Our must-have items to pack on a riding safari.

When heading out for a horse safari, you’re likely to spend a full day in the saddle, often without access to your day bag for several hours at a time.

Having the right items in your saddlebag or bumbag can save you from the more common woes you’ll encounter spending a day outside. (And they’ll seriously help you feel more human when you reach camp at the end of each day…!)

Each horseback experience is different, from the hot unforgiving sun of the Namib desert where you’ll trek between 30 to 50 kilometers per day, to the wet humid jungles of Colombia or the brisk chill out on the plains of Montana. But the basic niceties that you can bring along for the ride, are quite alike regardless of the weather.

We’ve done the legwork (hoofwork?) and realized through trial and error (and forgetting to pack that ONE THING), what are the must-haves and essential items to pack in your saddlebag to make your horse safari the most pleasurable adventure you’ve ever had.

Here's our list of what to stash in your saddlebag or bumbag for a more comfortable day on the trail.

1. Face Sunscreen

Just like your mom, we’ll say it again and again – sunscreen is your best friend. Figure out the ones you can depend on and keep them with you always… especially on a horse safari when that pretty face of yours is going to be getting a great deal more of harmful sun rays.

We opt for physical or mineral sunscreens rather than chemical whenever possible (or products that combine the two). Mineral sunscreens provide a far superior barrier to the different light rays from the sun and environment, and the active ingredients in them (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) are the only sunscreen ingredients that are deemed safe and effective by the FDA. Your skin is your biggest organ and absorbs whatever you put on it, into you bloodstream. So we opt to stay away from chemical sunscreens that could be harming our health long term and also harming the environment as most aren’t reef safe either.

Gone are the days of thick and heavy mineral sunscreens that leave a white cast. Now, you can find physical sunscreens and both BB and CC creams that not only protect your skin but also improve it over time with amazing actives and antioxidants. From light refreshing or hydrating emollient-type formulas, and the option to grab one with a slight color tint, mean you can get SPF, skincare and a “I woke up like this” makeup/no-makeup look all in one product. Yes, please!

With a family tree heavy on the Irish, I’ve tried and tested an innumerable number of facial sunscreens and BB creams. Below are my favorites, including an everyday budget option and a higher-end option.

Saddlebag Essentials on a Horse Safari

The Basics

  • SPF 30 reflects UVA + UVB
  • Ceramides to protect skin barrier
  • Free of Parabens + Fragrance
  • Travel Size 1.7 oz

What We Love

  • Skin-boosting Hyaluronic Acid + Niacinimide
  • Sheer tint leaves a healthy glow + blurs imperfections
Worth its weight in gold

The Basics

  • SPF 40 100% Mineral Sunscreen
  • Translucent tint
  • Water- + Sweat-Resistant

What We Love

  • Reef-friendly, Vegan-friendly + Cruelty free
  • Minimizes pores + reduces shine
  • Added natural ingredients for IR + Blue Light protection
  • Resveratrol & peptides to protect against free radical damage
Ride Favorite

With a higher SPF and incredibly lightweight feel, finish and tint, this South African brand has been my go-to on all of my African adventures. 

A rather elegant facial sunscreen filled with extra anti-aging ingredients that prevent collagen + cell breakdown it is oil-free, fragrance-free and excellent for all skin types including very sensitive skin.

It comes in perfectly-sized bottle for travel and the fluid-type formula means a little goes a long way.

On The Go Stick

These are great little applicators similar to a deodorant stick, with a slightly thicker application that’s perfect for the high-risk reflective spots like nose, cheeks and ears.

A silky formula with a tiny bit of tint that even the men won’t balk at, I always have one of these in my bumbag while riding just in case.

Honorable Mention

This is our favorite chemical sunscreen – and it isn’t tinted.

Still reef-friendly and cruelty-free, this is a great option for those who find mineral sunscreens just don’t work for them or aren’t up for the tint that often goes with them (unless you like the white cast look!).

Men will also love this formula as it easily dissolves past facial hair to reach the skin beneath without any lingering cream left behind. 

2. Lip Balm

The second most important item on our list of saddlebag essentials is always going to be lip balm. And remember, like sunscreen, it works best when applied consistently. A daytime lip balm without any SPF in it won’t protect your pout for the hours in the saddle, so below we’ve listed our favorite lip balms for horse safaris that provide both protection and serious hydration.

Along with a quality SPF lip balm, we often suggest to use a bandana or buff to cover your nose and mouth when you can on dusty trails. This will help protect against the sun too.

Ride Favorite

A high SPF mineral lip balm that glides on easy and leaves no trace except protection against sun, wind and dirt. 

Reef-safe, cruelty-free and also fragrance + flavor free! 

Runner Up

An emollient-rich option for those with lips more prone to cracking and drying, or if you’re headed into wintery conditions and need the element barrier that emollients provide. 

Overnight Savior

This balm doesn’t have any SPF but it’s magic on your lips. Swipe it on just before bed (safari hack: it’s gentle enough to use under your eyes for extra hydration) and you’l be ready for another day in the saddle.

3. Hydration Tablets

Number three on our saddlebag essentials for horse safaris is definitely hydration powder or tablets. And these concoctions aren’t just to keep you hydrated, they’re also super important for muscle, nerve and even brain health.

The options below are better than your average electrolyte tablet.

**Remember to chat to your doctor if you have any specific health issues that may restrict or limit the use of some of these ingredients.

Safari Hydration Hack #1: Usually on horse safaris, you’ll have 2 x one liter bottles on either side of your saddle. I always pop the electrolytes into one bottle in the morning before we set out, and I leave the other bottle to be just pure clean water. 

Safari Hydration Hack #2: We lose water as we sleep and more often than not, we wake up already dehydrated. Have a glass of water with half an electrolyte tab before heading to sleep, and drink at least 750ml in the morning with breakfast before heading out on safari. Trust me, this makes all the difference to ensure you aren’t running through your morning liters too quickly!

During the Day
Organic electrolyte powder made with Pure Himalayan Pink Salt, Coconut Water Powder and Magnesium Sea Minerals to “provide electrolytes in the ratio that nature created”.

We love it because it doesn’t come in single-use plastic packets like so many others. Keeping yourself healthy doesn’t have to cost the environment her health!

Easy to transport and pop into your water. Vegan, Non-Gmo with just 1 g of sugar and 15 calories per tab. A best-seller for a reason with calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium all included.

At Bedtime

Providing 300mg of three different types of magnesium, these are best at bedtime. The magnesium blend will help you sleep, reduce muscle soreness and spasms, and rehydrate you as you sleep.

4. Nut Butter Packets

Number four on our saddlebag essentials is these little packets of mid-trail heaven. While you’re certainly never underfed on a horse safari, I’ve found I always need a bit of an energy pick-me-up while in the saddle during the longer days. 

These packets are easily portable, filled with healthy (and delicious) ingredients and will satisfy any cravings for sweet and salty. There’s too many favorite flavors to pick just one, but our best two brands are below. 

Made with just 4 to 6 ingredients they are gluten free, contain no soy, dairy, or artificial flavors, are non-GMO. Honey Cinnamon and Maple Almond are definitely our favorites. 

Filled with high-quality ingredients, from California roasted almonds, clover honey, Portland roaster coffee beans, and vanilla bean, these packets come in two sizes and some seriously addictive flavors.

5. Eye Drops

These are especially handy in dry climate (or windy) riding destinations, like Namibia. For super dry eyes that feel itchy or gritty, eye drops that provide artificial tears can bring relief. Made to mimic the way real tears work, these drops will keep your eyes moist and lubricated. There’s quite a few different options, just make sure you get one that is Ophthalmologist recommended and indicate they’re for artificial tears or lubricant rather than anti-redness. Systane eye drops are the #1 Dr recommended brand and often used after eye surgery. 

6. Band Aids

Your safari guide should have an emergency first aid kit in their panniers, but if not, popping a small bandage into your saddlebag wouldn’t be the worst idea. We love the flexible fabric of the Welly Bandages. Made from premium materials that seal, stay stuck and protect – they come in some super fun patterns and bold colors. 

7. Bandana or Buff

Equally suitable for the dry, dusty desert of Namibia to  the wind-burnt snowy plains of Montana. A bandana or buff comes in handy for a variety of purposes, but we mostly use them on safari to protect our face during dust-filled gallops and to provide a cooling effect when doused with water. 

If you haven’t yet encountered a BUFF, it’s like a bandana on steroids. Able to cover both your front and your back, these “simple” pieces of fabric can be worn twelve different ways. You’ll look like a bank robber on horseback and a festival going 23 year old all in one day, if you please.

  • 95% recycled material
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • HeiQ cooling technology (wet, wring, wear)
  • Built-in insect shield

Madewell & Wyoming Traders

If you’re looking for something more traditional (but err away from the red check pattern), we love these options from Madewell and Wyoming Traders

Horse Safari Bandana