(Last updated on: 09/12/2020)
Finding a Mount Kilimanjaro packing list for girls can be tricky. There are sooo many packing lists out there, but all too many of these lists have unnecessary items. Seriously, do you really want to be lugging teddy bears and potties up the highest mountain in Africa?! Didn’t think so…
In this article I will tell you want you really really DO need and what you actually DO NOT need. Forgetting a spare pair of socks could be a matter of life and death on Mount Kilimanjaro, but leaving your sheewee behind is not really a big deal… if you are planning on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro then you have come to just the right place- I have it all covered below.
- Why you should climb Mount Kilimanjaro
- Top tips for GIRLS when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
- What should be on your Mount Kilimanjaro packing list
- Kilimanjaro packing list: Clothes
- Climbing/Camping Gear
- Other Stuff
- What You DON’T Need on Mount Kilimanjaro
- Know before you go: Essential Mount Kilimanjaro reading
Why you should climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a special, once in a lifetime experience. You will feel tired, scared and maybe a little sick during your climb. But it is soooo worth it for the adventure, thrill and sense of achievement that you feel when you reach the summit!
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro taught me many things. It taught me about the economic impacts of tourism on the local people in Tanzania when I got to know the guides and his team that were helping us with our climb. It taught me about the impacts of climate change, with experts predicting that there will be no snow left on the summit by 2020 (I’d love to go back to see if this has since come true). It taught me self-discipline and determination.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an experience that you will never forget. It is an experience that will change you forever. I know, I know, that sounds cheesy doesn’t it? But it really is true. You will never look at the world in the same way when you have looked down on it from the roof of Africa…
All you need is a little bit of training, a reasonable level of fitness and a bunch of mental determination and you can climb Mount Kilimanjaro. However, the mountain can be deadly- so it is imperative that you are well prepared.
There are so many articles on the Internet that tell you how to train and what to pack. But none are focussed on us girls. And lets face it, females have needs that men will never truly understand!
So in this article I give you my advice on the things that you need to know when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Most importantly, I provide you with my recommended Mount Kilimanjaro packing list, designed especially for GIRLS.
Top tips for GIRLS when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
OK, so us females have needs and desires that are not the same as men. Here are some helpful bits of advice in advance of your trip:
Toilet trips on Mount Kilimanjaro
Toilet trips are less than ideal when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. You will generally have one of two options:
- Visit the wooden hut
- Do it in the bush
Sadly, in peak season far too many tourists are opting for option number 2. This results in used toilet paper and wet wipes being scattered around the mountain (seriously guys, protect the mountain for future climbers and adopt the principles of sustainable tourism on your trip).
Before you go: Read this hilarious and insightful account of Eva’s climb up Mount Kilimanjaro- Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life
You will read many articles online that advise you to buy some kind of portable potty or other toilet device. A popular one is the sheewee, which is basically a portable urinal that helps you to pee ‘just like a man’.
Personally, I think if you are brave and hard enough to climb the highest mountain in Africa, then you can probably manage to poo in a bush. I know it’s not pleasant, but do you really want to lug an extra item around? And remember it will need cleaning too…
Makeup on Mount Kilimanjaro
Most Mount Kilimanjaro packing lists that you find online will tell you to leave the makeup at home. I disagree.
If you’re like me and you don’t like having your photo taken without a bit of mascara on, then take it with you. I only took minimal makeup, but covering up my spots with concealer and applying a little bit of mascara each day made me feel MUCH better.
I wanted to capture the special moments during my Kilimanjaro climb, and I didn’t want to look back at my photos and think ‘God you look rough’. If you’re happy to go without makeup then sure- leave it at home. But if you prefer to wear it then take it with you.
Contraceptives on Mount Kilimanjaro
You will need to take Malaria Pills when travelling in Tanzania. Malaria is only present at the bottom of the mountain, but due to the length of time that you need to take the pills before/after potential exposure, you will probably be taking them during all or part of your climb.
If you take the contraceptive pill, it is likely that this medication will interfere with its pregnancy prevention. Whilst this is important to know, what many girls don’t realise is that this can cause your period to arrive…. which you may not be prepared for. This takes me to my final point…
Periods on Mount Kilimanjaro
There is obviously no place to but sanitary products on the mountain, so it is a good idea to pack some if you think that there is any possibility of a visit from Aunt Flo.
There are also very few places to dispose of your used sanitary products. The majority of sanitary pads and tampons are not biodegradable- this means that if you leave them on the mountainside, they will stay there, forever.
This obviously isn’t good. If you do have a period on the mountain then I strongly urge you to keep hold of your used products until you can find a bin at one of the campsites. Or a better solution is to ditch the disposable sanitary products all together and purchase a menstrual cup, like this one. These are made of plastic and are reusable, meaning that they are environmentally friendly and they save you money in the long run- win=win!
What should be on your Mount Kilimanjaro packing list
They say that climbing Kilimanjaro is the equivalent of trekking from the equator to the north pole in terms of climatic zones- so this inevitably requires some careful thought when it comes to packing! This is especially important as you are usually limited to 15kg luggage when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
I found the best way to to organise my Kilimanjaro packing list was to sort my things out according to what I would be taking by seasons. I also organised my backpack this way to save hunting through everything everyday.
Kilimanjaro packing list: Clothes
So, lets start with what clothes you will need to have on your Mount Kilimanjaro packing list for each season.
The first ‘season’ of your Mount Kilimanjaro climb is in the tropical zone. Here it is hot and humid. And it rains a lot.
The chances are that your clothes will get wet during season 1- you WILL sweat and it could rain!
My recommendation is to take dry-fit clothing. Avoid cotton. It is very difficult to dry your clothes, especially seen as it gets super cold from day one at night. So you want to take clothes that will dry quickly.
I recommend the following items of clothing for your Kilimanjaro packing list during the first stage of your climb:
- -A lightweight pair of walking trousers/shorts
- -Some waterproof trousers (such as these trousers from Amazon– it is often wet in the rainforest)
- -A couple of dry-fit vest tops/T-shirts
- -A light-weight waterproof jacket (this North Face jacket is perfect)
- –Sports bras
- -A couple of pairs of ordinary hiking socks
- -Some warm track-suit bottoms for wearing at night/to sleep in
- -A fleece for the evening (I wore my North Face fleece to death on the mountain)
- -Something to cover your head (the sun is STRONG on the mountain). Bandanas like these work pretty well.
In addition to the above you are likely to add the following to your Kilimanjaro packing list for girls;
- -Mid-weight walking trousers
- -A couple of long-sleeved dry-fit tops
- -A warm sweater for the evening
- -Thick socks (I used ski socks) for the evening
- -A warm hat
Layering is key on the mountain to ensure that you are warm enough. Whilst you might do some layers in season 2, it is crucial for season 3.
On the last night of our Kilimanjaro climb I literally slept in every item of clothing I had packed!
I took the following items with me:
- -Warm trousers for summit night (I took ski trousers like these and they were perfect)
- -A warm jacket (I took a ski jacket)
- –Thick hiking socks
- -Thermal under layers (I found that winter running gear like this was better quality than the stuff labelled ‘thermal’- so make sure you shop around)
- -Warm gloves (I took ski gloves)
Yes, I know- we all love shoes! But sadly you will need to leave most of these at home during your climb. Your Kilimanjaro packing list should include:
- -Hiking boots (I bought Karrimor boots which were excellent value)
- -Trainers for wearing around camp (you will want to give your feet a break)
You will also want to ensure that you have adequate climbing gear for your trip. The following are Kilimanjaro essentials:
- -Walking poles were DEFINITELY my friend on this trip (you can buy them for a reasonable price on Amazon or hire them when you’re there)
- -60 litre rucksack (your porters will thankfully carry this for you but I don’t recommend you get any bigger than 60L as you will just end up packing more than you need! Osprey is a great brand to look at.)
- -Day bag (this will be filled with water so will be pretty heavy at times- make sure that you get one that fits well and has good support)
- -Waterproof cover for your bags (there are lots available on Amazon)
- –hydration bladder/water bottles (you are not allowed to take disposable bottles on the mountain)
- -Travel towel (microfibre towels are perfect as they are light weight and dry quickly)
- –3/4 season sleeping bag (you WILL get cold so buy a warm bag!)
- -Sleeping bag liner (this gave me a little extra warmth and I’m glad I took it, but it’s not a necessity. I bought this one made by Trespass)
You have no option to buy medicines on route so it is imperative that you have what you need for the climb. I had the following on my Mount Kilimanjaro packing list;
- -A couple of packs of Ibuprofen (this came in useful for altitude-induced headaches on the ascent and sore knees on the descent)
- -Altitude sickness tablets (we took Diamox which we bought online via a company called Dr Fox)
- -Plasters for blisters on your feet
- –Vitamins (because my immune system is rubbish)
- -Imodium (because having a poorly tummy is a real possibility)
- -Contraceptive pill if you need it
- -Toilet paper (you’ll be hard-pressed to find this anywhere on the mountain)
- -Hand sanitiser
- -Water purification tablets (the porters will get your water from the rivers)
Other bits that you might want to add to your Kilimanjaro packing list for girls include:
- -Book/kindle for the evenings (Amazon have some great offers for FREE unlimited Kindle downloads at the moment- click here to sign up)
- -Camera/Go Pro (we bought this Go Pro especially for this trip and have used it LOADS since! You can see our first video that we made at the end of this post!)
- -Portable charger/power bank (Amazon is general my go-to place for gadgets such as this)
- -Spare camera batteries
- –Head torch (how else will you find the toilet at night?!)
- -Spare batteries (if you’re anything like me you will accidentally turn your torch on inside your bag and leave it that way ALL day)
- -Snacks (we bought these high-energy protein bars which were brilliant on the final ascent!)
- –Energy gel pouches (these honestly saved me during summit night- better than a mars bar any day!)
- -Make-up (people will tell you not to take make-up but I planned to share my photos with friends etc and I wanted something to cover the bags under my eyes!)
- -Basic toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush etc)
- -A compact mirror (because otherwise you’ll forget what you look like…)
- -Wet wipes, LOTS of wet wipes! (I think this one is self-explanatory)
- -Phone (Contrary to my expectations there actually was signal on the mountain, albeit from Kenya and not Tanzania)
- Tea bags (I only drink green tea so took some with me, they did provide lots of ordinary tea though)
- Nail varnish (your nails will look filthy after a couple of days so a dark colour can help cover this up make you feel a little better!)
What You DON’T Need on Mount Kilimanjaro
There are many Mount Kilimanjaro packing lists out there, but I do not agree with them all of them…. so here are the things that other bloggers will tell you to pack, but that I think you should leave behind…
Here are the things that, in my opinion, do NOT need to be added to your Kilimanjaro packing list for girls!
- –Gaters (they take up a lot of space in your bag and you don’t really need them)
- -Lots of changes of clothes (you’ll stink anyway!)
- -Shower gels, shampoos etc (because there is no place to wash. That’s what the wet wipes are for, amongst other things)
- -Lots of entertainment (I fell asleep really quickly and it was too cold to keep my hand out of my sleeping bag to read my book)
- –Sheewee or similar item (seriously, if you’re hard enough to climb a mountain, you’re hard enough to squat behind a bush)
- -Sentimental items (I read on one blog that the writer took a teddy bear and printed photographs from home- I had no space for this even if I wanted to take such items!)
Know before you go: Essential Mount Kilimanjaro reading
I always recommend reading up on the places that you travel to in advance. This helps you to make the most of your trip and to travel sustainably where possible. However, for Kilimanjaro this isn’t just a recommendation, it is ESSENTIAL!
If you are not well prepared, you could die on the mountain! It is imperative that you know what you are letting yourself in for and pack the necessary gear. This includes planning your Mount Kilimanjaro packing list. Below I have listed some super useful guides as well as some brilliant accounts of other people’s climbs. I have read them all and 100% recommend that you read them in advance of your climb.
- Mount Kilimanjaro: Trekkers Guide to the Summit
- One Step at a Time: A Climb Up Mount Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life
- Climbing Kilimanjaro: How to plan, prepare and SUCCESSFULLY climb the world’s tallest free standing mountain
- A Walk In The Park: The diary of an everyday couple climbing Kilimanjaro
- Snow on the Equator – Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and the great African odyssey