There are two types of bags that you need to have on your Kilimanjaro trek – a Kilimanjaro duffel bag and a backpack or daypack.
The type of Kilimanjaro duffle bag you choose is important as it will hold all of your gear, including your sleeping bag.
Your Kilimanjaro duffle bag will be carried by your porter who will transport your gear from one camp to the next. Porters carry bags on their head so it is important that the bag is soft and weighs no more than 20kg when fully loaded (some operators limit the weight to 15kg fully loaded).
Key characteristics to look for in a duffle bag:
- Greater than 80-litre capacity
- Constructed from waterproof laminate material to ensure your gear stays dry. We recommend packing your gear into separate plastic bags or packing units (see below) to provide extra waterproofing and easy access to sorted gear
- A strong zipper system that is not susceptible to breaking and can be easily locked. Take a small lock to secure your bag
- A hand and shoulder strapping system to provide extra versatility
Duffel Bag Recommendations
Best Value Duffel: TYTN Expedition Duffel
The TYTN Expedition Duffel (pronounced as ‘titan’) is a great quality 90L duffel bag that is just perfect for Kilimanjaro and other multi-day hiking trips. Constructed from tarpaulin material, that is combined with polyester and lined zippers, the TYTN Duffel is super durable and decently water-resistant.
It comes with loads of storage as well as a separate shoe compartment to keep your clothes clean. There are also a number of different carrying straps, including shoulder straps that allow the bag to be carried like a backpack.
In terms of value for money, the TYTN Duffel is hard to beat – probably the most affordable 90L on the market.
Best Duffel Bag: The North Face Base Camp
The North Face duffel bag is a quality bag, but it comes at quite a hefty price. The bag will not let you down but one can’t help but feel that a premium is being paid for the North Face brand.
Available in five sizes – XS: 25 litres; S: 42 litres; M: 72 litres; L: 90 litres; XL: 155 litres. Approximative weight: XS: 1050 g; S: 1250 g; M: 1600 g; L: 1820 g; XL: 2240 g
If you decide to go with the North Face duffel we would recommend the Large version.
In addition to your duffle bag (which is carried by your porter), you will be carrying your own daypack. In your daypack, you should keep all important (suncream, sunglasses, snacks, water), personal (money, passport etc.) or small breakable items (camera, phone etc.).
Your daypack should be small and lightweight. The lighter the better.
Key characteristics to look for in a good daypack:
- Compression straps to reduce weight stress on your back
- Side mesh pockets for easy access to your water bottle and other useful stuff
- Ensure your backpack has a rain cover
Best Daypack: Osprey Talon 22
The Osprey Talon 22 is a brilliant day pack that will easily fit all your essentials in a comfortable and well-supported bag.
The Talon is definitely a leader in the lightweight market, providing versatility, high performance and quality design in a neat multi-purpose pack. The daypack also features a special compartment to put your hydration bladder.
Two sizes are available: S/M (20L) and M/L (22L) and the bag retails for ~$100/£70. Both sizes are fine for Kilimanjaro.
Best Value Daypack: The North Face Borealis
The North Face Borealis is a multi-purpose day pack. It includes all the key features that are required for climbing Kilimanjaro (including a hydration bladder compartment), as well as useful non-trekking features, such as a laptop compartment.
The Borealis has a 29L capacity and comes in at a cheaper price than the Osprey Talon.
Available in both men and women variants.
Important Bag Accessories
Depending on what time of the year you are hiking, there is a possibility that you will encounter rain on the mountain. You want to avoid getting your daypack wet. A good rain cover is a worthy piece of kit to have as a precaution.
If you are going with the Osprey Talon Backpack we would also get the Osprey Hi-Visibility Raincover which retails for the standard backpack rain cover price and is super reliable. NB: select the right size cover (i.e. 19-30 litres).
If you decide to go with a daypack which can hold a hydration bladder, then we suggest you purchase the best hydration bladder on the market. There is nothing worse than a leaky bladder!
The Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir is undoubtedly the best product, hands down!. Where Ospreys are strong in backpacks, Platypus rock the hydration bladder. The Platypus comes in a 2L and 3L version, the latter is ideal for Kilimanjaro.
Travel Bag Organisers
A pro tip that we have used to great effect on Kilimanjaro are travel bag organisers, which can be used to source separate your gear for better backing and access. They also provide a great way to separate wet or dirty gear.
There are two main suppliers – Eagle Creek with their Pack-it system cater for the premium market, or you could go with the equally good but a lot cheaper Bagail Packing Cubes.
Alternatively, if you want to go completely cheapo then use clear plastic bags to separate your gear.
Encountering rain on your Kilimanjaro trek is always a possibility, especially in the rainforest section of the hike.
If you are concerned with the waterproof capability of your duffel or backpack then taking a dry bag or two is always a good idea. These types of bags can fit comfortably inside a duffle, are waterproof and can easily double as a source separator, like the travel cubes mentioned above.
Small TSA Lock
For obvious safety purposes, you should be locking your Kilimanjaro duffle bag. You get free TSA locks with a TYTN Expedition Duffel.
Kilimanjaro Packing List Continued
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