The best part about traveling with guys who are design obsessed: Getting to play with all the toys, gadgets, and gear packed in their suitcases. Below is a selection of handsome goods that the Cool Hunting crew took on the safari they organized in Zambia this past summer. As one of their travel companions, the pockets of my own safari jacket were filled to the brim.
Filson Duffle and Shoulder Bag
Because planes are often small and storage is often limited when traveling within Africa, soft suitcases are generally preferred over hard carry-ons. When traveling light, it helps to have a lightweight bag. Filson makes rugged satchels and duffles that suit the modern outdoorsman. (Think: safari-approved colors.)
Private White V.C. Jacket
Layers, layers, layers. Never has wardrobe advice been more meaningful. Temperatures plummet at night and morning drives can be very cold. We wore comfy, waterproof hunting jackets with lots of pockets and action sleeves. Private White V.C. worked with Cool Hunting to make an edition with special details (leather collar, lightweight cotton weave). You can have your very own Pocket Jacket by ordering here.
Public Supplies Notebooks
Resist the urge to take photos of everything and take notes instead. You'll be more likely to remember those fun facts about parasitic nesters and giraffe mating habits that way. The Brooklyn-based company's thoughtfully made notebooks were given to us on arrival at our safari camp.
Solar-Powered Gear from Goal Zero
Even in the bush, and even without WiFi, those iPhones came in handy for quick photos and musical entertainment. The CH team gave everyone a lightweight Nomad 7 Solar Panel, an incredibly handy Switch 8 Power Pack recharging kit, and Rockout 2 portable speaker. As expected, the gadget nerds spent the week configuring panels for mutant power sources.
A Good Pair of Binoculars
We spent hours every day scanning the horizon for movement, zeroing in on elusive animals and birds, and watching nature go about its business as guides provided real-time narration. I highly recommend investing in a great pair of binoculars, probably the single best purchase I made for the trip. All the safari guides rock amazing Swarovski EL Traveler binoculars that produce bright, crisp, laser-focused images even in deep brush and twilight hours. Celestron Granite binoculars are a little more affordable and are specifically excellent for bird watching. (You do a lot of bird watching in the bush.)
Q&Q Solar Watch
The CH guys brought 1500 of these durable, waterproof, ecofriendly, Japanese watches for the students at the school near South Luangwa National Park (read about that experience on Popupla). These Q&Qs are lightweight, good-looking, solar-powered (one day in the sun equals three months of charge), and made from recycled materials. For every purchase, a portion of proceeds are donated to Table for Two, a non-profit that delivers school meals to children in Africa and Asia.
Polarized, vintage inspired, and only $95 a pop, there are shades that fit the safari theme (tortoise shell, wood grain) and styles to suit every face.
Serious Bug Spray
Ultrathon lotion was developed and is used by the military. There's also a spray for your clothing and gear that lasts six weeks. Hard core. Not that you want to wear the stuff all the time, of course, as the products contain DEET.
A Note on Safari Colors
You do not have to wear head-to-toe camo, and you certainly don't have to wear your safari outfit on the flight out of JFK. But the idea is to match the color palette of your wardrobe to the natural suroundings (beige, olive, khaki, cream, brown). Large swathes of white scares animals. Black and blue attracts tse tse flies. Bright colors give off warning signs. An added bonus: photos look great when everyone's color coordinated.