Choosing your clothing and equipment for Kilimanjaro is relatively easy compared to some mountains. However to make your ascent of Kilimanjaro as comfortable and enjoyable as possible some consideration does need to be given to your choice of clothing and equipment.
The advantage of packing and choosing equipment for a Kilimanjaro trek is that you can, within reason, easily predict the conditions. You will be starting the trek in hot humid tropical conditions, camping in tents every night, and it will gradually get colder as you ascend culminating in a long and very very cold summit day. Porters will carry the bulk of your kit but there is a weight restriction so light weight equipment and clothing that can be worn for multiple days with minimal washing is best.
I really like Rab Dryflow long sleeve tees for tropical mountains. These base layer tops are perfect for expeditions with hot and humid conditions lower down the mountain. They are breathable and cool to wear. Soft and silky, great on their own when it’s hot and then good layered under other clothing when it’s a bit colder. They are also very nice to wear inside a sleeping bag higher up the mountain. You will sweat, however these base layers dry quickly when you do. They don’t smell too badly if you don’t wash them much. But they do dry very quickly if you do end up washing them. You can rinse them out and hang them on your pack during the day. They are very light so worth taking two.
I would take a mid weight merino wool top or a fleece and a thin synthetic filled jacket or soft shell.
Shorts will be good for lower down the mountain but as you get higher you will want a pair of trekking pants. After years of trying various fabrics I have concluded that for hiking pants, a thin stretchy soft shell fabric works best in a variety of conditions. They are very breathable, dry extremely quickly and layer well with your thermal underwear when things start to get colder. Choose a dark colour to mask the dirt and dust. The Rab Sawtooth pants are a good choice. Thin thermal underwear long johns are good for a bit of extra warmth in your sleeping bag and for layering under your soft shell on summit day.
Jacket and Pants. Unfortunately it might rain or snow higher up so a good quality set of hard shell waterproofs is essential. Also waterproofs will give you great wind proofing if it’s a bit breezy higher up the mountain or on summit day. The Rab Latok jacket and pants aren’t the lightest waterproofs available but are utterly bomb proof will give plenty of protection if the weather turns bad.
A down duvet jacket is essential. You will use it for a bit of extra comfort and warmth while in camp and sitting in the mess tent but the main use will be for summit day. Kilimanjaro can be an unusually cold mountain and the summit day is long and cold. You will be starting at midnight and walking slowly through the night, summiting at or shortly after dawn. Rab Positron or Rab Neutrino Endurance would be good choices.
A four season down sleeping bag is best. Rab Andes 800 or Rab Ascent 900 if on a budget. Rab Expedition 1000 if you feel the cold or are planning on going on higher mountains later in your mountaineering career.
Sea to Summit, Exped and Thermarest are all popular and reliable brands.
Lightweight synthetic or leather walking boots are suitable.
Gloves and hats
I carried two sets of gloves, a thin pair of Rab Phantom Grips and a warmer pair of Rab Latok gloves for higher up or bad weather. You will need a sun cap or hat for the possibility of blistering sun. I also carried a beanie and a buff can be extremely useful for a number of purposes.
You will need a couple of water bottles, wide mouthed 1L Nalgene or Hunersdorff are best and you can fill them with hot water at night and use them as hot water bottles. High altitude sunglasses are essential. Porters will carry your kit bag but you will need a rucksack to carry personal belongings, water and spare clothing during the day. 30-40L is good. Blue Ice and Mountain Equipment are both good reliable brands.