Backpacking Southeast Asia with Sandugo's Pathfinder

Friday, December 29, 2017

sandugo bag review
I'm writing this inside the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, in Indonesia's capital of Jakarta. With plenty of time to spare before our flight to Vietnam – the last stop for the #CDHoneymoonAdventure – I figured I'd sneak in some writing. (You know, to at least lessen the pile that would surely be waiting for me when we get home.)

At any rate, while I've been going on longer and longer trips late this year, and was getting used to packing for up to two weeks, our 18-day adventure provided one major challenge: my 3-year old backpack was already in tatters.

I had this terrible mental image of the substantial hole in the bag gradually growing by the day. My delicates spilling to the ground for everyone to see – not that I care if people see my dirty laundry. It's just that I didn't want the hassle of lugging around a mangled bag.

Fortunately, my good friends over at Sandugo were kind enough to provide me with a pair of backpacks. One was a black Extreme 35, and the other a red Pathfinder 45 – the newest addition to their line of Adventure packs.
review of sandugo bags

sandugo pathfinder bag

The first time I saw the latter, I was immediately impressed. On the surface, it looked far better than my battle-worn North Face Terra 35.

To start off, the Pathfinder has AeroVent – a dynamic ventilation system that makes sure you remain cool even when hauling a 45-liter pack.
backpacks with aerovent

aerovent pathfinder

The padded belt straps also have compartments with zippers – which the Terra 35 doesn't – that I love. These proved to be useful throughout the trip.
sandugo pahtfinder specs

The rain cover is also conveniently stored in a pocket at the bottom of the bag – not on the side pocket like the Terra – and can be secured with a strap loop.
sandugo rain cover

sandugo rain cover

Made with mesh fabric, the outer body prevents rips and is also water repellent. There's also a spacious pocket in front which looked a bit like a kangaroo's pouch.
bag with mesh fabric

It also has a pair of side pockets, big enough for a tripod or two water bottles. Plus, it has a "hydro port" for hydration packs. Last but not the least, it also comes with a whistle.
backpacks for hydration

Related Adventure: Up the Sacred Bud Bongao

When it finally came down to packing my clothes, I was able to fit two pairs of shoes (one of them my Sandugo Pulse), 20 days worth of outfits, plus my toiletries. I bet I could fit five more OOTDs in the pack, but I didn't have that many clothes. In comparison, I was only able to fit clothes for 12 days in my Terra 35. And no extra shoes. But bear in mind that most of my clothes are crop-tops, so the number of outfits you can fit in here may vary.

Furthermore, the Pathfinder looked and felt sturdier than the Terra. Both have shells and frames but the Pathfinder looked more compact even (I say especially) when full.

One of the highlights of our trip was a hike up Mt. Bromo in East Java, Indonesia. We first went to Mt. Penanjakan to witness the sun rise across a cluster of mountains and the "Sea of Sand" before going up the crater of the volcano.
review of sandugo pathfinder
Mt. Bromo, and Mt. Batok in early light as viewed from Mt. Penanjakan

mt bromo crater
 Tracing the crater of Mt. Bromo

mt bromo hiking tour
Right on the edge of the crater

I brought the Pathfinder on both occasions. This had been all done in one day, mind you, and I could have just left my bag in the lodge, but I wanted to test how the pack feels during hiking, and, more importantly, if it would hold up.

The good news? It survived! And I had a fun time carrying it around. It was comfortable. The straps did not slice across my shoulders. The hike isn't that hard, to be honest. In Mt. Penanjakan, the trail was mostly cemented. If there was a rough path, it was short. To the crater, there were stairs and all, but it was still pretty steep. I had a veritable amount of exercise that day thanks to lugging a full Pathfinder all day.

Related Adventure: DIY Guide to Mt. Pinatubo

It's been 13 days since we embarked on this adventure and the Pathfinder has been a mighty companion all throughout. So far, it had survived (and will survive, I'm sure) being thrown around rock-strewn paths, mishandled by grubby airport hands, sat on, and other forms of harassment. I'm proud of it and I'm glad I didn't think twice about bringing it to this adventure.

The Extreme is a good secondary pack. I also brought it with me so I'd have somewhere to put my shopping hauls.

The Pathfinder could only take so much. I've noticed that the stitching on the strap covers had unraveled. I figured it's because I've been unnecessarily jostling it around each time I'm putting it on to make it fit right – instead of, you know, just carefully adjusting it.
sandugo pathfinder review

Overall, however, I'm loving my Pathfinder. I'm excited to bring it to my future adventures!

If you're looking for an affordable, quality adventure pack, check out the Sandugo Pathfinder 45L. It is priced at Php2,995 and is available in all Sandugo, and BaseKamp outlets and stores. Aside from red, it also comes in green, blue, and gray. Get yours now so we can twinning!

Head to Sandugo's Facebook page and go to their online shop to order, and see other adventure-related products. 

Have you tried any of Sandugo's products? What do you think?

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