What’s in My Bag: Mt. Pulag

I’m heading to Baguio tomorrow morning and will ascend to Mt. Pulag this weekend. After reading travel blog posts and talking to friends who have trekked the mountain, I finally prepped my Mt. Pulag backpack.

Unfortunately, Mt. Pulag National Park posted this advisory last week:


It has been raining in the park since last week and the Park Management decided to close the campsites since it is muddy. Let us also give the park time to recover. So for now, we have homestays at Babadak, where campers can be lodged. Going to the peak will be a round-trip scenario. No one is allowed to camp at designated campsites. Please be informed that this is only temporary.

Cons: Our organizer had to revise our uphill and downhill itinerary. We won’t get the full experience of roughing it and camping under the stars at Mt. Pulag’s peak.

Pros: There’s no need for me to pack a second bag for my overnight gear, such as a sleeping bag and blanket. This also means I won’t need to hire a porter to carry bag #2. It costs only P600 to hire a porter to carry a 15-kg bag for you, but I’d like to be able to brag that I trekked Mt. Pulag carrying my basic necessities on my own.

What I’m bringing: a travel backpack filled with winter clothes, trail food, sachet-sized toiletries, and other basic hiking gear; hiking poles that I borrowed; my new pair of Salomon hiking shoes. It originally cost ₱6,900, but I got for sale at ₱4,900.

The last thing I want to be in this trip is that guy (or girl): the eager beaver who buys and packs so much stuff for every possible contingency in the universe, only to end up as the first to get injured from all the weight of his luggage; the OOTD-ing socialite who turns this trip into a chance to finally wear all the animal-print fur coats she’s been hiding in her tropical closet; the whiner who slows the group down. I may be a beginner, but I’d like to blend in with my group of 20 and enjoy every minute of my experience.

Here’s the packing checklist given by our guides:
1. Fleece jacket + down jacket + outer shell (must be suited for 0-7 degree temperatures)
2. Raingear, such as rain jacket or poncho
3. Trekking pants or jogging pants (preferably waterproof and warm)
4. Thermal top and bottom as a base layer
5. Trekking or hiking shoes
6. Gloves and socks
7. Beanie or head gear
8. Plastic or Ziplock bags for water-proofing of your clothes, cameras, and other items
9. Sleeping bag
 (no longer needed because we’re sleeping at Babans Homestay instead of camping at the peak)
10. Large garbage bags
11. Flashlight and headlamp with extra batteries
12. Personal whistle in case you get lost in the mountains
13. Personal meds, first aid kit, and sun protection
14. Toilet paper and baby wipes (there is only an open pit for number 2)
15. Mess kit (eating utensils)
16. Water bottle
17. Personal trail food (such as candies, chocolates, cookies, and nuts)
18. Towel

The only things I purchased from the list are new hiking shoes, a headlamp, and a whistle. I borrowed a pair of hiking poles from my friend Emilio, as suggested by my professional mountaineer cousin, Nik. The rest are items I already have lying around the house and have used in previous travels, such as my lightweight quick-dry towel, winter clothes, and sachet-sized toiletries (thanks to the beauty samples and travel-sized freebies I get as a beauty editor).

Sustenance: DIY trail mix, dried mangoes, fun-sized Snickers bars, and potato biscuits

For my energy bars, I packed over a dozen fun-sized Snickers bars. My personal definition of an energy bar is a Snickers bar, okay? I never liked the taste of those expensive granola bars. I also made my own packs of trail mix—dried mangoes, muesli, almond slices, walnuts, and pecans. I stole them from the pantry of my pastry chef sister, Karen.

One of the best travel inventions: Ziploc space bags!

I managed to fit all my winter clothes into my Roxy travel backpack using two small-sized Ziploc space bags. No need for a vacuum; I just sat on it and squeezed the air out manually.

Because we’re a group of mostly beginners, we’re taking the Ambangeg trail, which takes only three hours each way, compared to the steeper, 10-hour Akiki trail.

I’m still bummed that we’re not camping at the peak. I guess this is a good reason for me to come back a second time to take the more difficult trail.

Mt. Pulag, here I come!