Headgear Kilimanjaro Style - Climb Kilimanjaro Guide
Climb Kilimanjaro Guide
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Kilimanjaro Headgear

kilimanjaro headgear

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.

Kilimanjaro Headgear

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.

Here are some good trekking hat options.

Beanie or Headband

A thermal beanie or head band is a must for summit night. You want to keep your head and ears warm. Make sure the beanie fits snug and is suitable for snowy conditions.

Look for an outdoor, lined and fleeced beanie or headband. Here are some good examples: Beanies and Headbands.

Neck Warmer

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.

These versatile and seamless outdoor TYTN bandanas are super cheap and can be used as a neckband, scarf, bandanna, head cover or wristband.


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 Icon

The Black Diamond Icon is one of the heaviest – 230 grams (nearly double the average weight of headlamps) – and most expensive headlamps on the market, which you would think makes it one of our least favourites.

But here’s the thing, it’s light output is amazing (200 lumens, about 100 lumens more than the next best head lamp), the max beam distance is very good (up to 100 meters) and the high mode battery run time is 80 hour!!

If you want the best in the market and are willing to splash out a little then get the Icon.

Alternatively a big step down in price but still pretty good is the Black Diamond Spot (weight = 93 grams, 90 Lumens, 50 hours high mode battery life, 70 meter max beam distance).

Best Value: Petzl Tikka XP

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 Tikka XP.

The Tikka XP is super light at 88 grams, provides decent battery life (up to 70 hours on high mode) and rather good light output for it’s size (max beam distance of 60 meters and 80 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 Option: Julbo Montebianco (men) or Julbo Monterosa (women)

The Julbo Montebianco for men and the Julbo Monterosa for women are the most versatile in their range and have designs that would work equally well in a non-mountain environment.

Technical Option: Julbo Trek

The Julbo Trek 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.

Kilimanjaro Kit List Continued

Kilimanjaro Clothing

Clothing Kilimanjaro Guide - Packing List

Overview on all Kilimanjaro clothing requirements, including layered clothing recommendations and the all important outer layer (i.e. jacket).

See Clothing

Hands & Walking

Gloves Kilimanjaro Guide - Packing List

Gloves and walking / trekking pole requirements. Both are critical. The former is very important as your hands are the first to start freezing on summit night. The latter can reduce the impact on your knees by up to 20%, which is a major win when you are descending from the slopes of Kibo.

See Hands & Walking

Kilimanjaro Footwear

Footwear Kilimanjaro Guide - Packing List

From hiking boots to socks and gaiters. Your feet are what get you up Mount Kilimanjaro. Don’t fall victim to purchasing bad boots or socks that will give you blisters!

See Footwear

Kilimanjaro Bags

Bags Kilimanjaro Guide - Packing List

From the Kilimanjaro kit bag to your day-pack. In this section we have provided useful recommendations on the all important duffle and daypack bag requirements.

See Bag & Daypack

Sleeping Gear

Sleeping Kilimanjaro Guide - Packing List

Kilimanjaro sleeping bag recommendations and other useful sleeping accessories, like an inflatable pillow. The sleeping bag you choose is important as the nights on Kilimanjaro can get below freezing.

See Sleeping Gear

Other Accessories

Other accessories - Climb Kilimanjaro Packing List

Kilimanjaro accessories including water bottles and medications. You can also find detailed information on Diamox (the high altitude sickness prophylatic medication) here.

See Other Accessories


Still have questions about headgear for Kilimanjaro? Leave a comment below and we will respond within 24hours.

Leave a Comment:

Kash says January 30, 2015

I bought your book and it is an excellent guide.

Regarding eye-wear, I wear prescription eye wear normally and not contact lenses. Can you suggest some options here – mountain + prescription glasses?


    Mark Whitman says January 30, 2015

    Hi Kash, delighted you found the book useful. Without spending too much money, I do not think it is possible to get sensibly priced prescription sunglasses that are designed for high altitude mountains. I recommend you either purchase good clip on UV lenses that you can attach to your prescription spectacles or if you are able to use contact lenses, use them along with a good pair of sunglasses. Along with protecting your eyes from the intense sun, sunglasses help shield the eyes from dust – the upper slopes of Kibo consist of very fine galcial silt that can easily lodge itself in one’s eye and cause conjunctivitis. It’s happened to me once. Hope this helps.

Mike says April 6, 2016


Going along with the question posted above, are there sunglasses that can fit over a pair of prescription glasses?

    Mark Whitman says April 7, 2016

    You can definitely get standard prescription sunglasses that have a high UV protection. These will be fine for Kilimanjaro. You don’t need to get Julbos and I’m not even sure they are available with a prescription. But a I said, standard sunglasses with a prescription are readily available and would be fine for your climb. All the best!

P Miller says July 22, 2016


Thank you for this comprehensive kit list.
We would be undertaking the climb during autumn.
On another webpage it was recommended that the sunglasses should be more like ski glasses, with side protection, to provide better protection and because of the dust. What are your views on this?

Many thanks,

    Mark Whitman says July 23, 2016

    Hi Pete, Generally ski glasses or goggles are not required on Kili, but if you have a pair it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep them in your pack just in case of heavy snow fall on the summit. I recommend high UV protection sunglasses. If you can get a pair with a wrap around effect that is even better. Scree dust on the upper reaches of Kilimanjaro can be a big nuisance, particularly on the descent. I recommend Julbo Explorers

Jim says August 6, 2016

Hi Mark,

For the Julbo explorer sunglasses which type of lens would you recommend for Mt Kilimanjaro?

There is a difference of opinion in the information I have read about whether polarised lenses are a plus or minus. What is your experience?



    Mark Whitman says August 6, 2016

    Hi Jim, Polarised lenses are a bit overkill on Kilimanjaro. Anything is Julbo’s non-polarised range will do the job great and still be functional off the mountain. All the best!

Caitlin says January 5, 2017

The Julbo MonteRosa have three options
– Spectron 4
– Camel
– Zebra

Is one better than the other? Is there another option other than Julbo that would work, or is Julbo basically the best there is so that’s the one to stick with?

M J says March 26, 2017

I also wear prescription glasses and would prefer sunglasses with prescription rather than wearing contacts and these over them. Contacts would be a hassle to take care of. What should I look for in prescription sunglasses? Just a high VU protection? How high? What other features? Thanks!

    Mark Whitman says March 27, 2017

    Hi MJ, a good pair of polarized prescription sunglasses will do the job. In terms of priority, I would say sight comes first and then UV protection. As long as they are polarized you will get relatively good protection from UV. All the best!

Jan Taylor says May 9, 2018

Hi, climbing Kilimanjaro in July. Struggling to find sunglasses as I wear spectacles and need glasses to cover them, or go for a goggles. Have been looking at ski goggles but I need to make sure that they are going to give me the protection that I need. A friend of mine climbed last year and had very painful sore eyes on day 2 Can you help?

    Mark Whitman says May 10, 2018

    Hi Jan, ski goggles are a little overkill for Kilimanjaro. As you get near the summit it is possible to encounter quite a bit of snow, and ski goggles can help, but generally I would go for a prescription pair of polarised sunglasses. Or perhaps check if your optometrist can recommend a lens cover for your spectacles. Alternatively, you can use contact lenses for the trek with mountain sunglasses – that’s what I do.

Rock Gardner says August 17, 2018

Just wanted to update on the head Lamp. The Black Diamond Storm is cheaper, lighter , and more powerful. No compliants yet.

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