Which blouses should I wear when traveling?

ExOfficio travel clothing put to the test

On a trip to South Africa - especially to the Kruger National Park - insect-proof clothing should not be missing. Bergzeit magazine author Christiane Rampeltshammer has extensively tested the Collette blouse and Sol Cool trousers from the American manufacturer ExOfficio.

Off into the wilderness with the ExOfficio travel clothing

April in the Kruger National Park: Despite the beginning of autumn, temperatures are between 25 and 35 degrees. In addition, the national park is located in the malaria area. This means that I need clothing that protects my skin from mosquitoes and the like. as well as protecting from the sun and at the same time not being too warm. Furthermore, the colors must be natural and subtle, because bright shades or neon colors can disturb the behavior of the animals.

However, I wasn't exactly keen on appearing like a tourist in a ranger outfit - with a classic safari shirt and detachable pants. It quickly became apparent that I didn't have enough clothes to match. While looking for suitable “safari clothing” I came across the ExOfficio brand with the Insect Shield® technology.

Why clothing with mosquito repellent?

Of course you can argue about why you have to buy extra clothes with integrated insect repellent. All you have to do is treat your clothing and skin with bug spray. However, I didn't feel like moving for hours in an anti-mosquito spray haze for several days in a row. Nevertheless, it was important to me to protect myself against malaria. Malaria is an infectious disease and is transmitted through bites from the female mosquito of the genus Anopheles, which carries the dangerous malaria pathogen. These mosquitoes are particularly active at dusk and at night.

You should therefore make sure to wear long-sleeved clothing and socks, preferably in light colors, from around 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. But research has shown that mosquitoes can bite through clothing. Although there are already several suppliers with mechanical protection against mosquito bites, these fabrics are relatively heavy and warm due to the denser weaving technology.

The BugsAway collection with Insect Shield®

ExOfficio has the models in the BugsAway collection treated with Insect Shield®. The technology is the result of years of intensive research and was originally developed for the US Army in the 1990s. The clothing is impregnated with the agent permethrin, the synthetic version of a natural insect repellent (insecticide pyrethrum, occurs in certain chrysanthemum plants). If insects come into contact with the neurotoxin permethrin, paralysis occurs and then death. But the poison also prevents insects from getting near the clothing in the first place.

Insect Shield® repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, mites and fleas. The deep impregnation is completely odorless and lasts for approx. 70 washes. The procedure was also tested for skin friendliness. I have very sensitive skin and suffer from a number of allergies. I have a slight allergic reaction to mosquito sprays with the DEED active ingredient. However, no complaints were encountered while using the ExOfficio garments.

ExOfficio blouse Collette: light and casual

I chose the tunic Collette decided in white and size S. I especially like that you can wear the blouse in everyday life. The blouse consists of 58% cotton and 42% lyocell (Tencel). This mixed fiber combination is very comfortable to wear on the skin and breathable. Even at over 30 degrees you hardly start to sweat! Another plus point is the extremely fast drying after washing. I washed the blouse through in the morning during the trip - and in the afternoon I was able to put it on again. However, it is very see-through, I always wore a white top underneath. The long sleeves are ideal as a warming layer for morning or evening game drives, as game drives are also called. As soon as it gets warmer, the sleeves can be rolled up and fixed with a button.

The blouse is cut longer at the back - a bit too long for my taste, which actually inevitably means tucking it into the pants. In general, the blouse is large. No problem for me, because I like it a little more casual when traveling. However, if you want to wear the blouse more figure-hugging, you should try it a size smaller. It has a subtle pattern that helps hide wrinkles. I carried the tunic rolled up in my backpack, but after shaking it out a bit, it was mostly wrinkle-free. At around 160 grams, it does not weigh much and can easily be stored in a fully packed rucksack.

Data and facts - Blouse Collette:

  • Properties: Insect Shield® technology with incorporated permethrin to repel and combat insects, mixed fibers ensure a comfortable wearing climate, UV protection, skin-friendly, quick-drying
  • Furnishing: extended back, breast pocket, sleeves to be unbuttoned
  • Weight: 160 g
  • Maintenance: washable at 30 ° C, wash inside out, no fabric softener or bleach, no dry cleaning, iron at low temperature
  • Available colours: white, icelandic, carbon
  • Available sizes: XS - XL

ExOfficio Trousers Sol Cool - subtle, clean look

The trousers chosen were the Sol Cool model in the color Oyster. Here I was a bit undecided about the size, as I have little experience with international sizes. I chose size 8 (roughly equivalent to size 38 or M). Since I also like to wear pants looser for activities in nature, size 8 fit by and large. However, the pants were a little too long and a little too wide on the thighs.

The same applies here: if you want to wear pants a little tighter during activities, you should try a size smaller. The design is visually very appealing, as it does not immediately remind you of safari or hiking clothing, but rather of loose leisure trousers. The Sol Cool has a figure-hugging cut, looks very clean thanks to the subtle light gray and pretty much goes with all colors. It makes a great silhouette with hiking boots as well as sandals and flip flops. The waistband at the leg ends looks fashionable on the one hand, and it also protects the ankles from mosquitoes on the other. The pants have a slightly elastic waistband with a drawstring, so no additional belt is necessary. There are two pockets on the buttocks, which thanks to the hidden zipper are not bulky. Two side pockets offer additional space for smaller things.

Perfect for staying in hot countries

The fabric consists of 95% polyester and 5% elastane. In addition, xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol, is incorporated into the fabric. Xylitol helps to lower the body temperature and transfer heat to the fabric. Therefore, the pants are perfect for stays in hot countries. Together, this mix guarantees a pleasant wearing climate, as heat is only slowly absorbed and quickly absorbed again. The fabric therefore dries very quickly, which is very practical for brief washing through when traveling.

I was able to confirm 100% both the well-ventilated wearing climate and the quick drying during my trip. On the negative side, however, it should be mentioned that the fabric is very prone to staining. Even small amounts of sunscreen or even just water were immediately noticeable with edges. Another negative point is the very sensitive material ...

It is therefore less suitable for more demanding hiking tours, as the fabric can easily tear if you get caught on thorns, for example. At around 180 g, the pants are also lightweight and can be easily rolled up - in any backpack, no matter how small or full. Both items of clothing survived the wash cycle with almost no problems.

During the trip I washed the pants with a travel wash gel. Stubborn stains from hiking could not be completely removed, but with the "correct" wash cycle at home in the washing machine. I washed both items of clothing at 30 ° with normal detergent (but without fabric softener). Incidentally, the manufacturer does not recommend chemical cleaning, as this can destroy the active ingredient permethrin.

Data and facts - Trousers Sol Cool:

  • Properties: Insect Shield® technology with incorporated permethrin to repel and fight insects, xylitol and mixed fibers ensure optimal moisture transport, UV protection, figure-hugging fit, quick-drying
  • Furnishing: Pants with waist belt, 2 back pockets with zip, 2 side pockets, elastic leg ends
  • Weight: 180 g
  • Maintenance: washable at 30 ° C, no fabric softener or bleach, no dry cleaning, iron at low temperature
  • Available colours: oyster, black
  • Available sizes: 2 – 16

Conclusion on the ExOfficio travel clothing

Anyone looking for intelligent clothing for traveling that, in addition to integrated mosquito and sun protection, also looks fashionable, is in good hands with ExOfficio. Functionality and quality are not only important to this brand, but also the design. Both the Collette blouse and the Sol Cool pants are ideally suited for light hikes, as leisure wear, for longer trips by plane and car or on safaris. However, one should keep in mind that the clothing is rather large and the material is not for demanding hikes.

And the conclusion about the mosquitoes? After tours with common, wider-cut hiking pants or when wearing normal tops in everyday life, I counted a few mosquito bites, while hardly any bites were noticeable when using the ExOfficio items of clothing. My companion is also the (involuntary) proof that the technology works - he was hit by mosquitoes significantly more often than me. The mosquito repellent technology has definitely convinced me and both items of clothing will definitely be packed again for the next vacation!

tip: A mosquito net is always recommended when traveling through mosquito areas for several days!

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