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ultimate kilimanjaro packing list for women

So you’re thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro, eh?  Maybe you’ve even booked your trip, bought your plane tickets and marked the big Summit Day on your calendar.  But now the real work begins: researching what to bring and what to leave behind.

The porters who carry your gear up the mountain have a weight limit of just 15 kg (32 lbs).  This includes your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothes, electronics and toiletries, all stuffed into a giant waterproof duffel.  If you’re a woman you may find that there’s a few extra items you’ll need to bring that your male hiking partners don’t.  I’ve compiled the ultimate Kilimanjaro packing list for women with useful tips that I learned from my recent treks on the mountain.

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Base Layer

kilimanjaro packing list for women

Your base layer includes everything you’ll wear the first and last day on the mountain as well as your innermost layer for the cold days near the summit.  They should consist of body-hugging, moisture wicking polyester material, similar to what you’d wear for a standard gym workout.

How many you bring depends on your body type.  If you’re hot-natured you should consider having 2 pairs of capri leggings and just one pair of thermal leggings.  If you get cold easily then I recommend the opposite.  Because I’m plus size and hot-natured I don’t get cold as easily.  I was wearing t-shirts in the evening while some of my fellow hikers were sporting their down jackets.  What you pack really comes down to your own preference.

  • 1-2 pairs of capri leggings or shorts- Just your standard exercise pants but funky patterns/colors are strongly encouraged
  • 1-2 pairs of cold weather base layer leggings
  • 2-3 sports bras- High impact bras aren’t necessary but I’ve found they’re thicker which will help keep your ta-ta’s warm on the mountain
  • Moisture wicking underwear– One a day unless you’re wearing panty liners, then you can get away with one every other day
  • 1-2 short-sleeved shirts- Cotton is okay since you’ll only be wearing these for a day or two
  • 1-2 long-sleeved shirts– Lightweight or midweight, depending on how warm you want to be
  • 1 wool blend base layer shirt– For the day before summit and Summit Day

I also recommend that you pack one warm outfit, either fleece or thermal underwear, that you use strictly for pajamas.  It’s nice to not have to sleep in your sweaty, dirty clothes every night!  Just try to pick leggings instead of pants.  When you take your midnight bathroom breaks (and you surely will) you don’t want your pants to get dirty from a misguided aim or an overflowing port-a-potty.  Not that I would know about such things.

Mid Layer

kilimanjaro packing list for women

Your mid layer consists of clothing you’ll don when it gets a little chilly during your hike.  Early mornings and shady places can make it feel 20 degrees colder than when you’re standing out in the warm sun.

  • 1 light zip-up jacket– Hooded or not
  • Waterproof rain pants– Sometimes you’ll wear these even when it’s not raining, just for that extra layer.  I read bad reviews about the Columbia brand rain pants so I went with REI and have been happy with them.  They’re one of the few brands that offer plus sizes.
  • Thermal underwear– Nothing fancy, just your standard Cuddl Duds or fleece underwear
  • Glove liners or running gloves- You’ll be wearing these by Day 3 just to keep your hands from getting sunburnt

Many days I used my rain pants as my standard second layer with my capri leggings underneath.  If you dislike the cold then you might find it better to wear your leggings, thermal underwear and rain pants together, especially in the mornings.

Outer Layer

kilimanjaro packing list for women

Ahhh, the warm stuff!  Your outer layer needs to include high quality items to protect you from the wind and cold on summit night.  You might get lucky and experience mild weather at the top of Kilimanjaro or you might get hammered with snow and hail.  Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes in case it’s the latter.

  • Poncho or waterproof rain jacket– I prefer a poncho to prevent myself from getting too hot or sweaty
  • Down jacket– I got my jacket from The North Face (pictured above)
  • Insulated snow gloves– Mittens or gloves, it’s up to you.  Just make sure this pair is large enough to fit over your glove liners, you’ll need both on summit night
  • Neck gaiter or buff– These are extremely important for keeping your lungs moist and free from dust on the trail.  Choose a traditional buff or a fleece lined neck gaiter, it’s up to you.  I brought one of each!
  • Insulated snow pants– Get a size or two too big; with all your layers you’re going to need it!

I highly recommend that one of your jackets be hooded, whether it’s your down jacket or your mid layer light jacket.  Even with a hat and neck gaiter the wind can cut through and leave you feeling chilled.

Good to Know: Waterproof outerwear is extremely important on Kilimanjaro but it doesn’t always come in the size you need.  If you’re particularly big, tall or short and can’t find anything in your size then I suggest trying Foxwear custom clothing.  I have no personal experience with the company but other members of the Curvy Kili Crew ordered pants and loved the quality.

Foot Gear

ultimate kilimanjaro packing list for plus size women

Your hiking boots will probably be the most important purchase you make for this trip so shop around and find a pair that fits you well.  I have very wide feet and it was difficult finding a pair of shoes that fit me right.  I even tried on a few men’s shoes before I found a brand that I liked.  If you’re a lady with wide feet I would recommend the Lowa Renegade (pictured above), they’re extremely comfortable!

  • 1 pair of camp shoes– I used my Crocs which are durable and lightweight but KEEN’s work well too.  Just choose a shoe with a spacious toebox.  In the event you bruise your toes on the hike down (or lose a toenail) you’ll want a shoe that doesn’t rub against the top of your toes.
  • 1 pair of waterproof hiking boots -I wore both Lowa Renegades and Vasques on my Kilimanjaro treks but there’s so many different kinds of boots out there that you really have to find one that fits you best.  Just be sure to pick a waterproof boot with GoreTex and good ankle support.
  • 3-5 pairs of liner socks– These are worn as a layer between your feet and regular hiking sock and help wick away moisture.  They’re essential for keeping your feet dry and blister-free!
  • 3-6 pairs of hiking socks– Light and medium cushioning socks if you have wide feet, medium and heavy cushioning socks if you have regular or narrow feet.  My personal favorite is the Darn Tough crew socks.  They’re super soft and long enough to fit past my hiking boots but not so long that they squeeze my wide calves.

Head Gear

ultimate kilimanjaro packing list for plus size women

Let’s not forget about our noggin!  You’re going to need to pack plenty of stuff to keep your head protected while on the mountain.  Here’s a list of the basic necessities.

  • 1-2 headbands or bandanas- For the sweaty days in the jungle
  • Hiking hat with a brim– There are no trees that offer shade beyond the first day’s hike so it’s important to protect your head and face from the sun!
  • 1-2 warm beanie hats– Try to bring at least one hat that covers the ears
  • Head lamp– I brought one that was 250 lumens and it was great


kilimanjaro packing list for women

Your toiletry bag is going to be full of stuff you wouldn’t normally bring on a trip but just remember, there are no stores on the mountain for last minute needs!

  • Ibuprofen or Tylenol
  • Nail clipper and fingernail file- Necessary if you wear contacts
  • Unbreakable travel mirror
  • Perfume- A small sample vial or rollerball
  • Panty liners, one per day*
  • Tampons or pads- High altitude can affect your menstrual cycle
  • Baby Powder– For the large and/or busty ladies, or just for people who hate being sweaty
  • Sunscreen- High SPF is a must!
  • Lip balm– Pack 2 or 3 in case you lose one
  • Saline Nasal Gel– The high altitude will REALLY dry out your sinuses. Use nasal gel at night to restore some moisture and prevent nosebleeds
  • Baby wipes- This will be your only shower for 7 days!
  • Toilet paper
  • Small bottle of lotion or moisturizer (coconut oil works well too!)
  • Compeed– Excellent for preventing blisters.  I used this on a few toes and didn’t get a blister till the last day of hiking
  • Cipro**
  • Diamox**

*You’ll usually come across just one squat toilet each day so the trails are littered with toilet paper tossed behind rocks and bushes.  To keep the trail looking neat I suggest wearing panty liners instead to drip dry, then save your TP for the camps where they can be disposed of properly.

**These are prescription drugs you may want to consider bringing (as always, discuss this with your doctor).  Cipro is used to combat any bacterial infections you might get such as a stomach bug.  It’s only taken if you start to get sick, not as a preventative measure.  Diamox is used to prevent altitude sickness and was something our entire group took.  We all summited.


kilimanjaro packing list for plus size women

There are a few necessities you should include in your pack along with some “luxury” items that will make your hike a lot easier.

  • Snacks, snacks, and more snacks (3-4 per day plus a few extras)- Include some hard candies like Werther’s Originals or lozenges.  Not only will the altitude dry out your sinuses but your throat will suffer too.
  • Water bladder with insulated hose- 3 liters is the recommended capacity.  You will drink that and more every day on the mountain
  • Wide mouth water bottle– This will be your backup source of water.  It is especially helpful on summit night when your bladder hose is prone to freezing
  • Inflatable pillow– My FAVORITE non-necessity that I brought on my hike
  • Luggage lock for your duffel bag
  • Gaiters– I rented mine but you can get low gaiters for fairly cheap
  • Trekking poles– Rented these too but I’m buying one for my trip to Everest Base Camp
  • iPod, headphones and charger
  • Photography equipment
  • 2 extra sets of batteries
  • Swim towel
  • Carabiners
  • Portable charger– Not necessary but nice to have if you’re bringing multiple cameras.  The solar charger I brought failed dismally.  I’ve since bought a much better battery pack from Outdoor Tech and I’m VERY happy with it.  I got their biggest battery, 10,000 mAh which charges an iPhone roughly 5 times.  But the reason I like Outdoor Tech is because their battery packs are waterproof, dustproof and shockproof.  It also comes with an amazingly bright flashlight on the front that works as a backup for my headlamp.
  • Polarized sunglasses– These are HUGELY popular among the guides and porters.  If you bring a spare pair they would be really appreciated as an additional “tip”
  • Small journal and pen

Good to Know: Be sure to store whatever electronics you bring in your sleeping bag at night.  The cold can drain your batteries quickly, sometimes in the span of a few hours.  On summit night you may even want to hike with your camera batteries in a warm pocket or close to your chest.  The last thing you want is to get to the summit and find out your camera battery is dead!

The Big Gear

ultimate kilimanjaro packing list for women

This little list includes all the gear you’ll need to carry your stuff as well as your sleeping bag.  I rented almost all of this equipment with the exception of my daypack.

  • 25-35L Daypack– I bought a giant 40 liter backpack for Kilimanjaro, filled it up with too much crap and promptly had it confiscated by my porter because it slowed me down.  For my 2019 Kilimanjaro trek I used a Gregory Jade 28L backpack and loved it!
  • Waterproof Duffel Bag- An 80L+ duffle bag is easily over $100 so if you don’t plan on using one again I suggest renting this item.  I did and it cost a whopping $10 for 7 days
  • Sleeping Bag– A mummy-shaped sleeping bag with a minimum temp rating of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (so 14 degrees or less).  Another expensive item you can rent.  If you’re plus size (18W and up) I highly recommend buying your own extra wide sleeping bag.  I recently bought this REI Co-Op Sleeping Bag that comes in extra wide.  It’s only rated to 24 degrees (12 degrees at the lower limit) but it’s one of the few extra wide sleeping bags and doesn’t cost a fortune or weigh 8 friggin’ pounds.

    Free 2-Day Shipping on Orders over $49!

    For Curvy Gals

    Who says fat girls can’t climb Kilimanjaro?  This Kilimanjaro packing list works for you too!  But if you’re plus size like me you know it’s hard to find good quality hiking clothes that fit.  Columbia brand is my personal favorite for my adventure clothing.  They’re a tad expensive but their clothes are excellent quality.  I’ve purchased the Columbia Just Right pants and they were GREAT for my safari, so stretchy and light.  I’ve also got a pair of capris and I’m waiting for Columbia’s Bugaboo snow pants to go on sale so I can snatch one up.

    Another option for outerwear is Free Country Ltd.  They’ve got a good selection of jackets, including down jackets, and ski pants that go up to size 3X (size 26 equivalent according to their size chart).  Land’s End is another excellent option for plus size clothing, especially base layers, and they’re priced more affordably than REI or Columbia.

    General Packing Tips

    I divided all my clothes and snacks into seven Ziploc bags and labeled them by day. It was so easy to reach into my duffle and pull out just one Ziploc bag I would need for the next day instead of fishing around for something to wear.  At the end of the day I’d stuff my dirty clothes back in their bag or use it for trash if needed.

    I’ve personally used many of the products listed above on my Kilimanjaro hikes so I can attest to their quality.  If you have any questions about specific brands just ask and I’ll help out as much as I can!

    Plan on hiking Mount Kilimanjaro?  You might find these other articles helpful!

    A Fat Girl’s Guide to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

    20 Motivating Songs for Your Kilimanjaro Playlist

    Machame vs. Rongai: Which Kilimanjaro Route is Right for You?

    A comprehensive packing list for Mount Kilimanjaro, tailored to plus-sized women #plussize #tanzania #packinglist #adventuretravel


  1. Thank so, such a helpful overview.And yes, couldn’t agree more: layers, layers and more layers. Still we want to keep feeling good about ourselves, even on the Kilimanjaro.

  2. Very helpful list! Thank you for writing it. I love climbing and hicking and Kilimanjaro is on my to do list 🙂 I’ll save your list for when I’ll finally be able to go

  3. What an incredible, helpful post. First of all, I had no idea that high altitude can affect your menstrual cycle, and thinking about panty liners for the drip dry is just SO genius I can’t even say anymore! I find people that do this hike super inspiring, can’t wait to read about your Everest Adventures!!

  4. This is such a helpful list and perfectly structured! Can’t wait to climb Kilimanjaro myself some day 🙂

  5. Very helpful. I come from tropical country and never love wearing layers. I think I will have trouble with packing if I wanna do this hiking. Lol.

  6. Useful post for people who enjoy hiking, Christa! Kilimanjaro is on mu bucket list already!

  7. Thank you SO much for posting this!! It is nice to have a list specific to women! I am climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro this June and I am very anxious and excited. Thanks again!

  8. Very helpful! Where did you rent the duffel bag from?

    • Gladys Adventures has a big storage facility in Moshi where you can rent EVERYTHING you need. Seriously, you can even rent boots and socks if you need to. I rented my duffle bag, sleeping bag, trekking poles and waterproof rain pants from them

  9. I am leaving 8/30/17 to travel to Arusha to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro! Super excited and nervous. I am grateful for your packing guide…it is over whelming to figure out what to bring and not bring. I am cold natured so I worry about being cold.
    May I ask what kind of training you did to prepare for your climb?

  10. thank you so so much for the helpful tips for packing! I’m leaving in about 6 weeks and I’m very excited 🙂 may i ask- did you have the time to take pictures of the trail and it’s views? and if so, what photography equipment did you use?

    thanks a lot!

    what kind of snacks should I bring with me?

    • SO excited for you! I brought my Nikon camera and I’m pretty sure I just brought one lens on the trek and left my other lens at the hotel. I also had a tiny point-and-shoot camera and my GoPro with a headstrap. I didn’t take nearly as many photos on the hike as I wanted to, I just didn’t have the energy. I also brought my Gorilla Pod to take night photos but again I just never had the energy for that.

      As far as snacks go, bring all the junk food you like! The guides make great, healthy food but sometimes the only thing you’re in the mood for eating are the sweet or salty snacks you crave from home. I brought Cheez-It’s in a plastic container, Slim Jim’s, gummy bears and Powerbars. Unfortunately I didn’t bring enough and ran out on Summit Day. I recommend at least 4 snacks a day, you might end up eating some in the airport on the way there 🙂

  11. Thanks for this post. I especially like the tip to separate everything into zip lock bags by day. I hate waking up in the cold mornings on a trek and searching for what to wear for the day! Do you know of anywhere State side that rents bags? I’m having a hard time justifying the huge cost of a bag that I’ll never use again.

    • I don’t know of any places you could rent a bag over here. I brought my daypack, a large backpack that stayed at the hotel and a suitcase. The backpack and suitcase were my checked bags, the daypack was my carry-on. I was told you can find decent waterproof bags for about $100 but it was just easier to rent it when I got there.

  12. hi Christa, can you tell me how you trained for your trip. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. You say you didnt have a lot of energy even for photos is that pretty common. Do you think upping the training would help? Did you run on a regular basis? Thanks! Christina feel free to email me!

  13. Can you tell me what airline you used. We are traveling from Florida in September. Also, did you do anything else while you were there? I am looking at Stonetown.

    • I used airline miles so I flew with KLM from Boston. However a lot of the women used Turkish Airlines because they were the cheapest option. I did a 5 day safari afterward and it was wonderful! However I’m going back to climb Kili again next March and am thinking about doing a short trip to Zanzibar afterwards. If you go that route come back and let me know how it went!

  14. Great post and packing list! Climbing Kilimanjaro has been on my list for so long, I’m hoping to go sometime in the next few years! I’ll save this post for later. Thanks for putting it together.

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