Best Safari Shirts for Men and Women

and, best, for, men, safari, shirts, travel, women - 16 minutes to read


We’ve been on over 100 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.

Safari clothes are a serious affair in Africa. Yes, it is a bit “old-fashioned,” but fashions like the proper safari outfit never die. Unlike certain parts of the world, you won’t be laughed at if you show up in all khaki on a game reserve.

While we are not seasoned guides, we have spent a year of our lives in the bush. We have been to all of the major parks of Southern and East Africa and put our favorite shirts to the test. We have a severe addiction to finding and testing the best garments on the market to form the best safari knowledge possible.

What Makes The Perfect Safari Shirt?

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 or linen shirts have a more timeless look.

Organic textiles like cotton, wool, or hemp can provide an excellent base for warmth on a cold morning or fantastic evening. Synthetic has its advantages mostly related to quick-drying, stain resistance, and keeping cool. We recommend long sleeve shirts as it provides UV and bug protection.

Below is a collection of some of the best safari shirts we’ve found on the market. It is a guide about what to look for; the best fit for you may not be on this list. We’d also suggest you check out our post on safari pants.

Best Safari Shirts

Columbia Tamiami II

Specs: Price – $45 | Material – Ripstop Polyester

Pros

DurabilityQuick Dry CapabilitiesClassic Collar ProtectionBack PanelValuePockets

Cons

StyleHeavierCrinklyNot As Comfortable As Other Options

The Tamiami II from Columbia is a perfect shirt for a safari. It comes in both long and short sleeve shirts that look great and offer excellent value. The shirt has excellent moisture management, thanks to the polyester/nylon blend. The fabric is lightweight and features Omni-Shade technology that provides UPF 40 sun protection. The material is heavier and feels a bit more crinkly than a typical shirt. Its heavier weight gives the Tamiami II superior durability.

Despite its heavier weight, it is still a cool shirt, thanks to a back panel vent. In addition to a back panel, the shirt has two breast pockets. It’s the versatility of the Columbia Tamiami II that shines through. It’s an excellent option for safari and something you don’t need to change after a game drive since it looks brilliant. We think it makes a sweet shirt for safari and workwear too.

A real strength of the Tamiami II is value. It’s one of the most feature-rich safari shirts but costs less than many competitors. Columbia makes excellent outdoor gear at affordable prices for all, which is why we love them as an outdoor brand. The value does mean you’re sacrificing some performance. If you have the money, there are many better options for performance and style.

Shop For Columbia Tamiami II

Patagonia Farrier’s Shirt

Specs: Price – $89 | Material – Industrial Hemp/Recycled Polyester

Pros

DurabilityStyleExcellent QualityNice Fit

Cons

HeavyToo Warm For Most Seasons

The Farrier shirt is a gorgeous piece of clothing designed for work. Thanks to its rugged good looks, it performs wonderfully as a safari shirt in mild temperatures. Solid colors in the shirt utilize a blend of hemp and recycled polyester in construction. It’s a tough fabric that is sustainable. Stand-out details on the shirt include the metal buttons, a flip-up collar, and two pleated chest pockets.

It feels soft to the touch, but the hemp gives 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. We love this shirt for its excellent style.

Shop For Patagonia Farrier’s Shirt

Outdoor Research Wayward

Specs: Price – $85 | Material – Polyester/Spandex

Pros

Ultralight Collared ShirtQuick Dry CapabilitiesSuper ComfortableFeature RichSnap Collar ProtectionPockets

If you want an ultralight collared shirt that offers supreme comfort, the Outdoor Research Wayward is a solid choice. It’s a collared shirt with long sleeves that dumps heat better than an impressive cotton t-shirt. The excellent temperature management is due to the shirt’s ultralight weight.

The shirt’s UPF 50+ fabric is a blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex. Spandex used in the shirt gives it superb flexibility. As a long sleeve collared shirt, it does not hinder reach or movement—it would make a great shirt for climbing. It also has some nifty features such as two breast pockets, snap closure for the collar (sun protection), a hidden security pocket, and roll-up sleeve tabs.

The only complaint about the shirt is due to its lightweight; it can feel a little sloppy. Traditional collared shirts have a stiff appearance, but that does sacrifice performance and comfort. If you run hot, it’s impossible to find a better safari shirt than the Wayward.

Shop For Outdoor Research Wayward

REI Co-op Sahara

Specs: Price – $59 | Material – Nylon/Spandex

Pros

Color ChoiceQuick Dry CapabilitiesNice Mid-Weight FabricSun ProtectionComfortableExcellent Features For Safari

We love that you get to unleash your inner explorer with the REI Co-op Sahara Long Shirt. So for a timeless traveling look, we’re super into this one! It falls into a midweight category between the ultralight Wayward and heavier Columbia Silver Ridge.

It’s all built for being active, whether that’s safari, hiking, or traveling to a new country. 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 some pattern options that help break up the monotony of solid colors.

It has some excellent features, such as two front breast pockets and roll-up tabs for the sleeves. The front breast pockets are great for a small tube of sunscreen, bug spray, or a camera lens cap. For me, the cut and technical capabilities of the shirt make it shine, such as UPF protection, long sleeve cuffs, underarm panels to reduce odor, and a spandex blend for easy movement.

Shop For REI Co-op Sahara Shirt

Filson Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt

Specs: Price – $125 | Material – Brushed Cotton

Pros

Color ChoiceQuick Dry CapabilitiesNice Mid-Weight FabricSun ProtectionComfortableExcellent Features For Safari

Filson makes some fabulous high-quality clothes made for the outdoorswoman. The Alaskan Guide Shirt is a classic from the company that prides itself on rugged clothing made for a hard day’s work. The Alaskan Guide Shirt has some excellent weight and warmth for work on a cool day, but we prefer the lightweight version of the shirt for safari.

It has a classic look, and the thick cotton is beautiful but light enough not to be. It’s best in the cooler seasons on safari. It’s best compared to a lightweight flannel. If you want to know the cooler months on safari, read here.

Shop For Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt

Topo Designs Dirt Shirt

Specs: Price – $98 | Material – Organic Cotton/Spandex

Pros

WarmThick CanvasTough ShirtStylishHigh Quality

Cons

Too Warm For Hot WeatherNo Techincal Features

We’re pretty loyal to several brands that have proven reliable over the years, and Topo Designs is a favorite. Organic cotton in the shirt benefits from a blend of spandex that provides the perfect amount of flex. We love natural fibers like cotton as they have a timeless style that you don’t get with synthetic materials. It is precisely what the Dirt Shirt nails as it’s got some fabulous rugged good looks.

It also helps that the shirt utilizes organic, sustainably produced material, so it’s an excellent choice for eco-conscious travelers. It’s Fair Trade Factory certified!

Shop For Topo Designs Dirt Shirt

Classic Linen shirt

Specs: Price – $79+ | Material – Linen

Pros

Classic StyleUniversalComfortable In Heat

Cons

Not TechincalEasily Stained

I like to pack a technical long sleeve shirt for a safari, but it’s tough to beat a classic shirt from materials like hemp, linen, or rapeseed. They look excellent, and they’re practical as they have anti-microbial properties and will stay fresh longer when you sweat. Linen is a perfect option as it has a timeless look for your trip.

Pair a linen shirt with sandals, shorts, chinos, jeans, or shoes. It will always work. Linen shirts are versatile clothing that looks good for both sexes and works at the beach, museum, archaeological site, or safari. It’s tough to find decent linen shirts online, but I love the quality of J. Crew’s linen shirts. You can often score a deal, so if you stain or snag the shirt, it won’t be the end of the world.

Fjallraven Abisko Hike Shirt

Specs: Price – $145 | Material – Polyester/Elsastene

Pros

Feature RichQuick Dry CapabilitiesSuper ComfortableFeature RichClassic Collar ProtectionPockets

Ideal for summer trekking or time spent outdoors when the weather’s good, the Abisko Hike Shirt SS from Fjallraven is a firm winner. It feels fantastic, too! Constructed from high-quality polyamide, this offering from Fjallraven allows for breathable, breezy comfort as you explore the great outdoors.

The shirt is super feature-rich. There’s extra ventilation to allow excess body heat to escape, multiple pockets, press buttons, and it even stashes away in the breast pocket. That’s an excellent feature for multiday hikes as it stores easily in the backpack.

A bonus is the zip pocket with mesh lining, the perfect spot for anything you might need close to hand – from a passport if you’re in transit to a pocketbook if you feel like making some notes on your sojourn. The shirt is similar to the Outdoor Research Wayward but has more features that drive the price tag up. It also feels a little stiffer and stylish than the Wayward.

Shop For Fjallraven Abisko Hike Shirt

Outdoor Research Shirt Echo Series

Specs: Price – $42+ | Material – Airvent Polyester

Pros

UltralightComfortableVarious OptionsQuick DryingHandles Heat

Cons

StyleNot Typical Safari Shirt

It’s not a requirement to wear a shirt with a collar on a safari. For day activities, it’s great to wear a moisture-wicking athletic shirt such as the Outdoor Research Echo. They are among some of the best lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, and they come in short sleeves, hoodies, and tank tops versions.

The long sleeve Echo provides complete UV protection, but you won’t get hot under the sun. These shirts have UPF sun protection, AirVent™ moisture management, and ActiveFresh™ odor control technology. Pick a shirt that is loose and light-colored. It gets bloody HOT in Africa, and the last thing you will want to be wearing is a skin-tight blacktop.

What Makes a Great African safari Shirt?

Versatility

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.

Durability

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 any time 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.

Material

A good safari shirt needs to be tailored to handle harsh environments—a 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. We prefer natural materials like hemp, linen, cotton, or wool when it comes to our safari shirts.

Manufactured materials such as nylon or polyester are other great options for excellent moisture management and protection. 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 making a purchase and considering its intended purpose.

Practicality

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.

Camouflage

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 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 is advised to wear long pants and greens. When on foot it is always advised to wear colors that blend well into the environment and a good pair of safari boots.

The Basics of Safari Clothes

What Clothes to Pack for a Safari?

You don’t need an endless collection of safari clothes in a safari bag. 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 vast range of landscapes, vegetation, and climates. It would help if you packed 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 the 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 will be cool in the evenings and mornings.

Then it flips.

The rainy season in East Africa brings cooler weather patterns and perpetuates constant spring-like weather in Tanzania and Kenya. In comparison, the rainy season in South Africa can coincide with its hottest months.

The basic gist is if it’s the dry season, we suggest khaki, brown, and tan. Suppose 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 will 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, it can be hot by midday. 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 many 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 is online. Amazon has great deals and prices, and if you are a Prime member, then two-day shipping is free. REI is another excellent outdoor company to find a variety of safari clothes as well.

Our Favorite Lodges in Africa

We’ve spent over a year on safari and tried out dozens of lodges, and have visited nearly every park in Africa. While it’s impossible to say we’ve visited every lodge, we’ve seen a fair amount. Check out our list of favorite lodges in Africa. Have you visited any yourself?

See Our Other Helpful Safari Packing Posts

Use OutdoorFox to inform yourself, get all the tips on hiking and camping. Browse through our recommendations and product reviews and start planning your adventure today!

Find items to make your hike more enjoyable in our store.