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
- 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
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.
||Loosen the pack's shoulder straps
and hip belt.|
||Slip your arms through the shoulder
||Position the hip belt comfortably
near the top of your hipbones.|
||Close the hip belt buckle and tighten
||Check the padded sections of the hip
belt to make sure they wrap around your hips comfortably without touching in front. |
||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). |
||Once the hip belt is positioned properly,
cinch the shoulder straps down tight, then back them off slightly. |
||Look sideways in the mirror.|
||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
- 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.
||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.|
||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. |
||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. |
||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:
- Know where you are going and for how long.
- 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.
- Gender. Males are generally stronger than females and can carry
- 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.
- 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
- Next is your sleeping pad.
- 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.
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
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 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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 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
- 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
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
- 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 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.
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?
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.
- frying pan
- spoon and fork
- aluminum foil.
TIP: Always look for multi-purpose utensils
to lessen the things you have to bring.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Carry extra pins, buckles and lathers locks just in case something
gets loosened during the climb.
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.
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.
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.