The first thing you gotta have when backpacking is, of course, your backpack. You can bring any backpack or any pack that you want as long as it can carry the stuff that you need. You may use your Dickies or Jansport packs but for optimum performance you need certain features that may not be present in school bags. If you’re thinking of bringing a tent, a cookset, and a stove, you may put away those ‘turtle-y’ Jansport and Dickies packs. They won’t leave any more room for your other stuff. If you’re expecting to carry heavy loads, you’ll need padded straps to cushion the strain on your shoulders. Needless to say, the type of pack that you’ll need depends on the type of activity you’re embarking on. Such is the reason why I have collected five backpacks.
My BIG Backpacks
|The Black Diamond Infinity 50|
You need a big backpack for your major climbs. ‘Big backpack’ means 40L-60L in volume. Beyond this size already means you’re either the expedition leader or you’re heading for the Himalayas or you’re collecting pogi points.
|My ultralight Columbia (2005)|
When I started climbing (in 2005), my big backpack was my ultralightweight Columbia 40L pack. The pack was really light and the ripstop fabric used was silicone-coated which optimized the water-proofing capacity of the pack. This ultralightweight pack was my companion in my first Mt Pulag climb, my Luzon 321 and Mindanao 123 expeditions, and all my first minor climbs. It retired two years ago when a Japanese friend left me his The North Face Terra 60 pack.
|TNF Terra 60|
The TNF Terra 60 pack is by far the best big pack I’ve used. It’s tough, comfortable and it’s space-friendly. I’ve talked about its features in detail in this post. I used the Terra 60 in Mt Madja-as, Mt Pulag, Mt Apo, Mt Kanlaon and in Mt Baloy. October this year my friend got it back so I had to buy a new big backpack.
I was considering the Deuter ACT Lite, the Mountain Hardwear Direttissima and The North Face Crestone but in the end I decided to buy a Black Diamond Inifinity 50 at R.O.X. The problem with ACT Lite was it is Deuter! I got this phobia with Deuter products when the interior waterproofing coating of one of their backpacks peeled off and got so uncomfortable to touch. But the seller said ACT Lite had had a lot of improvement from their prototype packs. The problem with Direttissima is that, it has no pockets and it’s enormous and heavy. Crestone got all the features I was looking for (including bottom access which is absent in the Infinity) but the price was just more than what I was willing to spend on a backpack.
|My other options|
So I chose Infinity. It was on sale for a week at R.O.X. so I got it for a little less than nine thousand pesos. One thing I like about the Infinity is its detachable and adjustable hip belt. It gives you more stability when walking and it adapts to the length of your torso. Being detachable, the hip belt (with pockets) can actually be used as a belt bag and leaves the backpack easier to stow and cover. Furthermore, the topload of the Infinity is also detachable which allows for more space. But the best thing I like about it is that it’s Black Diamond! It’s a splendid reason to jump out of the The-North-Face bandwagon! There’s one thing I don’t like about it, though. It’s bigger than what I would need in climbing here in the Philippines. As of this moment, I actually want to swap it with the Black Diamond Axiom 40. So far, my Infinity 50 has only had one legit climb—Mt Igcuron in Valderrama, Antique. I tried to penetrate, Mt Baloy with it but I decided to call the mission off after our first night at the Cadian River.
My Day Packs
Day packs are used for treks that don’t involve camping overnight or those that are intended to be completed within the day. In my daypacks I carry one set of change of clothes, my towel, packed lunch, trail water, sandals (optional) and shower kit. I have two day packs: the Columbia Mobex (large) and the Deuter Summit 32. For bushy and muddy treks (e.g. Makiling, Romelo, PicoTrav) I use the Summit 32. For clear and long trails I use my Mobex. The Mobex is not bulky, it is very light and it has flexible ribs so it is very manageable and easy to store in overhead compartments. My Mobex has survived PicoTrav, ArayaTrav, MakTrav and two Timbak-Pulag double day treks.
My Race Packs
|The Mobex (Sprint)|
For training (biking and running) you won’t need bulky and heavy packs. All you need is something to store your water and energy bars/gels in. A hydration pack should be equipped with a bladder compartment and pockets in which to store your gels and valuables. Most hydration packs have reflectors on them in order to be seen in the dark. Most hydration packs have enough space to accommodate some more stuff like clothes and shower kit. I have two race/hydration packs—the Columbia Mobex (Sprint) and the Conquer-Nomads Achiever.
|The Achiever courtesy of Sir Romy Ballesteros and Jessie Tan|
I use both of them on my training runs in UP. I have also used the Mobex Sprint in a BatulaoTrav day run and the Conquer-Nomads Achiever in a MakTrav day hike. With the growing popularity of trailrunning and skyrunning in the country, hydration packs have started to replace day packs when embarking on a day hike. Hydration packs are much lighter and more manageable.
Things to Consider When Buying a Backpack (coming soon)