There are two paths to packing the right gear for hiking Kilimanjaro:

  1. The easy & expensive
  2. The cheaper and a little harder

If you’re short on time, but not so much money, the easy thing to do is to stop in at any REI store. They will suit you up with all you need. It won’t take you long, and you will have great, reliable, quality gear. However, you will pay more money, and time is money, so this is an important consideration. The other consideration with option #1 is if you’re going to make this a habit.

Let’s say you plan to hike other mountains or you live out west near some 14ers. If you plan to do this more, it is definitely worth the investment. On the other hand, there are quite a few things that you may never use again, so you may night need the highest quality gear for an 8-day hike.

WHAT I DID SPEND MONEY ON: 2 things…

  • my boots and
  • my backpack.

I bought both at REI. And I recommend doing the same, no matter how much of a bargain shopper you are (like me). If you are an REI member (which is going to pay for itself just prepping for this), you can actually take your boots home for 3 months, break them in & bring them back if there’s anything that’s “not quite right” for you. And when it comes to boots, which is the most important piece of gear to get first to break in, REI is worth the investment.

When it came to my backpack, I made the mistake of purchasing one on Amazon…don’t recommend doing that. This isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” like your school backpacks. You actually need to be sized appropriately for your backpack. Come to find out I was on the small side, torso-wise that is. I would’ve bought a medium or a large women’s if I hadn’t have gone to REI to get sized. You will need a backpack that has a spine and compatible with a hydration pack.

If you want to spend as little as possible, I recommend a few things:

  • Facebook Marketplace: This is where I bought an excellent used sleeping bag.
  • Ebay: after being sized at REI, my husband, Brad bought his nearly-new Osprey backpack, which is really pretty for a man’s backpack. And let me just say that knowing he bought it on Ebay, REI still offered to size the bag for him because Osprey bags need you to adjust them, which is best done by an Osprey sales rep.
  • REI Garage Sale: If you’re a member, you can visit their Garage Sale section of the store where they resell items people return. This is where I found an amazing down jacket.
  • Sierra: This was formerly called Sierra Trading Post, but now it’s a part of the TJMaxx brand. If you’re in Ohio, they have a nice one at Easton Town Center where Dick’s Sporting Goods use to be. It’s a great store full of overstock outdoors gear. We bought most of our gear here. It was fun to see what we can find…the best deal on wool socks out there & you just cannot have enough wool socks for the hike. And you can order online and get your items shipped to the store for free.