Gear for the Bush
Headed on safari? Here’s what to pack.
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In October 2013, Namibia—one of the few countries with conservation mandated in its constitution—hosted the Adventure Travel World Summit, an opportunity for 650 delegates from 60 countries to meet, network, and, of course, explore southern Africa.
Here’s the gear that survived the adventure.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars; $275
When you want to see a leopard’s whiskers without becoming its next meal, the Bushnell Legends are your secret weapon. Tracking an injured hyena in Namibia, our safari guide could see its wound—a lion bite—from 600 feet away. Late that day, the binocs let us identify 47 bird species in three hours, even when some were circling 1,000 feet above us. The extra-wide field of vision glass maximizes available light and gives you a color-tuned, high-res image whether you’re peering into the forest or the dunes. Bushnell’s permanent water-repellant coating keeps your lenses clear from sweat or precipitation. The company guarantees you’ll love them or they’ll buy them back.
Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals; $100
From Namibia’s famed Sossusvlei dunes to the Kalahari, walking in sand is one of the desert’s greatest challenges. It feels better barefoot until the sun is high. Then, you need a shoe that protects your feet from the skin-searing surface but doesn't overheat on the inside. Keen’s Clearwater CNX is the perfect solution. It has a barefoot feel thanks to multidirectional grooves on the thin but supportive sole, and the webbed upper drains sand as well as it drains water.
LED Lenser X7R Flashlight; $240
Stopping under a camelthorn to peer into the one-ton nest of a sociable weaver colony, the 70-to-500 lumen adjustable beam LED Lenser chased away shadows and helped our resident safari photographer capture a great pic. And, at night, its beam pierced the inky darkness, pinpointing a leopard crouching by a waterhole, and illuminating it well enough from 500 feet away for a gallery worthy picture. The X7R uses two LEDs in one beam, and it’s USB rechargeable.
Mountain Khakis Equatorial Long Sleeve Shirt; $95
On African safari, the humidity is low, but the sweat volume is high under the hot desert sun. The Equatorial shirt dried in minutes and never soaked through, even on the stillest days. And it’s tough enough to protect you from the claws of camelthorn and other grabby desert bushes. The collar flips up to keep your neck from burning.
Patagonia Tropical Flats Shorts; $69
Keep cool and pack light with Patagonia’s Tropical Flats Shorts. Weighing in at a mere 5.4 ounces, these shorts are made from sun protective, quick dry nylon and spandex. For extra venting, the pocket snaps open to catch the breeze. They're stretchy enough for any activity, from hiking to fishing to kicking back with a cold one and watching wildlife.
Peak Designs Capture Pro Camera Clip; $80
Keeping you camera out of the sand is key in the desert. So is being able to switch between camera and bincoulars. Enter Capture Pro Camera Clip. It attaches to your camera and any backpack shoulderstrap or belt and supports even a substantial zoom lens on a full DSLR without bouncing. The quick release lock can take up to 200 pounds of force without accidentally releasing. The transition from ready to action is seamless with a simple slide clip that doubles as a tripod mount.
Tilley LTM6 Airflo Nylamtium Hat; $79
A fat rim for sun protection and good venting—those are the basic requirements for a safari hat. Tiley’s hand-sewn Airflow Nylantium gives you that, plus UPF 50 with a dark underbrim for glare protection. And, should a freak storm arise, it’s water repellent.