What’s up with all the khaki and zips?

Whether you call yourself a tourist or a traveller, whether you are away for a week or a year, I bet you have clothing in your bag that combines khaki and zips. If you are on an ‘adventure’ trip, chances are your entire wardrobe is khaki and zips.

What did this become the uniform to prove you were a hard core traveller – even if you are just on your way to Las Vegas for a weekend?

Sure, safari suits were in fashion in the seventies, but they have been completely lame ever since. Sure, it makes sense to have fabrics that are comfortable, that are suited for the heat or the cold, but khaki doesn’t make them any more or less comfortable.

When I first started travelling in the 1980’s there were plenty of traveler uniforms, worn by different traveler tribes.

There was the tie-dye/hippy look available in markets worldwide, which we happily wore travelling and then threw away as soon as we got home.

There was the Track pants with everything’ look, and it’s close relatives, the ‘souvenir t-shirts of places we’d been to’ look and the t-shirts with a beer logo’ look.

And don’t forget the preppy golf shirt look, preferably a Lacoste knock-off from Istanbul or Kuta.

There was even a period (particularly for British travellers) of shiny shell suits in violently clashing colours.

None of these were great looks, but at least there was variety.  So when did the “styled by Ralph Lauren’s tasteless cousin with an oversupply of khaki and zips” trend start to creep in, and how did it get so ubiquitous?

I was reminded of it when I read “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali – its a book about immigrants, not travel. But I laughed when I read a paragraph where one of her characters made the following observation:

The white people wore trousers with pockets all over them. They had pockets at the thigh, the knee, down on their shins. All their clothes had little tabs and toggles, zips and flaps and fasteners. It was as if they had dressed themselves in tents and to settle for the night they would simply insert a few poles and lay down.

On a recent flight, after being on safari in Tanzania, I was reading the inflight magazine ‘Tailwind” and came across a like minded article by Anthea Rowan, who also has a really interesting blog ReluctantMemsahib.  Here’s some quotes from her article, confirming that I am not the only person perplexed by the khaki and zips uniform.
Why have tourists visiting Africa developed such a zealous fondness for Khaki? And zips? And multitudes of pockets? Yes, I can understand why a soldier wears khaki during battle – mainly so he’s not seen  – by his similarly khaki clad enemy – and shot. But it doesn’t explain why tourists feel the need to look like a commando squad on active duty when they come to look at out wildlife.

Most of them will tell you it’s because they’re going for a game drive and want to creep up on the wildlife unseen.  How? In their black and white mini van with a dozen camera shutters clicking paparazzi-style? Even if their khaki uniforms rendered them magically invisible to the animals, I reckon there’s a pretty good chance the pride of lion/herd of elephant/cheetah and cubs might spot the fleet of 4×4’s surrounding them, get up and slope off out of sight.

Is your bag full of khaki and zips? Be adventurous, try a different color, a different style, or even clothes just normal clothes you already wear at home.
Disclaimer: the author has been known to wear cargo pants on urban adventures (to the local cafes), and has even travelled with them once or twice, but has never owned (and never will) a pair of zip-off khaki trouser/shorts. Or a matching shirt. Unless they go out of fashion and everyone stops wearing them – then she may reconsider.

Is this the best travel photo gadget ever?

I found this by accident yesterday, I have no idea how long its been around, but I think it is the best gadget ever! “Big call” I hear you say. Yes it is.

gadget tripod
gadget tripod

How many times over the years have I ruined my low light photos by hand holding my camera and getting camera shake? Sure, I know I should carry a tripod, but a lot of the time it just seems too bulky, too much hassle.

And then I found this.

gadget tripod
gadget tripod

Its a bit like the head of a tripod, but designed to be screwed onto a bottle top or the top of a thin fence/wall/balcony. So just imagine, it’s sunset, I am kicking back with a beer, I wish I had a tripod, and voila – screw this gadget on, and the beer bottle becomes my tripod – or my water bottle, or rum bottle, or the top edge of the glass fence around the bar, or the chair back…… So now I can improvise a tripod where ever I am – how MacGyver!!

The instructions say it only takes around 500gms, so a compact camera, or a light DSLR. But I tested it with my camera and lense, a total of 1.2 kg, and as long as the beer bottle was full then it held it stable. It definitely needs a weighty, stable base for the bigger camera, but it can work – I think the size of the lense would be a bigger problem than the weight.

gadget tripod
gadget tripod

Mine was on sale for $4.99, down from $9.95 – a bargain. Its a very light construction, I don’t know how durable it will be, but at that price it doesn’t have to last long to be worth it. I think theres a great market for medium to heavy SLRs if they make a heavy, higher quality version too, at a higher price point – I’d buy it.