How Should I Pack the Day Pack?

On Kilimanjaro, most of your personal gear will be carried by hardworking porters.  As climbers begin their trek in the morning, the porters stay behind to break down the tents and clean the campsite.  Then, the porters proceed ahead of the climbers at a faster rate, beating the climbers to the next campsite to set up, prepare meals and boil water.  Therefore, climbers will often not see their porters again until they have reached their overnight destination and thus will not have access to the gear that the porters have transported until then.

Climbers are expected to prepare their own day packs and to place all other items into a duffel bag for the porters.  As far as what goes into the day pack, it depends on what you may need during the day. The general rule is only carry what you can reasonably be expected to need.  For instance, you do not need to carry cold weather gear in the rainforest. Likewise you will not need bug spray at high elevations.

First, we assume you will be wearing a complete trekking outfit which includes a cap or brimmed hat, shirt, underwear, hiking pants, socks and boots.

Below is what we recommend you carry in your day pack:

First we need extra layers of clothing and clothing accessories including rain gear, in case it rains or the temperature drops.

  1. Sunglasses or Goggles
  2. Buff Gaiter (optional)
  3. Knit Hat, for warmth
  4. Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
  5. Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
  6. Gloves, thin
  7. Waterproof Pants, breathable
  8. Trekking poles (optional)

Next, climbers should carry a good supply of water and a few snacks.

  1. Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz.)
  2. Water Bladder (Camelbak type, 3 liters)
  3. Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
  4. Electrolytes, powder or tablets (optional)

Last are the miscellaneous but very important items like sunscreen, toilet paper and a first aid kit. If you take medications, you want to carry those with you as well.

  1. Camera, with extra batteries (optional)
  2. Lip Balm
  3. Sunscreen
  4. Hand Sanitizer
  5. Toilet Paper
  6. First Aid Kit
  7. Assorted Bags

To pack efficiently, don’t randomly drop items into your day pack where they are unsecured and could fall out or get lost. Use assorted plastic bags, dry bags or stuff sacks to separate items methodically, based on categories. For example, small bottles such as prescriptions, sunscreen, lip balm and hand sanitizer can be placed together in a zip-lock bag.  Same with snacks. Clothing accessories such as hats, gloves and neck gaiters can be put into a stuff stack.

It is good practice to have a balanced load. Heavier items should be placed close to the midpoint of your back to keep your center of gravity in-line with your spine.  Placing heavy items near the top, bottom, left, right or rear of your day pack will cause you to lean forward, back, or to the side.  If your day pack has compression straps, tighten them so that your items do not move around as you walk.  Lastly, be consistent as to where you store your items (main compartment, side pockets, pant pockets, etc.), so that you do not fumble for your items when needed.  A medium sized backpack, with the capacity of  about 1,800 cubic inches (30 liters), is appropriate.