1. Thermos – YES!!!

I strongly believe that a Thermos should be on everyone’s kit list. From hot water warming your body when it’s really cold to a steaming hot towel in the morning, I promise you will love it. It’s absolutely worth the extra weight. Read more about all its fantastic uses on Kilimanjaro here.

2. Solar charger – MAYBE

In our age of gadget addiction, solar panels have become unbelievably popular on Kilimanjaro. They are definitely worth the money if you plan to use your phone a lot, as I did to write my book! My panels worked like a charm and I absolutely loved them. However, they are a total overkill under normal circumstances. If just to take photos on your phone, you might want to invest the money into a decent camera instead. For most people, solar panels will end up in their cellars and never be used again. What a waste just for one trip!

3. Self-heating hand and toe warmers – NO!

Freezing overnight in my tent and during summit night was my biggest fear about Kilimanjaro. Of course I made sure to bring a stack of self-heating badges, i.e. air activated warmers that supposedly heat up as soon as you have opened the packaging and stay warm for several hours thereafter. I brought special hand warmers to put inside my gloves, toe warmers to stick to my socks, and even big warmers for my back. Conclusion: All of them were totally unreliable and – as a result – completely useless. The few instances they worked, they were far too hot. And when I most needed them, i.e. during summit night when I could no longer feel my fingers and toes, they didn’t work at all! I highly recommend you to invest in proper gear instead, like warm gloves and mitts, and a good pair of warming insoles.

4. Mid-layer fleece gloves – YES!

Most gear lists recommend liner gloves as an optional item. Scared as I was about freezing, of course I made sure to bring glove liners in addition to the warmest mittens on the market.  However, that was not enough. I often wished I had another pair of warm fleece gloves, as an experienced hiker in our group was smart enough to bring along. The benefit of thicker fleece gloves is to keep you warmer than thin liner gloves whilst providing more dexterity than clumsy mittens. I would have loved to have some during cold nights in my tent as well as while hiking in cloudy weather when my liner gloves were not thick enough to keep me warm. Most of all, I really wished I had brought some during summit night as a third pair of mid-layer gloves to keep my fingers warmer. Yes, three pairs of gloves/mittens on top of each other – that’s my strong recommendation for summit night (unless you enjoy a miraculous blood circulation)!

5. FUD – NO!

This is for women only. Surely you must have wondered how you will be able to pee in privacy. Blogs warn that at higher altitudes there might be nowhere to hide behind. Marketeers have jumped on this opportunity and come up with FUDs, short for Female Urination Devices. They promise the impossible: pee while standing, just like men. Theoretically, sounds great. Practically, I haven’t seen a single woman using them, nor was there any need to do so. Other than close to the summit, we always found rocks to hide behind; and even summit day won’t cause you any problems because you won’t drink much during summit night in any case. More about that here. So, ladies, no need to worry. You will be fine!

Do you have  any other insights worth sharing? Or do you have any unanswered questions in order to prepare your own climb? Please leave your comments below.

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