Interview with Tobias Zehetmeier of Bergzeit
“I pack my bag and in it I put…” Of course the hardside suitcase will be left at home for our trip to Mount Kilimanjaro and the backpack will be strapped on once again. Tobias Zehetmeier of Bergzeit, one of the biggest Outdoor suppliers in Germany, told us what to put in it. In our interview the alpine expert talks about the right hiking boots and gives some vital tips on how to pack our rucksack.
1. The conditions at Kilimanjaro will differ during the course of the travel. What do you have to consider in regards to the clothing so as to be ready for the changing temperatures?
It is really important that you work the layered clothing principle. During the course of the travel you will continuously move uphill and therefore, you need to have an insulating jacket, like the Primaloft or a thin down jacket in your backpack, as well as a hardshell jacket to shelter the rain and a bit of warm underwear like the Merino-Competition of Ortovox. This is a combination of synthetic material and merino wool. The same applies to the trousers. Simple zip-off trousers will be enough – one made of synthetic material which dries quickly and is breathable and draftproof. And of course rain trousers.
2. The correct footgear will probably be the most important issue. What do you have to pay attention to when choosing the right hiking boot?
You should not underestimate that there is still a glacier on top of Mount Kilimanjaro – there are certain paths that lead directly over the glacier. You should definitely choose a shoe that covers the ankle. You will be better protected against moisture and you will be able to negotiate difficult terrain. A shoe from the category B or B/C should be enough, for example the Rebel Light from Scarpa is a real all-rounder. It would be perfect for such a tour.
3. Especially when climbing mountains hiking poles are recommended. What characteristics do they have to have at a terrain like the Kilimanjaro?
Above all, you should be able to pack the hiking poles away easily since they might rather bother you when hiking easy passages. There are many small foldable hiking poles from various sellers that can be quickly tucked away in the backpack. They have a pack size of 12-14 inch. I would recommend one of the Ultralight pole from Leki, made of aluminum, small foldable, and ideal for a tour like this.
4. When climbing Kilimanjaro you will have to carry a backpack of approximately 35 liters for seven days. How do you find the right backpack for you?
Well you should find a retailer that has a big assortment. Not everyone has the same build and not every backpack will fit everyone. You have to make sure that the back length suits your individual size, the waist straps should rest on the hips, and the pull from the shoulder harness should start approximately at the scapula and cover the entire shoulder area. If the back length does not fit, the entire carrying system will not work. In the end, you have to decide if a Deuter, Offsprey or Gregory fits you best.
5. What would you need besides those important gearing equipment in your backpack? Is there something that you might not think about but which, nevertheless, is important to take with you?
At hikes like these, you definitely must not forget to pack a well sorted first aid kid and maybe a small bivvy bag to be able to react quickly in any situation. When you are far away from civilization and at a place where a helicopter rescue might be difficult, you should be prepared for the worst.
6. Especially as an untrained hiker and climber you might be inclined to taking too many things. What can you leave at home for sure when you intend to climb the Kilimanjaro?
That depends on what you are used to take with you (laughs). In regards to the clothing you should be aware that you won’t need a new T-shirt or a fresh pair of trousers every day. When you are in the mountains for several days, you will need trekking trousers that dry easily, preferably with zip-off, since you can replace two trousers this way. You might also want to take underwear made from merino wool. They can be washed by hand in the evenings. If you have two of those with you, you can save a lot of space. Besides that, a toothbrush is probably all the equipment you need in regards to your toiletry kit since you only have very reduced possibilities to wash yourself at the mountain. You will not need any other care products.
7. During a safari there will be completely different conditions – what differences are there in regards to the clothing?
Of course you will be at a completely different altitude. The ideal clothes are light, well-ventilated, maybe a trekking shirt. You also need light and low cut shoes. Preferably, shoes that can be packed away easily if you want to take out your flip flops.
8. When you have your equipment together – which final tip can you give?
It is important that you mentally prepare for the trip and consider which products you specifically need for your travel destination. Some parts of Africa are risk areas for malaria – should you be prepared for this? Do you need to take a mosquito net, and so on? What I do is I pack my backpack beforehand. That can be really helpful. You lay out all the things that go into your backpack and think about what you can easily leave at home so your luggage won’t be too heavy.