What Do You Wear Up Mt Kinabalu?

In my journey to prepare for my Mt Kinabalu trip, the greatest worry we have is naturally our fitness level. There’s no two ways about it. We just have to train for it. But the next worry we have is, WHAT TO WEAR up the mountain! (That also goes to show our rather bimbo priority list!)

Laugh all you want. Roll your eyes. I think it’s not that easy figuring out what to wear for this climb! Read on and help me if you can!

Mt Kinabalu’s temperature is at 20-25 degrees C, with near freezing temperature at the summit. I’m not good with cold temperatures. When I see near freezing temperatures, my natural instinct is to bring out the long johns, the sweaters, jackets, scarves and thick woollies. This was me in Seoul during winter!

Cold winter

Then I was reminded that I can’t possibly wear this climbing up the mountain! It would be way TOO WARM as I would be perspiring from the climb! Sigh.. common sense to most, but clearly, not to me then!

I decided to make effort and study the route I would be taking to plan my attire. Just like how I would think and plan what to wear to a dinner party, it’s time to do that for this climb! Here’s how the climb would be like:

      • PHASE 1:  Arrival at Kota Kinabalu town.
      • PHASE 2:  Bus will bring us to the Base Camp to sleep overnight. Temperature: 20-25C
      • PHASE 3:  7AM to start climb to the Rest House. This Phase can take 7-9 hours. Non-stop with short 20-30 min breaks at the various rest stops along the trail.
      • PHASE 4:  Arrival at the Rest House (3,272m above sea level). Stay for dinner and short sleep. Temperature here can be near freezing.
      • PHASE 5:  230AM to start ascent to summit. This Phase takes about 3-4 hours. Very dark, and very cold when you stop to rest. Possible altitude sickness for some.

And that is the ascent up. Now, if you are a noob like me at climbing, wouldn’t you be quite unsure what to wear towards the end of Phase 3? And again at Phase 5? And there’s a gentle reminder, after Phase 5, we have to descend… that’s going through Phase 4, 3, 2 and 1 again without the overnighting. Oh and there’s no hotel stop in between to strip the winter wear! AND and and… there’s plenty photos to be taken at the summit. Even with the beautiful sun rise at the background, I can’t look out of place with a *totally wrong* outfit in the photo!

But one great consolation is the Porter! Our team would be engaging a porter to assist with carrying our extra load. (READ: thick winter wear, snacks and toiletries for Phase 4) But we have to plan carefully what do we carry on our own, and what do we pass to the Porter.

We’ve talked and discussed with those who have gone up the mountain. And I’m not too sure if I got it right… this is what I’ll be wearing!

  • PHASE 1: Regular tee and shorts. Or a sun-dress.
  • PHASE 2: As above.
  • PHASE 3: A short sleeves Dri-Fit top and compression 3/4 tights. A jacket in the bag.
  • PHASE 4: Look at the Seoul picture.
  • PHASE 5: A long sleeves Dri-Fit top and compression tights and long johns and jacket and a beanie and gloves. (HELP! how do we wear long johns and tights together?? And how to keep our bottoms warm if Jeans is not an option? ) 

So here’s my frivolous post on attire for my Mt Kinabalu climb. I need help. Anyone?

This is a part of the series of posts on Adventures up Mount Kinabalu.


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