Pants. Layered clothing. Underwear. Balaclava. Headlamp. Gaiters. Gloves or mittens. Hiking boot. Socks, Thermal Gloves. Leggings. Backpack splash cover. Sunglasses. Gloves. Soft shell. Balaclava or scarf. Extra batteries for head lamp. Medium layers. Outer layer. 

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.