In search of the best safari jacket? We’ve been on a countless number of safaris and visited lodges all over the African continent from South Africa to Kenya and literally everywhere in between. On our first trip, we showed up with a hodgepodge of clothes that were not suited for the bush and had all the wrong colors.
A good safari jacket should be bought with activity in mind. If you’ll be doing bush walks while on your safari, a lightweight safari jacket will be much more practical than a heavy-duty one. However, if you are traveling at high elevation or during Africa’s winter months when nights get cool, consider a decently warm jacket. It’s also important to purchase a safari jacket with a few pockets so that you can stash your goodies.
Whatever you pack in your safari bag you should bear in mind the location, time of year, and activity level. Keep in mind that you really only need one good safari jacket in your luggage, and hopefully this list will help you narrow down your choices.
The Best Safari Jackets for Africa
Women’s Safari Jackets
KUHL Lena Jacket
I love Kuhl products and this safari jacket is no different. This jacket is packable, lightweight and perfect for all sorts of travel – not just on safari.
The zippered chest and hand pockets provide storage for any extra goods you’ll need on safari and there is also a hood that zips into the collar. This jacket also has an internal drawcord at the waist to cinch it in and make it more fitting.
Orvis Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket
This adorable mid-thigh safari jacket is both wind and water-resistant, has a stowaway hood, and loads of space and hidden pockets. It’s a more stylish jacket for travel great for exploring some of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
The fit is very complimenting, cinching at the waist, and the colors are fairly muted, making this jacket the perfect pairing to almost any outfit! The polyester blend also resists wrinkling, which is excellent, because it comes with its own stuff sack so you can pack and go.
TravelSmith Linen Button-Front Jacket
This is a jean style jacket also made by TravelSmith, but a completely different style. Made out of breathable, machine washable 100% linen it’s a pretty good jacket to have on safari for women.
The only thing it lacks is durable pockets that can actually hold all your valuables. However, if you don’t need much with you in the game drive vehicle this may be a good option for you.
Fjallraven Raven Bush Jacket
This is a great canvas safari jacket for women. It’s an environmentally friendly jacket made out of G-1000 Eco fabric and finished with a Greenland wax to protect against wind and water.
The jacket has a packable hood in case it starts raining or you are cold, making it a great all-around outdoor jacket. The cinched waist keeps it stylish and able to be fit all women’s body types. I love how many pockets this jacket has. Perfect for storage which is so helpful when traveling around Africa or on safari!
Women’s 15-Pocket Voyager Jacket
Not one, not two, but 15 fricken pockets on one safari jacket. So you will for sure find places to store your safari binoculars, safari camera lenses, chapstick, sunglasses and anything else you need on safari. This is one of the highest rated products on TravelSmith and it’s lightweight and quick drying.
The safari jacket provides UPF40+ sun protection against the African sun made out of nylon shell and polyester lining. This is definitely one of the best women’s safari jackets for Africa, it comes in a plethora of colors so if you’re looking for that perfect khaki safari jacket I would go with the voyager.
Men’s Safari Jackets
Orvis Panama Safari Jacket
The Orvis Panama jacket is a great safari bush jacket for men. This jacket is modeled after a combat uniform from 1963 so if you want to feel like you’re on an old time safari in colonial Africa this is the jacket for you.
The fabric is exactingly replicated from the original 1963 specs only with added comfort. This jacket is tropical weight, rugged, and breathable Japanese Panama Cloth. Honestly, it’s perfect for bush photos to show to your friends when you get back home from your trip.
Madda Fella Deck Jacket
This is the perfect water repellent safari jacket that is durable yet equally stylish. We just got our hands on this one and love how it looks in the bush and also just around town.
Madda Fella makes quality gear and this jacket is no different. The deck jacket is made out of 100$ oil washed cotton creating that rugged safari look. It had four exterior pockets and one interior. All are large enough to carry electronic essentials that you may need. The top two breast pockets are secured with a snap button.
Kuhl Burr Safari Jacket
This jacket is ready for anything Africa can throw at it! Safari? Fishing? Camping? Hiking? You name it is there for you. The Kuhl Burr Jacket is built out of microfleece-lined cotton canvas on the outside and on the inside is just as comfortable. This jacket has multiple zippered compartments including one on the inside for passports and a phone.
Fjallraven Raven Bush Jacket
Fjallraven is another brand that I absolutely love! They make quality products that will last for years and years. The Raven jacket just looks like it was made for safari – doesn’t it!?
It’s stylish enough for any safari photo you’ll be in, but will also look great on the trails back home. It’s made out og G-1000 eco fabric that is made to repel light rain and resist wind should you be traveling Africa in the rainy season. It has plenty of pockets and even a roll and stow collar.
Patagonia Lightweight Hemp Coaches Jacket
This is a great lightweight safari jacket option for men made of soft lightweight organic cotton and hemp. This would be a great option if you are traveling to Africa in the dry season and it’s not going to get super cold at night. This jacket also has a drawcord bottom and elasticized cuffs to keep the wind out.
KUHL Kollusion Safari Coat
As mentioned above, I absolutely love Kuhl products and the Kuhl Kollusion jacket is why. It’s rugged and made for a safari or just everyday wear around the world. It’s stylish yet durable and is one of our favorite jackets for travel.
This jacket has a rollaway hood and is waxed with PU coated fabric in case it rains or snows. The jacket has numerous pockets to stash your hands for warmth or other items you’ll have in Africa.
Elements of a Good Safari Jacket
There are a couple key elements to look at with each piece of safari clothing. While you may picture yourself as an adventure seeker, you should keep in mind that you are a guest and your safari guide will handle the nitty-gritty.
Unless you’re driving across Africa like us, you’ll be safe. The clothes you pack should be for comfort, not some rugged adventure. If it doesn’t feel comfortable you may as well leave it at home.
You’ll want to pack light. The days are often busy so multiple wardrobe changes aren’t really in the mix. Solid clothes that are casual, yet stylish enough to wear to dinner in a lodge over a five course meal.
Versatility can include the right material, fit, and functionality. For example, a good long sleeve shirt can keep you warm in the morning, but cool during the day in a way that short sleeve or tee shirts fail.
This one is key. Africa can be hard on clothes even on a short trip. Climbing in and out of a safari vehicle can easily rip a weak pair of pants or shorts. Look for clothes for Africa that stretch a little.
You also have a lot of dust and sun exposure. If you’re involved in conservation efforts, on a walking safari, or spending anytime outside of a game vehicle you need some decent safari clothes that will hold up the elements. The best way is often to stick with solid name brands that we trust when ordering online or to shop in your local store, although that can be difficult with limited selections.
With a safari, you’ve come to see nature and that’s just what you will encounter. So, your clothing needs to be well suited to the environments of Africa. When it comes to our outdoor wear we go for solid natural materials like hemp, linen, leather, or wool.
Manmade materials such a nylon or polyester are other great options as they are excellent at moisture management and proaction. The only material we’re not massive fans of is cotton, but it’s often the softest and warmest material while with great value. I always read the tags and materials on outdoor apparel before I make a purchase and consider it’s intended purpose.
Things like having pockets can make or break good safari wear. Where else are you going to stash things like lip balm, sunscreen, or even a pair of binoculars?
The day to day wear of clothes is the most important part because if you feel uncomfortable in the bush you’ll likely end up looking ridiculous. You aren’t walking the runways of Paris, but spending time in the bush. Care about your look, but not too much.
Safari clothes should blend in with the environment. You should wear beige, green, and brown colored clothes. They are the staple colors of safari wear because they blend into the environment and can provide a better game viewing experience.
While wearing bright colors such as red is said to scare off animals, and make you stand out. This may or may not be true, only the animals know for sure. Of course, the Maasai Warriors in Kenya and Tanzania have been wearing red for centuries!
That being said neutral colors do a great job at hiding dirt and dust which there will be plenty of on a drive or walk through the bush. White clothes aren’t going to stay white very long and dark colors are believed to attract tsetse flies. Trust us you do not want to become familiar with tsetse flies!
For example, when gorilla trekking it advised to wear long pants and greens. When on foot it is always advised to wear colors that blend well into the environment and have a good pair of safari boots.
Tips On Safari Clothes
- First and foremost, you do not have to wear any special safari clothes. The majority of time on safari is spent in a vehicle where clothes choice does not matter much.
- Attempt to blend in. Remember to wear a safari outfit and clothes suited for the environment.
- Don’t wear animal prints or some ridiculous getup. You’re not bushwacking through the African jungle. This isn’t Jumanji. You’ll spend the majority of your time in the back of a vehicle. So, wear comfortable clothes that will not stain from dirt, offer sun protection, and are comfortable from the heat or cold.
- Mind the weather. It can get really really cold in the back of a game vehicle in Africa early morning or at night. Make sure to pack a nice jacket. I didn’t recommend any here – anything that breaks the wind should do.
- DO NOT wear blue in Eastern Africa. The color blue attracts the Tsetse fly, and this is not a myth.
- Don’t overpack. You only need a handful of shirts and pants. You are in the African bush, there is no need for multiple wardrobe changes. However, it goes without saying to always pack ample underwear and socks.
- Keep it relaxed. Even at five star lodges in Africa, things are still casual.
- A good pair of sunglasses will save your eyes from staring at landscapes all day.
- Make sure to pack in layers. It will go from cold in the morning to hot at night and then back to evening time.
- Bring a light rain jacket depending on the season. Most Safari companies and lodges come prepared in this aspect and will provide their guests with nice thick ponchos, but if you’re doing it on your don’t forget a rain jacket.
- Pockets. We love clothing with pockets to carry sunblock, chapstick, flashlight, camera, or binoculars. It’s better than having to juggle around a bag. We already have our safari cameras to contend with in the back of a game viewer.
Book A Safari in Africa
Traditionally if you wanted to book a safari you’d have to go to a travel agent and have them book your safari for you. They made suggestions for camps and lodges then presented you with a large bill. Most of the industry still operates in this fashion.
However, Timbuktu is a new platform that allows you to select the lodges you’d like and see the pricing per day that way you can select the best itinerary for yourself. They will then contact the lodges and help you through booking your safari. With experts on staff, they can also provide suggestions and arrange the little details much like a travel agent.
What to Pack For Africa?
Overland Tour in Africa
Traveling Africa on your own can be daunting to many travelers. However, there is no need to fear with overland tour companies who will show the ropes and a great time. You can check out some of them here to compare the different companies and possibly score a discount.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Africa so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere. The tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink, but a water purifier, like the Grayl waterbottle, works well!
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. Our favorite pocket-sized point and shoot camera for quick trips are the Sony RX100V. It takes fantastic photos and video and is the size of your palm.
For more professional photographs we use our Fuji XT-3, and LOVE IT.
Lightweight pants that are made from synthetic material are tremendous to have in your pack. It’s what we wear most days when traveling around Africa as they’re comfortable, antibacterial, and protect our legs from mosquitos (malaria).
We recommend neutral colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors. What’s great is they’re useful beyond Africa as they are a travel staple and we pack a pair everywhere we travel.
I like two pairs, one pair is made by prAna and rolls into capris and the other are convertible pants. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price.
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Africa then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Africa.
I cannot stress a good pair of shoes enough because if you land anywhere outside of South Africa a quality pair of hiking shoes will be hard to come by. If you plan to walk around a lot get thick rubber soled shoes as acacia thorns are prone to stab through thin shoes. Cameron learned the hard way one day when he pulled a thorn out of his foot that went straight through his thin rubber sandals.
I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in Africa. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding in the mountains. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Africa. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
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