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Packing List for Burning Man

Updated on July 5, 2013

Packin' It, Smakin' It, Let's Get Your Body Started

I always recommend linking up with an established camp when attending the burn. They have infrastructure, a group to bond with and, usually a great gift to contribute to. However, if this is your first year at Burning Man, you may not have that option. This hub will provide you with everything you need to bring if you’re making the trip solo, or in a small group.

But, before we can get to all the fun bits, there are some things to get out of the way.

One, Burning Man is a Leave No Trace event. When packing you should be formulating a plan to not only get everything to the playa, but also, to get everything back home.

Two, Burning Man is a gifting society. Even on your first burn, you should be bringing something to give to the community. Sign up for the Jack Rabbit speaks.( http://www.burningman.com/blackrockcity_yearround/contacts/jrs_lists.html)

There are opportunities to volunteer at center camp, perform, light torches, conduct a census, and contribute to projects made by people all around the world. Take the time and find a project to join. Not only will it help you meet other burners, it will also connect you to the real beauty of the burn. Give and Receive. You will be overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible gifts that you will be given at the burn. Be a part of it.

Okay? Sermon’s over. Let’s get your car stuffed.

Pack For Extremes: Or, What Will My Body Experience On the Playa?


The heat of the day can be over 100 degrees.

The cool of the night can be freezing temperatures.

The winds can reach up to 60 MPH, and with the wind comes dust storms.

Before I scare you away, these are the extremes and you should be ready to face them, but if 75 year old hippies in geodesic domes can survive it, and thrive in it, so can you.

Sleeping Arrangements: Or, What Will My Body Crash Into?

So, you’ve gotten through the 5 hour wait to get through the gates into Burning Man. You’re driving the very slow 5MPH speed limit. The Reno police wave at you, smiling, because they don’t have an excuse to stop your car and search it using drug dogs. Now, all you have to do is scour the playa for an available space to lay your head.

You’ve got two sleep options here. One, is a tent. I recommend buying a tent rather than borrowing or ruining a tent you already own. Tents get COVERED in dust, and they can easily get ripped by storms. I have the same tent I’ve been using for the past five years. I store it in a giant plastic bag. When I open it, the world sneezes. It’s my own mini playa.

After you get your tent go to Home Depot and get 5 pieces of rebar for your tent stakes. Bring a soft mallet to hammer them in, and cut a slit into tennis balls to put on top of them. This may sound complicated, but it’s essential. The winds will rip heavy dusty stakes out. You do not want your tent to go flying in the playa wind.

Get a cheap shade structure, or make your own. This may seem non-essential, but after a night out on the playa, hanging out in your front yard is all you’ll want to do. It can be as simple as a tarp hung between two cars or a shade structure from Target, but get one. Also, pack a camping chair. They are always on sale at CVS at the end of summer. You can pick a good one up for ten dollars.

You other option is an RV. Reserve one early, they get very expensive the closer to the burn you get.

Here, are some burn friendly RV rental companies listed on the burning man site: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/rvs.html#.UdZb-vk3uSo

For sleeping arrangements, it is worth it to splurge and get an air mattress with a battery powered pump. You will be laying on it all week. Bring a pillow, and a sleeping bag.

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Food, Hydration, and Libations: Or, What Will I Put Into My Body On the Playa?

You should bring 1 to 1.5 gallons of water for every person and every day you will be at the burn. That means for one person staying the whole week, you should have at least 7 gallons of water for them. Dehydration is your biggest enemy on the playa. Especially, if you plan on combining the harsh elements with drinking, drugs and extreme physical exertion, water is the most important provision you have.

Pro tip: Do not weigh down our car buying water at home. Pick it up in a supermarket in Reno, or outside of Reno.

Also, a great idea is to bring Pedialyte, or Coconut Water. These are both beverages high in electrolytes and quickly cure signs of dehydration. You could also consider buying Electrolyte tabs, or liquid electrolyte supplements.

If you nurse a caffeine habit like I do, bring tea bags and instant coffee. Coffee is for sale at center camp, and there are also coffee camps. If you need it, you can find it. (I recommend Spank Bucks.)

Food is a bit too nebulous of a topic to tackle. Bring a camping stove, and you know what you like. I recommend not bringing dry or sticky items like peanut butter and honey. Ice is for sale on the playa, so bring a cooler and easy-to-cook meals. You will be gone for a week, and food is important to keep you going. Fresh produce and fruits may seem like a waste, but there is nothing like it when your limbs are sore, and you haven’t slept in five nights.

Bring heavy duty trash bags to keep your camp clean.

Alcohol is plentiful on the playa. The bars are free. Bring your own to share, but it shouldn’t be a large packing concern.

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On-The-Go-Kit: Or, What Will I Always Have On My Body On The Playa?

Now, that you’re at Burning man, it’s time to explore. The following items are non-negotiable and should be on your person at all times.

You need a backpack, knapsack, or a fannypack. During the day, you need to carry the following: chapstick, bandana or gas mask, water bottle or Camelback, goggles and sunscreen. These can come in any shape or design you prefer, but they are necessary. You must be prepared for a bad dust storm at all times. If you are in the deep playa and can’t get shelter, you will need as much protection as you can get. If you want to drink you should also bring a portable cup, and a valid form of identification. The bars are free at the burn but you must prove you are of a legal age to drink and have your glass to consume it from.

At night, you will need your chapstick, bandana, water bottle, goggles, cup, ID and a headlamp. Dust storms can happen day or night.

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Costumes: Or, How Will My Body Shimmer Like Molten Gold On the Playa?

What can you put on your body? I’m glad you asked. Burning man is about self expression, and your outfits and costume choices will be a way to express not only who you are but who you’ve always wanted to be. Not to take away business from burner run etsy shops, but I highly recommend you avoid burner couture or costume pieces marketed to the burn. This is a place to avoid fads, and to be anything you want to be. A great exercise is to jot down all your idols both as a child and now. Is it Lady Gaga in a cloak made of stuffed animals, is it sweet Alice in Wonderland in a pastel blue dress, is it Barbarella in a sex-bot 60’s space get up? The possibilities are endless. Go to thrift stores, craft stores, check out halloween costume sales, and…bring options. You never know what mood will strike you on the playa. Make sure you bring warm layers. The nights can be freezing. I’ve been rocking the Macklemore jackets on the playa since he was in high school. Faux fur is your friend. I also highly recommend face paint. The best brands are Snazzeroo or Bill Nye. Don’t bring anything valuable, it will get covered in dust, and what else? Oh yes, leave feathers, sequins, and loose gems behind. They will get left on the playa, and that is a big NO. Everything you bring should be decorative, you won’t want normal clothes. You may, however, want comfortable and warm sleep wear. Also pack a pair of flip flops. You will want to wear close-toed shoes everywhere, but when you’re bumming around the camp it’s nice to not have to put on socks to run to the porto potties.

Lights are also your friends. I highly recommend light-up battery LED light strands. Last year, I talked to the cleanup crew and they said they spend weeks picking up leftover glow sticks. I still believe bringing glow sticks is better than being a “darkwad,” just make sure every one you wear comes back with you at the end of the night.

Pro-tip: Pack a whole outfit of “normal” clothes with clean underwear, and shoes, and store it in a ziplock bag. Leave this in your car. You won’t want to change back right as you leave the burn, but you might want to look relatively normal when you hit that first gas station at 2AM, or when you stop to go to the bathroom at Boomtown.

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Hygiene: Or, How Do I Keep My Body Clean On The Playa?

If you don’t have an RV shower, baby wipes are your only protection from 7 days of caustic drying burning playa dust building up in your every crease and orifice. Bring plenty. I also recommend bringing face wipes.

Your hair is a lost cause, either get it washed at a washing camp or let it dread. Don’t bother bringing shampoo.

Bring a spray bottle and fill it with vinegar. You will want to spray your feet every morning and night with it. It neutralizes the dust, and protects you from playa foot. Playa dust can dry out your foot and cause it to crack. It’s painful and disgusting to behold. Bring the vinegar. Then lather your feet in lotion before putting them into clean socks or stockings or tights.

Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, portable mirror, and floss. Also pack some sort of resealable container. You will use some of your water to brush and then spit into this container all week. Once water has been in your mouth, it become dirty or grey water. You need to keep all of this grey water and either let it evaporate in the sun or bring it back with you to dump once you get off the playa. DO NOT dump grey water in the porto potties. The potties have enough to deal with without overflowing from playa spit.

Transportation: Or, How Will My Body Move On The Playa?

Bring a bike. You can rent one, or you can buy a cheap one, it don’t matter. I bought one four years ago for 50 bucks, I still bring it every year. Buy a bike rack for your car if you need one. Bring a lock. Bike theft is a huge deal on the playa. Do your part to avoid losing your easiest mode of transport by locking it up everywhere you go and decorating your bike. That way, it won’t be confused for someone elses.

Electronics: Or, How Will My body Groove On The Playa?

Your cell phone won’t work. Don’t worry, being disconnected from that piece of plastic allows you to connect with the awesome tactile world all around you. For me, it is the best part of the burn. Bring a camera, but be smart. Every year, cameras are found and there’s no way to get them back to their proper owner.

Pro tip: Take a picture of your address and phone number as the first picture on your camera AND/OR make quick labels using tape that have your playa address and your email address on them. That way if your camera is found it can be returned.

Bring speakers, a boom box, anything, but leave your ipod headphones at home. Don’t check out.

Substances: Or, How Will I Get My Body Up, Down, and Upside Over-Easy?

Illegal substances are still illegal on the playa. There are cops on the premises both in uniform and undercover. They are there, both for your protection and to uphold the law. I cannot encourage you to break the law, nor do I engage in that type of behavior, but if you do bring drugs to the playa, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, and be prepared to defend them respectfully if you are being questioned. This is not a joke. One mistake can have serious consequences. This website, http://www.flexyourrights.org/, is a great resource. Be safe.

Also, if you engage in rave behaviors, makes sure you pack the proper vitamins to help you recover without damaging your body permanently. Bring 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. Drink plenty of water. People do die from overdoses.

Check Off List

So, here’s a check-off list with everything listed above, and more that should be self-explanatory:

HYGIENE:

Sunscreen (2 bottles SPF 30 or above): ­­­___

Spray bottle: ___

Vinegar: ___

Lotion: ___

Baby wipes (a ton of them): ___

Face wipes: ___

Toothbrush: ___

Toothpaste: ___

Floss: ___

Mirror: ___

Toe-nail clippers: ___

Tweezers: ___


MED KIT:

Band-aids: ___

Neosporin: ___

Aspirin: ___

Condoms: ___


FOR WOMEN:

Birth Control: ___

Emergency contraceptive (If necessary): ___

Feminine products (tampons with cardboard applicators only): ___


CLOTHING/COSTUMING:

Face Paint: ___

Socks for 7 days: ___

Make-up kit: ___

Underwear: ___

Warm Jacket: ___

Costume choices for 7-10 days: ___

Ziplock bag full of normal clothes: ___

Comfortable, warm sleepwear: ___


LIGHT UP DISCO:

Battery powered LED strands: ___

Batteries: ___

Glow sticks: ___


ON-THE-GO PACK:

Chapstick: ___

Bandana: ___

Gas Mask: ___

Goggles: ___

Sunglasses: ___

Water Bottle: ___

Camel Back: ___

Headlamp: ___

Cup: ___

ID: ___


FOOD:

Food for 7 days: ___

Camp stove: ___

Plate/bowl: ___

Set of silverware: ___

Can opener (if necessary): ___

Wine opener (if necessary): ___

Bottle opener (if necessary): ___


ELECTRONICS:

Labeled camera: ___

Ipod Speakers, Boom Box, Stereo system: ___


SLEEP KIT:

Tent or RV: ___

Air mattress with pump: ___

Batteries for pump: ___
Pillow: ___

Sleeping bag: ___

Shade Structure: ___

Chair: ___

Tarp: ___


BIKE

Bike: ­___

Lock: ___

Air Pump (for tires): ___

Bike Rack: ___


RAVE KIT(if necessary):

5HTP: ___

B-6: ___

Magnesium: ___

Vitamin C: ___

Water: ___

Knowing your rights: ___


HARDWARE/GOOD TO HAVE STUFF

Flashlight: ­___

Hammer: ___

Soft mallet: ___

Rebar x5: ___

Tennis balls: ___

Scissors: ___

Screwdriver: ___

Duct Tape: ___

Knife: ___


HELPFUL TO HAVE:

Notebook: ___

Pens: ___

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    • Kori Cox profile image

      Kori Cox 3 years ago

      Wow, wonderful hub! Definitely voted up! I am planning to travel to burning man soon.

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