Equipment is important and sometimes the choices are confusing. Everything on this list is essential. However, there are a range of choices and favorites for most items. From an ecological and expense perspective, it makes sense to use your existing outdoor clothing and gear. That said, once we arrive in Tanzania, there is little option to get more gear, so we'll need to be sure to get it right before we leave.
Pre-trip gear check. If you are in/near Seattle we'll do a gear check for those who want. If you are outside of Washington state or abroad, I'll follow up personally, and we can do a gear check over the phone or video chat. Meanwhile - if you have any questions, simply send me an e-mail or text with questions or a photo of gear item and we can review together. On the first Monday of our expedition we'll have plenty time to organize and repack.
Tip: While there is leeway on choices, my boots and rucksack are really important to me. I like those to be comfortable and broken in. The details count too; my favorite sunglasses and hat, underwear and socks that don't chafe/blister, I like to have 2 'buffs' neck gaiters handy always (warmth, sun protection, dust protection etc).
Please know that we'll have an expedition first aid kit with us at all times. You'll want your own personal items (see below) but you don't need a first aid kit. Each day at camps we'll have ample warm water and soap, so I go lighter on wet wipes etc.
15KG/32 lbs is ample for our time on the mountain. Bear in mind that you won't have to carry group gear/tent or food, just your own personal sleeping gear and clothing. If you have any special needs for additional gear (expensive filming equipment/satellite comms, etc) please let me know.
Note for UK/EU climbers: This list is in US English (mostly). If you have any questions about trousers, pants, knickers, rucksacks, backpacks, sneakers, trainers or any other item - let us know! :) Français or Español or Deutsch? No worries, we can send you a separate list.
Medium size back pack. Not too big, not too small, this doubles as your mountain day-pack and your airline carry on bag. 35 - 40 liters is adequate. On the mountain, this bag will contain 'day hiking' items, rain gear, hat, gloves, sandwich, snacks, water, sunscreen and camera etc.
John's choice: Arcteryx, Osprey, Black Diamond example
Note: You can have a slightly bigger pack but no more than 35L is needed. This does not need to be an expensive technical pack. Comfort and utility are the important factor
✔ Duffel Bags
Two duffel bags with name tags. No other luggage will be required for the trip.
#1 duffle bag is to take on the mountain and will be carried by the porters (max 15 KG/32). Your mountain duffel bag must be big enough to carry all your gear that isn’t going into your day pack. This bag will get dusty, wet and muddy, so an expedition-style rugged duffel is good (we will use plastic liners to ensure contents have another layer of weatherproof protection).
#2 duffel bag will be stored while we climb and will contain your clothes for travel and safari. so it does not need to be as robust.
✔ Plastic liner bags
Bring 5 large trash compactor bags to pack gear inside duffels to protect gear from rain. (these are thicker than regular rubbish/trash bags). My experience is that they last about as long as more expensive stuff-sacks.
2 locks - TSA approved.
✔ Travel Wallet
A secure travel wallet is a must for carrying your important documents, including passport, extra photos, duffel inventory list, and money. We suggest that you use a travel wallet that you can hang around your neck and place inside your shirt, or around your waist tucked under your shirt or trousers.
Carry a photocopy of the first two pages and an extra photo in a separate location.
Poles come in handy for balance and easing impact to your knees. Get collapsible poles that can attach to your backpack. If you have never used trekking poles, please bring them. Some people may only use for the downhill. If you've tried different methods and arrived at one pole being your preference, please bring one only, but know that we'll descend some loose, fairly steep terrain, coming off the summit of Kilimanjaro.
✔ Pack Cover
Waterproof rain cover for your pack.
✔ Sleeping Bag
Rated to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Please speak with us if you have questions. Some people run hot, some colder than others. You probably know where you are on this scale and may choose to get a warmer bag.
✔ Sleeping Pad
Chose either a self-inflating and/or closed-cell foam pad
Recommended: Thermarest (they are all good, they get lighter in weight as they get more expensive).
Note: After years of sleeping on a hard surface, I like two pads; a closed-cell and a self-inflating. It's a personal choice, but two pads will easily fit in your duffel and I think it makes for a more comfortable night.
Our system is designed around three elements:
1. Base Layer: Items which breathe worn close to skin, i.e. T-shirt
2. Insulation Layer: Items which provide/maintain warmth, i.e. fleece jacket
3. Protection Layer: Items which protect against elements, i.e rain jacket
1. Base Layer
✔ One mid-weight set of synthetic long john bottoms/tights.
✔ One Short Sleeve synthetic shirt
✔ One Long Sleeve synthetic shirt
2. Insulation Layer
✔ Soft shell jacket or fleece jacket
✔ Additional mid-weight layer
Such as another 100- or 200-weight fleece or light-weight down/synthetic insulated top.
✔ Additional warm layer
Wool sweater, another fleece jacket, shelled vest, etc, that can be worn in conjunction with the other layers.
REQUIRED (it gets VERY COLD on summit morning!). Down or synthetic. This should be big enough to go over other garments. A mid-weight parka with a hood is what you are looking for.)
3. Protection Layer
✔ Hiking Pants
Look for construction that provides freedom of movement and/or stretch materials. Soft shell type pants are best. Wear over long johns with rain pants on top for cold weather.
For hiking at lower evelations
✔ Rain Jacket
Waterproof/breathable jacket with hood
(look for Gore-Tex). Example: Outdoor Research Foray Jacket.
✔ Rain Pants
Waterproof/breathable pants (full side zips are best and Gore-Tex is perfect). Example: Outdoor Research Paladin Pants
✔ Rain Poncho
Nice for hiking in the forest if it rains; a cheap plastic one is fine.
Gloves and Mittens:
✔ Light gloves
for hiking and around camp
✔ Mid-weight gloves
ski gloves or similar.
✔ Heavy gloves or mittens
down or synthetic insulated for summit day.
✔ Warm wool or heavy fleece hat,
✔ Sun hat
✔ Lightweight shoes
Running/tennis shoes for camp, around town, safari, etc.
✔ Mid-weight hiking/backpacking boots
You're not carrying heavy loads, but you are on the trail several hours each day. Additionally, summit morning is cold so 'wiggle room' for those toes is a good thing. Good ankle support is needed. Leather and/or synthetic upper must be well water-proofed and/or Gore-Tex, with a decent lug sole for traction over rough/slippery terrain. Purchase early and make sure they are well broken-in before the trek.
Keeps dirt out of your hiking boots. Example: OR Flex-Tex Feel free to bring long gaiters.
Note: There is a chance we may encounter mud on the last day, the short gaiters may be a wee bit too short, however, long gaiters may be a bit warm for the rest of the trip. Please ask if you have questions. Both options are good. No need to bring two sets.
Minimum 3 complete changes of socks: Some people prefer a liner sock, others not. What's important is what you are used to. Bring a newish pair of socks for summit day (new socks have more pile and will stay warmer).
Recommended: Smartwool Medium weight for most days/expedition weight for summit. Make sure your boots accommodate expedition socks. You need some wiggle room for toes.
✔ Headlamp with extra batteries.
✔ Water Bottles
2 1-liter, wide-mouth water bottles. Nalgene wide-mouth bottles are the standard because they are the best. Bring 3 if you know you drink a lot. Some people find they want more than 2 liters. Camelbacks or other hydration bladders work well on the approach days, but they will freeze on summit day, even if they are insulated. If you are going to bring a Camelback, you must also bring the 2 1-liter bottles for summit day.
✔ Water Treatment
On the mountain we will treat our drinking water. In hotels and on Safari we'll used bottled water.
On mountain, the recommended choice is an ultraviolet light pen. Our product endorsement is Steripen
An alternate method is Iodine tablets (Potable Aqua or similar), iodine crystals (Polar Pure), or the new Chlorine Dioxide (made by Potable Aqua) for water purification.
With spare batteries, and film or memory cards.
✔ Pocket Knife
✔ Personal Snack Food
Bring some extra snacks for the climb, especially for summit day, and some drink mixes if you like these to add to your water bottle.
✔ Wrist Watch
Bring good sunglasses. For contact lens wearers, ski goggles with light color lenses (for use at night) might be useful in windy conditions that cause blowing dust.
Vision correction: Bring extra prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses if you wear them. Lens solutions are not widely available in Africa.
✔ Skin Care
Maximum SPF sunscreen and lip balm
Hand sanitizer (Purell), small towel, insect repellant, ear plugs, toilet paper, small first aid kit (with moleskin, tape, aspirin / ibuprofen / acetaminophen, Imodium for diarrhea, antacid, Band-Aids).
✔ Prescription Medications
1) Antibiotic such as Ciprofloxacin; 2) Diamox for acclimatization, 125mg tabs recommended, enough for one week; 3) Sleeping pills for jet lag (one week); 4) Malaria Chemophrophylaxis (we suggest Malarone, one tablet a day starting two days before the trip and going until one week after the trip); 5) Asthma medication, if any history.
✔ Pee bottle
This may be a horrifying concept if never used before but sometimes on high altitude expeditions, the desire to get out and pee at night, is overridden by desire to stay in the tent due to cold weather outside. Bring an additional 1-liter wide-mouth water bottle. This keeps you from having to get out of the tent in the cold at night. Ladies this is optional, but if you will use a pee bottle you MUST be well practiced at using a female funnel (Go-girl or similar) PRIOR to arrival. Not for you? Personally, on Kilimanjaro, I get up, put my shoes on and walk to the toilet.
✔ Chemical hand warmers
For travel and safari.
The general custom of dress in Tanzania is more formal that United States or Europe. Most men wear long trousers and a collared shirt. Women generally wear longer dresses or skirts despite the average daily temperature being between 75 and 85 in Moshi. A general rule is to not show too much skin.
Our hotel in Moshi is low-key, quiet and our home away from home. There is a lovely courtyard, gardens and a modest pool. Shorts, athletic clothing all good, whatever we want and bring a swimsuit.
On Safari, light colored, cotton or synthetic clothing is preferred by most. Blue colors are said to attract Tsete flies, so consider avoiding this color. We will be in open top 4X4 vehicles so expect to at times be hot and dusty. A change of clothes for evening is nice, but the atmosphere is casual.
Staff at Safari lodges are used to international travelers and more formal Tanzanian dress conventions are relaxed. Shorts for men and shorter skirts are the common.
✔ Evenings on the Serengeti are cool. Do bring a sweatshirt, sweater and/or light jacket.
✔ Bathing Suit: Some of the hotels have pools.
Ex Officio have a nice selection of travel clothing which is perfect for safari. Jeans and regular lightweight shirt are perfect too. No need to buy anything special for this.