What Should I Wear for Summit Night on Kilimanjaro?

Summit night while climbing Kilimanjaro is one of the most important parts of the climb. Since you will begin the summit at around 11 pm or midnight, you can expect the weather to be very cold.

what-to-wear-for-kilimanjaro-summit

As you emerge from your warm tent to prepare for the summit, you want to ensure you are adequately compared with the right clothes. When you have on the right clothes to keep warm, it will make it much easier to summit and actually enjoy the climb.

While there is a pretty extensive packing list for climbing Kilimanjaro, summit night requires some special clothing. Make sure you have all the items covered in this guide for a warm and successful summit night.

Upper Body Clothes

Here is a list of items to ensure you include in your duffel bag for the upper body:

  • Dry Wick Compression Top: For the layer closest to your body, make sure to choose something that is dry wick. This keeps sweat from becoming cold and sticking to your body. This layer should be put on first and be tucked into your trousers.
  • Thermal Top: A long-sleeved thermal top is the next layer to put on. Make sure it fits well.
  • Fleece Jacket: A fleece jacket or softshell jacket is next. Some people even like to double up on fleece jackets if they tend to get very cold.
  • Waterproof Jacket: Next, you want to make sure you put on a waterproof jacket as it can repel rain and snow. Waterproof jackets on top of fleece jackets are also very warm. Make sure it has a hood with a drawstring.
  • Down Jacket: This is the last layer to go over your upper body. Down jackets are needed because they are heavily insulated and keep you extremely warm regardless of weather conditions.

Lower Body Clothes

Now that you’ve got your upper body covered, make sure to follow this packing list for the lower body:

  • Dry Wick Leggings: Just like with the upper body, you want your first layer on the legs to be dry wick so sweat doesn’t stick to you. Since this fabric will be on your legs for 12-17 hours, you want to make sure it’s comfortable.
  • Thermal Leggings: Thermal pants on top of your dry-wick leggings are an excellent way to give you more insulation and keep you warm.
  • Waterproof Pants: These waterproof hiking pants are what you wear almost every day while climbing Kilimanjaro. They also need to be worn on summit night in case you encounter rain or snow.
  • Fleece Pants: Lastly, you want to cover your waterproof pants with a pair of warm fleece pants. We recommend you put them on top of the waterproof pants because it makes them easy to remove in case you get too warm.
  • Gaiters: Not everyone wears gaiters, but we have found climbers who wear them are a lot more comfortable. They help protect your ankles from the cold and wind.

Special Requirements For the Head and Neck

Don’t forget about your head and neck while packing clothes for Kilimanjaro! A lot of heat can escape from your head so you want to ensure it’s covered and well-protected.

Balaclava: This is a special type of clothing worn in extreme weather conditions that covers the mouth, nose, ears, and cheeks. It’s a breathable material but some people find that they feel a bit too confined with it on. Balaclavas are excellent at keeping you warm though. If you don’t find it comfortable, you can wear a beanie with ear coverings and a neck gaiter.
Beanie: This is your main head covering. It needs to be warm and not be too big or too small!
Head Torch: Since summit night starts around midnight, you want to make sure you have a head torch so you can see the path ahead. Although it’s sometimes optional to wear them on full moon climbs, you still want to have one in your bag just in case!
Sunglasses: Even though summit night begins in the dark, you’ll reach the summit right around sunrise and it will be very bright. The sun’s rays are particularly sharp at the summit and you want to ensure your eyes are well protected.
Sunscreen: Even though most of your body is covered, we recommend putting sunscreen on your face. You most likely won’t need your balaclava during the descent so sunscreen is needed to ensure you don’t get burnt. Lip balm with SPF is also important.

Don’t Forget the Feet!

As you’ve been researching Kilimanjaro, you have probably learned how important it is to wear the right hiking boots that are waterproof and comfortable.

The shoes you wear and how you take care of your feet are even more important on summit night.

Hiking Boots. Make sure your boots for Kilimanjaro have good traction, are waterproof, and are broken in before the climb. You’ll want to wear your hiking boots on summit night.
Dry Wick Socks. You want to make sure you wear socks that keep moisture off your feet. This keeps them from getting too sweaty. It also keeps your shoes from smelling. Dry wick socks can also repel bacteria and fungi that can affect your feet.
Thermal Socks. On top of your dry wick socks, we recommend putting on a pair of thermal socks so your feet can stay nice and toasty. Make sure your hiking boots fit comfortably over the thermal socks.

No matter what time of year you’re climbing Kilimanjaro, the summit night is usually cold and windy. By being adequately prepared for the summit with the right clothes, you’ll find it much easier to reach Uhuru Peak.