We’ve been on over 100 African safaris now and have finally nailed down what makes the perfect safari shirt. When you go on a safari you want to make sure the shirt has a decent look and it’s comfortable, but there is much more that goes into a good bush shirt than those two factors.
The perfect safari shirt will make all the difference in being comfortable throughout the day. A synthetic shirt will give the most practicality, while cotton shirts tend to have a more timeless look. The cotton can also provide a nice base for warmth on a cold morning or cool evening.
Synthetic has its own advantages mostly related to quick drying, stain resistance, and keeping cool. Below is a collection of some the best safari clothes we’ve found on the market.
In the end, this is meant to be used as a guide about what to look for; what is the best fit for you may be something not included on this list.
Safari Shirts for Women
1.) Columbia Women’s Tamiami II Long Sleeve-Shirt
It’s very similar to the Bahama except this one is better fitted and doesn’t include a front breast pocket. The shirt looks sharp with clean lines and a flattering cut. However, it’s made out of the same material and has vents in the back as well.
Loaded with features such omni-wick moisture management, antimicrobial treatment, and strategic mesh vented panels this shirt perfect for a safari. Columbia is one of our favorites when it comes to shirts as they make affordable and well designed clothes.
2.) Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shirt
This is a fantastic safari shirt for hot weather and it was one of my favorite safari shirts for both men and women that for hot weather and sun protection. I wanted a shirt that offers protection from the African sun and to keep me cool in the heat.
This shirt knocked it out of the park. It has a nice cut, feel, and love the design of the collar which has a hidden extension to cover your neck when flipped up.
Royal Robbins Expedition Dry Long Sleeve
This shirt is a great safari shirt as it is built for tropical and hot weather. It’s designed with 100% polyester and offers UPF 40+ protection while remaining light, quick dry, and flexible.
It has some great features for a safari shirt too with thermoregulating mesh to keep you cool and two front breast pockets for storage. As an added bonus this safari shirt it’s a great travel shirt in developing nations as it has a hidden pocket to secure your valuables like a passport or smartphone.
Columbia Sportswear Bahama II Long Sleeve Shirt
Columbia makes great products – and the Bahama African safari shirt is no different. This shirt is 100% nylon making it a great women’s quick dry shirt. A quick dry technology such as this is great for safari since there really are no washers or dryers and you’ll be drying your clothes the old-fashioned bush way.
What I love about this shirt is the Omni-Shade sun protection technology that protects you from the sun. You’ll need sun protection while on safari and this safari shirt acts as a sunscreen without the lotion!
REI Co-op Sahara Pattern
It’s all built for being active whether that’s hiking or going on a safari. This lightweight shirt from REI is made from polyester fabric that resists wrinkles, dries quickly for comfort, and wicks away sweat from the body. It has a number of pattern options which help break up the monotony of khaki, green, and white.
The front breast pocket are great for a small tube of sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. For me it’s the cut and technical capabilities of the shirt that make it shine such as UPF protection, long sleeve cuffs, underarm panels to reduce odor, and a spandex blend for easy movement.
prAna Foundation Short Sleeve V-neck
Not every item in your pack has to be outdoor wear. Simple clothes like a classic T-shirt or V-neck are great staples to bring in your pack. This shirt from prAna is super lightweight and breathable. It’s probably the most comfortable shirt you’ll ever wear as it’s made from a new sustainable material called Lenzing Modal.
The material is made from spinning natural cellulose that comes from various trees. Our only complaint would be in regard to longevity of the shirt due to its lightweight nature, you can easily snag this shirt if not careful
LE3NO Lightweight Sleeveless Military Safari Vest
Although this is technically a vest I think they look fabulous for women wanting to look fashionable while on safari. The vest goes great with a safari hat and pants. I love this safari shirt design – it’s functional, lightweight, and even has a hood. There won’t be many women with a vest on safari, so this is great for standing out from the crowd!
Safari Shirts for Men
Arc’teryx Skyline Shirt
Arc’teryx is well known for making some tremendous technical clothing. It’s all built for being active whether that’s hiking or going on a safari. It’s a lightweight shirt made from polyester fabric that resists wrinkles, dries quickly for comfort, and wicks away sweat from the body. My only gripe would be that color options tend to be a little dark, but they’re still nice neutral earth tones and the technical features do a good job at temperature management.
The front breast pocked is great for a small tube of sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. For me it’s the cut and technical capabilities of the shirt that make it a slam dunk choice. It comes in both long and short sleeve option so take your pick.
Patagonia Farrier’s Shirt
I just added this new shirt to my safari wardrobe and love it! I love Patagonia clothing so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. They make some of our favorite products and they are a large portion of what we wear. To top it off all of my clothes are still in great condition with plenty of wear.
The safari shirt has a great material blend of hemp and recycled polyester. It feels soft to the touch, but the hemp gives a weight to the fabric that will stand the test of time and the bush. The weight is perfect for spring conditions but will be a tad hot for summer in Southern Africa.
prAna Merger Long Sleeve Shirt
We’re pretty loyal to a number of brands that have proven reliable over the years and prAna is a personal favorite. Their newest men’s shirt the Merger is perfect for Southern Africa in the cooler months.
It’s a hemp and recycled polyester blend that feels warm and soft while retaining technical capabilities that we look for in a safari shirt. I love to great features in this shirt the first one being button flaps to roll up your sleeves when the temperatures rise. However, the stand out is the side hip pocket for stashing away something while in the back of safari vehicle.
We love natural fibers like hemp that offer technical features while providing a nice organic feel to them. It also helps that hemp is sustainably produced material, so for the eco conscious travelers this would be a great choice. It’s Fair Trade Factory certified!
Simms Guide Long Sleeve Shirt
Simms is a company dedicated to fishing and makes some fantastic technical clothes and shirts. The shirt is a blend of polyester and nylon which results in a lightweight shirt that has a soft and supple feel. It has fantastic moisture control that is helpful in humid environments. With the technical clothing that has UPF protection and long sleeves it’s perfect for covering your skin from the harsh African sun.
What I love about this shirt are the zippered breast pockets which is perfect for storing sunscreen, chapstick, utility tool, or your camera lens cap. Then you have the classic styling that extends to a wide range of environments and can look good on a bush walk or sitting down to dinner.
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Khaki Safari Shirt
This Columbia long sleeve shirt looks great and is well constructed. Made entirely from a nice blend of synthetic materials it allows for quick drying and ventilation in the hot sun.
A long sleeve shirt like this allows for greater comfort moving from chilly mornings into hot days. I like the khaki safari shirt color, but there are plenty to choose from if khaki isn’t your thing.
Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shirt
This is a fantastic safari shirt for hot weather and it was one of my favorite safari shirts for hot weather with sun protection. I wanted a shirt that offers protection from the African sun and while keeping me cool in the heat. This shirt knocked it out of the park. It has a nice cut, feel, and love the design of the collar which has a hidden extension to cover your neck when flipped up.
Men’s African Bush Shirt
Tag Safari makes excellent shirts for a safari. All their products are made in Zimbabwe by locals so you know their African bush shirts are about as authentic as they come. With two chest pockets, two chest security pockets, a button down collar, and safari tabs there are a lot of bells and whistles on this classic mens safari shirt.
The whole shirt is double stitched so you know that you are getting a rugged piece of clothing. Tag Safari is known for their great products. I love their mission to help “Africa through trade, not aid.” Check out more of their products on Amazon!
Dickies Men’s Long Sleeve Work Shirt
Dickie’s are known for being the working man’s shirt. These shirts are meant to withstand wear and tear, yet look presentable, but not exactly stylish. However, style isn’t always the name of the game on safari.
This Dickies shirt is hard to stain and comes in many colors. With flap pockets and synthetic materials, this shirt is a winner. We also talk about the men’s short sleeve work shirt in this safari clothing post.
TACVASEN Men’s Long Sleeve Safari Shirt
This shirt by TACVASEN can be either a short sleeve or long sleeve shirt. Whichever the style the shirt is made out of tough ripstop nylon. Meaning that this mens safari shirt is lightweight, breathable, fade resistant, shrink resistant, and wrinkle resistant. It’s made for optimal comfort and durable.
Propper Tactical Short Sleeve Dress Shirt
This short sleeve shirt is made out of Propper’s “Battle Rip” nylon, meaning it is very heavy duty. The fabric is also fade resistant, shrink resistant, and wrinkle resistant as well. The Propper has two chest pockets with button flaps and comes in a variety of colors including olive green, brown, navy, khaki, grey, and black as well!
Hanes Sports Men’s Cool DRI Men’s Performance Tee
You don’t always need some safari garbs to enjoy your time and be comfortable. That’s where some great comfortable t-shirts come in handy. I’m a big believer in Hanes and always opt for solid colors over graphic tees. I also love a simple classic cotton T-shirt.
What makes a great African safari shirt?
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.
A good safari shirt needs to be tailored to handle harsh environments. Bonus for materials that are lightweight, quick dry, sun resistant, and bug resistant. 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 safari shirts we go for a mix natural materials like hemp, linen, 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 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 a good safari shirt. 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 shirts are designed to 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!
The Basics of Safari Clothes
What clothes to pack for a safari?
You don’t need an endless collection of safari clothes in your luggage. We’re big fans of versatility and minimalism. As people tend to overpack for their safari which becomes a burden.
On safari, you are traveling to the wilds of the African bush a full wardrobe of clothes is unnecessary. In addition the common form of transportation is a small Cessna bush plane so a heavy suitcase of clothes is not going to fly.
We break down the clothes that help you look the part, but any safari expert will agree there is no set dress code or safari outfit.
Where to go on safari?
The first decision in packing for a safari is where you’re headed on safari. Africa has a very wide range of landscapes, vegetations, and climates. You should pack for where in Africa you’re headed, that’s pretty straightforward.
We have another post on the best destinations to go on safari along with our favorite parks, camps, and lodges. While you’re at it you can read up on our favorite safari animals to see while traveling.
What season to go on safari?
Weather plays a large role in what you wear.
Most African climates do not have your standard four-season climate. Here it is mostly dry and wet season, especially in Eastern Africa. With dry season can come heat in East Africa; however, dry season in Southern Africa means that it’s going to be cool in the evenings and mornings.
Then it flips.
Rainy season in East Africa brings cooler weather patterns and perpetuates a constant spring-like weather in Tanzania and Kenya. While rainy season in South Africa can coincide with its hottest months.
The basic gist is if it’s dry season we suggest khaki, brown, and tan. If it’s rainy season time to bust out the browns and greens. Just please no leopard print, okay maybe a little.
What to wear in Southern Africa?
In Southern Africa, the climate varies across the region. Summers can be blisteringly hot while winters are freezing in the back of a game vehicle. Many visitors show up in the winter thinking they’re going to be in the hot bush only to find zero degree weather in an open vehicle. Yikes!
The key to a comfortable safari outfit is layers. We often pack and wear layers to adjust to the wide range of temperatures you can experience on a typical day. While the morning can be freezing in arid locations like Botswana by midday it can be hot, layers will save you.
What to wear in Central & East Africa?
Here the weather is more temperate year round. It is often referred to as the “never ending spring.” However, morning game drives can still be chilly so convertible pants and a light jacket are great options. Always come prepared for rain given the time of year. We’ve been caught in a number of the famous thunderstorms of Africa, including a flash flood in Tanzania!
Where to Buy Safari Shirts?
We have found the best place to buy safari clothes are online. Amazon has great deals and prices and if you are Prime member then two day shipping is free. REI is another great outdoor company to find a variety of safari clothes as well. A few of the best safari clothing brands today are TAG safari, Royal Robbins, Ex-Officio, and Columbia.
See our other helpful safari packing posts:
- How to Pick a Great Safari Hat and Protect from the Sun
- The Best Safari Boots For Bush Walks
- The Africa Packing List Items You’ll Want to Have • 2019 Update
- The 11 Best Binoculars for a Safari in Africa
- The Ideal Women’s Safari Clothing Checklist
- Africa’s Best Safari Animals + Where to See Them
- Best Camera For Safari: What Camera Is Best For You?
- The Best Safari Vests to Take to Africa
- The 15 Best Safari Shorts for Men and Women
- The Best Safari Boots For Bush Walks Reviewed