There are a great number of things to consider when undertaking a task as huge as Kilimanjaro, and the first questions logically include those related to budget, trekking agency, choice of route, when to go, and eventually, what to take. Fortunately for me, by the time I committed to the trek, the “when” had mostly been decided and the agency and choice of route, after a bit of research, were easily voted unanimously amongst the 7 of us.
This left me pondering the most exciting question – What to take?
I started memorizing the content of “What to take” from Henry Stedman’s Climb Mount Kilimanjaro guidance under the headings of Clothes, Essentials, Highly Desirables, and Other Useful Equipment. The next step was making a prioritized list of what I needed, what I wanted, and what I already had. Easy, right? Upon completion of the all encompassing list I discovered that I already owned most of the cold weather clothing I needed for the summit, the technical warm weather trekking gear, and the best 70L Pack a girl could ask for from Scotland, 2006.
Relieved and foolishly thinking I would save a load of cash with my previously owned items, I made a list of priority purchases:
- Day pack & Duffle
- New Rain/Wind Shell Jacket & Trousers
- Trekking Pants x 3
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- H2O Bladder System
- Gloves, Liners, & Hat
- Thermal Underwear
- Casual Attire
After completing the list, you can imagine that I was feeling quite pleased with myself, so I set out with the intent to conquer the hiking outlets, have my bags packed months before I needed to leave, and prove to myself that I was as organized as I thought I was… the reality was shockingly different. My actual purchase list to date is as follows:
- The North Face Summit Series Down Jacket (not even on the list!)
- Casual Attire – Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) Capris, Technical tank tops x 3, Skort (Outdoor Research – little and black, and oh so perfect!), Long-sleeved safari UV protection button down (Technical fabric that actually looks like denim!), A new Buff (desperately desired and always a practical purchase)
- Trekking zip-off trousers
- Osprey H2O Bladder
- Boots – Amazing Asolos!!!
- Osprey Day Pack w H2O Bladder included – Mantra 36 (give originally purchased Item #4 to my best friend Brande!!)
- Zip-off Trekking trousers x 2 (perfect fit Columbia tan and The North Face stone grey)
- Thermal Underwear – Columbia Heavyweight with thermal reflective Omni-heat
- Outdoor Research Sunshower Sombrero (never, ever, thought I would love a hat like this!)
- A few more items that could technically be classified as Casual Attire… and another a new Buff!!! (fun and oh so practical. One can never have too many!)
And so it goes… One can see that the best laid plans do not always go accordingly and if you’re anything like me, this is especially true when it comes to shopping!
Don’t get me wrong, preparation for an undertaking like Kilimanjaro cannot be taken lightly. Research, reading, and educating oneself about the mountain, the country, and the people is the top priority. An exhilarating secondary priority however, is the pondering, planning, and purchase of old and new, serious and fun, and necessary (and not so necessary), equipment for the upcoming adventure(s).
We have 2 months until go time but I am not worried. While I am certain that a thermal sleeping bag liner, gloves, and rain proof gear is essential for the trip, I am not uncertain that I won’t find it on one of my many adventures in and around the outdoor outfitters of Edmonton, Alberta. I feel justified in holding out just a bit longer – not because I am a procrastinator – because I am that if nothing else – but because I love a good bargain!!!
There are many ways and countless opportunities to save cold hard cash and I grab hold of every one. The best thing to do is to plan ahead. Up to a year before leaving if you can and buy off-season. There are tremendous deals to be had. I purchased my Columbia thermal underwear for 75% off merely by picking them up in June. In the spring it seems that footwear is cleared out to make room for the new year’s releases. I got my amazing Asolos for 50% off! My Summit Series down jacket from The North Face was 66% off when I bought it in late spring.
Since writing this I have added a few more non-essential items to the list such as a Pistil belt and wool hat both 75% off, my rain trousers from The North Face 30% off, and of course, some Gaiters by Outdoor Research and SmartWool socks.
Paying the full price for any item is not too much to ask, especially when the items are well-made by hard-working and reputable companies such as those listed above, but if you do have the time and the energy to shop around and compare, and to wait for that one amazing deal that you know might be out there, I think it’s okay to waiver a little on the priority list.
After all, they are never written in stone, merely paper… and more often than not, temporary paper… more than likely, a Post-it.