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Warm, Dry Nourished

Packing for the multiple climate zones you trek through while climbing Kilimanjaro can seem overwhelming. But staying dry, warm and comfortable on your climb doesn’t require the kitchen sink. If you’re wondering what to bring on your Kilimanjaro climb, watch Tusker founder Eddie Frank’s short videos on his insider packing tips. After 40 years on the road, Eddie has boiled it down to a science by focusing on the right stuff. Categorizing the list based on need i.e. warm, dry, and essentials, is the stress free way to go.

Six Essentials

A Gregory daypack that can hold 35 liters is at the top of Eddie’s essentials. In that day pack he includes a Platypus three liter bladder for water. Sun is a huge factor on Kili so high altitude sunglasses and a high SPF sunscreen are a must along with a cap with a wide brim.

His last essential item are trekking poles. They are most important on the first and last day. “They help me climbing the hills and allow me to go downhill faster with stability. It’s important for those us with broken knees like me,” Eddie says.

High & Dry

On Eddie’s warm and dry packing lists he has several items most of us would not bring. Water proof mittens that go over your gloves and a mini-umbrella are not things you would associate with a tough guy like Eddie, but he brings them. If your gloves get wet, they’re pretty much useless, so waterproof mittens are a must. He uses the umbrella on the climb’s first stages in the rainforest. He also packs a Mountain Hardware rain shell for his upper half and water proof rain pants.

For warmth, Eddie packs a Mountain Hardware down parka for the frigid morning atop Kilimanjaro. During the cold nights, he keeps snug in his Mountain Hardware sleeping bag. For his extremities on the trail, he packs a $2 Nepalese-made hat with ear flaps.

For footgear he climbs in well-fitting Lowe hiking boots and also packs down booties to wear around camp. Vermont’s Darn Tough hiking socks are essential and he brings a separate pair for each day of the hike, along with the all-important sock liners – the enemy of blisters, which are the nemesis of trekkers. Another item for ultimate comfort on the trek are fleece pants that you don after a day on the trail in camp.

Portable Potty

It’s the middle of the night and you gotta go. It’s freezing outside and you don’t want to leave your sleeping bag. Eddie suggests you pack a pee bottle so you can discreetly urinate inside your tent and not freeze. A wide mouth old water bottle does the trick.

Snack Time

Eddie is a big fan of high energy foods and brings Kit Kat bars, almonds, beef jerky and Canadian maple candy on the climb. The chocolate, sugar and protein from these snacks keep him energized all day on his nine day climbs. His wife Amy, a savvy Canadian, is big on all things maple. Smart lady.

Pack it in

Packing doesn’t have to be so labor intensive for Kilimanjaro. Keep it simple, think about your needs and use some of Eddie’s tried and true tips.



  • Nina Spencer
    July 1, 2016

    Great ideas, Eddie! ALL of ’em! 🙂

    AND…. I recommend bringing along a classic hot water bottle, too. I placed it at the bottom of my sleeping bag each night, for extra warmth; and then each morning I delighted in my instant, still-warm-water for washing my face. 🙂
    LOVED my water bottle!!!
    And, even after all these years (I “did Kiil” with your wonderful trail company back in January 2011), I still stop right away and read your Tusker Geografrica each time it arrives in my inbin.

    Keep up all your wonderful work!

    All the best, always,

    Nina Spencer, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    P. S. In 2014 my second book came out… A Time to Creep, A Time to Soar: Lessons learned for work and life from climbing Kilimanjaro. I’m a keynote speaker by profession and my audiences love to hear my tales to tell, drawn from this latest volume.
    And of course, I was poetic in my keynotes about Tusker, and all your wonderful staff I experienced en route, every chance I get. I do hope it’s inspired some from my audiences to reach out and climb with your outfit.
    Tusker’s the BEST! 🙂

    P. P. S. Fellow Tuskers Geografica readers can view a video of my summit moments, and also read entries from my Kili bog, on my website, if curious, at:

  • Nina Spencer
    July 1, 2016

    That’s, WAX poetic (not WAS poetic!). 🙂


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