I remember, when I lived in Kenya, tourists walking around Nairobi in full safari gear (much to the amusement of the locals!) – and it is certainly easy to get carried away before a trip to somewhere exotic and end up kitted out like some colonial game hunter or, at the other end of the spectrum, like a special forces soldier.

My experience in the jungle has been that clothing that ‘looks’ right, generally isn’t. If there are too many pockets, flaps, zips and special technology synthetic materials involved you’ve probably spent more than you should of done on something that you may well regret buying in the first place.

The other thing I have found is that when I go back to the UK I seem unable to remember the heat and humidity of the jungle back in Malaysia – it’s weird but I just can’t – and I often end up bringing back items of clothing that are far too warm for this climate. Interestingly the converse is also true and I’ve arrived at Heathrow in clothing that seemed perfectly warm enough in Malaysia but left me shivering with cold in an English ‘summer’. The point is, tropical climates are hotter and more humid than we imagine when we’re, say, in a camping shop in London – so aim for clothing that you could imagine wearing comfortably in a sauna while running on the spot!

Wearing the right clothes can make a huge difference to how comfortable you feel in the jungle, particularly when (and I mean when, not ‘if’) you get caught in the rain. There is also a difference between a light stroll along a level, well maintained jungle trail (when you can get away with the wrong clothes) vs. slashing your way uphill through dense secondary forest (when you can’t).

The good news is that the right clothes are not expensive and they are easy to get hold of and, in the video below, I’ll show you the clothing that I’ve found to work well.

Long sleeved shirts are fine if you have baggy ones made of a light cotton that breathes well – I don’t, but I do have loads of T-shirts that fit the bill so I simply bring along the sleeves (as shown in the video).

Some people prefer shorts in this hot climate and, for a time, I tried them as well. The problems with shorts in the jungle are threefold – 1) the leeches latch on quickly to your exposed legs and 2) your legs get scratched by the undergrowth and 3) mosquitoes (enough said). I don’t like long trousers that have zip off sections to transform them into shorts either – those zips can rub/chaff when wet – so my advice is stick with long trousers.

The general rule in the jungle is that you have one set of day-wear clothes (that will probably stay wet throughout) and one set of evening clothes (that you take great care to keep dry). Wearing waterproofs is not a good idea (your clothes will get wet with sweat anyway) so it’s best to just accept the fact that your day-wear clothes will be wet or, at best, damp. But remember, in the jungle being wet during the day isn’t such a big deal as the temperature is nice and warm… but being wet at night is no fun at all. Where I live the temperature during the day is about 26-29 degrees but it will drop to 20-21 degrees at night – so you’ll also need a warmer (and dry!) shirt for evenings.


In the photo you can see the label for the trousers I’ve found to work well in this environment – they’re army surplus and good value (at between 15-20 pounds) – they are very light and, although they wear out fast, are great for the jungle.