A surefire way to appreciate and experience the beauty of the outdoors is to try mountain climbing or trekking. In the Philippines, Mt. Pulag is a prime trekking destination, providing the novice climber with top-notch experience in hiking, trekking and mountaineering. For us city folk, it’s a great way to put our survival skills (and sometimes friendship) to the test. But, we know what you’re thinking: how on earth can you fit your life — or, at the very least, your essentials — into one backpack?
Well, we took out all the guesswork and came up with a comprehensive list just for you. Treks up Mt. Pulag, located on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, usually commence from January to March, and, for beginners especially, we recommend joining a travel group to make the experience more fun.Search for flights to the Philippines
Water bottle: Bring your own bottle. In case you run out you can refill as you go along the trail. If you have a sensitive stomach, bring a filter or water purifier just in case. Bobble Water Bottle filters water on the go. Other options include a pump/infrared stick or tablets you drop into the water to kill the bacteria.
Food: Bring your own trail food, something light, but sugary or salty to keep your energy up. Think mixed nuts, trail mix, chocolate, etc. Since trekking usually involves an overnight stay or camping out in the wilderness, make sure to pack enough food and snacks for the trip.
Sunscreen: You may not feel it, but you are actually exposed to UV rays as you climb. Bring a light, non-sticky sunscreen with at least SPF 50. Also, since the cold will dry out your skin, choose an emollient or moisturizing variant to keep skin protected.
Lip Balm: You don’t want to get windburn, so slick on a thick lip balm to keep your lips smooth and protected. Choose one with SPF to moisturize and protect your lips from the sun’s harmful rays.
Finally, when you reach the summit, enjoy the famous yet elusive “sea of clouds” during the day and the dark sky dotted with numerous sparkly stars at night!
Backpack: Pick one that has several zipper openings and pockets for easy access. A bag with a hip belt is ideal so the weight is kept on your hips and won’t strain your back and shoulders.
- Place heavier items near your lower back and the lighter items above.
- Place items you might need while trekking (e.g. medication, food, water, headlamp) in easily accessible areas.
- Place all your items in zip-top bags. This keeps your items dry and organized. (Place change of clothes in one bag, toiletries in another, etc.)
Cold weather clothes and equipment: Temperatures can drop below zero, so make sure to pack thermal clothing. Layer up before you ascend, but bring extra layers in case you feel chilly later on.
Comfortable Shoes: Trekking shoes are highly recommended. However, if you’re a first-timer, you can choose to wear cross-training shoes. Just make sure these have a comfortable fit as you will be walking for hours with a heavy pack.
Change of clothes: Bring extra clothes that you can change into when you reach the campsite. Quick-dry clothes and underwear are recommended; avoid anything made of cotton as it doesn’t wick sweat as fast. To avoid chafing and rashes, try wearing cycling shorts or compression shorts. Women can also bring or wear bikini bottoms (who knew bikinis would come in handy during a climb?).
Flashlight/headlamp: Headlamps keep your hands free in case you need to stabilize yourself mid-climb. Keep your eyes open for cheap flashlights or headlamps at your neighborhood hardware store.
Interview credit: Leisure trekker Niko de Luna
Main image: istockphoto/Soft_Light