When I first climbed a mountain 5 years ago, I used an ordinary school backpack to store my trekking stuff, which consisted nothing more than some clothes, a cheap tent, a blanket, and two Tupperware tubs for my food. After a couple of treks, my bag began to give up. The straps became loose, plastic buckles cracked, the fabric ripped, and stitches unraveled. Since I planned to seriously pursue mountaineering and adventuring, I knew I had to have a more suitable pack.
At that time, most trekking/mountaineering packs that I knew of are made by foreign manufacturers such as The North Face, Mountain Hardware, and High Sierra. They are extremely expensive, and buying one would mean that I have to give up my meals and starve for at least a year.
Fortunately, I found a cheaper alternative that does not sacrifice quality—Habagat technical packs. Habagat packs are as tough, versatile, high-quality, and handsome as their foreign counterparts except that they cost half the price. All their packs are internal-frame, meaning their steel/aluminum alloy stays are integrated inside the packs. This provides better stability and balance, which are very important factors when negotiating rough mountain trails. Habagat packs are so tough and well-made that Filipino mountaineers often use them when climbing mountains that are known for extreme conditions. Such mountains include Mt. Erebus in Antarctica, Mt. Blanc in the Alps, Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, and Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. Best of all, it is proudly locally made right here in our beloved Cebu!Habagat Outdoor Equipment, the company that makes these superb packs, started out from humble beginnings. During the 1970s, mountaineering was still a very young recreational sport in the Philippines, and technical packs in the Philippines are extremely rare. A group of mountaineering enthusiasts from Cebu decided to experiment with the external frame pack. However, local manufacturing technology and unavailability of quality materials hindered the production of these packs impractical.
It was only in the 1990s when new developments in the US and Europe made the internal frame pack popular there. In addition, more advanced technology and appropriate materials became widely available. The group then decided to give the endeavor another try.Efren Muana, Randy Su, and Dindo Sugatan, architects by profession and mountaineers by passion, established Habagat Outdoor Equipment, setting up shop in a borrowed garage. Starting with only P4,500 of pooled capital, they personally designed, patterned, and sewed the first models using an old sewing machine. The first packs gained very positive response from fellow outdoor enthusiasts and peers. A few years later, the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines accepted and certified the products. As a result of their membership in the MFPI, more orders poured in, allowing them to add more machines, purchase more materials, employ more workers, and secure larger manufacturing space.
Today, Habagat is a national name in mountaineering. The company has branches, dealers, and distribution centers all over the country with its headquarters in Lahug, a stone’s throw from Ayala Center Cebu. The company’s main products are technical packs, but they also delve into daypacks, racing packs, school backpacks, outdoor apparel, outdoor recreational equipment, camping gear, and accessories. Their branches are also favorite hangouts for local mountaineering clubs and bikers’ associations where outdoor enthusiasts plan out meetings and activities.Habagat Outdoor Products is also very active in sponsoring sports-related activities, adventure sports, and eco-tourism.
My first technical pack was a Habagat Gabon XP65 that I bought from the Habagat SM branch at around P6,200. It is extremely tough, made up of korda/pack cloth and framed with steel alloy stays. It has a capacity of 65 liters, enough to store supplies that can last for a week. The best thing about my Gabon XP65 is that in integrates a small assault pack. Thus, I can detach the smaller pack, slip it on, and leave the main pack at the campsite when assaulting the summit. This makes the effort easier since I don’t have to carry the heavy main pack when scrambling. I’ve been using the pack for 3 years, and except for numerous mud splotches on the fabric—which is actually a trademark of mountaineering pride—my XP65 has served me very well. The pack never incurred major damage except perhaps for a malfunctioning zipper inside the top compartment.Recently, I purchased a daypack for one-day treks and for my caving expeditions. The Habagat Pursuit, which costs less than P2,500, can fit my clothes, food, climbing equipment, ropes, helmet, and other equipment necessary for short treks, canyoning, rock climbing, and caving expeditions.
If you want to buy packs, bags, and accessories at affordable prices, then Habagat is the place for you. In addition to their products, they also sell other products such as camping stoves, tents, hydration bladders, Nalgene water bottles, and butane tanks. Habagat has a branch in SM City Cebu. Most Gaisano malls also distribute Habagat products.Out there, no one can wage war with Mother Nature and hope to win. But when you are equipped with a Habagat pack, you have a good chance of surviving her—and enjoying her wonders.