There are five mandatory headgear accessories that you need to take on your Kilimanjaro climb.
Below we have provided detailed descriptions on each as well as set out some specific brand recommendations.
Hat with Neck Cover
You are going to want to have a good hat with you for the climb to protect your face from sun burn and keep your head cool.
We like hats that have an adjustable neck cover. Make sure the hat is made from a material that breaths well.
The hat should fit comfortably in your daypack as you don’t want to have to hold the hat every time you want to take it off.
Beanie or Headband
To protect your neck and face from blistering cold temperatures if the wind picks up, high Sun UV during the mid-afternoons at altitude, or indeed to cover your mouth and nose from dust, we recommend taking either a hiking balaclava or neck warmer.
Make sure to get something that is lightweight, absorbent, breathable and quick-drying.
A headlamp is the best torch for night hiking as you can have your hands free at all times. You will use your headlamp on summit night (yes, you summit over night, starting usually around midnight).
The key things to look for in a good hiking headlamp are:
- Light / brightness quality: The higher the brightness the better. Of course this comes at a costs to battery life. Ideally you want a max beam distance of greater than 70 meters and a light output of greater than 100 lumens
- Battery life: The longer the better. This often means the headlamp needs to hold more batteries, which in turn makes it heavier. We recommend a minimum high mode run time of 30 hours
- Weight: As you are carrying this device on your head, the lighter the better. No more than 230 grams
Here are our recommendations:
Best Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm
The Black Diamond Storm is a brilliant headlamp. It puts out 350 lumens of light, is lightweight, can easily be transitioned from full power to dimmed light, and is also waterproof up to 1m immersion for 30 minutes.
Alternatively the Black Diamond Spot is a great lightweight headlamp (weight = 93 grams, 90 Lumens, 50 hours high mode battery life, 70 meter max beam distance).
Best Value Headlamp: Petzl Tikka
Petzl make great headlamps and many of their brands would be worth mentioning here, but the one that we think deserves specific mention is the Petzl Tikkina.
The Tikkina is super light at 86 grams, provides decent battery life (up to 80 hours on high mode) and rather good light output for it’s size (max beam distance of 80 meters and 150 lumens of light output.
When it comes to sunglasses and Mount Kilimanjaro, there are two considerations you need to take into account. First is the UV intensity, which at just under 6,000m is very high. This can be very damaging to your eyes if you don’t have good sunglasses.
The second factor is the snow cover, which acts to reflect and intensify visible light. Again too much visible light is damaging to your eyes (imagine staring into the sun to get a sense of high altitude trekking without sunglasses).
The undisputed leader in high altitude sunglasses are Julbo.
All Julbo lenses offer 100% protection from UVA, B and C rays, and there category three and four rating lenses block up to 90% of visible light, making them perfect for Kilimanjaro. Category three and below are fine for driving or wearing around the town.
Julbo’s most versatile lens is the Camel which gets darker and lighter depending on the light intensity – i.e. it ranges from Category 2 to 4. It’s a transition lens that comes in many different models, we recommend two models for Kilimanjaro trekking excursions:
Most Versatile: Julbo Montebianco (Mens) or Monterosa (Womens)
Technical Option: Julbo Explorer
The Julbo Explorer is a slightly more sporty and technical sunglass range that provides a great alternative to the Montebianco or Monterosa, but might look out of place in and around the town.
If you plan to do more high altitude trekking peaks, snow activities or ice climbing after Kilimanjaro then we recommend the Julbo Explorer range as they provide a much more secure fit and high wrap shells for additional protection.
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