Which rain jacket and rain pants should I bring to climb Kilimanjaro?
Almost every Kilimanjaro routes begins in the rainforest (Shira is the one exception). One can assume that the rainforest tends to receive rain. It is important to be prepared. Being drenched can be a real damper on the mountain. At a minimum it can be uncomfortable. But at its worse, it can cause hypothermia, which can be fatal.
To climb Kilimanjaro, you need a rain jacket, also known as a hard shell, and rain pants to keep you dry when the clouds roll in.
What is important for rain gear?
Let’s start with the obvious. It has to be waterproof. Rain jackets/pants or hard shells are designed to keep you dry. All rain jackets have hoods to keep the water off of your head. There are various types of fabrics used to manufacture them and each company can have their own proprietary textile. The most well known waterproof fabric is GoreTex.
Rain gear should also be breathable. The way these fabrics work is that the membrane is woven so tightly that water droplets are not able to penetrate it. However, the tiny holes in the weave are large enough that water vapor can pass through to the outside, thus making it breathable. It lets moisture and heat escape that would otherwise cause you to sweat.
An example of an unbreathable material is a rubber or vinyl. These are very poor materials as the lock in moisture that your body generates. These are not appropriate for backpacking and should never be used.
Some features that are very useful for rain jackets are pit zips and adjustable hoods. Pit zips are openings in the arm pit area of the jacket that can be opened or closed. It gives the user some versatility to adjust the amount of ventilation he or she receives based on the temperature. Adjustable hoods allow for the user to cinch or loosen the hood to hold it in place. This is handy because most rain jackets have oversized hoods for maximum coverage.
For rain pants, look for lightweight and breathable pants. The should be loose enough to fit over additional layers and adjustable at the waist as well. Garments that have full zips on the side are highly recommended. These allow you to put on or take off the pants without removing your shoes or boots. Note that ski or snowboarding pants are too heavy and too insulated for Kilimanjaro and therefore make a poor choice.
What rain jackets do you recommend?
Marmot PreCip Jacket
The Marmot PreCip jacket is a waterproof, windproof, yet breathable, lightweight jacket. The jacket has a standard fit. It features an adjustable hood that tucks into the collar, pit zips to allow body moisture to escape, side pockets and an elastic drawcord hem. The Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket retails for about $100 . Matching Marmot PreCip Full-Zip Rain Pants are also available for about $100.
The North Face Venture Jacket
Another great option is The North Face Venture Jacket. It is appropriate for extreme Kilimanjaro weather with its lightweight, waterproof and windproof shell. It has a relaxed fit and has an adjustable hood and pit zips. The North Face Venture Jacket retails for about $100 and is available in a rainbow of colors. The North Face Dryzzle Full Zip Pants are priced at $179.
Mountain Hardwear Exposure Jacket
Finally we have the Mountain Hardwear Exposure Jacket. If you are looking for something more rugged, this is it. It is made of GoreTex Paclite material which provides extreme wet weather protection while having some elasticity to stretch for better movement. It has deep side vents and an adjustable hood. The Mountain Hardwear Exposure Jacket retails for $250. The Mount Hardwear Exposure Pant is $200.
You can find all your outdoor gear at these preferred retailers: