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The Huntsman & The Expedition - Safari Shirt Review

How to make a choice between these two heavyweight classics for your next adventure? Read on. Safari wardrobes need to be flexible and adaptable. A day in the African bush can start off at around two degrees, rise to near forty by mid-day and drop rapidly as the sun heads for the horizon.

Add to the temperature factor, the need, in some situations, for a garment to provide protection from the sun, a barrier to the ravages of tsetse flies and mosquitos and good resistance to tearing, when snagged by tree branches or thorns.

T-shirts, shirts, jackets and coats all have their part to play but a heavy safari shirt is one of those indispensable items that has to be accommodated; largely for its flexibility as several garments in one.

Two of the staples of the Westley Richards collection are the Huntsman Overshirt and the Expedition Safari Shirt. The examples pictured here are in Military Green and Brushed Sand, which are both very practical and hunting-friendly shades.

On first examination, the Huntsman appears the most uncompromisingly rugged and performance-orientated of the two. It has rip-stop fabric double-stitched to provide extra protection to the right shoulder, sleeves from elbow to cuff, and across the back of the shoulders..

Robust epaulettes, firmly stitched in a military style, ensure no slippage when carrying a rifle on a sling and double-stitched seams throughout promise long life and resistance to abrasion and tearing.

None of this toughness comes by compromising traditional Westley Richards quality and attention to detail. Stitching is very tight and straight, buttons are natural horn, with the maker’s name etched into them.

Where the Huntsman differs from other shirts is the pockets. With one breast pocket on the left side and a four-cartridge carrying capacity slotted wallet underneath it, its purpose is clear and very practical. The lower positioning is ideally placed for the right-handed hunter to reload from instinctively, with minimum travel between hand and breech.

In addition, the Huntsman has two big internal pockets and two more, comfortably placed at belt level, accessible from the outside. These work because the cotton fabric is stiff and heavy enough to support the shape and hold its structure. In the absence of a jacket, the Huntsman fills the role, giving ample protection from sun, thorns and insects without the length or excess fabric of a full-sized jacket.

It just feels snug and protective and tough.

The Expedition Safari Shirt has been a best-seller for many seasons for a reason. The cotton fabric, while strong, feels soft and it drapes nicely; managing to look handsome and rugged at the same time.

It has no internal pockets but does feature twin breast pockets, slots for big-game cartridges above the left and a double-thickness, cross-stitched shooting patch on the right shoulder.

The fit is comfortable and the feel is relaxed but it has that tough and reassuringly authentic look and feel of the old Willis & Geiger safari shirts that were a favourite of generations of Africa-bound Americans in the mid 20th century.

Less overtly a combination shirt/jacket than the Huntsman, it is sufficiently structured to serve well as an over-shirt.

The Expedition Safari Shirt bears close inspection and the features that make it impressive today will ensure it holds-up under pressure, and will look as good and perform just as well on your tenth safari as it does on your first.

The Huntsman is perhaps the best expression of rugged work-wear translated into a modern hunting over shirt, while the Expedition is the toughest iteration of a beautifully tailored traditional hunting shirt it is possible to buy.

For 2024, a new Lightweight Expedition Safari Shirt sees the light of day for the first time. Exactly the same as the original but tailored in a tight-weave, lighter weight cotton and available in new olive and sand hues, it is aimed at hunters in equatorial forests with higher humidity, where a lighter cloth is required, yet offering the same levels of protection.

It also serves perfectly when worn as a traditional mid-layer shirt, with T-shirt underneath and jacket on top, when conditions dictate that layers go on and come off at different times of the day.

Alongside its custom rifles, luxury travel bags and high quality country clothing, the modern Westley Richards continues a 200-year tradition of outfitting hunters and adventurers for the rigours of outdoor life. With an unrivalled heritage of safari wear, the company produces a range of luxury safari clothes for the ultimate safari packing list. Inspired by former clients Ernest Hemingway and Stewart Granger each safari jacket, hunting shirt and cargo trouser reflects Westley Richards ethos of timeless style and exceptional quality. Pair a rugged safari shirt and safari shorts with some world famous Courteney boots and a classic safari hat.

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