RailRiders: Keeps the Bugs Off on Safari in Africa

It was my first time on safari and my first time to East Africa. I had no clue what to expect and even less clue about what to pack. One thing I did know about was the possibility of catching Malaria via mosquitoes and mosquitoes feast on me like I am a juicy filet mignon. This is where RailRiders came to the rescue, more on that later.

I had heard about this bionic insect repellant called permethrin. If you spray your clothes with it, it keeps the bugs off much more effectively than if you just sprayed your skin as it kills them instantly when they land on your clothes.

But I had no idea how much to spray; supposedly you need to saturate your clothes with permethrin for it to actually work and did not feel like adding one more task to my already monumental pre-trip to-do list.

On my search for a one-step repellant solution, I found RailRiders with the catchy slogan of “Toughest Clothes on the Planet”. Tough? Well, I hope they were tough on Malaria-carrying mosquitoes at least.

RailRiders, a men and women outdoor clothing company founded by avid adventurist John d'Arbeloff, has an ingenious line of clothing treated with Insect Shield®. Insect Shield, a permethrin formula designed to bind to fabric, offers odorless protection against mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, and midges (no-see-ums).

I jumped on this novel, mess-free idea and snapped up the RailRiders Men’s Equator HT top for $79 (as I liked its style) and the RailRiders Women’s Weatherpants ($89) for my upcoming trip to Kenya and Tanzania. My travel gal pal I was going with, co-founder of Voyage Vixens Lindsay Taub, took my lead and got a pair of the pants and the RailRider’s Women’s Oasis shirt, both treated in Insect Shield. For her RailRiders review, read on at JohnnyJet.com.

Our first day on safari with AndBeyond in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater, we both sported our bug-off RailRider outfits. The day was full of incredible encounters: eating breakfast with zebras grazing nearby, finding three one-month-old lion cubs, watching a cheetah stalk its prey and chatting with local Maasai tribes people.

One encounter, in which I was eternally grateful for, we did not experience, was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. And they were all about, especially at the hippo-hangout swamp and the flamingo-lined pond on the salt flats.

The next safari excursion was in the Serengeti with AndBeyond Under Canvas, in search of the wildebeests’ great migration where they frantically try to cross Kenya’s Mara River without being taken down by a hungry crocodile. Wildebeests, to me, seemed very similar to cows. And where there are cows, there are flies. In the Serengeti, there were bloodthirsty flies called tsetse flies and oh how they stung and itched if you got bit.

While watching for one of the wildebeests to take the leap, (they hover on the riverbank waiting for one bold wildebeest to start the furious flight and then hundreds follow), we had lots of time to chat with the other couple in our safari jeep.

Nancy, from Houston, Texas, pipes up and says to me, “I really like your shirt. When I was looking for safari clothes, I never found that style.” I had to agree with her. The RailRiders Equator HT top, albeit a bit too big for me in a Men’s small size, was distinctive with its polo-like style of three buttons and a flip up sun collar. Most days, I just tucked it in or left it out and put a belt around it, wearing it like a tunic.

But no matter the style, what was most important, as I explained to Nancy, was that the RailRiders Insect Shield clothing lived up to their claim of being ‘the toughest clothes on the planet’ by keeping those annoying mosquitoes off in the Ngorongoro Crater and the tsetse flies off in the Serengeti.

My only regret with the RailRiders Insect Shield clothing is that I didn’t buy more of them. But lucky for me, the outfit I have will keep its Insect Shield repellant for up to 77 washes, so it will be with me on many more adventures to come.


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