In Blog, Camping, Gear

Climbing Kilimanjaro requires a lot of gear.

You’ll have a day pack to carry the day’s essentials as you trek between campsites.  Items in your day pack will include things such as clothing layers, sunglasses, camera, lunch, and water.

For the rest of your gear, you will need a duffel bag. Each morning, you’ll pack up your duffel bag. The porters will then carry it to the next campsite.

What size duffel do you need for Kilimanjaro?

For most people, a 75 – 90L capacity duffel is recommended. It should easily hold all your gear. You don’t want the bag to be unnecessarily bulky nor do you want it to be overstuffed. Minimalist backpackers may be able to get away with a smaller capacity, but most people should bring our recommended size. It will reduce the amount of shuffling and organizing you need to do to find and take things out.

Is there a weight limit for the duffel bag?

Yes. The weight limit will be strictly limited to 15 kg or about 33 lbs. Your duffel will be weighed before you leave the lodge and again as begin your trek at the park gate. Lodges will have luggage scales that you can borrow to weigh your bag. If it’s overweight, you’ll need to remove items and either carry them yourself in your day pack or better yet, leave them at your lodge if they aren’t really needed. If you’re hitting the weight limit in your duffel, we suggest you review what you have and cut down on what you want to bring. You’re almost certainly overpacking.

Does it have to be a duffel bag?

Keep in mind that your duffel bag will be put into a larger sack, and carried together with other group gear. Therefore your gear should be in a soft duffel bag. Do not use a wheeled duffel, a large backpack, luggage, or any type of stiff, structured bag. These ultimately make packing and carrying it more difficult for our staff.

What features should I look for in a duffel bag?

Besides having sufficient capacity, your duffel bag should be weather-resistant and somewhat durable. While we all hope for sun-filled days while on a trek, there is always the possibility that you’ll encounter rain. The last thing you want is for your duffel to absorb water and for your sleeping bag or clothing to get wet. So while you don’t need a completely waterproof bag, some degree of water resistance is desirable. Additionally, the bag will be carried for hours everyday, and continuously put down and picked up on mountain terrain. The duffel should be able to withstand some rough treatment.

For ease of transport, look for bags with comfortable shoulder straps. Carrying a heavy load in your hand or across one shoulder eventually takes it toll.

Finally, it’s a good idea to use packing cubes or stuff sacks to organize your gear within the duffel. This will make locating the items you need each day easier. If you put your gear inside packing cubes and stack them together, this can give you an idea as to which size duffel you’ll need to fit it all.

What duffel bags do you recommend for climbing Kilimanjaro?

Here are my picks for durable, high quality bags that you’ll be using for your Kilimanjaro trek and other adventures:

Patagonia Black Hole

This duffel is made with 100% recycled materials, resulting in extremely durable and weather-resistant fabric. There are different sizes and colors to choose from: 55L, 70L, and 100L. All have detachable shoulder straps. There is a full access main compartment with a large D-zip opening. There is also a smaller side pocket accessible from the outside, as well as a small security pocket inside (good for keys, medications, etc.).

Mountain Hardwear Camp 4

This 95L duffel from Mountain Hardwear is durable and water-resistant. An internal mesh zipper pockets help organize your smaller gear and toiletries while the external zippered pocket can hold dirty gear and shoes. Removable backpack straps let you carry your bag effortlessly and the internal compression system reduces the volume of your gear to keep you stable.

North Face Base Camp


North Face duffels are made from base camp water-resistant material and available in 71L and 95L. These bags have detachable shoulder straps, an ID window on top, and a zippered compartment at the end-cap so you can separate out dirty clothing. There is a D-zip opening to access the main compartment and a zip mesh pocket inside for storing toiletries.

REI Big Haul

REI’s Big Haul duffel is a rugged, weather-resistant bag made with recycled ripstop nylon. The duffel has a capacity of 90L and converts to a backpack. The compression strap system allows you to compress large loads and external daisy-chain lash points make it easy to attach gear. It also has an internal mesh pockets for convenience and organization.

Do you have any questions about your gear? Email us at

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