Your packing list for climbing Mount Kerinci, West Sumatra, Indonesia

Your packing list for climbing Mount Kerinci, West Sumatra, Indonesia

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Reaching the top of Mount Kerinci, the highest volcano in Southeast Asia is a very special experience. You are guaranteed breathtaking views, the beauty of geographical zones, a difficult climb, and a lot of fun. Needless to say, such an adventure requires a certain preparation- arranging the transportation, accommodation, tickets and health certificate, and of course, the things you have to bring. In this article, we will focus on the packing list you have to prepare for hiking Mount Kerinci.

Mount Kerinci
Mount Kerinci

Mount Kerinci hike overview

Let’s start with the basics. Mount Kerinci is the highest volcano in the whole of Southeast Asia, and the highest point in the island of Sumatra. The elevation on its top is 3805 m. It is located at the border between West Sumatra and Jambi provinces.

At the same time, it is located near the Equator of the Earth, in a wet climatic zone with frequent rains. However, its altitude is not enough high to form glaciers or eternal snow. There aren’t even snowfalls (or if ever falls some snow, it is wet and doesn’t leave any snow cover).

However, rainfalls are regular. In the high altitude zone, although temperature almost never drops below zero, it still can get quite cold, especially at night. Rainy 7-8 degrees C is not so pleasant if you don’t have good equipment.

The crater of Mount Kerinci
The crater of Mount Kerinci

The trail

Like most volcanoes, Mount Kerinci’s slopes are steep, so the trail to the top is steep too. The trail starts from about 1580 m (or 1820 m in Pintu Rimba, if you reach this point by a jeep or motorcycle), and passes through three natural altitude zones:

Zone 1 is from 1820 to around 2400 m. Here the trail is still less steep and the area around is covered by lush and deep mountain rainforest.

Zone 2 is from 2400 to around 3200 m. Here the trail is steeper, and the mountain rainforest gradually turns into a “mossy forest”, where the trees get shorter and shorter. Eventually, they turn into a bush, and finally, the bush disappears.

Zone 3 is the highest- from 3200 m to the top. On its lowest part, there are still some bushes here and there, also some grass, but around 3400 m it disappears too.

In Zones 1 and 2, the trail is constantly muddy and in some places- slippery. And in Zone 3, it is dryer but rugged and stony, and still can be slippery.

Mossy forest around 2800 m altitude
Mossy forest around 2800 m altitude

Level of difficulty

All of this makes the Mount Kerinci trek quite challenging. You have more than 2000 m ascent, and then more than 2000 descent back. So, normally, people make it for two days while spending one night in the middle.

However, there is no accommodation, and the only way to spend the night is by camping. For this purpose, there are several shelters and campsites along the trail (proper places where you can install your tent). Only some physically well-fit and experienced people can make it within one day without spending the night there (but including a night hiking).

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Mount Kerinci Packing List

Planning the packing list for Mount Kerinci is a part of your Kerinci or the whole of West Sumatra itinerary. It can be different, depending on your experience and strength, and whether you hike solo or in a group. You don’t need a tent, a sleeping bag, or other camping accessories if you can make it within one day without spending the night there. Also, if you join a group, normally, some porters help you bring a part of your luggage, or you can share each other’s luggage. But what if you are a solo hiker who has to spend the night there?

Camp 3 in the bush
Camp 3 in the bush


Let’s start with the footwear. You have to hike on a steep, rugged, slippery, muddy, or stony (in the high zone) trail. No matter what shoes or boots you wear, they WILL become dirty and muddy- there is no way to keep them clean. Most probably, they will also get wet, because the chance of rain is quite high. So, if you want to walk more stable and keep your feet dry, you need some hiking shoes or boots with good traction and good waterproof features.

Let’s see some examples:



However, don’t be surprised to see various kinds of different and strange hikers on the way. I personally saw happy young hikers wearing only slippers, or even barefoot.

Anyway, don’t forget to bring more socks, especially if you are going to camp!


As mentioned above, temperatures don’t drop below freezing but it can still be quite cool, even cold, especially at night. Ok, while you hike (especially while you ascend), you can get hot and even sweaty, but when you stop camping, you can feel cold, especially if there is wind (in Camp 3, above the tree zone).

You can hike wearing just hiking shorts and a short-sleeve t-shirt while hiking (although I would not recommend it), but when you stop, you would need long pants, socks, a long-sleeve shirt, and a light jacket. For some people who are more sensitive to cold, I would recommend wearing even a winter jacket.

Just think about “November” in the moderate zone of the North Hemisphere, or “May” in the moderate zone of the Southern Hemisphere. If you feel hot while hiking, you can always insert the “autumn” clothes into your backpack, and take them out when stop for a rest or camp.

Let’s see some clothes proper for Mount Kerinci:

Hiking shirts:


Hiking pants:


Light hiking jackets:


Rain protection

This is mandatory, if you want to stay dry. Actually, even if it doesn’t rain, the forest remains wet from the last rains and you will certainly touch it. Sometimes, you can be lucky to catch 2-3 days without rain, but you never know, and the weather forecast is not so reliable here.

So, you need a raincoat. But not a “poncho”-style, because it would make it difficult to climb the steep muddy trail, especially in some more difficult sections like narrow chutes or tree roots.

The best raincoat consists of a rain jacket and rainproof pants. In addition, you need protection for your backpack- many good backpacks provide such a rain cover. Of course, you don’t need to wear all of this if the sun is shining, you can bring it in your backpack but keep in mind that weather can change quickly, so prepare it in a more convenient place (not in the bottom of the backpack).

Let’s see some good raincoats:


Camping gear

All of the above is for every hiker, no matter whether you are solo or join a group. And if you are a solo hiker who can make the whole trek for one day, you can skip this section. But if you plan to spend one night on the slopes of Mount Kerinci, you need camping gear- a proper tent, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad (or a self-inflating sleeping mat).

You would need a lightweight tent, to reduce the weight as much as possible, and it must be waterproof. Let’s see some proper tents below:


Again, if you join a group, you can share the luggage with others.

See the best backpacks for two-days hike!

Accessories and alternatives

If you have to bring the camping gear yourself and still want to reduce the weight, an alternative option is to bring a bivy (bivy sack). Again, it must be waterproof.

Bringing just a tarp is not so proper– you still need something to put on the wet and muddy ground. A hammock is not so proper too– you most probably would spend the night in the highest part of the tree zone and it may be difficult to find proper trees to install your hammock.

Since the temperature doesn’t drop too much, you don’t need too warm sleeping bag. A sleeping bag with a Comfort temperature of around +5°C  (30-40°F)would be enough. Let’s see some sleeping bags:


Concerning the sleeping pad- a normal sleeping pad is ok too, especially if you sleep in Camp 1 or 2 (or the additional small camp below Camp 2). 

But Camp 3 is almost above the tree line and here the ground is a bit stony and uneven. So, if you want to feel more comfortable, probably you would need a self-inflatable sleeping pad:


However, keep in mind that is a bit heavier than the normal sleeping pads- you have to choose between comfort and weight.

Various accessories

If you want a better and safer experience on Mount Kerinci, you would need some additional things to bring that are normal for such types of hikes.

Hiking poles

Do you really need hiking poles? They can help a lot, especially in such a difficult terrain. Keep in mind that they will sink deep into the mud and if they are not enough durable, they can bend or even break. At the same time, they can be very useful to keep you stable on the slippery trail.

However, there are some sections where the poles are useless and even inconvenient, especially between Camp 1 and Camp 3. In these sections, you literally have to climb up or down, using both hands to hold on trees, roots, or stones. Here you can stow the poles and open them again later (although it can be a bit inconvenient too). Anyway, let’s see some trekking poles:


Cooking set

It is not mandatory, moreover, it adds additional weight to your backpack. But if you want to eat something more delicious and warm, you would need it. There are some good cooking sets that are not too heavy and provide some basic availabilities to cook something warm- soup, noodles, etc.


The main problem is that you also need a gas can (gas stove canister). If you come from abroad, you would not be allowed to bring it in the airplane, so you have to buy it here and when you leave, you have to abandon it.


Bringing your mobile phone is always good- for navigation, photos, communication (although there is no good mobile range on most of the trail), or just entertainment (some music, videos, etc.). But there is one mandatory thing- a headlamp.


No matter how long you hike Mount Kerinci, walking or just staying (camping, resting, sleeping) in the darkness is inevitable. And of course, a headlamp is much more convenient than any other source of light (mobile, torch, etc.), because your hands will be free. So, let’s see some good headlamps:


Charger (power bank)

This is also highly advisable, especially if you are going to spend one night on the slope of Kerinci. And you would need it not only for charging your mobile but also your headlamp if it is chargeable (losing the light in the darkness while walking or installing your tent is not so nice, actually, it can be a bit scary and dangerous). So, let’s see some power banks (from 15 000 to 30 000 mAh):


How about a solar panel? It is not so useful in such a rainy area like Mount Kerinci. Again, yes, there is a good chance to hike on a nice sunny day, of course, but even without rain, most of the time you will be under the deep shadow of the mountain rainforest.

First aid kit

I know this is something that many travelers ignore. It adds additional weight to your backpack and occupies some space inside. So, you can decide by yourself, but keep in mind the following:

The trail is difficult, and there are some chances of falling and injuring.

If some accident happens, there is no medical point around. The good thing is that Mount Kerinci attracts a lot of hikers so almost certainly someone can see you and help you.

And something additional- don’t forget the high altitude. Everybody is different, but if you are more sensitive to the high altitudes, you may experience some altitude sickness.

Normally, the first aid kits have a standard set of items, mainly for treating injuries, like antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, compound tincture of benzoin, gauze pads, and more. Let’s see some of them:


Food and water

How much food and water you can bring, again depends on your preferences. There are no restaurants, fast food, or food markets on the slopes of Mount Kerinci. You have to prepare and bring everything in advance.

As mentioned above, you can bring some products and cook them (if you bring a cooking set). Or, if you don’t want to add weight and occupy space with a cooking set, you can just bring something ready.

Usually, the small restaurants and fast foods in Kersik Tuo offer roasted chicken, nasi goreng (rice with chicken), and more and you can buy it “for home” (if you are a vegetarian, you can always buy something meatless) – after all, you would normally have only two lunches, one dinner, and one breakfast (if you spend one night on the slopes of the mountain).

You can by this from a restaurant in Kersik Tuo, they will pack it for you
You can by this from a restaurant in Kersik Tuo, they will pack it for you

Concerning water- although you would not get too thirsty (you hike in a cool, wet, and often rainy environment), it is always mandatory. There is only one natural source of water– at Pos 2, in the lowest natural zone of the mountain. Don’t skip it and get some water from the stream there- it is cold, clean, and safe to drink directly (you don’t need to boil it). There is no water above this point on the trail.

The stream at Pos 2- you can get water from here
The stream at Pos 2- you can get water from here

Those are the most essential things you have to bring for your Mount Kerinci trek. Some things are mandatory, other things depend on your preference and hiking plan (solo or group, one day or two days). At the same time, you have to balance it with weight and your strength to bring heavy luggage on a difficult hike. Hope this guide can help you to plan this part of your Mount Kerinci (and the neighboring places of interest like Lake Gunung Tujuh and more) adventure well and enjoy a wonderful experience.

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This is an essential guide about what to bring for a Mount Kerinci hike, Indonesia- overall conditions and your packing list. This is an essential guide about what to bring for a Mount Kerinci hike, Indonesia- overall conditions and your packing list. This is an essential guide about what to bring for a Mount Kerinci hike, Indonesia- overall conditions and your packing list.

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