Safari Clothing Packing Advice: What clothing to pack for your safari.

When deciding on the best safari clothing to pack for your safari, let us be your guide into the world of what to wear in Africa.

The safari clothing rule of thumb: Dress in layers for all activities & wear shades of the African bush - khaki, browns and greens.

Top 10 tips for selecting the best safari clothing.

Follow our safari clothing advice and you'll be comfortable, cool, protected, and assured that the safari clothing you pack is 100% safari suitable. Learn what safari clothing to pack - and what clothing not to pack for your safari.

To get more insight into this list, please simply scroll down this page to where we elaborate further - and/or download our free packing list.

1.Dress in layers for all activities, with a warm layer essential in the mornings and evenings. Long-sleeved shirts with roll-up tabs and zip-off trousers allow you to adapt to local conditions.

2. Colour is key: Select safari clothing which is made from muted neutral and naturally-toned fabric such as shades of khaki, greens and browns.

3. No white or black clothing: Please ensure that you do not go on safari wearing clothing made from fabric which is white or black - or shades of fabric which appear white in direct sunlight.

4. No camouflaged clothing: it is illegal in some African countries for civilians to wear camouflage safari clothing so this is best avoided.

5. Man-made fabric vs cotton: As a general guideline, man-made fabrics (such as polyamide) outperforms natural fabrics (such as cotton) - and so keep you cooler and better protected from the sun.

6. Pack a wide-brimmed hat: You will be out in the sun for long hours of the day and a good wide-brimmed hat is an essential.

7. Pack a warm layer: Even in mid-summer on the back of an open 4x4 it gets cold. Do not leave home without a safari fleece or safari jacket.

8. Pack a dry layer: When it rains in Africa, it tends to pour. If travelling during the rainy season take a truly waterproof layer. Southern Africa tends to have rains November to April; East Africa gets rain in April/May and in November.

9. Pack light: Luggage restrictions on internal flights means that packing lightweight safari clothing is key. The bonus is the lighter the clothing, the more you can pack in.

10. Comfortable shoes: At the very least take your best walking shoes and a pair of sandals or flip-flops (thongs).

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What safari clothing should I pack for my safari?

This is one of the first questions you will ask once you have booked your safari. Unfortunately there are many people and blogs who think they know what makes for great safari clothing, but actually have very little idea about what works and what doesn't work well to improve your safari experience - and at the end of the day getting the best advice and packing the correct safari clothing will add to your enjoyment of your safari. Fortunately we have been asked the "what safari clothing to pack" question many times over the decades and so have come up with the long answer - and the short answer - and have also created expert safari clothing packing lists to guide you further. For the short answer as to what safari clothing to pack for your safari, we have created our "Top 10 tips for selecting safari clothing;" for the long answer please scroll down below the "top tips" as we go into detail about each key aspect for picking what safari clothing to take with you. Use our image "cheat sheet" too if you don't feel like reading much to get quick, essential, safari clothing packing tips

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Safari Clothing: Colour is Key

Safari clothing which is made from neutral and naturally-toned colours is the order of the day in deciding what safari clothing to pack for your safari. The best safari clothing colours are therefore shades of khaki, greens and browns as these are the colours most prevalent in the wilds, wilderness and backcountry of Africa. On the other end of the scale the worst safari clothing colours are without doubt white and black and lighter shades of natural colours such as very light stone which appear as white when in sunlight. It isn't by chance that animals such as impala and Thompson's gazelle have white rumps to make following one another through the bush easier to do - white really stands out.
. Which brings us to the core question here: "why is the choice of colour for safari clothing so important?" You spend a good amount of money going on safari not to watch animals watching you and reacting to you, but rather to view animals behaving, well, as naturally as animals should do. The aim of any safari is therefore to blend in as much as possible so that you do not disturb the wildlife you are viewing. This ensures that you are able to watch animals behaving naturally and not reacting to you, running away, or charging towards you. Staying as unseen as possible is so important that in high-level guide walking safari training the trainee guide fails or passes based on whether or not they are able to use the wind, cover and terrain to view high profile herbivores (elephant, rhino, buffalo) without one of the herd seeing the trainee guide and the evaluators. To achieve this, colour of clothing and the ability to blend in is very important.
As illustrated by the split image on this page, white is the most conspicuous colour on safari for safari clothing and you will be seen by African wildlife from a mile away - it quite simply stands out the most against the muted brown and green tones of Africa. This is most true while walking on safari - an activity we highly recommend - where remaining as undetected as possible is key to watching natural behaviour. Also, please do not pack safari clothing that is blue or black in colour. Black is second only to white in how clearly it stands out in the bush, but there is another reason why black and blue safari clothing should not be worn: tsetse flies. If you are travelling to an area with tsetse flies please note that the flies - which are the equivalent of tiny fighter jets and deliver a very painful bite with their proboscis - are attracted to blue and black. We know this for certain from personal experience and after noting that the traps used to attract and catch tsetse flies are made from fabric which is blue and black.
For the majority of African countries please do not pack camouflage safari clothing as camouflage safari clothing is illegal attire for civilians and this law may be strictly enforced.
In conclusion, all the safari clothing stocked by The Safari Store is handpicked to be made from safari-suitable colours - and are the ideal colours for safari travel.

As an aside, some travellers have asked why safari clothing colour is such an issue when African tribesmen - for example, the Maasai - wear bright colours in the bush. The answer is simple: their main aim us to be as visible as possible as they are herdsmen who are trying to protect their livestock from predators such as lion, hyena and cheetah. The bright colours ensure that any roaming predator sees them before attacking their herds and are dissuaded from doing so. The herdsmen want to be seen in African bush - for the best game viewing experience you - on the other hand - do not.

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The ideal colours to wear on safari allow you to blend in well with your surroundings.

The right side of the image above shows why the worst safari clothing colour to wear on safari is white - simply as you stick out like a beacon in the African bush. The left side shows that the best colours to wear on safari are shades of Africa's neutral and natural tones which blend in with the browns and greens and khakis of the African bush - leaving you harder to see - and animals which you are watching behaving naturally rather than reacting to you.

Safari Clothing: Deciding on cotton or man-made fabrics

We have spent years studying and understanding how yarns - the building block of any fabric - work and affect the engineering of any garment, including safari clothing. These studies have lead us to develop and field test fabrics of all types, with only the cream of the crop making it into our range of safari clothing. Here we tell you what we have learnt about the differences between fabrics made from manmade yarn - and those made from natural yarns such as cotton and the impact that should have on your choice of safari clothing.
To start we have to say that safari clothing made from cotton is of course fine to wear on safari, but it will never perform as well on safari as modern manmade fabrics which offer a much higher level of outdoor performance. To illustrate this point is we often use the example of the typewriter versus the computer. While one is still able to write a perfectly good letter on a typewriter and mail it or fax it once written, the computer has become a much more powerful word processing tool which also allows you to do so much more to share what you have written with others. This too is the case with manmade fabrics - they simple are able to do so much more than natural fabrics.
One of the key indicators of performance for safari clothing is the ability of the fabric to keep you cool through the hotter midday and afternoon hours of the day. Here manmade fabrics win hands down. Your body keeps cool by perspiring - which of course is no secret. The act of perspiring in itself does not keep you cool, but it is the movement of sweat away from the skin which keeps you cool. The faster the rate of evaporation from the skin, the faster you are kept cool. In fabric this movement of water is referred to as wicking. Cotton does not handle this movement of perspiration as well as manmade fabrics such our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics do. Cotton is greedy and holds on to 20% of its volume of sweat before releasing it to the environment; whereas our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics only hold 4% of their volume before releasing sweat to the environment. The nett effect is that water moves much faster away from your skin with our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics than with cotton - and as such they cool you much faster than cotton too.
The faster speed of wicking also explains why our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics are much better suited to safari and travel in general. They do not crease as badly and they both release creases much faster than cotton when hung up or ironed - and they only require a cool iron to release the water in the fabric, which in turn releases the creases. This explains how steam irons work too - they inject moisture into the fabric and then wick the moisture out of the fabric at a very high speed, releasing the creases. It follows that our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics also dry much faster than cotton after washing or becoming drenched in a river or heavy rain. It is simply a case of how efficiently our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics move water. This also explains why you will often see dark sweat patches under the arms and down the back of a person wearing a cotton garment which last for a long time.
There have also been tremendous advances made in the finishes which we are able to add to manmade fabrics. And so for our MaraTech™ and BUGTech™ fabrics we are able to build on the high level of wicking performance by adding finishes which offer robust sun protection (SPF50+); insect protection which offer a high efficacy (for BUGTech™); and a build in silver finish called Silver+ which fights bacteria - and as result odour - keeping you and your garment smelling fresh for longer. We have also added a water repellent finish to the BUGTech™ fabric used to make our separate leg sections for safari zip-off pants. The idea here is that your lower legs will be protected from wet grass and biting insects on early morning walking safaris and fishing trips.

As a team, we have also rigorously Expedition Tested™ our man-made fabrics under extreme conditions to prove that they are ideally suited to the conditions on your safari.

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Wear fabrics such as MaraTech & BugTech on safari.

Top tips for selecting safari clothing with the best in safari, travel and outdoor clothing technology & garment engineering.

1. Select clothing which is easy to pack, dries quickly, and wicks moisture away from the skin.

2. Keep bugs at bay: Where possible get added protection by selecting clothing that offers a built-in insect repellent. Insist on seeing proof that the built-in insect repellent has been proven to work by asking to see the laboratory test results

3. Protect your skin: The African sun can be harsh, even during winter. Opt for clothing that offers protection from the sun. This will be shown as an SPF rating. 50+ is the highest rating available today.

4. Light can also mean strong. The best safari clothing is lightweight, but also has built-in ripstop for added strength.

5. Stay fresh: As we all prefer to smell fresh, select clothing that uses an anti-microbial or anti-bacterial fabric. This also means that you will be able to wear the same clothing for longer and so pack less and travel lighter.

7. Get back-up: Add to the protective performance of the clothing which you take on safari by packing a wide-brimmed, packable safari hat, an effective sunscreen, and insect repellent which has been proven to work to spray on to your clothing and skin.

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Safari clothing with the latest in garment technology.

Safari Clothing: Pack a warm layer and pack light

Make no bones about it, it gets cold on safari. African winters, open Land Rovers, early mornings and late evenings, land-locked countries, and high altitudes all contribute to the mix. Areas such as the Okavango Delta, Masai Mara, and northern Tanzania - to name but a few - are at the same height and above of some ski resorts in Europe. Even during the summer months, it will be cool to cold on the back of an open game-viewer. The rule of thumb is that the hotter it gets at midday, the earlier in the morning you will leave to go on safari as that is when animals are most active. You should pack a jacket or fleece for all safaris and a beanie and scarf for the African winter. A waterproof layer is an essential too if travelling over the rainy season.

Packing the correct safari clothing has become increasingly important in Africa due to the strict implementation of luggage weight restrictions on internal flights - usually 12 to 15 kilograms per person. This applies in particular to travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and all other countries where access to safari camps and lodges is by scheduled charter or light aircraft. You will be able to find out the luggage weight limitations for your safari by discussing this with the company who have arranged your safari.

The clothing stocked by The Safari Store is all lightweight and packs and unpacks with minimum fuss or creasing. It also stands to reason that the lighter each garment you pack, the more garments you are able to pack and still remain under the weight threshold set by charter flight companies.

Please note that, as the maximum take-off weight in any aircraft has to be strictly adhered to by pilots to maximise your safety on each flight, you may find that your pilot will not be able to take any luggage over the maximum allowed weight per passenger. In this instance, you may have to pay for your luggage to be flown separately. We mention this to reiterate the importance of not overloading your luggage where maximum luggage weight limits apply.

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Wear a fleece or jacket on safari.
Pack functional and stylish clothing for your safari

Safari Clothing: Functionality & style

We realise the importance of offering our clients practical garments which allow you to express your style while on safari. We all want to look good and so, early on in our history, we took a big step away from tent-shaped safari shirts and drab, heavy safari trousers. We think that you will agree with us that our range is a breath of fresh air and ensures that you not only wear the correct attire on safari, but look and feel good too. As our clothing is all tested on expeditions, by purchasing safari clothing from The Safari Store, you will also protect your own day-to-day clothing from the dust, thorns, and strong sun encountered while travelling.

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Pack soft and squashhable luggage for your safari

What luggage should you take on safari?

Pack your safari clothing and gear into a bag which is soft and squashable. This is especially true for safari travel to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya. The reason for this is rather a practical one. The majority of safari lodges and camps within these countries are accessible only by light aircraft and, in order for your pilot to fit your luggage into the small, cramped hold, your luggage must not have hard sides and should rather be soft-sided so that the pilot is able to fit (squash) your bag into the plane. The same is true for some overland and expedition-style safaris where there will be limited space for luggage in the safari 4x4.

Therefore, we recommend that you take one larger safari canvas and leather holdall (around 70x30x30cm in size when full) and one smaller carry-on type bag to use when you travel and to take your binoculars and accessories on game drives and walks. For safaris with a daily walking element, we recommend that you take the holdall plus a small bag such as our Mara&Meru™ Selous Bag which you are able to use as a satchel or backpack and which attaches to your belt to carry your binoculars, compact camera or smartphone, and your safari accessories. When attached to your belt, this will leave your hands free to use your binoculars or camera and to push a thorny branch out of the way, drink water, or lift yourself up a rocky outcrop. Being 'hands-free' really does make a difference to your enjoyment of the walk.

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