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First Major Hiking Trip - Best advice and tips for Kilimanjaro?

Hi everyone! 

This December I’m embarking on my first major outdoor/hiking adventure. I’m climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with an all women’s hiking group. This is a 7 day hike with a wide array of climates/temperatures. We are fortunate that we will have porters to carry up most of our stuff and we will only have to carry our water, snacks and a few other items in a day pack. With this being my first time hiking anything more than a day trip, I would love to hear any tips/advice from more experienced hikers! Specifically:

-Are there any specific items that you bring when hiking that aren’t commonly thought of but super useful?

-Ladies, what does layering generally mean for you? I see people generally referring to “base layers, mid layers and outer layers” but these all seem to mean different things to different people. Particularly for pants, what is a mid layer? 

-Another question more geared towards women, what do you do with your hair? I have never gone 6 days without a proper shower and I’m not concerned about looking cute but on the other hand I don’t want to have gnarly unmanageable hair, any tips or tricks in this regard?


 Other than that, any general feedback or advice you can provide is greatly appreciated! 

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14 Replies

@NatalieS Thanks for reaching out!

What an incredible adventure you have planned! We have some members of our community who have climbed Kilimanjaro: @Pennachini@kmyzz@NatStateExp@kathyrb, care to lend some of your expertise? Also, you could connect with @mngavish or @ddrakedo who are also thinking about climbing Kili.

While you're waiting for the community to weigh in, I encourage you to check out a couple of these threads for some advice and inspiration:

Kilimanjaro Advice and Tips

Mount Kilimanjaro layering and clothing advice

Best Sleeping Bag for Kilimanjaro

Hopefully this helps get the conversation started and some of your questions answered. We hope you have a tremendous trip, make sure you come back and show us some photos!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for sharing so many helpful resources!! Definitely some useful information in there! 



Kilimanjaro reminds me of my childhood. The story of a lion king who lived in a cave top of the Kilimanjaro mountain. Kilimanjaro would be my 2nd trip.


Thanks for your reply. 
I’m not quite certain what you are trying to say though. 


Hey @NatalieS!

We also did Kili last December. Which route are you taking?

The porters will carry all of you items except the essentials that you need each day. Your day pack should be similar to what you would normally bring hiking except for some extra snacks, water, TP and clothes. 

The item that saved our trip was rain gear. We got rained on every single day except summit day, 6 out of 7 days! We had great rain jackets, rain pants and a backpack cover that really made a huge difference. Do not forget that, even if no rain is in the forecast. Better to have and not need than need and not have. 

Layer wise, i can tell you what my wife wore. On most days the temp was mild so it was just hiking pants or shorts, she has a great pair of pranas and as for a top it was polyester tops (ss or ls) and a mid weight pullover. On summit day she wore thermal leggings and top, heavy socks, mid weight pullover, a fleece and a down jacket (i think 650 fill). This was fine, there were moments when she got cold but id guess the temp was around 10-15 degrees. As for gloves, we brought a mid weight pair and rented heavy gloves but never used them. We ended up using those dollar cotton gloves the whole time. 

on the hair topic, I asked her. Brushed it every day and braided it. And she wore a hat. No body gets to shower, except those fancy pants people who have one carried up for them. So dont feel like you are dirty, everyone else is as well. 

Hope that helps!

Let me know if you have any other questions. Im stuck at home bored and would love to help!

Thank you for all the helpful information! 

We are taking the Machame route up! Which I don’t think is the shortest or the longest route, but I know they have built in some acclimatization time.

Yes I’ve definitely been taking the rain gear search very seriously as that seems to be the common consensus, don’t let your stuff get wet!!  Unfortunately I won’t have much of an opportunity to test it out before the trip so here’s to hoping the online reviews are accurate! 

I will definitely take you up on that if I have any other questions that come to mind. Thanks again for your help! 

@NatalieS That is the same route we took. We opted for the 7 day. Very scenic and yea, they do build in a lot of acclimatization time. 

Hi @NatalieS

I went, to Kilimanjaro, at the end of July-beginning of August, 3 years ago. The best advice I can give you is to dress in layers.  I took rain gear but, never used it for rain. It was used more as another layer for the wind and cold.  The days can be pleasure with lots of sun (sunscreen, lip balm, and a hat are a must). The air is dry. Gaiters are great to have because it's dusty and they help keep the dirt out.  Once the sun starts going down, it gets cold fast. Make sure to have gloves, warm hat, puffy jacket, long underwear (top and bottom), warm socks, etc. As far as kinds of layers, that is up to each individual. Its what works best for each individual.  Make sure you have enough to take off and put on when the need arises.  Polyester works great-NO cotton. A buff is good. 

Hair: My hair is long (down my back) so, make sure to have a good comb and hair ties. I kept mine tied back during the day, mostly in a tight bun, and loose when sleeping.  It can get windy.  As time goes on, my hair actually was manageable because the oil in it kept it in place better.  The group we went with provided warm water and soap to wash up with every morning and evening. We needed to provide our own wash cloth and a little towel. 

I took various drink mixes that come in the little tubes. This is to add some variety to my water and to interest me into drinking plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is very important, especially with the altitude. Taking some of your favorite snacks is great too. 

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and what worked best for you! 

I’ve been trying to research my way through the art of layering as I haven’t had to do it much before but it sounds like I might just have to order some stuff and test it out. 

I know we will also have access to warm water and I plan on bringing those giant “body wipes” so I’m less concerned about general cleanliness, just hoping my hair doesn’t get out of control. I have long and full but very fine hair and I generally find that when my hair gets oily it gets extremely tangled and snarly and it can be downright uncomfortable. I’m hoping that maybe once I push through the initial stage I’ll end up feeling like you and the oil will be my friend! 

Thank you again for sharing your input with me!