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What and when to wear on Kilimanjaro?

8 Days Lemosho Route Join Group June 9 2020

What  and to whear on Kilimanjaro .

The answer is however a tad vague, as it totally depends on the weather. To give you an example last week I was on Kilimanjaro with a team of 12 people and the night before summit at Karanga Valley it was well below zero with 3 inches of ice in the water bucket by morning, yet fast-forward 24hrs and we’re at 5500m heading to the summit at 5895m and conditions are quite pleasant with no wind, yes it was a bit cold but nowhere near the temperature we felt at Karanga. Fast forward another 24hrs and it’s different again! Therefore the key and most important factor when it comes to ‘what to wear when climbing Kilimanjaro’ is that your gear has to be adaptable!

Sort your kit out dont forget your duffle bag

Sort out your gear before going on the mountain!

People often expect that they’ll wear a certain type or a certain number of layers at a certain point / place / altitude on Kilimanjaro but the reality is that you could get terrible weather on day one, and warm pleasant conditions for the rest of the climb. Or you could get harsh conditions throughout, or sunshine and light winds! Therefore we design our kit list to cover you for all that the mountain can throw at you. The most important factor for you is to prepare for each day as it comes and be adaptable based on the conditions around you and the opinion of your guide at the time.

So is there a rough guide to what you would wear on a day by day basis on Kilimanjaro? Well yes you could suggest the following, however always expect the unexpected and as all boy scouts know, ‘always be prepared’!

Days 1 and 7 Machame route Generally you can expect some moisture as you travel up or down through the forest. This can be in the form of rain, cloud, mist or humidity. Generally it’s reasonably warm and sometimes you may not want to put on waterproofs due to the heat so quite often an umbrella is a handy thing to have. The trail is pretty good with well laid out paths, so gaiters aren’t really necessary but can be handy if you’re prone to having the odd slip, especially on descent. Poles can also be handy for the same reason. Generally people will wear a trek shirt / top and shorts or trek trousers. There is no need for thermals or warm gear to walk in however a fleece should always be in your day pack for stops or delays.

Dress to suit the conditions.

Days 2 and 3 – mostly people will walk in a trek shirt, trousers, sun hat and shades. For these and in fact all days, always have a fleece and waterproof trousers and jacket in your day bag.

Days 4 and 5 are the same really as days 2 and 3 but with a definite need to pull on a fleece / hat when you stop, and if it’s windy walk in your waterproof jacket (this will reduce wind chill). You should also add a mid layer to your day bag which you may need to walk in. It’s likely that you will now want to wear thermals in the evenings or whilst sleeping so it’s worth having these packed close or in your sleeping bag.

regulate your layers to suit how you feel

Layering is key and gives you versatility.

What to wear on Kilimanjaro – Summit Day

This is when you’re ‘likely’ to want all your main layers, but do gauge the weather and conditions. If it is very cold you will want to have your base (thermal) layer on top and bottom. On top of your leggings you could wear 2 thin pairs of trousers or one thicker pair and a pair of waterproof trousers as your outer layer. Similarly on top you will want a number of thinner mid layers (long sleeve t’shirts / trek shirts, mid layer fleeces) and a thick fleece and waterproof on top for that or alternatively a down or synthetic fill jacket. Then on your extremities gloves (inner and outer pair), balaclava if windy, warm hat / scarf and of course thick, warm, clean socks and your boots. Gaiters can also add heat. Some people also take hand warmers and if very cold don’t forget to wiggle your toes as you walk to keep the blood pumping!

zips help regulate temp

Zips help regulate your temperature

Manage Your Climate!

The key to what to wear on Kilimanjaro is to manage your ‘own’ climate based on how ‘you’ feel and what the conditions around you are doing – everyone is different. You’ll find that as you walk (on any day of the trek) that you’ll warm up with exercise so it’s important that you regulate your temperature so that you’re not too hot or too cold. The best way to do this is firstly ensure that you have on the right number of layers for the conditions. If not add or remove a layer so that you’re comfortable. When you walk you’ll get warm, so unzip your jacket and mid layer and let air circulate. Then when you stop for a break pull the zips up and keep the heat in. This is particularly important if it’s windy or if you’re in an exposed location.

Each night you’ll be briefed by your guide so that you can have the right gear ready for the next day and if you’re not sure, make sure you ask. It’s really easy to regulate your clothing to ensure you’re not too hot, nor too cold as long as you have what you need in your day bag.

That’s it, that’s the secret to what to wear! There’s no hard and fast rules, just make sure you have what’s on the kit list and that’ll give you the flexibility to be adaptable to the conditions and most importantly dry and comfortable.

the staff will keep you right
is said that the trek from the gate to the peak of Kilimanjaro is like walking from the equator to Antarctica. The temperatures you may encounter on Mount Kilimanjaro can be over 100 degrees to well below zero. Therefore, it is important for all climbers to understand how to best dress to cope with the mountain weather.

By following Kilimanjaro Brothers comprehensive gear list, you already have everything you need to stay comfortable and warm throughout your journey.

So what do you do with all of the gear?

We use layering to achieve our goals. Layering is a systematic, logical approach to wearing multiple layers of clothing. It is the best way to keep your body in the desired temperature range no matter what the environment is.

The advantages of layering are that it is versatile, thermally efficient and space efficient. By having layers, a climber can add or remove pieces of clothing to adapt to changing weather, activity level and body temperature. It is easy to adjust and let’s you dial in with small incremental changes. Scientifically, it is warmer to wear multiple thinner layers than an equal thickness single layer because the air between layers provides insulation. Furthermore, it takes up less space in your backpack or duffel to have the thinner layers and a thick one.

Climbers should follow the layering principle when suiting up for Kilimanjaro. The technical clothing you bring on the mountain can be categorized into the following types of layers: base layer, mid layer, and outer shell. Each performs specific functions and together it will protect you from the peak’s harshest weather.

Base Layer

A base layer is moisture-wicking item that is worn against the skin. By moving sweat away from your body, the base layer should keep you dry and provide some insulation. They are available in different thicknesses, although light-weight is recommended for its versatility over medium-, heavy-, and expedition-weight clothing.

Base layers can be worn alone in warm weather, and can be doubled-up (worn on top of one another) during cold weather. Several types of fabric or blends of fabric are used to construct base layers, including silk, wool, and polypropylene, which are usually sold under registered trademarks by outdoor gear companies. All of these materials work well, so the ones you choose are based on personal preference.

Try them on and see if you like or don’t like the feeling of them against your skin, because you will spend the entire time on the mountain with baselayers on.

Cotton is not a good base layer material! It does not have any moisture-wicking properties, does not dry quickly, and will actually increase your heat loss when wet. Do not wear cotton shirts while you trek, and accordingly it’s best you avoid cotton rights and underwear as well.

2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
1 – Bandana (optional)
1 – Balaclava
3 – Sock liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn underneath to prevent blisters
1 – Gloves, light, thin, synthetic, worn underneath for added warmth (optional)
1 – Arm Warmers, synthetic (optional)

Mid Layer

The primary purpose of a mid layer is to provide warmth. Therefore, while searching for mid layers, you should look for those that have good insulating qualities. Insulation is best created by materials that trap tiny air pockets, or dead air, between you and the elements. Wool or

synthetic fabrics can be used as a mid layer in cool weather. However, for cold conditions, use fleece, down or heavier synthetics.

Fleece provides good insulation because it is relatively thin, fast-drying, comfortable, and light-weight, but lacks wind protection.

Down is the most efficient insulating material, with respect to its warmth per ounce ratio, but loses its insulating qualities when wet. It is very compressible for packing, but bulky when worn. Therefore, select lightweight down products when used as a mid layer.

Note that a heavyweight down jacket can be used as an outer layer. It can be worn over a thin mid layer, such as fleece, or over an outer layer, such as a hard shell.

Synthetic insulated jackets are not as warm or light as down, but they function even when wet.

1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Fleece Pants
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
2 – Hiking Pants* (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Shorts* (optional) *considered mid layers simply because they are worn on top of the base layer (underwear).

Outer Layer

The outer layer is designed to provide protection from the wind, rain and snow.

Some outer layers have built in insulation, but we recommend obtaining each layer separately for greater versatility.

1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
1 – Hiking Boots, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym shoes, to wear at camp
1 – Gloves (waterproof recommended)

With the above listed gear, you should be able to withstand whatever weather conditions Mount Kilimanjaro has in store for you. It is important that you be cognizant of changing conditions as you hike and adapt accordingly (unzip/shed layers before you sweat, zip up/add layers before you get cold, wear waterproof gear before you get wet, etc.)

For you to be comfortably climbing on Kilimanjaro summit night, you can consider to wear 4 layers on top and 3 layers on the bottom, depending with weather and advisable to be clean and dressed properly.
Temperature at summit day may drop below -15°C depending on climbing Month.
Using a wide mouth water bottle for easy drinking of water, on summit night walk and pack it upside down as usually water frozen starting from the top of bottle. Once you pack upside down and if frozen on top still you will turn and access regular water.
If you’re using camel back on Kilimanjaro summit night, you can keep wrap it at shirt and tuck hand warmers. Choose the ones which have pipe cover to keep insulation and protect from freezing.
Wind proof is essential and the point you’re crossing saddle as well on crater rim where you may have strong winds.
Be sure to pack the following items;
1. Leather or thermal boots
2. Gore-Tex, Microtel or K-Tech Trilaminate jacket
3. Gore –Tex, Microtel or K-tech pants
4. Fleece jacket
5. Fleece pants
6. Gore-Tex mittens or gloves
7. Head torch
8. Thermal flask
9. Fleece gloves (use as inner for Gore-Tex glove)
10. Thermal glove liners (use as inner for Gore-Tex gloves)
11. Gaiters
12. Fleece balaclava
13. Thermal balaclava
14. Thermal top
15. Thermal long johns
16. Thermal socks
17. Sunglasses with UV protection
18. Day pack

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