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Basic Equipments

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BACKPACK AND BAGS

Choosing a backpack is a personal choice. Basically your pack is your home away from home. Knowing that it contains everything you need for the climb, you need a sturdy pack that fits comfortably on you. Walking eight hour a day with a pack is no joke so you better be careful in considering comfort based on the design of the pack. Having a good pack that is made of durable materials that can resist majority of abrasions experienced along the trail can contribute to the life span of your pack.

Before buying a pack work out how large it needs to be; where you aim to put everything you need for the trip. Different packs work for different people. Having the pack custom made is better simply because you will have a better fit and a unique design. In backpacking, a well-designed backpack is centered on its functionality and not because it is the latest in fashion/styling.

TYPES OF PACKS ACCORDING TO USE

  • Daypack
    A daypack should be able to carry your needs for just a day's hike that should be able to contain just enough supply of food, water and some extra clothing. Buy a strong model equipped with frame and a padded back. Be careful to distinguish between a mountaineering daypack from an ordinary commercial daypack intended for urban use.

  • Internal frame backpack
    It is the most preferable and widely used backpack in the Philippines. Its design allows you to move freely along thick vegetation without any hindrance of the branches getting entangled in your pack due to the thick vegetation that is usually encountered along tropical rainforest trails. Another advantage of an internal frame backpack is that the weight of the backpack is closer to your body’s center of gravity. The only disadvantage is you tend to perspire a lot at the back.

  • External frame backpack
    This type of pack is not usually used in the country. Although the external frame holds the weight away from your body that allows the air to circulate and carry away some of the sweat from your back, it can cause some problems while moving on trail. The frame being exposed gets caught in the branches of trees more often than not, affecting your pacing.

  • Belt bags
    This type of bag is designed for easy access of things like the trail food, emergency kits, camera and coin purse while on trail.

BACK PACK COVER

It is made of waterproofed material designed to keep your pack dry. It is highly necessary when climbing rainforests.

How to Test Fit a Backpack (internal and external frame packs)
The pack you are testing should have approximately 20-30 lbs. of weight inside, centered close to your body and between your shoulder blades. Perform the procedure below (in front of a mirror). Enlist the help of an experienced salesperson if possible.

Step #1. Loosen the pack's shoulder straps and hip belt.
Step #2. Slip your arms through the shoulder straps.
Step #3. Position the hip belt comfortably near the top of your hipbones.
Step #4. Close the hip belt buckle and tighten it.
Step #5. Check the padded sections of the hip belt to make sure they wrap around your hips comfortably without touching in front.
Step #6. If the belt is too loose or tight, try re-positioning the buckle pieces on the hip belt straps. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may have to try a different pack (or hip belt).
Step #7. Once the hip belt is positioned properly, cinch the shoulder straps down tight, then back them off slightly.
Step #8. Look sideways in the mirror.
Step #9. Check the shoulder strap anchor points.
  • External frame packs without load-lift straps - The shoulder straps should attach to the pack frame at a point roughly even with the top of your shoulders.
  • External frame packs with load-lift straps - The padded sections of the shoulder straps should wrap around the top of your shoulders comfortably and attach to the frame three or four inches below them.
  • Internal frame packs - The padded sections of the shoulder straps should wrap around the top of your shoulders comfortably and attach to the frame three or four inches below them.
Step #10. Check load lift straps - Most modern backpacks come with load-lift straps. These straps should begin just below the tops of your shoulders (near your collarbones) and angle back toward the pack body at roughly a 45-degree angle.
Step #11. Check shoulder strap width - Shoulder straps should be far enough apart that they don't squeeze your neck, but close enough together that they don't slip off of your shoulders during hiking. This width can be adjusted on many backpacks.
Step #12. Check for a good torso fit - If the pack fits you correctly, you should be able to redistribute the weight of the pack between your shoulders and your hips simply by loosening and tightening your shoulder straps slightly.
Step #13. Check for comfort - Does the pack feel good on your back? Does it pinch or bind or restrict your freedom of movement? Can you look up without hitting the pack with your head. Can you squat down without cutting off the circulation to your legs?

PACKING YOUR BACKPACKS

After sorting out what you should bring to a climb, the next step is to pack it in. A good technique before packing is to spread your things on a dining table or bed. This is to make sure that you will not forget a single item. Arrange them in categories, i.e. sleeping equipment, cooking equipment, and the like. Remember to bring only what you need for that particular climb.

Following are guidelines when packing your backpack:

  1. Know where you are going and for how long.
  2. Sort them by category. It is also a good idea to pack your items like clothes in color-coded self-sealing plastic bags for easy access. Like this orange plastic is for my clothes in the evening or this red plastic bag is my cold weather clothes and the like.
  3. Gender. Males are generally stronger than females and can carry more items.
  4. Center of Gravity. Not necessarily dependent on gender. This is important since the skeletal structure of males are different from the females. A number one factor that is neglected by most of our local climbers. Generally, males have wide shoulders than the females, while the latter has wider hips. Therefore when packing your packs make sure that the heavy items are high up in the pack for males while for females its lower.
  5. Line your backpack with a large plastic bag (a clear, thick body bag will do, usually sold at your local market) this is to ensure that your gear inside does not get wet when the rains arrive.
  6. Next is your sleeping pad.
  7. The rest is up to you. But then again, bring what you only need and or the group.

Take care of your pack

Backpacks are built to be sturdy, but a little common sense and TLC (tender-loving care) will keep them in good shape for years and years.

  • Pack carefully, and keep sharp and/or hard-edged objects covered. Things like cook pots, knives, and stoves can rub holes in your pack.
  • Keep your pack clean and dry. If you plan to backpack in rainy conditions, invest in a backpack cover that will keep your pack and your stuff dry. A wet sleeping bag and soggy food is sad event out on the trail. Remember, even the most water-resistant pack is not waterproof!
  • Clean and dry your pack completely when you return from each trip. Let it air out a bit before storing. If it's really filthy, scrub with soap, rinse with water, and air dry. Use a washing machine? No way! And don't hang or store it in the sun for extended periods, either. UV rays aren't good for nylon.

 

BOOTS

It is our feet that takes us where we want to go and mountaineers who don’t show respect for their feet is in for a rough journey. Nothing can make a hiker more miserable than ill fitting boots. Mountaineers should always put in mind that footwear is very important because our body weight is spread over our two feet considering the added weight of packs including the hazard in the mountain, the feet are under constant pressure. So you should buy a pair of boots that have traction and a decent sole which can absorb the impact of roots and rocks and can grip on wet, slippery ground. Boots should support your ankles and arches and most of all should be comfortable and reliable.

TYPES OF BOOTS

  • Fabric boots
    Generally a combination of fabric and some other materials like leather. They are usually very comfortable because they are soft, flexible, and lightweight. Fabric boots lets the feet 'breathe' which is especially important with the type of weather here in the Philippines. Fabric boots has the advantage to dry out quickly when wet. Appropriate for tropical weather.

  • Leather boots
    They are relatively heavier than fabric boots and fall on the category of mid-weight boots. Leather boots are durable and gives good protection to your feet. They usually have strong cleated soles and are usually durable and water-resistant. The leather uppers give good ankle protection. These types of boots are commonly more expensive than fabric boots.

  • Jungle boots
    Designed by the US army for tropical countries like the Philippines but rarely used in mountaineering. Jungle boots have rubber soles and cleats. It is usually wide and deep for a good grip on wet ground. It gives protection to the ankle from thorns and rocks while allowing the feet to breathe through the canvas uppers. Special instep vents allow water to be squirted out after wading in water.

CARING FOR YOUR BOOTS

  • Never dry leather boots under direct heat or near a fire. You will end up with damaged, cracked leather.
  • Applying wax or conditioner to your boots will lengthen their life. Follow the manufacturer instruction for care. You could use waterproofing wax or silicon type spray.
  • After a hike, clean your boots and always store it in a cool and dry place.

 

OTHER OUTDOOR FOOTWEAR

Sport Sandals

After a long days walk, wearing sandals is much comfortable than wearing your boots in the campsite. Your feet can finally breathe and relax. They are terrific for crossing streams because they dry almost immediately. It also comes to the rescue if your boots gives-in or blisters arise. Do not use as substitute for hiking boots because they do not give much protection to your feet.

Slippers

Slippers are lightweight, soft, very comfortable, easy to dry and best of all are very cheap. One disadvantage though, rubber slippers do not last long and does not give much protection.

SOCKS

Just wearing a good pair of boots doesn't exactly give protection to your feet. Socks cushion the feet and prevent the boots from rubbing the skin, as well as keeping the feet warm and dry. It is advised to wear two pair of socks. The inner pair should be of breathable fabric which wicks moisture away from the feet and thick outer socks to insulate the feet and pad them against the boot. Some hiking socks have thick soles for insulation and padding and thin uppers to minimize sweating.

 

CLOTHING (Only in the Philippines)

One should wear the appropriate clothing based on the natural condition in which we live in. You should be able to equip yourself with the right garments for any type of weather. In bad weather, you may not have garments manufactured for specific climates, but you could use the layering system in conjunction with shelter as protection against the elements wind, cold, heat and rain. The basic Filipino mountaineering outfit would consist of a pair of short and a T-shirt, a hat or bandana, socks and liners. Hikers prefer modified bicycle short or tights and nylon T-shirt and tank top (sports bra) for women. In cold weather you could use jogging pants fleece jacket and windbreakers. If the weather gets worse you could wear a couple of extra layer of clothes.

THE LAYERING PRINCIPLE

Several thin layers of clothing that trap air in between them gets warm and keeps you warmer than a single thick garment. If your body get too warm you can control body temperature by removing layers or venting. This principle applies both in hot and cold weather.

Upper layering

  • The core Layer - the first layer, which lies next to your skin, should consist of a cotton vest or long sleeved, which should not be too tight.
  • The second layer- should be loose fitting, but be able to keep the blood vessels of the neck and wrists protected and warm. It can be a shirt with collar, sleeves that can be rolled up or with just a windproof shell.
  • The outer Layer- The third layer should be woolen pullover, fleece jacket and a jacket that is either wind resistant or waterproof, depending on the climate.

Underpants

Long thermal underwear is usually only necessary in extreme cold temperature. In mild Philippine climate you may wear cotton type underwear. Trousers must allow freedom of movement and should be made of a fabric that will dry quickly if it gets wet.

TIPS:

Getting wet creates problem. Waterproofs, like poncho, raincoat and water-resistant jacket must be put on when rain starts, but remove immediately when the rain stops. Rain gears made from impermeable materials is no good for walking because it traps air thereby making you feel hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.

CLOTHING ACCESORIES

  • Bonnet – which can protect your entire head from the cold climate.
  • Gloves- keep your hands warm and protects your hands from getting bruised.
  • Bandanna- a piece of cloth larger than a handkerchief, serves as a sweatband, headcover, towel, and can also be used a s water filter and placemat.
  • Malong –Originated from Mindanao is basically a cloth with ehtnic designs and can cover body from neck down. Mountaineers have used it.

 

TENTS

Tents are one of those things you only truly appreciate when you need it. The minute you are caught in an unexpected storm with strong winds and rain, you will need a good, strong shelter. Something secure as being huddled in a tent that you know can protect you from getting wet, keep you warm and most of all, does not leak. You have an almost unlimited number of choices of protecting yourself from the elements. Tents come in a wide variety of shapes and function. You also can be protected with tarps and rain flies, or you may plan to bivouac under the stars if the weather permits.

What to look for in a tent?

  • Quality - Your tent is your defenses against the elements so do not sacrifice quality for price. If you plan to buy a tent save for it and go for a good tent. A cheap tent would not do the same job of a good quality tent. Also, take into consideration what kind of terrain you are going to use it? Mountain, beach, resort or a very established campsite; keep this in mind before buying.
  • Size - Consider your personal choice if you plan to share it with friends or have the luxury of being alone inside the tent.
  • Weight – the lighter the better. A lightweight tent obviously will lighten your pack. Choose one with aluminum poles which is far lighter then fiber glass poles.
  • Free standing - You can virtually pitch the tent anywhere. Also if your chosen spot doesn’t work out you can move the tent without taking it down. It is also easier to clean and dry this type of tent.

TIPS ON USING YOUR TENT

  • Keep your tent in a convenient place in your pack where you can get the tent without taking everything else out first. This is important when it rains.
  • Use a ground sheet under the tent to protect the bottom from roots and rocks. Make sure you tuck in the ground sheet underneath the edges of the tent to keep the out water from collecting underneath.
  • Never cook inside the tent, even when it rains.
  • Don’t leave the tent under direct sunlight, because the sunlight weakens the fabric and the waterproofing.

TYPES OF TENT FOR ALL TERRAINS

  • Horizontal-ridge tent or A Frame
    This style of tent can come in virtually any size from one person to several people. It can be set up almost anywhere. It has a central horizontal roof pole and two end poles of the same height.
  • Dome tent
    This is ideal for extreme condition, since it is very stable. Very easy to pitch and dismantle and also spacious.
  • Tunnel tent
    A tunnel tent is a cross between a dome tent and a ridge tent. They can be used on grass or on rocky terrain.
  • Tadpole or frog type
    Very stable and can withstand bad weather. It is aerodynamic which can deflect high wind and is usually lightweight.
  • Geodesic Dome tent
    They are strong and lightweight. The shape provides a lot of headroom.

 

SLEEPING BAG

Nothing is better than sleeping warm and dry after a hike. Resting is essential for a climber, and being warm and dry makes you feel comfortable. A sleeping bag gives you comfort and warmth. Therefore, you should safeguard its dryness as if your life depended on it. You need a sleeping bag that has good insulation, compact (not too bulky) and lightweight. Always keep it in a waterproof cover.

Sleeping bags are manufactured accordingly from low, average to high temperature rating depending on the weather conditions. Therefore, you should buy an average temperature bag suitable for the Philippine weather.

Sleeping bags come in many shapes. The advisable shapes are:

  • Mummy bag – This style of bag minimizes heat loss, but some find it tight fitting.
  • Semi-rectangular bag - They are very comfortable and widely used in the Philippines. They have zippers that provide easy access to the bag and a hood to prevent heat from escaping from the head, neck and shoulder.

SLEEPING ACCESSORIES

Sleeping Bag Liner

The lining is usually made of cotton. It keeps a layer of air between you and your bag. It does not have that sweaty feeling compared with no lining. It also protects wear and tear of the sleeping bag. It can also be made up of polyester, which is also good in keeping body heat.

Sleeping mats or Earth pad

Sleeping mat is usually made up of rubber or durable lightweight foam. It is used to pad your sleeping bag from small rocks that can hurt your back. It is also used to give extra shielding from the cold ground. You can choose from imported Therm-a-rest products or local polyurethane foams, which can be bought from stores in Divisoria.

Space Blanket

A space blanket is a lightweight aluminum foil which is wind proof and provides heat by reflecting body heat to the person using it. It gives added warmth and comfort especially in extremely cold weather conditions. Usually used in emergency situations only.

 

STOVE AND COOKING UTENSILS

Cooking by open fire is no longer advisable as the man-made fire can endanger the forest. Nowadays, portable camp stoves are used because of the convenience it offers. It is easy to operate but one should exert an extra effort of going through the manual first before operating the stove or any equipment and take note of the precautions indicated.

There is a wide array of stoves to choose from. But the basic types are the refillable and cartridge stoves.

  • Multi-fuel stove
    This stove is the most popular stove around the world. These stove runs on liquid gas, most often white gas or lighter fluid, paraffin, aviation fuel, unleaded, and kerosene. This stove is more expensive than the cartridge stove but the consumption and cost of fuel is minimal. This comes in two types. Namely, multifuel with built-in tank and multifuel with a detachable tank.
  • Cartridge stove
    This stove use disposable gas cartridge containing butane or propane. Although the stove itself is a lot cheaper than the multifuel stove, the cost of fuel it consumes and the thought of accumulating non-biodegradable gas cartridges should be taken into consideration when making a choice. You are also at the mercy of cartridge supplies available at the stores. Ultimately, which will be cheaper?

COOKING UTENSIL

The basic cooking utensils for camping are few different sizes of pots, or Billy can set. When cooking, both pot and stove fire must be sheltered from the wind. This will conserve fuel. You probably have lightweight small pots in your kitchen, which you could use or improvise. For hikers lightweight cooking utensils are preferred. Well you don’t have to bring lot of utensils, you could convert a pot for frying pan, can for mug and so on.

This is the suggested Utensils.

  • pots
  • frying pan
  • kettle
  • plate
  • mug
  • bowl
  • spoon and fork
  • knife
  • aluminum foil.

TIP: Always look for multi-purpose utensils to lessen the things you have to bring.

 

WATER EQUIPMENT

Water is as essential and vital to life as the oxygen we breathe. The amount of fluid lost through perspiration and evaporation needs to be replenished. Otherwise, the body's chemical equilibrium will become disturbed; illness is more likely to occur. Dehydration occurs not only during hot weather but during cold conditions also. This happens when one does not crave for water or does not feel thirsty due to cold climate. Moisture loss occurs during cold (extreme) conditions.

An average mountaineer consumes around 1.5 liters per day for moderate hiking with normal temperature of 25-34 degrees centigrade. Note that consumption will increase as much as 3 times during climbs in extremely hot conditions. Discipline of the mountaineer is also one factor to consider. Some of the heavy drinkers are those who take gulps of water instead of taking small sips. For water intake while trekking, a small bottle is usually positioned at the side pocket of the pack for easy access. Containers vary in shapes and sizes but generally, the mouth or opening of the container should be no bigger than the softdrink-bottle's mouth. A wider mouth or opening would mean a bigger amount of water going out of the container. Modern hydration systems (such as Platypus) is a container that has a hose connected to the opening, is getting popular due to its easy-access feature. No need to stop and reach for the bottle. A sip from the hose's end will do.

Water sources coming from the falls and rivers must be treated with puritabs to avoid getting sick. 1 liter needs 1pc of puritabs/iodine tablet/magnesium sulfate to purify. Wait for around 30 minutes before drinking. It takes a while to get used to the taste. Some mask the taste by adding powdered juice. If you detect any silts or foreign objects floating, filter the water first before purification. A coffee filter or filter paper can be used to filter out the silt.

Another method of water purification is the use of a filtration device. This is available at mountaineering shops but is seldom used among mountaineers here in the Philippines. After filtration, water needs to be treated to ensure water-borne diseases or any other harmful bacteria are no longer present. The safest way to purify water is by boiling which is not so popular also since it consumes gas. Boiling water is reserved only for coffee or chocolate drinks and food preparation.

 

CAMP NECCESITIES

The ability to pack the barest essentials and not carry extra equipment requires a lot of self-control. One has a tendency to bring the comforts of home in the mountains, weighing down your pack, causing you to climb slower and eventually slowing down the phasing of the group. However, there are critical items that one might not use during the climb but are lifesavers during emergencies.

The list of essential items may vary depending on the nature of the trip but basically these are the items each backpacker should carry along in case the unexpected happens. A brief explanation on the essentials follows:

FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMP. Choose a flashlight or headlamp that is compact, lightweight and waterproof. Most commonly used is the Maglite, which has an adjustable focus. It lets you adjust the lighting for viewing objects from afar or focusing on things close by. Others prefer headlamps as it keeps their hands free.

EXTRA FOOD.A day's supply of extra food in case one gets delayed for some reason. Usually, those that are easy to prepare like cup noodles and canned goods requiring the minimum of cooking.

EXTRA CLOTHING. Depending on the season of the year, ensure that you have extra clothing in case of rain. Note that one should keep warm and dry as much as possible to combat sickness.

FIRST AID KIT. The kit is not an emergency room fully equipped to treat injuries. It only acts as a tool to keep the injured stabilized. (Refer to Chapter IV for complete list of first-aid kit)

POCKET KNIFE. A minor climb does not require a 20 blade pocket Swiss knife. As discussed earlier bring the barest essential. A pocketknife with 2 blades, can opener and knife will do. Knives are brought along basically to help in food preparation and first aid.

MATCHES. Carry an extra emergency supply of waterproof wooden matches aside from the lighter.

WHISTLE. In case you get separated or are in an emergency situation, blow 3 blasts (long, short, long) to signify that you require help. Blowing a whistle is more practical than shouting.

OTHER ESSENTIALS

Maps and compass: Since the trails in the Philippine mountains are established, the use of maps and compass has been unnecessary. However, the basic "know hows" should be acquired by those who plan to take on mountaineering as a sport or hobby. One should acquaint himself in the correct use of these tools in order to be prepared in cases of emergencies.

 

REPAIR EQUIPMENT

Anticipating emergencies makes one plan ahead and prepare for problems that might possible arise during the climb. Even if it’s just an overnight hike, it is better to be ready. For instance, a repair kit can be handy in case of broken equipment. Although carrying a repair kit does not ensure that the equipment can be fixed entirely but it will have to suffice at the moment.

Pack Repair

Carry extra pins, buckles and lathers locks just in case something gets loosened during the climb.

Tent Repair

This kit should include a duct tape, needle & thread and a seam sealer. Seam sealers will only be used if the trip lasts for 2 months depending on how much you need to use it on the tent. Duct tape can also be used to repair boots. Another important part of the tent repair set is an aluminum tube about 6 inches in length where you can insert your tent pole if it breaks off as a temporary measure.

Stove Repair

Stoves are designed for heavy-duty use but as discussed earlier, better come prepared. Upon purchase of your stove, always inquire if its comes with a repair kit.

Clothing Repair

Small sewing kit is available at most department stores. It usually contains different colored threads, needle, thimble, scissors and buttons. Ultra lightweight but is not a necessity to take along if your trip last for less than a week.

Bact to BMC

  

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