I am attempting a summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa) later in the year. I have most of my gear, however the one thing I am unsure of is the best way to hydrate and store/carry my water. I am also unsure of purification methods.

I know I am supposed to drink 3 - 5L a day when hiking and my initial thought was to take a 3L camelback and two 1L bottles. Is this too much?

I am also worried about the water freezing at the higher altitudes, what measures can I take to prevent this?. What are experiences other have had Kilimanjaro or not?

  • Nowadays this question would fit better on Outdoors.SE, but that site wasn't around yet when the question was asked.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 16:49
  • For the final few days of this hike, finding water becomes time consuming (assuming no porters) Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 22:03

3 Answers 3


There are three methods to purify your water: boil, chemically treat or filter or a combination of them.

Your guides will boil water for you, so you should not need to chemically treat the water they give you. However, if you are unsure about the water you get, you are free to do additional purification. MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) has a nice article on water purification. Here is a refined search of some of their water purification product.

Except for the last day of the summit, the temperature should not be low enough for water to freeze. However, on the last day of the summit the temperature can get well below freezing, so you should have an insulated bottle for this part. If you carry a camelback, the water in the tube will also freeze if it's not insulated.


I just got back from climbing Kilimanjaro, and we used a SteriPEN to purify our water. It's very small and easy to carry, and it only takes a minute to purify a liter of water (you basically just have to stir). It cost us $90 and was definitely worth it, considering how awful iodine tablets make your water taste.

As for amount of water, I carried 3L each day and was totally fine. On summit day we didn't have any trouble with the water freezing. We didn't have insulated water bottles, so we packed the water inside our backpacks and put clothes around them, and it worked fine. A few other people on our trek used camel backs and I think had more trouble with the straw freezing than we had with our water bottles.

  • ahh, great to know. I have looked at the SteriPEN I will pick one up. Out of interest what operator did you go with?
    – Abarax
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 22:50
  • Sorry for the late response, didn't see this til now - do you mean tour operator? We used Focus in Africa. See my answer to this question.
    – Lauren
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 20:58

Camalbacks are great for trecking, but they have two problems when climbing Kilimanjaro.

  1. At high altitudes drinking from the tube can leave you breathless as the time spent drinking while walking is time that you aren't breathing. This sounds surprising but it does make a difference with the low oxygen levels.

  2. On the summit day, the water in your camalback tube will freeze, and won't defrost until after you have submitted. Making the camalback pretty much useless. Waterbottles will be fine in that temperature.

This said, I would still highly recommend a camalback for the little sips as you are walking to save having to get the bottle out your backpack and open it each time you have a drink. Two 1 litre bottles and a 3 litre camalback sounds about perfect.

Don't worry too much about sterilizing the water, it will be boiled for long enough for you.

  • The fact you can't breathe while drinking is inherent the fact you're drinking, may it be from a Camelbak, a Platypus, or a glass.
    – ChrisR
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 16:06

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