Safari clothing--cotton versus synthetic

Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Safari clothing--cotton versus synthetic

My husband and I will be on safari in South Africa (Madikwe) in March, 2010. I have read the safari clothing posts, but they mainly concern color. My question concerns fabrics. The lodge we are staying at (Makanyane) suggests light cottons for summer. But, I am concerned about washability. The light Ex-Officio clothing is mostly nylon or polyester. Is that too hot and unbreathable for March in South Africa?

Also, will we need jackets for early morning, despite going in summer?

Thanks, Judy
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 07:28 AM
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I've used Ex Officio clothes (other brands, too) at all seasons and don't find them to be uncomfortable. Most of my clothing that I wear on safari are synthetics. The main issue I've had is convincing the camp staffs to NOT iron them. I have a faint iron-print on one of my favorite Ex Officio shirts... it's not enough to be noticeable in most instances, so I just think of it as a souvenir!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 07:37 AM
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Cotton always gets my vote. Cooler and more breathable in general. And you don't run into the problem Shaytay mentions. The washing/ironing at the camps can ruin the synthetics unless you wash them yourself. And who wants to slave over a sink while you're on holiday?
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Isn't one of the reasons for ironing to kill any possible putzi fly eggs that have been laid on drying clothes (though I don't think this is a problem in South Africa)? We were joking at one camp that they were ironing my bra.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:11 AM
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Nylon shirts made by ex officio, columbia, northface etc are moisure wicking, cool, light weight, fast drying and do not need ironing. This is the way to go.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:54 AM
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Think it's a matter of preferences........

I personally prefer cotton clothing.
As mostly camps do laundry (except for underwear) ironing isn't a problem.
My husband wears all that "intelligent" staff like Goretex etc.. That's his preference.
In Zambia the laundry lady came almost having a nervous breakdown because she put the hot iron (she might have just finished with my cotton stuff ;-) ) onto one of his "intelligent" pants and obviously the "intelligent" fabric could not cope with hot iron and shrank

I stick with cotton and hope for the best ;-)

SV
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:56 AM
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Hey, Jackie Kennedy used to have her nylon stocking ironed! Duh!

And, if it's a cotton bra, why not iron it? But, heck not on safari.

I'm not keen on the twin sisters - poly & ester - for anything. So my wardrobe anywhere is natural fibre... cotton for safari!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:42 AM
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Another vote for cotton. It breathable and cooler from my experience, and can be ironed for health's sake. Also, with synthetics, it seems to me they "hold" more body odors. As a side note, one of the guides I communicate with told me he bought all hi-tech fabrics when he was last in the US and gave it all away before the safari season was over.

Re the putzi fly, some charts indicate the (mango, tumbu or putzi fly) is a species found in Africa from Ethiopia through West, Central and East Africa down to the former Transvaal and Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia (based on weather patterns).

The putzi fly is another reason you won't find me sitting on the ground where minute larvae hatching from the eggs can get transferred from clothing to body and burrow painlessly into the skin. Yuck.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:50 AM
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first I've heard of the putzi fly and I've been to southern africa twice to many different areas. How bad a problem can it be? Cotton T-shirts all the way for me, and khaki cottons. No ironing needed, really. Plus non-petroleum based. Tho I do swear by synthetic fleeces.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 12:42 PM
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LAleslie, it may be climate realted in South Africa. I know the outbreaks in Kenya and Tanzania are worse certain years; I've know about it since 1980 when the guide insisted that everyone pack cotton gear so clothes could be ironed. Seasonality can also increase populations of the dreaded "Nairobi Fly" (last big hatch was in Kenya, 2007.

A quick google showed one article in 2006 where it was a problem:
http://www.independentonsaturday.co....8785483208B243
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:13 PM
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Cotton without a doubt, we originally bought synthetics, but they stick to you like glue!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 01:17 PM
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Before we went to SA in May, we bought alot of synthetic stuff and it was a waste of money. I prefer cotton but the salesperson somehow convinced me that it would be easier to sink wash and dry quickly. I knew that we were going to high end camps that did laundry but I wasn't thinking straight and bought several shirts and slacks for myself and my husband. Hubby likes his shirts, never wears the pants. I will never wear the shirts again (they all pilled after a couple of wearings) but I did like the pants while we were on safari. If I had to do it over again, I would not have purchased any new clothes except for some slacks for myself (since I needed them to compensate for the recent weight gain
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 07:01 PM
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It seems just yesterday that I posted this same question- If i didn't post it , I thought of posting it.

I went on my first safaris in May in Botswana. I wore cotton shirts, but had those nylon convertible pants. Along with Polyester fleeces. I always wrote DO NOT IRON on my laundry lis, and all came back without any iron mark.

I would go with what you are most comfortable wearing.

amy
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 02:46 AM
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After (now) many safaris to Botswana, Tanzania, and South Africa, I have settled on an all nylon (except underware) wardrobe. Perhaps I have been fortunate but non of my shirts or pants have ever been damaged by a camp laundry. It's a good idea (see above suggestion) to drop a note in with the nylon clothing requesting that they not iron. In my experience they must use a very cool iron because I've had no problems. As far as the guides go, most of our guides actually bring up the topic of our shirts (Cabela, or Columbia Nylon) and several have mentioned that they wish they could buy them for a reasonable price in Botswana. When they do, we generally make a present of one upon leaving the camp, if it is not too early in the trip. My guess is that the camps have now been exposed to enough nylon to know how to handle it. I do have both cotton and nylon but I find the nylon much more comfortable for safari. If you do buy nylon and don't mind washing it out yourself, you can buy inflatable hangers on Amazon.com and use those to hang overnight for a quick dry. The inflatable hangers help keep the shirts hanging such that they dry in 1/2 the time. If you plan on repeat safaris, I think nylon is the best way to go. The weight and bulk make it a super first choice. FWIW, my safari colors are Kaki, & Beige and while we always use a private guide and vehicle, if I was in a community camp vehicle, I would object to sharing that vehicle with anyone wearing white or bright colors. Word of caution, if you do wear nylon, watch yourself around the campfires at night. Sparks can and will make tiny holes in synthetics-adds to ones character (sort of like wrinkles).
Ted
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 06:48 PM
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natural, natural, natural....for looks, comfort and durability...
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 06:57 PM
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Who in Botswana wish they had something crappy like Columbia Nylon? That's mass produced crap in a Chinese sweat shop!!!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2009, 06:59 PM
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That's similar to Temba's anology about the Baboon population at Vumbura some time back.
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for all your replies which seem to evenly divided betwen cotton and synthetic. I guess I'll go with what seems comfortable, and what I can find in the Michigan stores.

Judy
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Judy you might consider IF the plastic stuff gets wet it's almost transparent. When I did the Vic falls and wore my plastic pants (I have one pair only) it was as I was walking in my underwear ;-)
As soon as the stuff gets wet it sticks to the skin.

Shop till you drop!

Cheers!

SV
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Old Jul 24th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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I think FromDC made the most valid point: most people do too much shopping before safari and buy stuff they really don't need. Just bring your most comfortable casual clothes in neutrals and you'll be fine.
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