Vanna’s guide to hiking


If you’re a girly girl like me who likes a bit of adventure every now and then, perhaps you’ll find this guide useful.

I am, by no means, an expert on hiking. I only took it formally as a hobby (is there even such a thing) last year, when my boyfriend invited me to come check out Mt. Maculot.

I don’t have an idol, or a person I look up to, but I do check out Pinoy Mountaineer religiously if ever there’s an upcoming hiking trip or if I’m in the mood to get dirty again.

A little background

I guess you can say I’ve always bit intrigued with the great outdoors since I was a kid, and this has been well fostered during my high school years whenever we’d go with Lakbay Kalikasan for educational outbound trips. I vividly remember having to trek to through really wet trails littered with horse poop on the way to Lake Pandin in Laguna. My rubber shoes, which were the school-prescribed white pair, turned a disgusting shade of brown during that hike.

Prior to my first mountain hike in August, I also went on a family trip to Baler, Aurora. That time, we went to Ditumabo Falls, which required a short hike. It was the only preparation I had before the Maculot hike, which proved to be just enough. Weird!

This is not really a guide, but more on tips based on what I’ve learned so far in my year of hiking. We’ll build on this as the years go by, and we reach higher heights.

  • You need good shoes. You don’t have to buy one asap, of course, but having a good pair of legit hiking shoes is a great investment if you’re planning to take up hiking/mountaineering as an actual hobby and not just joining the trend.I got my pair from Columbia (Helvatia Vent in coral and pebble). They were on sale, from 6k to only PHP4490. A good deal. I still use it today. I think it still has plenty of mileage to go. My babies are, however, turning 1 this November! I’m so proud of you, Helvy. (ew).

  • Nice socks are also a good investmentThose fashionable socks from Forever 21, Topshop, and H&M won’t cut it. Invest in a good pair or more for your outdoor activities. I was advised to stay away from socks made of cotton because the material takes time to dry. Also, make sure they’re thick enough!
  • Choose your backpack wisely. It’s best to remember that you don’t always have to bring plenty of stuff in a huge-ass pack every single time you go out to hike. Consider if you’re going on a day hike, an extended day hike, a multiple-day hike, or an overnight camping trip. Then list down the things you really need. Then gauge the most appropriate size of bag you need to bring.

    Since I often go on day hikes, I only bring a 10L backpack with me, where I put a fresh change of clothes, some underwear, food, a malong, my Sea to Summit towel, money, camera, water (2 bottles, usually), and a bottle of Gatorade. For really easy hikes, I only bring my flowery Jansport (the bag I used in my senior year in high school LOL). My boyfriend, on the other hand, uses this little Salomon day pack where he can safely stash his bladder, a few energy bars, his money, and a clean shirt.

  • Bring the essentials, then add stuff you want to bring if you still have space. Don’t forget to pack an extra change of clothes, a face/hand towel, gloves, your hydration and water, first aid kit, money, head lamp, and identification card. If you’re going to bring a camera, best use an action cam like GoPro or bring a digital, handy one (or just use your iPhone, really). If you really want to bring a heavy DSLR then okay, ikaw bahala.
  • Girls, don’t put too much make-up. If I were you, I’d stick to a tinted moisturizer, sunblock, and a nice lip balm. Nobody in the mountain cares if your eyebrows are on fleek or if your contour is on point. Hey, I just don’t want you to look super wasted at the end of the hike.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Some trails don’t provide tree cover, and even if it did, it’s still best to protect yourself from harmful UV rays and uneven skin tone.
  • Be courteous. There’s this thing called a mountaineer’s etiquette. Actually, I don’t know if it’s an actual thing, but basically you don’t ignore the people you encounter. You say hi, hello, and make small talk. “Mababa pa ba?” “Onti nalang ate!” “Ingat kayo!” Not only is it nice but it can also be a source of some fun while hiking.

  • You don’t have to climb tall mountains all the time. It depends on your mood. Are you itching for some excitement and adrenaline, or are you looking for a relaxing climb just outside of the metro? I’m saying this because some people look down on other hikers who sometimes prefer to just hike 300-400 MASL hills and mountains. See, it’s not about how tall the mountain is — it’s about the experience and how it challenges you.
  • Clean as you go. It’s probably the most important tip I can give you. If you’re going outdoors (as in, outdoors, kahit saan, kalsada or bundok), don’t forget to look after your mess. Don’t expect others to take care of it for you, especially if you’re going hiking. It’s not a huge chore to pack your trash and bring it down with you. If you’re not too keen on that, then replace your chips and trail food into tupperware containers. You can read more about the principles of “Leave no trace” here.

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  • Have fun! You’re not out hiking to impress a group of friends (in my case, my boyfriend) or post amazing pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Hiking is so much more than that. It’s a way of connecting with the natural world around you, and in the process, having fun.

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

Do you have some tips to share? Don’t hesitate to post a comment below! 🙂

Until then,


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