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How to pack for Kilimanjaro and clothing to wear

Hi Jonathan and Carrie,

My name is Britten. I just came across your website and found it very helpful!

My boyfriend and I are leaving on Tuesday to Africa for a Mount Kilimanjaro climb. This is definitely the most extreme adventure either of us has ever taken. I have been researching and reading up on everything I can find to prepare us for the trip and I was really thankful to come across your site.

I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions and get any advice that the two of you have to offer. One of my main questions is how to pack for the weather changes as you advance up the mountain. I keep reading that we should pack light but I'm afraid we won't pack enough of what is really needed. Should we pack more light clothing to keep cool or heavy clothing to stay warm?

If you could answer this question it would be so helpful to us! So far that's the one thing I haven't been able to get answered. If there is anything else that you think would be helpful advice that would be much appreciated as well.

Thanks in advance for any information you can give us and Congrats on your engagement!

Hi Britten!

We don't mind answering your questions at all, as long as we can post the question and answer on our site so everyone can read it!

Thanks for the congratulations on our engagement. We'll have the video (from the summit proposal) online soon!

Your 7-8 miles a day will come in handy. Here's the thing we realized about the mountain: If you're in moderately good shape, the most important thing about reaching the summit is just deciding that you're going to do it. Once you've made that decision (which you already have), then just stick with it.

How to pack:
Pack light and pack warm. How?

Most importantly - NO COTTON.

It doesn't breathe, and takes forever to dry out. We each wore a cotton shirt on the first day of the climb, and even by the time we left Mount Kilimanjaro, the shirts were still damp. (Icky.)

So, take a polypropylene underlayer of some kind (Short Sleeve shirt or tank top). You'll find that you really don't change your clothes that much, so you only need one or maybe two of these. We know that may sound gross, but on the mountain, no one cares. On top of that, a long sleeve wool or polypropylene layer. Over that, on summit day (or on cooler days), a zippered fleece layer is really good. Carrie has a Columbia jacket with an inner liner that zips out, so that served as her fleece layer - Jonathan had a $25 zippered fleece. (Jonathan's mom bought it for him, we think from Target. It was great to have.) Carrie's outer layer of her jacket served as a windbreaker/rainjacket, and Jonathan just wished he had a windbreaker. But he did have a poncho, just in case it rained.

(Doesn't this seem like a lot of stuff? It did to us too. It isn't really... Just only take one of each thing. Again, when you smell on the mountain, so does everyone else. It's really no big deal. You'll see when you go.)

We were fine with our heavy coats on summit day (over the top of the above-mentioned layers). Carrie zippered her jacket together, while Jonathan had his down ski jacket.

So that's from the waist up.

Waist down:

Jonathan wore boxer briefs underneath. They were frilly and lacey. Just kidding.

He had 4 pairs of boxers for an 8 day climb, because it just feels good to change your underwear. Because he didn't feel the need to change daily, Jonathan changed boxers every other day. (Is that too much information?) Both of us did the same (changed socks every other day) with our liner socks.

Long Underwear... Jonathan hates the way it feels on his skin, but he LOVED having it on Summit Day. NOT COTTON long underwear - get wicking material of some kind. Over the top of that, we put our zip-off pants (the kind that turn into shorts when you zip off the legs). This particular type of pants wouldn't be absolutely necessary, but we liked having them, because we each had two pairs of them, which meant we each had two pairs of pants and two pairs of shorts. They also had multiple pockets, which was SO nice on the mountain for camera, gloves, Clif Bars, etc. they also are very light material, but serve as excellent windbreakers

Which brings us to... ah yes, the feet.

Liner socks, again, NOT COTTON (noticing a theme here?) and wool socks over the top. (We've linked to them in previous blog posts so that you can see what we got).

Glad to hear you're breaking in your boots. Nothing worse than blisters on the mountain. (Well, okay, maybe there are worse things, but...) We took some NuSkin and bandage wrapping material (the kind that sticks to itself) that came in handy for Carrie's blisters on day one. She never had a problem with the blisters after that.

Other helpful advice

About the water - (see the earlier post on the water)

One of the best non-essential items we took was the Playaway and extra AAA Lithium Batteries to power them. They're audio books, and helped keep the mind distracted on long hiking days. (Jonathan "read" The World is Flat (twice), and Carrie "read" most of Angels and Demons, while we were on the mountain.)

Little snacky foods are helpful and fun along the way.

Beef Jerky was definitely the snack of choice for the trip.

There's a lot more we can share, but you leave Tuesday, and we're still working on getting pictures and videos live on the site. When you get back, contact us. We'd love to have you offer some of your tips right here on our site.

The best of success to you, stay safe, and most importantly, have fun!!!

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Official Travel Pictures
(What's online and available at the moment...)

Day 1 -  The Hains Point Giant "The Awakening" and DC Metro       Pictures/stories    No Video
Day 2 -  Our First Official "Tourist Day!"                                    
Pictures/stories    Summary Video  
Day 3 -  National Museum of Art, Constitution, and Carrie's Bday   
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 4 -  Arlington, Iwo Jima, FDR, Jefferson, Holocaust Museum    
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 5 -  Washington D.C. Museums and the Hope Diamond           
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 6 -  Mellow relax and Catch-up day with our friends Misty and Yvette
Day 7 -  Delaware, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania      
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 8 -  Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Mamma Mia! on Broadway    Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 9 -  New York City, The Empire State Building, Long Island      
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 10 - Catch-up/prep day with our friends Viliam and Julie, as well as the New Jersey PPL Briefing
Day 11/12  Travel to Africa  (Arriving in Africa the evening of Day 12, which was June 22nd)
Day 13 - Safari in Arusha National Park and touring the lodge        
Pictures/stories    Summary Video(s)
Day 14 - Traveling to Mount Kilimanjaro and beginning our climb     
Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 15 - Second Climb Day on Mt Kilimanjaro                              Pictures/stories    Summary Video
Day 16 - Third Climb Day on Mt Kilimanjaro                                 Pictures/stories    Summary Video

In the meantime, check out the Gear page!