What I Wore: Kilimanjaro Edition
The first day involved a fair bit of waiting around at Machame gate. The weather here can be completely unpredictable, with rain one minute and warm sunshine the next. I would 100% recommend having a fleece and a raincoat with you on this day. You’ll probably find that most of the time you’ll be pretty comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts (especially when you get walking up the steeper hills). Towards the end of the day’s trek, when we got more into the shade and trees, it did get a bit chillier. I was wearing my fleece and actually zipped on my trouser bottoms too.
(If I had to recommend any piece of clothing for trekking it would have to be the zip off shorts/trousers, they are possibly the least flattering/stylish item of clothing in existence, but they are SO useful in a trekking environment like Kili, and they’re super comfortable too.)
On the second day, it was quite chilly/fresh to start. So I had started walking in a fleece, t-shirt and trousers. With lots of uphill walking, I’d soon stripped down to just my t-shirt, and so I’d recommend always starting walking feeling a little chilly as you very quickly warm up. You’ll notice on most days I am wearing very similar t-shirts- I bulk bought a load from Sports Direct, they were super-cheap and have lasted me a long time. They were all sports t-shirts, so a decent material that doesn’t get too warm or hold too much sweat/rain they also come in fun colours (like this bright pink one!). Trousers and t-shirt will suffice on this day, though it’s always good to bring a fleece for lunch stops and when it starts to get chillier towards the end of the day.
On day 3 I made a slight error. We woke up to a temperature of around minus 5, our tent zip was frozen shut and I was shivering the moment I put my limbs outside of my cosy sleeping bag. So, this ultimately led to me piling on the layers before breakfast. I was wearing a thermal, t-shirt, mid-layer long-sleeve top and my fleece. As well as thermal leggings AND my hiking trousers. It’s safe to say as soon as the sun came out and we started on our long day of walking, I was getting horrendously overheated and had to stop behind a very small rock mid-morning to get undressed. You really don’t want to make this same mistake as on this day there are very few rocks around, and it’s really quite unpleasant to feel that hot (and quite dangerous, in terms of the risk of getting heat stroke or similar). So overall I’d say: No matter how cold it feels in the morning, on this day you should only need a thermal and a t-shirt (or even just a t-shirt and a fleece) and definitely not your thermal leggings yet!
It started to get a bit colder this day as we were making our way up Barranco Wall and up above the clouds toward the snowy peak. Although, yet again things heated up as we were walking along the narrow paths of the wall and trying to take some classic jumping shots at the top (see below), I was still relatively comfortable wearing my fleece, thermal and t-shirt (as well as my buff and sunglasses to make sure I could see where I was going along the way). Walking poles (although not pictured below) were essential on this day too as there was a big old downhill slog which although wasn’t strenuous, was pretty hard on the knees so make sure to pack a decent set of poles or rent them when you get to Tanzania.
Summit Night & Day 5:
Day 5 started at around about 1am in the morning, it was pitch black and I can honestly say to this day, I have never been so cold in my life. I woke up shivering in my sleeping bag wearing just my thermals and soon piled on literally every item of clothing I had with me, including:
My trespass coat (this was relatively cheap- and I would probably recommend getting a better one, but it did the job as a layer!), trespass windbreaker jacket, trespass thick fleece, three thin but warm mid-layers, a t-shirt, a thermal long-sleeved top and a thermal vest. On my bottoms, I wore 2 thermal leggings and my zip-off trousers. I also had a hat, a buff, two pairs of gloves and two pairs of socks on.
*The video below shows me packing for Kilimanjaro and trying on all the layers I planned to wear on summit night (I ended up not needing the white gilet as it was quite uncomfortable to wear on-top of all my other layers, and added a second jacket under my coat instead- a windproof jacket)
Overall, some who have completed Kilimanjaro may look at my many layers as a bit extreme, others would agree that it really is THAT cold. But there really is no harm in going up the mountain as prepared as possible so my tip would be to take up plenty of layers and buy some that are a little bigger than others so they’ll comfortably layer up (and nothing will be too tight and uncomfortable).
Once we reached the peak, the sun had come out, and I made the mistake of pushing through and trying to get down the mountain without pausing to take a few layers off. This led to me feeling rather unwell, so another tip would be to take layers but also remember to de-layer!! After we’d got down to basecamp and had some lunch/a nap I was pretty comfortable walking to our final camp in my trousers, a t-shirt and a fleece.
The last day was a lovely little trek in the warmth once again, it started as all mornings did- feeling a little cold/fresh but as soon as breakfast was finished and we’d begun our trekking we soon warmed up and had to stop and de-layer. We were all pretty comfortable in just a t-shirt and trousers on this day too. I’d tie a buff around my wrist so that I could pop it around my neck if I got a little chillier in the trees.