Gears & Equipments

What do you need to hike to and stay at Laban Rata? What do you need to climb to summit?

1. Disposable lightweight rain coats (1 or 2 sets)
2. Hiking gloves (to hold your hiking pole and fence at the side of the trail). Cotton gloves is good for summit too but it will get wet.
3. Two to three bags:
  • You will need to carry one small lightweight hiking backpack from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata. This is the bag you can put 2 - 4 bottles of water, a few energy bars, a set of dry cloth, etc.
  • You will let porter to carry your luggage bag to Laban Rata. You will need to pay the porter. In our case, RM8 (less than USD$3) per KG, up and down.
  • One luggage for flight & things that you don't need in the climb to Laban Rata and Mt Kinabalu peak. Leave the things you don’t need in Laban Rata & Summit at Kinabalu National Park's Operation Office. The cost is RM10 per bag.

Shoes & Slippers

Hiking Shoes

Walking on rocky and uneven landscape, choice of shoes is important.

The trail can be very slippery when it rains (which is very often).

You must wear a pair of hiking or trekking shoes to climb Mt Kinabalu. Yes, HIKING shoes, not any other sports shoes like running or jogging shoes, badminton shoes, squash shoes, golf shoes, etc.

Hiking shoes give good grip to walk on mud, stones or slope and they protect your toes, ankles and knees. Without a pair of shoes with good grips, it takes more body energy to balance yourself while walking and, if you are unlucky, you could slip and fall.

Good hiking shoes wrap your toes and support your ankles in appropriate place. You will be less likely to hurt your toes or sprain your ankle.

Most people do not realise the stability of hiking shoes actually protect knees, especially during descending of a climb. The impact and shock placed on your knees during descending is tremendous. Read this article on protecting knee while running to understand how to protect your knees. Another two articles here and here on protecting your knees while descending from a mountain.

Kampung Adidas

The famous Kampung Adidas.

Kampung Adidas is actually the nickname given to a very inexpensive, locally made rubber shoes for hiking and mountain climbing. It is light, it is waterproofed (made of rubber) and it gives astonishingly good grip on ground. It costs between RM6 to RM10, which is less than USD$5.

My Kampung Adidas that I wore to the summit 
of Mt Kinabalu.
It was originally used by the local rubber tapers, estate workers, etc. During the climb, I saw many porters and mountain guides were wearing this genre of shoes.

Here is a detail account of Kampung Adidas.

However, to certain extend, I think the usefulness of Kampung Adidas is over exaggerated. My take is that:

1. It gives really good grip, even walking in the rain.
2. It is waterproof. You can just drain the water out and wipe it dry.
3. It is light.
4. It protects your knees. Since it does not have thick cushion, you will avoid landing on heels. As such, your knees are protected from impacts.

1. It does not give sufficient protection to toes.
2. It does not support your ankles.
3. Without sufficient stability, it does not give sufficient protection to knees.
4. It causes blisters, unless you wear two layer of socks.

A good pair of hiking shoes will not cause you to slip.

Very uneven and slippery trail.

I wore Kampung Addidas during my climb to the summit of Mt Kinabalu for its good grip. But for the long 6km hike from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata and another 6km descending walk from Laban Rata to Kinabalu Park, I wore a good, comfortable and branded hiking shoes (Yes, the authentic Adidas. But anyway, Nike would work perfectly fine for me too.) to give reasonably good grip and protection to my toes, ankles and knees.

Look at the trail: wet, rocky, slippery, uneven and uphill.

(Edited on 30 Sep 2011: After my second climb, I changed my view. Expensive shoes with good cushion CANNOT protect your knees. My Adidas Kampung, cheap rubber shoes, is far more superior than my authentic Adidas and Nike in tropical mountain hiking. When we wear a pair of expensive shoes with good cushion, we tend to land on heel. And this hurts our knees unknowing to ourselves. When we walk with shoes without cushion, we tend to walk as such to protect our heels, and this protect our knees too.)

You can buy Kampung Adidas at a shop next to Reception Office and Transport Office of Kinabalu National Park's Headquater.

More on Kampung Adidas at wikipedia and this useful Mt Kinabalu guides website.

Wet trail.

Important Tips

  1. You must try your hiking shoes in practices, to know if you have problem with the shoes you choose.
  2. You can get Kampung Adidas in small shoes shop in the cheaper side of town or city in Malaysia. You may not find this kind of rubber shoes in popular high class shopping malls.
  3. Hiking poles will help in protecting your knees during descend.
  4. (Edited on 30 Sep 2011: Due to the experience of my second climb. I have changed my view. Now I believe that walking techniques will protect your knees, not expensive hiking shoes with cushion.)

Without proper hiking shoes, things can get pretty nasty when it rains.

Wet, uneven and rocky trail.
You really should not try this trail if you don't have proper shoes.


Kinabalu Park does not provide slipper. You may want to bring one pair for use in common bathroom, toilets or simply walking around comfortably.

However, slippers are provided in Laban Rata. Therefore, you don't need to bring slippers up to Laban Rata. You can leave it with your other luggage in Kinabalu Park.

Another rocky and wet stretch.

Add caption

My case on Shoes and Slippers

I wore a pair of real Adidas hiking shoes for the 6km hike from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata. I switched to Kampung Adidas for the climb to summit. I switched back to real Adidas for 6km descending from Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park.

For the purpose of bathroom and toilet, I use the Kampung Adidas as my slippers too.

(Edited: In my second climb, I wore Adidas Kampung all the way from Kinabalu Park Headquarters to Laban Rata, to summit, back from summit to Laban Rata and down to Kinabalu Park Headquarters. And this time, I did not have problem with my knees.)

Other information:

1. Differentiating hiking boots and trekking shoes.

More Resources

Clothing to Hike

It is important to keep yourself dry during the 2 days climb, from sweat and rain.

These are the apparel: t-shirt, collar shirt, long sleeves shirt,
track pants, Bermuda pants, headband, baseball cap, etc.

How many sets of clothes do you need for the climb?

From Kinabalu Park to Summit, back to Kinabalu Park and leave for airport, you need at least 4 sets of clothes to keep yourself comfortably dry.

This is how:
  1. 1st set - From Kinabalu Park HQ to Laban Rata Resthouse (Remember to bring along 2nd set of clothes with you in your backpack. Sometime, your porter who carry your luggage may come a few hours after you reach Laban Rata. You would want to have your 2nd set of clothes to change once you reach Laban Rata.)
  2. 2nd set - From Laban Rata Resthouse to Summit and back to Laban Rata. If the temperature is low you may want to add another layer of T shirt. Wear long track pants for Summit.
  3. 3rd set - From Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park's HQ.
  4. 4th set - From Kinabalu Park's HQ to airport and go home.
(A set of clothing includes shirt, pants, underwear & socks.)

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What can you wear during the hike or climb to Laban Rata?

(not include the night climb to summit)
Well, almost anything comfortable for sports.
  • T-Shirt
  • Bermuda short OR lightweight (and water resistant) track pants
  • A pair of good trekking shoes
  • Socks
  • Knee guards & ankle guards
  • Headband or baseball cap
  • Towel
  • Gloves (if you want)
  • Don't wear jeans during the climb. Jeans will become heavy if there is rain.

To prepare for sudden bad whether like heavy rain, you will need to bring
  • rain coats (disposable type is lighter in weight)
  • Water proof jacket or wind breaking (temperature may drop during rain or night)
  • spare socks and underwear

Well...does not look
very good though.

Alice from the back. Track
pants, gloves, towel, etc.

What should you wear during the night climb to summit?

  • T shirt
  • I added a layer of thermal wear outside T shirt
    • Some simply add a few more layers of T shirt
    • Some may opt of lightweight jumper/ sweater instead of multi layers of T shirt.
  • Water proof jacket or wind breaker with hood (to cover ears in cold whether)
  • Beanie, to cover ears in cold whether
  • Long lightweight track pants (water resistant)
  • A pair of good trekking shoes & socks
  • Knee guards & ankle guards
  • Headband or baseball cap
  • Towel
  • Gloves (Important: there will be a part of the trail that you will need to hold and pull a rope. The night can be very cold too.)
  • Headlamp (Important: you must have this to climb safely during the night. Make sure you check your battery before you start.)
  • Bring along rain coat

Junious and his beanie.

Still wearing my headlamp. But
promptly recovered from altitude

One useful suggestion, water proof your clothes by putting each set of clothe in different plastic bags.
You can find good advises here on clothing to climb Mt Kinabalu: Mt Kinabalu: a guide to the climb of a lifetime.
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Training: Preparing Your Body For A Long Uphill Walk

Despite having height of 4,095.2 M (13,435 ft) above sea level, climbing Mt Kinabalu is technically easy. It does not require rock climbing skills. In most part of the trail you will just walk on steps or on a big wide slanting slope.

Full 6 KM of such uphill hike.

Never ending uphill walk.

Long hour, long journey, uphill.

To Be Fit

However, there is still a basic requirement of being healthy and fit enough for a long, never seems to end, uphill walk of 6km to Laban Rata and another 2.75km walk from Laban Rata (Laban Rata is to Mt Kinabalu is similar to Base Camp is to Mt Everest) to the summit.

You will probably start the summit climb at 2.30am and will reach the summit before 7.00am. You will probably reaching back to Laban Rata before 9.30am and will take another descending walk of 6km (6 hours) back to Kinabalu Park HQ the same day.

In total you will probably walk for 12 hours to 14 hours on the day you climb to the summit and descended back to the Park.


If you are not physically active you will probably need to train your body just a little bit.

1. Try a few rounds of hikes on the hills nearby until your body get a little more use to hiking
2. Try your equipments and hiking shoes in a real hike
3. Use the trackmill as often as you can to build up stamina
4. Walking up apartment staircase (but take lift down to protect your knee)

In my case, I am definitely not physically active. I don't like to play sport games and my work requires me to sit in the office always. ;-)

I started to train 9 months (!!) before the climb (NO, you DON'T need to train for 9 months to get up to Mt Kinabalu. Read on). One week once. Every Sunday 6.00 am, I hiked with my friends at a hill nearby my house for an hour. However, 9 months may be a bit too long.

Walking up hill in the rains.

Zoe, one of our Mt Kinabalu climbing team member, started to follow my Sunday climb 3 months before the actual climb. She started with physical conditions much worse than that of mine. Sometime she would missed a Sunday and came the next Sunday. In just a few hikes in the local hill, she improved tremendously. With the help of mountain guide, she walked up to summit of Mt Kinabalu with little problem.

It seems the climb was like a breeze to her, while I was struggling to climb due to altitude sickness. :-P

Even if you are physically active, you may still need to try to hike a few times. First, to let your body get use to long hour hiking and walking in the jungle trail. I slipped and fell a few times during the first two hikes of my training.

You climb up this stretch at night in the dark. Training with head lamp in the dark is definitely a must.

This would be your perspective during the night climb, if you can see in the dark.

Second, a 6 hour walk requires strategy of conserving energy and walk with consistent output. A good jogger understands this, but a basketball player may not. One of our fittest teammates suffered  from fatigue due to wrong walking strategy of rush-rest-rush-rest. Since he is fit, he just could not understand our advice of walking slowly and consistently. He struggled to reach Laban Rata late behind everyone and was unable to go for the summit climb during the night.

Ultimately, even if you climb without training, with right walking strategy, you may still able to make it to summit like the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister of Malaysia, Mr Gan Peng Shie. Read his Mt Kinabalu climbing story here. But of course, you are risking to hurt yourself, i.e. sprain your ankle, etc. and take medical leave just like him.

To Be Healthy

You need to be healthy. This is extremely important for the sake of personal safety. The mountain operator, SSL, includes special note below in the booking confirmation documents:

"It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommend that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Severe Anemia, Peptic ulcers, Epileptic fits, Obesity (Overweight), Chronic Asthma, Muscular Cramps, Hepatitis (Jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climber."

Look at the yellow figurine to have a feel of the scale of the summit plateau. You walk on the rocky and uneven surface for more than 1.5 KM to reach Low's Peak. It is the most difficult walk of the entire climb.


Read about techniques of downhill walk

More Resources

Flood on the Summit of Mt Kinabalu

It can be dangerous at the summit of Mt Kinabalu when there is heavy rain and strong wind. I found this video in showing flood on the Summit of Mount Kinabalu.

Therefore, when the weather is bad during the night, your mountain guide* may cancel the trip from Laban Rata to the Summit of Mt Kinabalu.

* At least one mountain guide will be assigned to you when you start the climb. The climbing package you book with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges or Mountain Torq for a place to stay at Laban Rata includes service of mountain guides. You can find more about the mountain guides here.

Booking to Climb Mount Kinabalu

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is the operator of Kinabalu National Park. To book a place to climb Mount Kinabalu you need to book a place to stay at Laban Rata Resthouse.

To book through SSL, you need to book your place 6 months ahead of your climb. Read this if you want to book a place to climb Mount Kinabalu urgently (i.e. in less than 6 months)

Panar Laban warm tiny room.

For lodging at Kinabalu National Park and Laban Rata Resthouse:

Photo from Junious's camera. Lodging (the night before
climbing Mt Kinabalu) at Kinabalu Park.
Sutera Sanctuary Lodges,
Sutera Harbour Resorts
Level 1, The Pacific Sutera Hotel
88100 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia

General: +60 88 303 900 - EXT '2'
Fax: +60 88 317 540 / +60 88 310 118

You can find more information at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges' web site.

I found SSL's website to book a place in Laban Rata is not very user friendly. There are opinions expressed in this very useful website of a local doctor on booking a place to climb Mt Kinabalu. Some bigger operators are booking in bulk to resell. To book a tour package to climb Mount Kinabalu from travel agents, read this.

Photo by Junious. The lodge. The night before the climb.

The beds at Panar Laban Hut. We would woke up at 1.30am after midnight to have supper and to climb to the summit.

For transport from Airport to Kinabalu Park:

There are many transport companies, we used the below.

Bimaz Tours & Travel And Rent-A-Car Sdn Bhd
(Co.625562-P) KPL/LN:3958 MATTA No.2904
Kota Kinabalu Sabah
Tel : (+6) 088 767214 | Fax : (+6) 088 766214

Syarikat Gunung Kinabalu
Contact person: Charles Kong
Tel : (+6) 088 492 535
Mobile : (+6) 012 869 7677 | (+6) 016 552 7177
Email :

(One more, we had not used their service before, but we add the info here purely based on goodwill and suggestion.)
GBMS Management Services
Contact person: Hani NJ
Tel : (+6) 088 760 521
Mobile : (+6) 014 658 7181
Email :;


On the way from Airport to Kinabalu National Park nearing Tuaran.

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How to get to Mt Kinabalu, Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Malaysia?

Thanks Junious, for your photo.
In general,
  1. You fly from anywhere of the world to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia.
  2. Change your flight to AirAsia and fly to Kota Kinabalu
  3. In the airport of Kota Kinabalu, with prior arrangement, a car rental service operator will provide van to pick you up.
  4. With approximately 2 hours or 88km travelling in van, you will reach Kinabalu National Park, where Mount Kinabalu is located.
  5. On going back to airport, you can arrange with the same driver to pick you up from Kinabalu Park on specific date and time. 


    There are a few airlines fly directly from various locations to Kota Kinabalu. You can fly directly to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Firefly), Singapore (Singapore Airlines), Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific Airways), Taipei (Cathay Pacific Airways), Tokyo, Osaka, Perth, Bandar Seri Begawan, GuangZhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Jarkatar, Manila, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, etc.

    Here is a list of Airlines flying to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

    Looking for cheap flight? Book early.

    Fly cheap: AirAsia, from Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at Sepang near KLIA

    AirAsia is a low cost carrier/ airline. It gives the cheapest price if you can book the flight earlier, i.e. 6 months earlier, etc. This makes sense since you need to make your lodging booking in Mount Kinabalu 6 months earlier too. It may not be as comfortable as Malaysia Airlines (MAS), but the flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu is less than 3 hours.

    I did a search of AirAsia web site:

    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, tomorrow is RM443 or USD142
    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, 6 months from now is RM143 or USD46
    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, 8 months from now is RM83 or USD27

    You can try MAS too. It is definitely more comfortable though more expensive.

    I also did a search of Malaysia Airlines web site:

    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, tomorrow is RM749 or USD242
    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, 6 months from now is RM239 or USD77
    • For a flight from KLIA to Kota Kinabalu, 8 months from now is RM239 or USD77

    The fare may change from time to time, but you get the idea of the difference between making early booking and between 2 main airlines flying to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

    On the way from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park.

    Road Transport between Kota Kinabalu and Kinabalu Park

    Before you go to Kota Kinabalu, you can pre-arrange to hire van or taxi to pick you up from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to the park. When you arrange your transport to Kinabalu Park, i.e. van or taxi, etc. you can also ask the driver to come back on specific day you want to depart. As such they will come back to pick you up. Along the way, you can ask the driver to recommend places to visit.

    You may ask Sutera Sanctuary Lodges's staffs to recommend a reliable transport company.

    These are the two companies used in my trips:
    First trip
    Bimaz Tours & Travel And Rent-A-Car Sdn Bhd (Co.625562-P) KPL/LN:3958 MATTA No.2904
    Kota Kinabalu Sabah
    Tel : (+6) 088 767214 | Fax : (+6) 088 766214
    Second trip
    Syarikat Gunung Kinabalu
    Contact person: Charles Kong
    Tel : (+6) 088 492 535
    Mobile : (+6) 012 869 7677 | (+6) 016 552 7177
    Email :
    One more,
    We had not used their service before, but we add the info here purely based on goodwill and suggestion.
    GBMS Management Services
    Contact person: Hani NJ (and her blog)
    Tel : (+6) 088 760 521
    Mobile : (+6) 014 658 7181
    Email :;

    There are public transport between Kota Kinabalu and Kinabalu Park. You can read more details on lonely planet's "Kinabalu Park: Getting there & away". Personally, I prefer hired van or taxi for
    1. it is not expensive
    2. we are more in control of time to reach the park or leaving the park
    3. with a hired driver. we can be more spontaneous on going various places

    More Resources

    Season and Weather: Climbing Mt Kinabalu

    The weather on the summit at dawn is quite stable, but the fogs come and go quickly.

    View of Mount Kinabalu's Peaks from
    Kinabalu National Park's head quarter.

    Season to Climb Mt Kinabalu

    February, March & April are the best months to Climb Mount Kinabalu. These months are non monsoon season and rainfall is little.

    There are two monsoons that bring rainy seasons to Sabah:
    • South West Monsoon stretches from May to July
    • However, it is North East Monsoon covering October to January that brought heavy and frequent rain. This is the worst time to climb Mount Kinabalu due to the heavy rain brought by North East Monsoon.

    Generally, other than late October, November and December, other months are acceptable choice.

    There are several reasons why you should avoid rainy seasons:

    1. Summit climb may be cancelled due to bad weather.

    Laban Rata Resthouse (at 3,270 m (10,728 ft) above sea level) has limited beds that required early booking, When the summit climb is cancelled due to heavy rain and winds, visitors may have to spend the night at Laban Rata Resthouse, instead of climbing to the summit. For those who booked to stay for only one night will have to descent from Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park Head Quarter the next morning without reaching the summit.

    Watch this video on the flood on the Summit of Mt Kinabalu.

    Climbers should expect fogs and drizzles even when the weather is considered good.

    Rain water flows through the
    walking path.

    2. Heavy rain can be dangerous judging by the trails' conditions.

    During heavy downpour, water flows through the walking path. It can be dangerous.

    3. Keeping yourself dry is important due to low temperature

    It is important to keep oneself dry as temperature can be very low at Laban Rata due to high altitude. At night, it can reach less than zero degree Celsius according to our guide.

    Overall: on Season to visit

    Due to the limited beds at Laban Rata Resthouse visitors may have to make booking as early as six months to ensure a place to climb Mt Kinabalu. Therefore, during planning time, choose the visiting month wisely.

    Again, other than late October, November and December, other months are acceptable choice.

    Weather at Mt Kinabalu

    Generally, the best weather in a day is morning. Start your climb or descent early. During the day, the weather is fickle, it changes quickly.

    Always expect rains when you are climbing Mount Kinabalu.

    Flora in the the rain.

    Our experience: Points to take note

    • We visited Mount Kinabalu in September when rainfall was increasingly more frequent. The weather in the morning is always better than later of the day.
    • You must have enough socks, shoes, gloves, T shirts, etc.
    • Even if you love jeans, don't wear it uphill. Jeans can be very heavy if there is rain.
    • Bring along 2 sets of disposable rain coats, OR, one water proof track suit plus 1 set of disposable rain coat. Some suggest to wear shower cap before wearing rain coat.
    • Water proof all your belongings, e.g. daily cloth in each plastic bag.
    • Always start early:
      • Kinabalu National Park (KNP)->Laban Rata (LR) (8.30am)
      • LR->Summit (2.30am)
      • LR->KNP (as early as possible to reach KN Park head quarter, airport and to catch your plane on time) and
      • Descent from LR not later than 10.30am.
    • Latest to reach KN Park by 5pm in order to have enough time to take good shower before departure to airport.(Approximately 2 hours to airport)
    • In our case, it seems early has better weather:
      • Day 1 up, rain from 2pm – 8pm
      • Day 2 down, rain from 12 noon – 5pm

    Note: Visibility condition can change in 10 minutes.

    The fogs were thick at 6.30 AM. But the condition changed quickly in 10 minutes. See next photos.

    Clear sky at 6.40 AM. Visibility was truly bad just 10 minutes ago.

    More Resources

    Mount Kinabalu's Summit's Plateau

    Step-by-Step Terrain of Mount Kinabalu:

    2010 Climb

    The crystal clear air and magnificent view on our way down. Due to my altitude sickness before dawn and our camera time, we were late and were in rush to get back to Laban Rata before the kitchen and breakfast buffet closed at 10.30am. 

    It was about 8.45am. We reached Laban Rata before 10.00am.

    2011 Climb

    Sayat Sayat Check Point at the bottom of the plateau

    Step-by-Step Terrain of Mount Kinabalu: