It is time for “That Thing in the Desert” (TTITD) again. Remember those timid travelers back in 2010 that went into Burning Man blindly? Without knowing any Burners? Without knowing what to bring? Yeah, we’re back. Except this time, this is our 11th burn. Dare I say – We’re veterans. And this time, we’re bringing you the ultimate Burning Man packing list.
When you’re done checking out some of the important highlights, I’ve created a more comprehensive Burning Man packing list that you can download at the bottom of the page.
The following items are bare essentials to make your next Burning Man a successful one.
Tent/Shelter: This can be in the form of a yurt, a tent, or an RV. A quick tip (QT): If you’re in a regular tent, make sure to seal up the screens that allow your tent to breathe. This will keep the dust from settling in on your stuff.
Tarp: For inside your tent. If you have a cheapie tent, lay a tarp over your sleeping area so that when you get home at night, you’re not resting your head on an inch of dirt. All of it will collect on the tarp.
Cordless Drill: To drill the lag screws into the ground.
If you don’t have any of the above, you can use rebar, a sledge, and tennis balls. QT: Slide the tennis balls over the rebar to have people (and you!) avoid impaling themselves on your rebar while wandering around in various altered states.
Solar Lights: You can get cheapies from the internet. These babies will keep people from tripping over your tent guy lines.
Sleeping Bags/Blankets: Preferably rated to 30 degrees or so. Otherwise, start layering. The playa can get really, REALLY cold at night.
Zip Ties: You have no idea how often these come in handy.
Cash: The only things sold on playa are coffee and ice. These things are like life itself at times.
Light clothing: Temperatures can soar as high as 100 degrees (38C) during the day. Take light clothing to keep you cool.
A heavy jacket/warm clothes: Burning Man is in the high plains of of the Nevada desert. While it can get hot during the day, temperatures can fall into the 30s (0C) at night. Be prepared.
Goggles: Dust storms are a real thing. Seeing as we do not have double eyelids, I recommend getting a pair of these so that you can do around during the day/night without worry of being stuck somewhere.
Water/Food: Don’t be a mooch. “The playa provides.” is a joke. Take care of your own shit. If you choose not to use a stove or cooler, I recommend packing plenty of Tasty Bites to quell your appetite.
Cup/Plate: If not for your own purposes, for the sheer number of bars and free pancake theme camps.
Trash bags: Burning Man is a Leave No Trace event. Pack out whatever you pack in.
Head Lamp: Because you need a way to see things when it gets dark.
Blinky Lights/El Wire: Don’t be a Dark Wad. People get injured out on the playa when other people cannot see you. If you’re heading out at night (which you should), make sure you are lit up and visible.
Tickets: Don’t forget those at home!
Things to make your life easier
Costumes: Burning Man is a participatory event. Bring your A game and add to the eclectic culture. Examples include, but are not limited to: Stockings, fishnets, leggings, boots, hats, necklaces, shiny things, tutus, body paint, make up, bathing suits, a white outfit (for the White Party), a red dress (for the Red Dress Run), scarves, fuzzy jackets, etc.
Lots of Socks: You can never have too many socks. Hiking socks and fun socks are a good place to start. You will be surprised how amazing it feels to have a nice, clean pair of socks on when you’re covered from head to toe in dust.
Laundry Bag: Quarantine things too covered in dust and/or smell like B.O. (because I guarantee you will get a genuine hug from a less than nice smelling person rubbing their armpits all over you – with love.). QT: When hugging a person like this, try to be the person with your arms ON TOP of the full body hug.
Playa Foot Care: Nobody wants to get stuck with a nasty case of playa foot while having fun. Bring vinegar, water, and a basin to wash your feet and neutralize the alkali in the gypsum dust.
Backpack or Utility Belt: The rule is, “Always keep 24 hours worth of gear on you at all times.” You never know where your adventures will take you. Pockets can be filled with your cup, condoms, e-cig, toilet paper, cash, gum, a notepad, a fan, ibuprofen, and your headlamp.
Extra Sheets: To change out mid-week as things get a little gnarly.
Towel: In case you can find a shower. QT: Do not bathe in the water truck spray. It is non-potable water.
Zip Lock Bags: Just trust me on this one. Great for organizing and keeping things apart from the rest of your gear.
Cooler: To keep your perishables and beer cold.
Stove: If you really want to cook.
Camp Chair: I personally like to sit down.
EZ-Up: You can put this over your tent to provide an extra hour of shade, or as a community hang out area.
Bicycle: Tip to tip, Burning Man is 2 miles wide! This makes for a long commute if you don’t have a bike. QT: Ensure your bike is lit. Have blinky lights, a headlight, and a tail light to ensure maximum safety. QT: Make your bike unique looking so you can find it among the thousands of other bikes. QT: Get a cushy, padded seat, a cup holder, and a basket.
Spray Bottle with Fan: It gets hot. You can cool yourself down. You can cool your friends down. It is an appreciated addition.
Padding Between You and the Floor: Besides for comfort, this keeps you from losing your heat to the sand beneath you.
Dry Erase Board: Keep this around your tent so that if your friends miss you, you can get communicate. QT: If your friend says, “Lets try to meet.” you are almost guaranteed never to run into them. There are 70,000 people – meet someone new!
After 11 burns, you better believe that Shaun and I have created a home away from home. After all, we’re spending around 4-6 weeks every year in a tent! If you’re looking to invest in this long term, you may want to look into the following.
Canvas Tent: While we have a SoulPad, various other brands have been known to work really well. Our tent keeps us shadier (and allows us to sleep longer) than a normal tent, along with keeping out 90% of the dust – even in a dust storm. Ours is 5m x 5m and more than enough room.
Aluminet: A reflective greenhouse material that reflects light from your tent. This is the first time we’re trying it out this year and we went with the 70% reflection to allow us to sleep later in the day.
Futon Mattress/Air mattress: We’re moving up in the world. And we’ve gone through 3 air mattresses so it was in our best interest to get something more solid. Both comfortable and warm, it is worth the space it takes up in my truck.
Generator: I like to light up my tent with ambient light. This also has become a “must” since I’m now packing around a CPAP.
Rope Lights: If you’re going to have light, it may as well be pretty.
Plushy Rugs: How else are you supposed to fill your canvas tent? I like to feel like I’m in the lap of luxury while in the harsh conditions of the desert.
Carpet Padding for Under the Rugs: I’m not kidding.
Fuzzy Throw Pillows: So when people come to visit, they too, can be comfortable.
Fan: To keep the air moving during the day and to allow you to sleep past 10am.
Shoe Mat for Outside: To leave your shoes outside and not drag as much playa inside.
Little Table: For holding drinks. And other things.
Collapsable Coat Rack: Keep all of your playa costumes wrinkle free and have a place to throw your jackets.
Shaun and I drive to all of our burns in our 2011 GMC Sierra 1500 truck (with a locking camper shell) to haul all of our crap. So if you’re looking to glamp, you’re going to need a way to get your things there.
Things you should leave at home
Feathers: Sure, they lifted the ban. But they still go EVERYWHERE and make lots of MOOP (matter out of place).
A Bad Attitude: You’re incredibly blessed to be here. Enjoy yourself. Open yourself up to new adventures.
Glow Sticks: You’re just creating trash.
Please be aware that this gear has been amassed over a long period of time. No one expects you to have EVERYTHING the first time you’re out on playa. Take it slow. Dip your toes in.
Fire is hot. Cars are real. Beer is not water.
Now, go have fun!DOWNLOAD THE ULTIMATE BURNING MAN PACKING LIST
- First Timers Guide to Burning Man
- Rockstar Librarian
- 10 Principles
- Erica and Shaun’s Art Project 2016