Explorers Connect

Clothing for the Jungle

How-toJames Hipkiss


Hi all, When starting out in jungle adventures I always found it tough to find a list describing good items to wear. Below are a few things I have learnt over the years. Obviously this only covers clothing, it doesn't even touch hygiene/ admin/ cooking/ sleeping etc.

P.S. if anyone has any other advice please leave in the comments below, would be good to hear other peoples tricks! TO NOTE BEFORE READING: Although I use a lot of Craghoppers Nosilife range, don't be tricked by craghoppers adverts that their material repels mosquitos. In my experience it doesn't matter what you do, (nosilife, permethrin soaking etc) you will be bitten through your clothes. Nosilife doesn't seem to make any difference. If you can bare it layering up helps to significantly reduce bites.

Spraying deet works for 10 minutes before it wears off. Deet is useful but you need LOTS of it, don't spray it on your face if you are walking as it carries down in your sweat and stings your eyes + makes your mouth and lips numb. Once your clothes get wet, they stay wet. Take two pairs of clothes, your walking clothes (which you accept will stay wet), and your sleeping clothes (which you do everything to keep dry). Keep your drills strict on this. Keep a dry-bag full of talc powder each night before bed; place your foot inside it. Will help avoid foot rot. The skin on some peoples feet crack with the wet to dry routine, so you may want moisturiser to rub on your feet once talc has been put on them. When you stop to rest, take your boots and socks off to let your feet dry. Be very meticulous about this, even if you are only stopping for ten minutes. Foot rot can be very painful, and you should avoid it at all costs.

Try and tuck your clothes in as much as possible, trousers into socks, top into trousers etc. That way leeches have to crawl all the way up to your neck to find skin, and it is likely you will see and flick them off them before they get there! Vaseline is obviously useful to stop chaffing in the groin area. Take a waterproof/ poncho for when you are in camp or in colder high altitude jungles. Normally when walking you just get wet when it rains. A waterproof would just make you sweat and get as wet as you would not having it on. Tropical rain is warm so it shouldn't matter.

Check clothes to make sure they don't rub. Rubbing always seems worse in tropical climates. Bush clothes get battered and torn, don't go spending lots of cash on them. HEADWEAR WALKING: Important to stop foliage, thorns and bugs dropping onto your head. I find a baseball cap fine. Having a long beak sometimes helps stop small flies flying near/ into your eyes. IN CAMP: If you are having to stay up late in a particularly mozzie filled area then use an all encompassing hat with mozzie net. I found the Noslife Ultimate hat is excellent. NECK WEAR A light buff can help stop things dropping between your neck and your backpack. Also useful for mopping up sweat etc. In my opinion not essential but nice to have. TOP/ TORSO WALKING: For walking in the bush it makes a big difference to get this right. I find a long sleeved t-shirt is the best/ comfiest thing to wear. It is preferable if it is well worn/ thin and threadbare. Craghoppers long sleeved base t-shirt is good. Cotton or semi synthetic is fine, as long as it is light. INCAMP: When in camp and it is getting slightly chillier, the craghopper nosilife long sleeved shirts are good. They are thick enough to slightly reduce being bitten around the shoulders. Do'nt walk during the day in these shirts, you will just overheat. GLOVES A lot of people like using fingerless gloves so their hands dont get cut by thorns when grabbing trees for stability. Go for a lightweight synthetic fingerless glove that doesn't hold water. If you get one that holds water you can end up with hand rot! I personally tend not to use them and just avoid reaching out to trees for stability. It is crucial to get this right if you are carrying heavy backpacks. Find a thin utility strap long enough to go around your waist, and use that. If you use a normal belt it will dig in to your side and cause chaffing when using the bags hip belt. The lowest profile strap is best. If you are doing extended expeditions carrying lots of gear, you may wish to consider getting a neoprene weight lifters belt to place on your hip under your trousers. This makes hip belts much comfier and stops your hips getting worn by the bag. Find one without any seams. TROUSERS I find lightweight synthetic trousers to be really good. They don't hold the water, and are hard wearing/ wont rot. Again I use craghopper nosilife trousers. I know some are comfier in the more cotton based craghopper trousers but on my last exped my team mate used them and they didn't seem to be as durable as my synthetic trousers, and took much longer to dry out. UNDERWEAR It sounds like a trivial detail, but boxer shorts with a smooth elastic ring/ diameter are best. Basically thin lightweight ones that wont leave an imprint on your skin if there are going to be hip belts from a heavy backpack resting over it. FOOTWEAR WALKING WITH WEIGHT: Altberg jungle boots with a panama classic sole are comfy and robust. Fantastic jungle boots in my opinion.

Be sure to get the panama sole version. Use with a comfy silicon insole (silicon wont rot). Your feet will always be wet in these boots. Get used to it! These boots are very difficult to balance on logs with. They become slippery. However their ankle support is much better than the other options (so good if you have weight on your back) and they offer more protection from snake bikes. SOCKS: I find mid weight bridgdale socks to be the best. On this occasion the system of skin-tight base socks followed by larger socks on top goes out of the window. A decent quality semi synthetic pair of bridgdales is all you need. Walk in them before going out to make sure they are comfy and don't promote blisters.

Some people prefer to use thin shoes (http://www.my-rainforest-adventures.com/2008/12/adidas-kampung-the-ultimate-tropical-jungle-shoe/ ) they would definitely have an advantage over boots when you are trying to walk over logs and areas that require balance. Never used them myself but they look comfy. Obviously they have no ankle support and no protection to snakes.Alternatively the Solomon Speedcross trail running shoes (that have rubber studs) are great for grip and comfort. I've used them in the jungle and are great if you want to be lightweight. When you are in camp you really need to let your feet air without letting them get bitten to death by bugs. I use airy sandals (not flip flops) with dry sealskin socks. It allows your feet to dry while stopping mozzies. Again you look weird, but who is there to judge? Crocs are supposed to work well too.