Kilimanjaro Summit Attire

Columbia Lhotse Jacket

Columbia's interchangeable Lhotse Jacket is ideal for beating the Kilimanjaro Summit conditions

Recently, someone who read about my difficult Kilimanjaro climb in Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving it All on Top of Africa posted a question on Facebook about what to wear for the summit ascent. If you've read the book your know that on my first summit attempt I didn't wear enough and ended up with hypothermia, in addition to altitude sickness. On my second attempt I might have over-compensated a bit too much and ended up sweating profusely on the descent, after the warm sun started to beat down on me. So what should you wear for the summit? Summit Conditions: During your ascent of Kilimanjaro you will likely find temperatures swing from comfortably warm (70F/20C) to freezing (32F/0C) in a matter of hours. The temperature in my tent most nights hovered around freezing but once the sun came out things warmed up nicely, that is until the clouds surrounded us and it turned freezing again. For the summit you'll likely start around midnight (freezing) from Kibo or Barafu camps where you're somewhat protected from the wind. Once you've hiked a few hours you'll become more exposed and the wind-chill could easily take the temperature down to 0 degrees F (-15C)! When the son comes up the temperatures could warm back up to freezing again, but likely not much higher. What to wear: Since I tend to hike warm, I opted to skip the base layer on my legs for my first summit attempt and ended up freezing my butt off, almost literally. So I'd suggest you keep it simple: • Base layer - long underwear for your legs and torso (mid-weight is fine) • Pants - non-cotton • Fleece jacket if you hike warmer, down if you need a bit more • Shell pants, ideally ones that zip down the side so you can vent if you get too warm • Shell jacket, ideally with pit-zips and a full front zipper to cool down if you need to Be sure to test this combination out on a long training hike (if possible) so you get a better feel for how hot/cold you get while out in the elements. As an example, I got a Columbia Lhotse jacket for Christmas and LOVE IT. It's the perfect jacket for Kilimanjaro; down/shell combination I can layer any way I like, lots of vents and tons of pockets to store quick snacks. If you have any questions about your clothing or gear choices, feel free to post them on our Facebook community for additional feedback.
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