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.
TravelSmith Venture Jacket
This safari jacket is made from a quick-drying woven fabric that has built-in pockets for holding your ID, chapstick, safari binoculars and anything else you need on safari. The jacket is made out of polyester/spandex and offers a decent amount of stretch. I also love the UPF50+ sun protection as we all know the African sun can be brutal! The fashionable ladies will love the waist drawcord for a great fit and convertible roll up sleeves. This jacket isn’t just stylish for safari, but great for all-around wear in town!
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 are 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.
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. It provides UPF40+ sun protection against the African sun made out of nylon shell and polyester lining. This is definitely one of the best womens 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.
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 fitten to 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!
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.
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 cippzers included 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. Although this product is technically a jacjet, it could also be doubled as a safari shirt as well. 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 safari or just everyday wear around the world. It’s stylish yet durable. This jacket has a rollaway hood, and is waxed with PU coated fabric incase 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 Good Safari Wear
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.
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