During the planning and preparations for my Kilimanjaro trip I was obsessed with gear and equipment. I’m sure any would be / in preparation Kili climber will figure out their waterproof / cold weather gear so here’s a summary of a few other items that worked particularly well for me and some that I found less useful..
Alpkit AirLok Dry Bags. On our 1st day of hiking we had rain on the lower slopes – these kept all my gear bone dry. I had a selection of sizes and found them really useful for keeping stuff organised in my back bag and porter duffel – just the job when you’re scrambling around with limited time to pack up and strike camp in a morning. I’m still using them today when I travel. Low prices and good service from Alpkit make these one of the best gear buys of my trip.
Rab MeCo Base Layers. Comfortable, light weight and stink free – just the job. I had a T-shirt, long sleeve, Boxers and full length pants.
Nail Brush. Kili’s dust gets everywhere – give yourself a fighting chance of keeping your hands clean for meals. Take something to scrape the dirt from under your finger nails too!
Seal Skinz Trail Hat. Kept the sun and rain off me nicely on the lower slopes of Kili. Lightweight and relatively low cost to the alternatives I looked at. Not the most glamorous item I ever wore though – still, screw fashion – stay dry / avoid sun burn!
Magic Coin Disposable Pock Towels. Cheap as chips, takes up very little space and an absolute god send. A new flannel for every bowl of washing water! Inexpensive cleanliness…
Heat Holders Socks. Warm feet at night – ‘nuff said.
Thermolite Reactor Extreme Sleeping Bag Liner. I rented a sleeping back from my climb company so I wanted to ensure I had a liner for extra warms / cleanliness. As it happens the sleeping bags provided were clean and warm but this lightweight / low pack volume liner ensured I was toasty every night on Kili.
Fuji X10 Camera (superseded by the X20). Compact, good battery life (took 2, only needed 1), great lens. I’m no photography expert so my lovely wife who knows about these things choose the Fuji for me, particularly because of the lens range from macro to semi-wide angle. Loads of features yet idiot (me) proof. You’ve got to capture the trip, right? Cool retro styling. A top gadget.
Power Monkey Extreme Solar Charger / Battery. Kept my iPhone and iPad charged for the whole trip. I used a GPS app to track my climb. Didn’t manage to make any calls but did get the odd patch of cell phone coverage to send and receive SMS. Easy to use and robustly built but a little heavy because of the larger battery capacity– you might find lighter versions if you just want to charge a phone
I was less impressed with or didn’t use…
Alti-Vit Vitamin supplements. I didn’t feel that these made a difference for me as I still felt the effects of altitude (headache, nausea) most days. Your millage may vary of course.
Hi-Gear Heat Pads – didn’t feel too warm on summit night, maybe due to lower oxygen levels (catalyst for heating process). Had to take gloves off to open / activate – so your hands get colder just when you’re at the point of already needing to warm them up. May work better at lower altitudes, haven’t tested.
Pocket Trowel- Reinforced Nylon. I didn’t need to poop en-route during the day’s hikes so this never got used. I’m not sure it would have been robust enough to dig into Kili’s slopes though.
Nalgene Wide-Mouth Canteen – This was going to be my “pee bottle” for when I didn’t want to leave the warmth of my sleeping bag at night. Once on the mountain I decided that didn’t feel like risking any in-bed spills or leaks so I just got up when nature called (which can be very quickly when you’re just started taking Diamox!). Seemed like a perfectly functional and robust flat-pack bottle – I just didn’t need to use it in the end.