Kit is vital for any Jungle environment, so it’s important you go for a simple and effective execution, rather than a technical approach with kit. Here are my 3 go-to items for these brutal locations:
Item 1 – A Light and Quick-drying Long Sleeve Shirt
A rookie mistake is to go for a short T-shirt or vest top. It’s hot and humid. While you may feel that wearing less is better to keep cool, trust me, you’ll regret it. Firstly, you will meet the Black Palm; an innocuous-looking plant that conceals horrid spikes that will shred your skin. The military calls them the ‘Bastard Tree’ because that’s exactly what you would shout when you grab a hold of one. A long sleeve will at least offer some protection and, importantly, keep biting insects at arms’ length, while shading you from the brutal sun.
Item 2 – Proper jungle boots
Rookie mistake number 2. Don’t wear Gortex boots. Instead, opt for military style jungle boots like Altbergs. These boots have to be in my top 3 all-time items of adventure film clothing. I have worn them in West African Swamps on the set of Jungle Gold, Chilean rainforests, and across the jungles in Central America. In deep mud, rain, and rivers, your Gortex boots will just fill up with water. You will get trench foot in no time and you will have to be evacuated out of the terrain. I like Altbergs because they are designed with small-perforated holes to let water in and out. So your feet would get wet but they wouldn’t get waterlogged. The boots and your feet would just need to be dried out around your campfire at the end of the day.
Item 3 – Floppy jungle hat.
Heat exhaustion is the real deal in the jungle. You will feel super wet from the rain and sweat, so it’s easy for your mind to play tricks and forget that you are not taking in enough liquid. I recommend a hat that is comfortable, floppy (kind of goofy-looking, I know), and has a Factor 50 sun protection. I got a curly hair, which makes it a great place for jungle nasties like spiders to hang out, so any protection is welcome.
If you get the 3 items that are above this paragraph, you will become one with the jungle, allowing you to get to a place where you can function in a difficult environment and deliver a great shoot. Surrender your ego and get down and dirty!