Kilimanjaro Duffel Bag and Backpack

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.

Remember to grab an Osprey Hi-Visibility Raincover and Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir as well if you decide to get this day pack.

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).

Hydration Bladder

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.

Dry Bags

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

Discover what Kilimanjaro gear you need, choose a category.


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

29 thoughts on “Kilimanjaro Duffel Bag and Backpack”

  1. I am planning a climb in July, since its very cold I opted for the North face Dark star (-29C). However its a big sleeping bag that doesn’t compress well. I didn’t care much until I read your comment that it should be inserted in the Duffle bag. I was planning to buy the 90L North face base camp you recommended, But now I am thing the XL would be needed, is that a problem with the porters? Or is the weight the only issue (15kg) and size is irrelevant.

    Appreciate your input on this

    • Hi Karim, The size of the bag is not too much of an issue, as long as you can keep the weight down. I suspect a 90L North Face should be able to accommodate your Dark Star sleeping bag as well as all your other gear, but if you think the XL option is necessary I don’t see that as a major issue for your support crew. As a rule of thumb though the lighter the better. All the best for your climb!

    • Same issue here, just realised the same with the Dark Star /North Face L and am thinking about going for the XL too. How did it go for you? Did you make the change or sticked to the L?

      Thank you

      • Hi Edgar, It’s unlikely Karim will answer back but as I said above a 90L duffle should be large enough to accommodate all your gear and sleeping bag. If not than an XL will be fine as long as you keep the total weight of the bag to less than 20kg (ideally 15kg). Check weight restrictions with your tour operator. Cheers!

    • Hi Michael, a 70l rucksack would work fine. Your porter carries your bag so as long as it can carry your sleeping bag and gear and not weigh more than 20kg you will be all set.

  2. I’m a bit worried about the size of the daypack because I’m only 5′ 3″. Some people have recommended a carrying size of 30L but would a smaller sized bag still suffice? If so, how small of a bag could I realistically get away with? Thanks!

    • Hi Courtney, you can really get away with a very small bag if you only want to carry the essentials. You need to be able to carry water (approx. 2L), snacks, your camera, suncream, hat, spare fleece and some personal items. So a small daypack can work. Obviously if you want to carry more things, like additional layered clothing then your bag needs to be a little bigger. Generally I travel light, with a small daypack.

  3. Hi. I know this thread is a bit older, so hopefully I’ll get a response. I’m only 5’3″ and am worried that a 90L duffle bag would be too large for me. However, I’m not sure if a 60L will fit my sleeping bag along with other gear. Specs are: 3lbs, 10 oz; stuff sack size 9.5″ x 19″, stuff sack volume is 22.1 L. On the topic of sleeping bag, it’s rated 0 degrees F (EN for women 3.2F). Do you think that’s warm enough? BTW…I’m a tropical wimp from South Florida. Thanks

    • Hi Tadji, your duffle back will be carried by a porter so size shouldn’t be a problem. I recommend bags over 80L, a 60L or below tends to be too small to fit all of one’s gear and sleeping bag. That being said, if your pack really light you could probably fit everything into a 60L. In terms of your sleeping bag, 0 degrees F should be more than warm enough. Cheers!

    • You should be fine with a 72L duffel. You might need to carry more in your daypack though! All the best!

  4. Hey guys,

    I have an Osprey Talon 18 and Kestrel 48. I feel like the talon is too small for the daypack and the kestrel is too big. Should I buy a 20-30L daypack or will I be able to get by with the 18L?


    • Also, I am also bringing a 90L duffel for my things so I don’t mind keeping a little extra in my duffel. I’m mostly worried about the temperature changes and having enough layers in my daypack.

    • Hi Sam, an 18L is a little bit on the small side, and I would say the 48L is too big. You can get away with the 18L if you are like me and stay super light, i.e. just a hard shell jacket, snacks and water in the daypack, but if you want to carry anything more than you’ll find 18L will be too small. Ideal size is 25-35L.

      • Thanks! I just took this bag to Iceland for some mountain and glacier hiking to test it out for Kili. My biggest issue was not being able to fit both my packable down and mid weight soft shell jacket (500g) comfortably along with my gloves and gaiters. Also, the 3L platypus bladder was hard to push into the back of the talon 18. I will probably go with a talon 33 and meet in the middle.

  5. Hi,
    Im booked in to hike Kilimanjaro in August and wondering if the bag for the porter has to be a duffel or is my 70L Katmandu Backpack with harness going to be sufficient for them? The Backpack is soft and harness folds away if wanted…


  6. Hi Sam, I like your blog. Please keep it up. Actually, I like travelling but I don’t like heavy backpacking. So the Osprey Talon 22 will be the best for me. But I have a question. Does the Osprey 22 is hydration reservoir system? I think it will be very comfortable. Thanks!

  7. Hi there. I have a Futura Pro 38 bag by Deuter, would that be too big for the day pack? I also have a sleeping bag that’s good up to -19 for a feb climb, is that be warm enough?

  8. Hi! I have read that the Talon 22 doesn’t have much air flow and that it gets uncomfortable while hiking- have you found this to be the case? I was looking at the Osprey Manta 36 instead. Please advise 🙂

    • Hi Kate, yes, the Talon 22 doesn’t have great air flow at the back because it is such a small / lightweight daypack. The Manta would provide much better air flow but is obviously bigger in size. Personally I would go for the larger daypack as it provides more versatility in the long-run. Cheers!

  9. Hey there,

    I am climbing Kili in September and have a question regarding the summit night.

    Would you recommend an insulated tube for my 3L Platypus? The friendly people working in my frequent outdoor shops recommend using wide mouths Nalgene bottles (which will be stored in my 36L Osprey Sirrus to prevent from freezing), however I am worried about stressing to stay hydrated while focusing on trying to summit. Also, have tested and cannot seem to get my tube under my clothing.

    What would you advice and do you have any tips on preventing the tube from freezing?

    • Hi Candice, I generally don’t use insulated tubes as I find them cumbersome. If you can find a way to insulate the tube in your jacket hoodie or underneath a neck gaiter then you should be fine. The key is to protect the mouth piece from freezing, make sure to always blow back residual water after each drink. It might also be worthwhile taking a spare water bottle in your daypack on summit night. You can insulate this with a warm sock and keep it buried in your pack, not on the outside. Hope this helps.

  10. Regarding the North Face Duffel – I have one that’s been with me on dozens of trips and I love it but it is NOT totally waterproof.

    I’ve had it strapped to the back of my motorbike in heavy rain and during times like this water gets in through the bottom of the bag (which isn’t the same material as the rest) and through the zipper (the flap doesn’t cover it perfectly).

    • Hi Stef, the more recent North Face Duffels should be fully waterproof, but the bottom and zip areas are admittedly weak spots.

  11. I hike Kilimanjaro and then have a three day safari afterwards. I purchased the Patagonia Black Hole 120L. My concern is hauling the duffle when there’s no Sherpa (e.g. airport, to hotel,etc). There’s a huge price difference for the one with wheels $200. I notice no one mentions duffles with wheels. Is it worthwhile to have? Or a waste.

    • Hi Sheri, a duffle with wheels is not required for Kilimanjaro and just adds extra weight. The Black Hole is sufficient for the trip but will mean a little carrying at airports ect.


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