African rainforest hunting is no walk in the park - you will always be constantly soaking wet even when it is not actually raining. You will be valiantly trying to disconnect yourself from overgrown, razor-sharp thorny vines and vegetation in the enervating 100% humidity, 100° temperatures, while being endlessly assaulted by all kinds of biting insects - especially stinging ants, to keep up with your trackers who seem to glide effortlessly through the forest.
So how do you even vaguely keep comfortable in a rainforest, so you can concentrate on the job in hand - successfully hunting a bongo or any other forest animal?
What you wear on your rainforest hunt may be a case of trial and error for some individuals. Though it is advisable to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts, you just might feel so unbearably hot that you don't care about thorns and insects, opting to hunt in shorts and a T-shirt. Take both clothing options with you just in case.
As already mentioned you will be wet practically all the time - not only from the heavy rain that will fall for various lengths of time every day but from 'steamy jungle' mist, walking through soaking vegetation and forest streams, and sweating all day (and night) in the 100% humidity.
100% Cotton clothing recommended for all other African hunting, really will not do the job in a rainforest. Cotton absorbs and retains water and sweat and takes a long time to dry and it is definitely not pleasant being wet, clammy and stinky all day. It is time to turn to high-tech clothing for jungle hunting...
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Long pants are recommended as they offer some protection against the thorns, leeches and insect bites. Duct tape can be used to securely wrap around the ends of the pants above your boots, preventing insect, particularly stinging ants access up your legs.
Avoid using a leather belt with your pants or pants with any leather trim - leather just goes mouldy and rots in the wet equatorial climate.
The 5.11 Tactical men's pants are constructed with an ultra lightweight Rip Stop fabric for breathability in hot weather. They have a self-adjusting waistband and gusseted crotch provides enhanced mobility. With full-size cargo pockets with internal dividers and external EMS specific pockets. Utility pockets at the calf. Buy Now
These lightweight ExOfficio Nomad pants will keep you cool, dry and comfortable. They are treated with Teflon for water and stain resistance, and are moisture wicking, quick drying and offer UPF 30+ sun protection. The partial-elastic waistband moves with you during any activity. A drop-in gadget pocket and two side security zip pockets secure your belongings. Buy Now
These 100% waterproof rain pants are lightweight, rip-proof and breathable. They come with a drawstring, elasticated waist, ankle zippers and pack small enough to stuff in your pocket. Ideal for the really heavy jungle downpours. Buy Now
Again, no cotton! If you opt for a regular long sleeved shirt with a buttoned front and cuffs, you may need to stick duck tape over the buttons/button holes to keep out ants and other insects. Alternatively you may want to wear a top with less insect access such as a high-tech merino T-shirt.
Craghoppers Men's Nosilife lightweight long-sleeved shirt comes with Nosilife insect repellent and moisture control. Buy Now
You might think a soft merino garment is only for cold weather activity but it is cool in super hot conditions too. This shirt regulates temperature, is breathable and strongly moisture-wicking - quickly drying your skin after a drenching rain shower. It is also anti-bacterial, restricting the development and proliferation of bacteria and odour which all helps in a jungle. Also hypoallergenic and provides UV protection. Buy Now
Another merino shirt with great breathability, antimicrobial properties and comfort. With fibers far finer than most wools, merino is light, silky and smooth against the skin. Buy Now
You may find a jacket or poncho useful to take out with you and wear for a major downpour. Look for one that is light and packs down small. Ponchos are great for covering your daypack or any gear you have hanging on your body, however the fabric is not very breathable. Even though it is very hot in a rainforest, it is important to have something warm to put on occasionally if you get chilled after being very wet.
This Westcomb shell jacket is extremely lightweight made of 100% nylon with PTFE membrane which makes it's breathability and waterproofing second to none. Comes with aquaguard zips, adjustable fixed hood, chin guard and cuff tabs. Buy Now
This Charles River poncho is made from waterproof polyurethane bonded to a knit backing. It has heat-sealed seams and snap underarm closures. The hood has a snap fastening and drawstring at the neck. Packs into it's own storage pouch. Buy Now
Your usual cotton underpants when wet and sweaty will take ages to dry and can cause great discomfort when out hunting in the rainforest. Swap cotton for the super-quick drying and supportive polyester of Speedo swimming briefs. Buy Now
Yet again, no cotton. Always carry plenty of spare dry socks while out hunting. There is no doubt you will have wet feet for most of your hunt so you need socks that do not retain water and sweat or take a long time to dry. Lightweight Merino wool socks are the answer...
As the name suggests, these merino wool Darn Tough socks are very durable. They ward off odours, support your feet and they wick moisture away from your skin. Life time guarantee. They come in various sock lengths. Buy Now
For extra moisture wicking, you may like to wear CoolMax Sock Liner under your merino socks.
These anti-leech socks are worn over your regular socks and tie firmly at the knee over your pants, preventing leech access to your toes and feet which are particularly popular with leeches, being warm and wet. Anti-leech socks are a must in the marshy or swampy rainforest areas where leeches proliferate in the leaf litter and on higher vegetation. Regular gaiters do not seal off your feet well enough from leeches. As an additional leech deterrent, spray insecticide on the socks. Buy Now
When hunting in a rainforest, you can be 100% sure that you will be 'leeched' despite taking the best precautions. Leeches will get try to access your blood upwards from the forest floor or drop down from overhead vegetation. The only things you can do is...
High ankle boots are preferable in a rainforest so you can tuck your pants in them. Some hunters prefer low-cut training or hiking shoes - just make sure the ends of your pants are well duct-taped and you wear anti-leech socks or high gaiters. Take at least 2 pairs of boots so you can rotate them, allowing a pair to dry while wearing the others. Your feet are definitely going to get wet so look for lightweight boots with...
As with all hunting footwear, make sure you break in your boots well before you leave home. Also break them for use in the wet conditions of a rainforest - you don't want to find that they shrink and are very uncomfortable or even completely useless when you get there.
These Under Armour jungle boots have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to repel water without sacrificing breathability. The leather and nylon textile combine for a soft, light upper. Quick-dry minimalist design includes medial side drainage vents that help keep your feet dry. The boots have a anti-microbial sockliner and low profile rubber lug sole increases traction. Buy Now
These Rocky jungle boots are lightweight and durable. They are made of flash-resistant leather and Cordura fabric which resist abrasions, scratches and rips. Drainage holes provide breathability, allow water to disperse quickly and helps these boots dry fast. The interior has been crafted without a lining to preserve the lightness of these boots. The bottoms of your feet will be surrounded by a steady flow of air and feel cushioned with an Air-Port footbed inside. Roll-stop ankle stability has a significant impact on the steadiness of your footing, which in turn, prevents your ankles from rolling inside of these jungle boots. Buy Now
These lightweight and breathable Teva sandals provide additional coverage for protection, with quick-drying materials to keep you comfortable and are non-slip. It also features three points of adjustability for enhanced fit and comfort. Buy Now
These Keen Newport sandals provide excellent support, traction, and comfort. They have a hydrophobic mesh lining, rubber outsole with compression moulded EVA midsole and footbed. Buy Now
Some hunters find hats more trouble than they are worth because they are always getting knocked off or hung up on thorns. Sun protection is not a priority when you are actually in the forest but a strong, well-fitting brimmed hat will protect your head from insects and leeches dropping into your hair and getting spider's webs in your face.
Also if you need to wear a head net, a brimmed hat will be needed to keep the netting off your skin.
As cotton takes a while to dry, look for a quick drying, breathable synthetic fabric hat with a brim and ventilation mesh rather than holes.
This Tilley Endurable hat is constructed of lightweight, breathable Supplex nylon with a cooling air-flow mesh band in the crown. This hat provides excellent sun protection, ventilation and moisture management. It is resistant to water and mildew. Has a tie on chin strap. Buy Now
This military style Boonie hat is made of 3-layer breathable nylon and is waterproof, windproof and has an adjustable chin strap and internal pocket. You might want to scrap the traditional branch loops in case they catch on everything and start collecting their own branches. Buy Now
Keep mosquitos and other flying pests off your face and head with this fine mesh net which has an elastic neck for a snug fit. Designed to fit comfortably over most headwear. A safe and effective way to stay bug free without the use of chemicals. Lightweight and easy to carry anywhere. Buy Now
Taking strong, protective gloves is important when hunting in the rainforest. You'll be grabbing on to sharp branches and vines to steady yourself as you slip and slide through mud and wet vegetation, often not looking where you are putting your hands.
These Mechanix Tactical Original Coyote gloves are made of durable and breathable synthetic leather. The 'TrekDry' fabric conforms to the back of your hand, creating an good fit with superior dexterity. The gloves can be secured to your belt or pack with a nylon web loop on each wrist. Buy Now
These comfortable and durable bamboo gardening gloves are abrasion and puncture resistant. The bamboo fabric absorbs perspiration, is naturally very breathable and keeps your hands cool, hypoallergenic and antibacterial. Buy Now
It is preferable to wear high gaiters while hunting in a rainforest. High snake proof gaiters would be even better as there is no low season for snake activity in an equatorial climate but like most snakes anywhere, they tend to move away when they sense disturbance. Gaiters may not give protection against leeches which may find their way in through any small gaps at the top or bottom. You could wear leech socks underneath or duct tape your pants inside your socks.
These durable, reversible TurtleSkin SnakeArmor Gaiters are lightweight, waterproof and breathable. They were tested with live rattlesnakes but maybe not on the large, sluggish and heavily camouflaged Gaboon viper of the African rainforest, which has 2" long fangs. Buy Now
For more robust snake proof gaiters, the Snake Guardz Gaiters have polycarbonate and acrylic inserts which have been puncture tested. The outer material is polyester with a water resistance coating so fang venom does not soak into it. They are cool and comfortable as they allow air to circulate between your legs and the gaiters.
It's important to wear something round your neck to prevent insects, such as stinging ants and leeches making their way inside your clothes. You can also pull it up over your head and ears when the insects get really bad. Using moisture wicking neckwear will keep you cooler and bandanas impregnated with insect repellent may help.
This versatile and seamless neck buff is constructed with 100% polyester microfibre with polygiene treatment which enables the fabric to remain cleaner for longer without releasing odours often caused by the build up of bacteria. It incorporates sweat-wicking properties keeping you comfortable and dry. Buy Now
The ExOfficio BugsAway Neck Gaiter is moisture wicking and impregnated with permethrin which repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges.
Though this insect repellent bandana is made of cotton it should dry fairly quickly and is useful for wiping your glasses or hands. Buy Now
The African rainforest is not the best environment for a valuable and beautiful double rifle. Synthetic stocks come into there own here, not getting damaged in the wet and putting up with getting knocked about. If you do take a wooden stocked rifle...
In no particular order, you may find the following items useful on a rainforest hunt...