What to Pack for Burning Man
Burning Man is unlike any other festival out there in the U.S. It’s more than arts, music, and community you normally find at a festivals.
It’s really an experience, and to experience that experience (I’m really doing great with the English vocabulary here…), you have to have a certain level of sh*t together before you even get there.
Since I went to Burning Man a few years ago, I’ve had some friends ask me every year around July or August what they need to pack.
This is exactly the list I give them, but just so we’re clear, I’m no Burning Man expert. I just like to be able to party and explore comfortably when it comes to camping at festivals, especially one in the desert.
Here’s what to pack for Burning Man, which are the key items I NEVER left camp without.
- Water canteen
- Dust mask or bandana
- LED wire & headlamp
If you’re feeling generous, please purchase these items for Burning Man through my site with my included Amazon links. There’s no extra cost to you at all. On the flip side, I make a teeny tiny commission from Amazon that helps me run my blog such as with hosting and app costs. But either way, thanks so much for reading this!
What to Pack for Burning Man #1
– a water canteen –
Water’s the most basic essential need for every day life so why would it be any different out in the desert?
You can either bring a CamelBak, which is really popular among many festival goers and can be used for hiking, etc. after Burning Man, or you can buy one of these handy water canteens. Screw disposable water bottles altogether!
This water canteen was also a bonus because with its wide mouth, it was easy to refill from the big water jugs back at camp, and it was easy to collapse when we ran out of water on the playa.
I brought the 48oz size and my friend brought the 96oz size. The bigger one was great to share when only one of wanted to bring a backpack. This was really the handiest thing we had when we were out on the playa for 6+ hours at a time. The music doesn’t stop just because you ran out of water!
Be prepared with a reusable canteen.
What to Pack for Burning Man #2
– goggles –
Remember when you were walking down the block to get a bagel at your favorite deli, got some sand in your eye from the construction guys working on the new building next door, and were like “wah, sh*t, that hurts, get it out”?
Well, it gets much worse out in the desert so you really need a solid pair of goggles to weather the wind and sand especially in the case of a dust storm.
There are a ton of different options when it comes to goggles such as motorcycle or ski goggles, but I opted for these Red Baron Motorcycle Goggles.
I chose the yellow color so that they would help somewhat with the sun during the daytime and not block out too much light at night, but if you’re feeling fancy, then grab both the clear and tinted ones and have one for both day and night.
What to Pack for Burning Man #3
– a dust mask or bandana –
In addition to keeping the dust and sand out of your eyes, you’ll want to keep it out of your lungs too, or you’ll have a scratchy throat and lose your voice by the end of the festival, which is no fun for anyone.
I opted for a simple bandana such as my friend above, but some of my friends opted for more heavy duty dust masks, which I could see being really handy if there was a serious dust storm.
What to Pack for Burning Man #4
– Lights = LED wire + headlamp –
So now you’re keeping hydrated and protecting yourself against the elements, but you’re not yet protected from other people without an LED wire to wear at nighttime. What does that mean exactly?
At nighttime, it is basically impossible to see a person out on the playa, and with so many bikers, arts, and gadgets rolling around, you’ll want to make sure you shine like a star by wearing an LED wire, or what I call l-wire for short.
These LED wires are cheap and can easily be incorporated into any costume of yours. Get imaginative with them, but most importantly, be safe out there!
I was riding my bike on the playa one night, didn’t realize my l-wire wasn’t turned on, and got trampled by another biker.
What a great way to spend the last few hours of Burning Man– bruised and embarrassed!
On the note of getting bumped into at night, you’ll also need a headlamp to help shine on your own custom made bike lane AKA wherever you feel like riding.
What to Pack for Burning Man #5
– a bike-
I don’t know what’s more important: a bike or water. Just kidding– definitely water!
But having a bike is something I’d consider a necessity at Burning Man. Burning Man covers nearly 7 square miles of land so if you want to check out as much stuff as you can and get deep out in the playa, being on two wheels is the way to go.
Make sure to have a bike lock with your bike, or you may have to walk back to your camp from a mile away. Also, among a sea of bikes, sometimes it’s hard to spot where you parked your bike especially with moving landmarks. My friend and I had tutus on our bikes, which made it so easy to spot them!
There are stands renting bikes before you enter Burning Man, or if you’re lucky like me, your camp will have some for you to use.
I’ve also heard there are white bicycles floating around, which are free to use by anyone, but they’re like unicorns– never seen and only dreamily spoken of because we all love the concept.
What to Pack for Burning Man #6
– a jacket-
When you think about the desert, it’s so natural to think about shorts and a tank top because most of us have never experienced the desert at nighttime, but man, does it get cold!
The temperature can drop 40-60 degrees from its peak point during the day to the lowest point at night so if you’re going to stray away for camp for hours and hours on end, it’s a good idea to have a jacket on you.
And there you go! There’s my essentials on what to pack for Burning Man, which include:
If you want a more comprehensive list on what to pack, check out this huge list of 75 items, complete packing list, or this checklist, which details your packing list down to socks (which are quite important).
But if you want to keep it simple, yet think I left anything out from the essentials (aside from food, water, and shelter), then comment below on what to pack for Burning Man.
Otherwise, see you on the playa!