Fresh back from Brazil, here's my inside guide to jungle clothing and what you need to pack and wear in the Amazon rainforest.
Packing for the Amazon Rainforest
As far as travel goals go, visiting the Amazon rainforest has voyaged with me since the cartoons and dreams of childhood.
But it’s obviously not a cartoon.
Packing for the Amazon rainforest requires a little more thought than the usual jaunt. Although the place is a childhood travel dream, the jungle is real, humid, sticky and full of bugs that can cause serious trouble.
This is a good time to remind you to see a healthcare professional a good 6-8 weeks before you go to make sure you’re up to date with all vaccinations and medication.
Right, onto the jungle clothing. You will need…
Heads up! If you book or buy through the links on this page, we may well earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I also travelled to the rainforest on a press trip with Visit Brasil. Cheers and happy packing!
What to Wear in the Amazon Rainforest
Long Tops and Trousers
Despite the humidity and heat, the best thing you can do is cover up. This protects you from bites, sunburn and scratches and all manner of nasty diseases.
Trouble is, most long sleeved tops and trousers make you feel too hot or stick to your skin with humidity and sweat (or glow, if we’re feeling fancy.)
You can buy specialist safari clothes that overcome these problems and, for once, I’d really recommend buying them instead of trying a DIY job.
I love these safari shirts in khaki green and cream from the London Safari Store. They’re quick dry, camouflage well so you don’t scare away the wildlife and they’re pretty robust from scratches. They’re even semi-tailored and flattering.
But, you will feel a bit daft wearing them at home around the supermarket.
If those don't work for you, then there are also these safari tops available on Amazon.
Another option, is to wear a long sleeved workout top like this or just a simple white cotton blouse, although though this will stick to your skin more and crease during the flight. It may also turn see through with the humidity and, well, tropical sweat. You have been warned!
Finding trousers suitable for the Amazon rainforest is an easier task, since most summer hiking trousers (or trail pants) will do.
The kind that zip off to turn into shorts are very popular on jungle clothing packing lists but unless you really like the look of the shorts, it’s better to stick to the trousers-only options. The zip can become a bit uncomfortable and the whole point is to cover your skin anyway.
What I did find useful was plenty of side pockets: for bug spray, torches, tissues, maps, phone, all sorts. And you can clip water bottles and map holders to the hooks on the waistbands.
- Zip off hiking trousers or trail pants from Trespass
- Ultralight and durable hiking trousers in camouflage green
These are worth their weight in GOLD! I know it seems annoying paying for all these ugly clothes that you won’t wear in daily life but you can thank me later!
Decent hiking socks like these in merino wool, have vents built in to the fabric and reinforced areas where your skin will rub. They’re breathable and keep your feet cool.
Bear in mind, you’ll be in hot conditions while wearing boots. Hot feet make for hot everything else and it’s not pleasant.
Plus, hiking socks travel well to other long hikes. As do…
You don’t need any special kind of hiking boots for the Amazon, but you will benefit from more than sneakers and trainers.
Good hiking boots should rise above your ankle to protect from sprains and breaks on slippery surfaces. They also last for years. My first pair that I bought when I was 18 climbed up to Macchu Picchu, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mr Fuji and more before giving up the ghost after a week of hiking the mountains of Austria.
Underwear as Jungle Clothing
- Cotton underwear is more comfortable in hot and humid conditions. Just saying.
- Also, some women find a sports bra more comfortable when hiking, so, ladies, have a think about that. You won’t need a high intensity bra, but a wireless, supportive cotton bra is a good idea.
It’ll be hot and tree sap and all sorts can drop on your head. Protect yourself from sunstroke with a decent travel hat.
When it comes to jungle clothing in the Amazon, straw hats that look gorgeous among the lavender of Provence don’t work so well. Instead, you may as well embrace the inelegant jungle look and buy a travel hat like this one.
It’s foldable and crushable and has an adjustable strap for your chin. This keeps your hands free when you’re zipping along on a boat or paddling on a canoe.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet (!) but there are bugs that bite in the Amazon rainforest. And some of the cities, come to that.
Stock up on bug spray or insect repellent and go for the ones with DEET in them. This isn’t the time for gentle, natural bug sprays that leave you susceptible to deadly diseases.
Deet it up!
You can also buy insect repellent clothes treatment but, honestly, I’ve not tried this and I'm not sure it's necessary.
Depending on your accommodation, you may need to bring a mosquito net with you to protect yourself while you sleep.
These are pretty easy to assemble and resemble a medieval princess bedroom if you squint and forget about the sweating. You can buy single or double nets and you hang them from the ceiling.
Nets are lightweight but they do add bulk to your luggage, so I wouldn’t bother if you’re only going to stay in top hotels.
Plug-in Insect Repellent
Another good idea is to stock up on insect repellent pastilles that plug in to the main electricity supply. Again, these aren’t too heavy but they do take up more space. Pop a pastille in each night and it works like an air freshener to keep the bugs away.
There are other anti-bug measures like citronella candles and insect repellent coils but they don’t travel well.
Most reputable amazon tours or safari walks will have their own, though. So, don’t worry about it too much.
Lightweight Rain Jacket
It’s called the rainforest for a reason. Even if you don't mind getting wet in the heat, you may wish to protect any expensive cameras or smartphones you have with you.
- Shop for an ultra lightweight rain jacket here.
A tiny bottle of hand sanitizer will do - no need to bring masses.
This might seem a little odd but it's still wise to protect your skin from biting insects as much as possible while you sleep. Cotton is nice and breathable and won't let you get too hot.
Pull your socks over your pyjama trousers at night to prevent bugs from crawling in...
Head to the Amazon rainforest and you'll likely be hiking, canoeing, birdwatching and otherwise on the go. So you'll need a suitable bag to carry your essentials. Does this count as jungle clothing? When you genuinely need this much stuff, I think so!
What makes a day pack suitable for the Amazon rainforest? Ideally, it will have:
- An internal zipped compartment for hotel keys and phone
- An outer zipped compartment for travel size insect repellent, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and wet wipes or tissues.
- A main compartment
- A side pocket for your water bottle
Amazon Rainforest Gear & Jungle Clothing Video
To see all this jungle clothing in its element, check out the video on what to pack for the Amazon rainforest below. It includes some of my best tips - even the ones not in this article.
More About Travel in the Amazon Rainforest
The full article on what it's like to travel through the Amazon Rainforest is on its way. In the meantime, here's what you need to know.
- Where to stay - Juma Ecolodge is 3 hours from Manaus in Brazil, low on mosquitoes and high on sustainable adventure. Highly recommended.
- Check out the health advice by using the site that my doctor friends still advise: the CDC It's generally a good idea to book an appointment 8 weeks before you travel as some vaccines need that long to become fully effective.
- Take a look at our hiking packing list if this will form a core part of your trip.