Your daypack on Kilimanjaro

What size daypack do you need for Kilimanjaro?

In order to accommodate all the items listed below, you really need a daypack for Kilimanjaro of about 25-30 litres. The biggest item will be your water containers (either a bladder, or water bottles, or preferably both). Some trekkers argue that you really need a bigger bag. And I suppose it’s true that you’ll probably want to take your summit jacket off once you’ve reached the summit and are descending. Because it actually gets quite hot and sweaty then. But that would mean taking a daypack of about 40 litres, maybe, which is simply too big for your needs for most of your time on the mountain. So my advice is to stick with the smaller, 30-litre bag for the entire trip, and just tie your coat around your waist for that descent day.

What you should put in it

Normally you will not see your main, large backpack from the moment you hand it to the porter in the morning to at least lunchtime, and maybe not until the end of the day. It’s therefore necessary to pack everything that you may need during the day in the bag that you carry with you, which is commonly known as your daypack.

So here are some suggestions of what to put in your daypack:

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Walking through the Groundsel grove with an over-full daypack – yours should not be nearly as packed!

Essential stuff that everyone should carry in your daypack on Kilimanjaro

  • Sweets and snacks from home. You can find what we think about what snacks to bring for Kilimanjaro on our website.
  • Water and water purifiers. Again, we write extensively about water and water bottles for Kilimanjaro on this website.
  • Camera and spare film/batteries. Because you won’t want to leave these in your rucksack. Otherwise, your camera is bound to run out of both. Click on this link for advice on taking a camera on Kilimanjaro.
  • Your valuables If you haven’t left them safely behind at the hotel, don’t leave them behind with your main rucksack but carry them with you for safe-keeping.
  • Phone. Smartphones, of course, perform several roles at once, being a torch, GPS, laptop, camera, phone…..
  • Battery pack and charger for your phone, so you don’t run out of juice on the trail
  • A sunhat. This, on the other hand, is pretty much essential.
  • Sunglasses. As are these…
  • Suncream. And this.
  • Toilet paper (and trowel). And most definitely this. You probably find the suggestion that you should pick up and carry any used toilet paper with you rather disgusting. Not as disgusting, unhygienic or anti-social however, as leaving it behind a rock on the trail.
  • Rainwear. Yes, always have both rain pants and rain trousers in your daypack. It’s true that you may spend days on the mountain without seeing any rain. But when it does, you’ll be mighty glad you carried your waterproofs with you.
  • Walking sticks/poles. It’s up to you whether you carry them or use them on the ascent. But it’s on the descent that they really come into their own. Especially if, like me, you’re getting on a bit and the knees are starting to complain with every step….

Other stuff that you may want to consider carrying

  • Knee supports. Which is when you may end up wanting these.
  • Medical kit, including chapstick. But not much else, really, unless you are taking a prescribed medicine and know you’ll need to take it during the day. But otherwise, your guide should have a full medical kit with him.
  • The guide book/maps. True, neither of these are essential daypack contents, but both could make your walking more enjoyable.
  • Buff/bandanna This could be very useful too, particularly on the dustier parts of the mountain.
  • A light fleece Probably essential as you reach the upper reaches of the mountain.
  • Watch. It’s always nice, when walking on Kilimanjaro, to look at the time and think ‘If I was back at home now I’d be in that boring staff meeting with my ridiculous boss’ or whatever. Well, a watch helps you to pinpoint those times precisely.
  • Whistle. To be honest, we’ve always listed a whistle on this list, as when you go trekking elsewhere they can help raise an alarm or call for help. But actually, I’ve never met anybody who’s got lost on the mountain or who has had to blow a whistle. SO maybe I’m just being over-cautious!
  • Lunch Which will be provided by your crew if you’re on a budget trek.