Hiking Checklist: What To Bring On Your Next Day Hike
Day hiking is meant to be enjoyable. And while a light pack for easy walking is part of the fun, we don’t want to go unprepared (and compromise our safety). I understand that packing can be overwhelming, and you may not know where to begin. Sometimes we are tempted to just throw whatever we believe is necessary into our bags. I’ve been hiking since 2014, and I’ve had a few #EPicFail moments. I’ve learnt a lot from my experiences, some of which are so hilarious that my hike buddies still tease me about them.
Also, I didn’t purchase all of these at once. That would be catastrophic for the wallet. After my first hike, I decided I wanted to do more hikes and camping, so I gradually began to build my ‘Day Hike and Camping Gear.’
Here’s my take on what you should pack on your next day hike in the Philippines.
Before we begin, let’s talk about our hiking outfits. 3-inch heels, latex mini skirt, a fishnet halter top, and a vest made out of raw meat. You’re welcome! 😉
Wait! No, don’t do that.
When I go hiking, I prefer to be comfortable when walking on the muddy-grassland of the mountains, therefore I choose clothes that are light and stretchy so that I can easily walk on the trail.
Tops: Short or long sleeve moisture-wicking shirt. Preferably, drifit/100% polyester shirts for faster evaporation of sweat from the body.
Bottom: I opt for leggings as it’s stretchy enough to bend with you as you climb up steps or over rocks and a trekking shorts on top of it to cover your
For the men, most of my hike buds (at least 5/6 of them) prefer to wear hiking shorts than cargo pants and basketball shorts.
- A pair of arm warmers to protect the skin from UV radiation.
- A multi-functional tube bandana. I usually bring two. One, I wear around my neck so my nape won’t get dark (Eww!) from too much sun exposure and so I can pull it up easily when I need to cover my mouth and nose. Two, around my wrist to wipe my sweat with. I don’t carry a face towel around as I hike – you always have to be empty-handed.
- Sunglasses. No need to go blind while out on the trail. You might already have one laying around. If you don’t, there are less expensive ones compared to Oakley and Julmo. I was able to get a polarized sunglasses for ₱70 ($1.34) in Divisoria (here in Manila, it’s a haven for bargain hunters). What’s that? Polarized lenses are designed to filter out reflected light and reduce glare.
***TIP: Cotton shirts should be avoided because once soaked, they stay damp, sucking away body heat. Wearing denim pants will only make your trip more difficult, and they will get heavy when wet (and it dries slowly). You don’t want to literally and figuratively freeze your butts off.
To avoid injuries during the hike, I use the most comfortable shoes and sandals. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find cheaper versions of any hiking gear, but the shoes are the ones you’ll have to spend money on. I experienced a disaster on one of my first climbs because I picked a less expensive pair. My right shoe’s outside sole had come off. I was glad I packed my Sandugo slippers, which I put on for our descent. At the very least, I learnt something, right?
What I look for in hiking shoes:
Comfort: Each of us has a different foot shape. It is advisable to have the length, width, and arch length of your foot measured. You can buy them online, but I recommend going to a store and trying them on first.
Water Resistant: To prevent outside moisture out of the shoe while releasing the moisture inside (your sweat).
Grip: Rubber soles with an aggressive lug pattern that provides grip through varying surfaces and conditions.
****TIP: Break your shoes in before your first trip and take them on test drives! Too many sore-footed hikers overlook this important step. And choose hiking socks that match your feet.
One of the most important aspects of packing is choosing the right backpack so that you are comfortable and the weight is not too heavy on your back. For longer trips, you’ll need to carry gear, drinks, food, and extra clothes, so finding the right one that feels good and distributes weight evenly is important. You don’t have to go out of your way to buy one if it’s your first time. The majority of backpacks on the market nowadays are quite durable. However, double-check the zippers and straps. You don’t want to be scrambling up rocks with all your belongings in your hands, do you?
This is what I look for in a backpack:
- Weight: preferably 22-25 liters, just enough to store valuables and extra set of clothes
- Ventilated tensioned mesh backpanel so it wouldn’t stick on your back.
- One with bearing hip belt to keep it stable and not put too much weight on your back.
- An integrated raincover to protect your backpack from rain, dust and/or some other conditions that may pose before you while on the trail. So you don’t have to buy a separate one.
Food & Hydration
Water: This is essential, and my day hike packing list always contains at least two liters to ensure that I have enough for the whole day. Instead of single-use plastics, I use a reusable water bottle. If the hike is predicted to go more than 6 hours, I bring my hydration bladder (Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir 3 Liters).
Trail food: As we approach the summit, we may become fatigued and hungry, therefore I usually bring enough of trail food with me to prevent becoming a hangry hiker. It can be anything as long as it’s easy to carry, such as mixed nuts, chocolates (no, Nutella doesn’t count; leave that jar at home), fiber bars, or anything else that will keep you going while hiking. Jelly Ace and trail mix are two of my personal faves. I usually bring a little extra to share with my hiking buddies.
Lunch: A gathering of campers known as “socials” is usually held at the summit. When we hike, we stay relatively in one place to relax, share meals, and just take in the breathtaking scenery. We bring canned foods or other items that are ready-to-eat or require little preparation (and cleanup).
Salt: Especially on a long day hike. Hyponatremia, or low sodium levels (lost through perspiration), can be fatal. When I run marathons (42 km/26.21 miles), I bring 6 sachets with me, and I can confirm that it works. Where can I get them? McDonald’s. Just ask nicely. Because salt might dehydrate you, drink plenty of water after consuming a sachet.
Emergency & First Aid Kit
You don’t need to carry your medicine cabinet; only pack a small, waterproof container to keep supplies and medications.
Medications: antihistamine (for allergic reactions), ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antacid, and drugs you need if you have a medical condition
First aid kit: adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic cream, alcohol or/and alcohol swabs, bandage wrap, gauze and tape, gloves, tweezers
Whistle: If you get into a situation where you need some help, that whistle will be much louder than your voice when you are yelling.
Tools & Supplies
Knife or a multi-tool: When venturing into uncharted territory, you must be prepared for everything. Instead of stuffing your bag with unnecessary items, you may pick up a lightweight tool for a couple of ounces and eliminate a bunch of redundant gear.
There are tons of knives or multi-tools out there but what I carry are: Leatherman Skeletool CX (for day hike) and Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool (for camping). I also carry my single-bladed Zombie Karambit (by the way, anything double-bladed is prohibited in the Philippines).
Portable Cultery Set: Most Filipinos are Koboy (a person who is not fussy and are adaptable to everything) and sometimes we don’t mind eating with our hands in fact, it’s a thing here and we call it Kamayan. When hiking though, we aren’t aware of what we’ve touched and we have limited water supply to wash our hands with. I was able to get this cultery set in a department store. I like it because it’s light and has a pouch. Avoid using disposable plastics when you can.
Mini Carabiner: A carabiner has so many uses. After your hike, you can use it to attach your hiking shoes on your backpack. I was able to get this carabiner clip locally for only P350 ($6.69) and use it not just for hiking or camping. I also carry a Paracord bracelet (attach it to my backpack) – once unraveled you can use the rope for whatever purpose. These ones, I made myself.
Headlamp or flashlight: Just in case there is an extended, unplanned delay at least you have something to use when it gets dark. I prefer one that’s not ‘rechargeable’ so you can easily replace the batteries once it is depleted of power. To be honest, I’m not fussy when it comes to brands. I’m more focused on the quality. My marathon training usually starts at 4:00 AM and used 2 headlamps from well-known companies in the past but I find GearLight’s Headlamp to be better when it comes to durability and function. Downside? It can be a bit heavy.
Plastic bags/ziplock: Dispose your garbage properly. Carry out what was carried in (that means trash, food, and yep, used toilet paper). You can also use it to store your soiled clothes.
Extra Clothes & Toiletries
Near the mountains (at least the ones I’ve hiked), there are sari-sari stores/establishments with paid toilets/bathrooms, which normally cost not more than Php50 ($1). After a long day of hiking, you can take a bath (or, if you’re in Batangas, stop at any restaurant for Bulalo).
Extra set of clothes: After you’ve cleaned up, put on some new clothing. You can wear whatever comfortable clothes you want, and they don’t have to be drifit because you’ve finished hiking. You may even dress up as Lady Gaga if you like (I wouldn’t mind doing so). So it’s not too bulky, I normally just bring a shirt and shorts. Remember to pack extra underwear!
Shameless plug: I will be opening an online shop that sells custom designed travel shirts (with a twist). Just like the picture I posted above.
***TIP: Learning how to ‘army roll’ your clothes can maximize your packing space. There are tons of videos available on Youtube.
Quick-Drying Towel: A microfiber towel is better than cotton. I’m a fan of Towelite Sports Towel because it’s highly absorbent, very soft on the skin and it is one of the thinnest towels available in the market. I don’t think this brand is available outside of the Philippines but you can click the link and read the description. Try to compare it with what’s in your local sports store.
Travel-size toiletries: Shampoo, soap, deodorant, toilet paper, wet wipes, tooth paste, and a tooth brush. Tissues/toiler paper has pocket packs available in your local grocery/supermarkets.
***TIP: Use those tiny shampoo bottles you get when you check into a hotel. What? I paid for it.
Slippers (or sandals): After a long day of hiking, nothing feels better than letting your sore feet out of those cast-like shoes. I like one that is ‘hike-able’ and easy to slip on just like what I bought from Sandugo.
Jacket: Weather can be bipolar here in the Philippines, it’ll be bright and sunny in the morning but there are times it’ll start to rain in the afternoon. For first-timers, if you have a have a decent wind breaker that’ll will do but if you plan to do more hiking in the future, you might want to get something that’s lightweight. I always carry a packable hooded jacket that I found in Uniqlo.
Cameras & Gadgets
Gadgets are heavy so I try to keep it minimal as much as possible.
Action Camera: There are already tons of GoPro versions that were released but nothing beats HERO4. Mine has been with me since 2015 and have used it underwater and even used it for filming with my drone during an excruciating weather. If you’re planning to buy one but on a budget. GoPro Hero4 is the chose.
Cellphone: The most obvious use of a cell phone on the trail is to call for help if you get into trouble. Also, your smartphone can substitute for an emergency flashlight in case you don’t make it back before dark (but I suggest not to do that, bring a headlight instead). And of course, taking pictures!
Powerbank: Taking pictures using your phone will drain the battery and we don’t want that, right? I personally use Anker PowerCore as it has 10000mAh capacity, it is light and small (you can put it in your pocket). And don’t forget your cord.
Documents & Cash
Be sure to bring any identification with you and store them in any waterproof container or ziplock.
Photo ID: As long as it has your picture and your name. Anything that will help identify you in case of emergency. I have a metal tag made by RoadID for my Fitbit and Garmin watches that contain information such as my complete name, blood type and emergency contact person. Yes, they ship worldwide!
Cash: Most of my day hikes, I’ve only spent more or less ₱1000 ($19.18) that covers my bus fare (from and to Manila), taxi/jeepney fare (from and to my home), bathroom fee, registration fee, tip for the guide, and food (after the hike). Oh, and break your money into smaller bills.
For Travelers Visiting the Philippines
A copy of your passport: The page that has your photo and full name on it. If you’re staying in a hotel, keep your original in a safe. If it’s a hostel/airbnb, secure your bag with a travel lock.
Travel insurance: My travel insurance, World Nomads covers a range of adventure activities including hiking, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
- Make sure to notify someone (who is not a member of the group) of your itinerary. Even at this age, I still inform my parents (particularly my travel-weary mother) of my plans. You don’t have to bombard them with text messages as long as they are aware of your location, activities, and who you are with (and if possible, their contact number).
- Before heading out, always check the weather forecast. This is important in determining what gear you should pack, such as a rain jacket, sunscreen, additional water, or warmer clothing. Also, if you don’t feel safe going hiking, don’t go. This is something that even experienced mountaineers do. According to reports, there have been incidents of hiking-related deaths in the Philippines, with 5/15 of them being caused by inclement weather according to PinoyMountaineer.Com.
- Unless you’re an experienced hiker, don’t hike alone. Sure, it seems exciting and liberating, but what if you are injured, get lost, or are attacked by an animal/human? It is entirely up to you to make this choice. Besides, who’s going to photograph you?
- Some mountains require the hiring of a guide (a local to guide you as you hike the mountain). How much you tip is up to you and the level of service you received. The majority of them are kind and take excellent photographs.
- And most importantly, LEAVE NO TRACE: Dispose your trash properly, don’t pick flowers or rocks and take it with you as a souvenir. And please don’t vandalize, or write words on trees and rock formations. Nobody cares if “Polly was here!”
So there you have it, my packing list for your Philippine day hike adventure. I hope this helps you to prepare for your next climb.
Have you ever gone hiking? How did you find the experience? Is there anything more you’d want to suggest? Please let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments!
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