Gear up! What to pack when climbing Mt Kinabalu

So, you’re planning to go to Borneo? There are tons of things to do but one thing you definitely should not miss is climbing Mount Kinabalu. I would recommend to book this 2-day hike at the source if you don’t want to pay too much: Sutera Harbour. They have an office in Kota Kinabalu where you can book directly. You can not do this climb without a guide, so if you want to reduce costs; team up with some fellow travellers to spit the guide fees. You can find all the costs at the website of Sutera. When we arrived in Kota Kinabalu we went directly to the office to check when we could make the climb as there are only 146 permits available per day. We planned the rest of our Borneo adventure around this.
Gear Up
What should you pack?
In 2 days you will go up and down the mountain. You will start at an altitude of 1,866 meters and climb all the way to Low’s Peak at 4,095.2 meters. When you start it will be likely hot and humid and the more you go up it will get colder. So make sure you wear layers and breathable clothes!

  • For this trip you don’t want too heavy cargo so take a waterproof daypack with you that’s about 30-40 L. Don’t pack unnecessary things as the climb is already a challenge! If your daypack is not waterproof make sure you have a raincover.
  • Lightweight hiking shoes with good grip. If you don’t have them, go for the local Adidas Kampung. You will see many locals and guides walk on these all rubber shoes. They are comfortable, have good grip and are super cheap. We bought a pair for around 3 euro for a jungle trip.
  • Good hiking socks are always a good idea. You want to avoid those nasty blisters!
  • When you’re lucky you won’t see any rain but hey, you never know. Take a lightweight rainjacket with you, you will use it anyway as a normal jacket when you are walking to the top in the middle of the night (because it’s cold!)
  • A head torch is unmissable. You will walk the last part to the top in the middle of the night to arrive before sunset so you’re gonna need it!
  • Take a half litre water bottle with you. You can fill up at every shelter along the way.
  • Bring a small first aid kit. It’s smart to have headache pills, antiseptic cream, band aids, safety pins, blister plasters and altitude sickness pills. This way you’re always prepared and won’t have to rely on others.
  • A compact travel towel is also a good idea so you can freshen up when you arrive at Laban Rata where you will sleep. Make sure it’s from microfibre, this will dry quick.
  • Due to the heights it’s likely that you will feel the sun burning on your head. This fordable cap is good to bring. And of course bring sunblock and insect repellent.
  • And last but not least: bring your camera! The view you have on top will take your breath away. I guess you can’t capture that magical moment on camera but you can at least make some nice pics to show at home!

These are the most important things if you ask me but you can check more packing tips here and other important tips here. Enjoy the climb, it’s an amazing experience!


  1. I’m heading to Borneo in may and hope to climb Mount Kinabalu! Thanks for this post, you’re tips are helpful.


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