the-north-face-bags-the-north-face-base-camp-duffle-90l-bag-oriole-orange-tnf-blackClimbers are often confused about exactly how to pack their bags for their hike on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Many are unsure as to what to expect and what they need to carry day to day while on the mountain. In this article, we will go over the types of bags that you will bring on your Kilimanjaro climb.

You will have two main bags when you are on the mountain. The first bag, which we will call your main bag can be a duffle bag or a backpack like the ones shown below. This bag should be large enough to carry all of your clothing, toiletries and any other gear that you will not need during your daily hikes. The second bag, which we will call your day pack should be a medium sized backpack that is large enough to carry your water, lunch, snacks, rain clothing and camera equipment.

Every morning, before breakfast you will roll up your sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and pack your two bags. While at breakfast, the porters will break down your tent and pack up camp.

Your Main Bag

Think of your main bag like a check-in bag on an airplane. Once you check in that bag, you don’t see it until at the baggage claim of your final destination. Once you have packed your main bag, a porter will take it from camp and bring it to the next camp. The next time you see your main bag will be when it is inside your tent at the next campsite. You will not have any access to the things inside this bag during your day hikes.  Your main bag cannot weigh over 33 lbs when fully packed.

Your main bag can be either a duffel bag or a backpack.  It cannot be any type of luggage or bag with hard sides or roller wheels.  The main bag should be about 75-90 liters.  If you pack lightly, your main bag may be much smaller than this.  Your main bag itself does not have to be waterproof.  The porters will put it inside a larger waterproof bag.  For backpacks, you should have a rain cover for your backpack because your porter may wear the backpack and it would be exposed to the weather during the day.

Below are a few examples of duffle bags from REI and Northface as well as backpacks (rug sacks) that can be used as your main bag.

rei duffel

REI Classic Duffel Bag – Large 84L

osprey pack

Osprey Men’s Aether 85 Backpack

the north face duffel

The North Face Base Camp Duffel -Large

mountain hardwear pack

Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 OutDry Backpack

Your Day Pack

Your day pack is like a carry-on bag. It will be with your at all times, and you have access to everything 100% of the time.  A 30-36 liter daypack like the ones below should work fine.  Your daypack will probably weigh between 10-15 lbs unless you have heavy camera equipment.

kelty pack

Kelty Impact 30 Liter Day Pack

osprey pack

Osprey Porter 30 Liter Day Pack

mountain hardwear pack

Mountain Hardwear Rainshadow 36

So what exactly do you need in your day pack?

The heaviest item in your day pack by far will be water. We recommend carrying at least 2 liters of water each day. This can be carried in a Camelbak, multiple water bottles or both. Read more about water in our article titled, Water on Kilimanjaro.  You will also be carrying a box lunch on certain days.  You should have your rain gear, which includes a rain jacket and pants and a rain cover for your daypack. Depending on the weather, you will bring additional clothing layers.

Other items that will be in your daypack are:

  • Snacks, Powerbars
  • Camera equipment
  • Toilet paper
  • sunscreen

We hope this article helps shed some light on your packs that you would bring on your climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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