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We're planning to do a dayhike on a mountain almost two thousand meters above sea level (Mt. Tapulao).

The trail is almost 20 kilometers to the summit, and me and my fellow hikers are pretty slow, so there might be a chance we'll be caught by the dark and possibly fatigue.

Since we want to keep things light, and we don't own tents, we need to be able to complete the hike on a single day. In the event that isn't possible, how do we identify good spots to sleep under the stars? The only wildlife hazard I've been reading of are bloodsucking leeches.

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    The spot is far less important than the conditions you would be exposed to. Even on dayhikes, you should carry an emergency "blanket" (mylar with reflective coating) that could be used as shelter from wind/rain. – topshot Nov 19 '16 at 1:05
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    Read the book "Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties", by D.C. Beard – user11609 Nov 19 '16 at 13:18
  • Without a tent, a line of cord or rope and a tightly folded tarp can suffice. Light to pack, easy to carry, and it'll keep you out of the elements if it comes down to it. Also good to have in case of overheating or first aid shelter situations. – Nate W Dec 5 '16 at 20:39
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Can you absolutely rule out rain? If not, you need some sort of shelter, even if just a plastic tarp. And some warm clothes. Rainy, no tent, temps near freezing (even significantly above freezing), light clothing, no rain jacket or rain pants, and very little food left -- you could be in a very, very bad way come morning.

As for picking the spot to sleep, there seem to be quite a few campsites listed in the link. Are you rejecting these as not private enough? If so, keep your eyes open on the way up for good places to sleep just off trail. Have several spots in mind. Don't waste time searching when you are tired.

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The general question is not really answerable, but the specific question in regards to Mt Tapulao is answerable. The link you provided says that guides have been required since 2013. While I am not familiar with the quality and experience of guides in the Philippines, there are some questions you should ask the guide/company before hiring them. Relevant for your question is asking about equipment you need to bring for a day hike given your concerns about speed. You should also ask about what happens in an emergency, what gear the guides bring (or have access to) and fixed turn around times.

Given the description of the trail having a welcome center at the base, a bunk house an hour or so from the summit, multiple campsites, predominately along a former 4x4 road, and good cellphone coverage, I would assume the emergency plan is pretty solid. It is likely as simple as making a phone call for an ATV to come get you or for a bunch of guides/search and rescue to run up/down the trail.

The guides likely have some fixed turn around times (possibly modulated by weather) that assures, absent an emergency, that you get down before dark. If something happens and you are forced to spend an unplanned night the required equipment will likely be sufficient or the guide will again make a phone call and get the needed help.

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In the link you gave in your question there are some pictures. One of the pictures has this caption:

The Bunkhouses at the background of the picture, can serve as shelter, and has a nearby water source.

It seems like you could just use the Bunkhouses if you find you're tired and need to spend the night. I don't know what the requirements/cost is for using the bunkhouse. I'd assume you need to bring a sleeping bag to use the facilities but it'd be best if you could ask someone that has been on this hike recently.

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That link lists it as a 1-2 day hike. If you are slow definitely a 2 day hike. And it says night time temperature can get near freezing.

Sleep under the stars is what you hope for. If it is cloudy and rainy no tent could be life threatening.

Once it gets dark it is pretty hard to build any make shift shelter.

A tarp you can all get under but that could still be a very miserable night.

Don't know when you are leaving. Check the actual weather forecast.

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