Shawna's Extra Extravagant Packing Tips

Shawna's Extra Extravagant Packing Tips

Packing for Burning Man is an exciting part of the process while planning for your adventure in the desert. There are two types of packers, ones like me who start weeks in advance with a four-page spreadsheet broken down into different categories, and those who throw a couple of items in a backpack the day before they leave.

My first year at Burning Man the weeks of planning and research paid off and I had all the comforts I needed for my experience. Each year I plan to return, I turn to my handy-dandy spreadsheet and I'm all set! But intense research and planning is not required and if you forget your comforts, it will still be an amazing experience. As they always say, "the playa provides" and you will always find what you are in need of.

Below are a couple of basic tips to consider when packing for Burning Man that helped me stay comfortable throughout the dusty week:

  1. Shelter: Be sure to bring a sturdy tent or shade structure to protect yourself from the harsh desert environment. Consider also bringing a tarp or rug to cover the ground inside your tent. My first two years at the burn, I had a cheap Coleman tent that worked great. Pro-tip: avoid mesh walls or you will find all your belongings covered in "playa magic" after the first dust storm like I did :) Also, don't forget lag bolts to stake down your tent! It gets very windy and your tent will fly away if not tied down. 

  2. Clothing: Pack clothing that allows you to stay cool during the day and warm at night. Think light, breathable fabrics and layers that you can easily add or remove as the temperature changes. Fur jackets are a must! (Faux fur of course) And maybe rain gear, because anything can happen!

  3. Hydration: Staying hydrated at Burning Man is crucial. Bring plenty of water, at least a gallon per person per day, and consider a reusable water bottle or hydration pack for easy access. Camelbak's are AMAZING, don't leave camp without yours filled and ready for an adventure. 

  4. Food: Many camps offer food, but not all of them, and it's not enough to sustain yourself for days of partying in the desert. It's a good idea to bring non-perishable snacks and meals that are easy to prepare. Don't forget a cooler for perishable items! Ice is also available for purchase on playa, so if you do go this route make sure to bring some cash. ATMs are not a thing out there. 

  5. Sun Protection: The sun at Burning Man can be intense, so pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a wide-brim sun hat, and protective clothing to shield yourself from the sun. Dust scarfs are great for this and you can dunk them in melted ice water for extra coolness during the day. 

  6. Dust Protection: Black Rock Desert is known for its dusty conditions. Dust storms will come out of no where and could last anywhere from three minutes to 6+ hours, maybe even days. Bring a dust mask and goggles to protect yourself from the elements.

  7. Lighting: A headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating the playa at night. Blinky lights and EL wire are also favorites. Consider bringing extra batteries or a solar-powered charger. There are hundreds of people riding bikes and art cars cruising around so you want to make sure you stay visible in the dark. 

  8. Comfort Items: Don't forget to pack items that will make your Burning Man experience more comfortable, such as a camping chair, earplugs for noisy nights, and a portable phone charger. 

  9. Costumes and Accessories: Burning Man is a place to express yourself creatively, so pack fun costumes, accessories, and decorations to enhance your experience. But no glitter or items that will leave MOOP (Matter Out Of Place). 

  10. Leave No Trace: Remember the principle of "Leave No Trace" at Burning Man. Pack out everything you bring in, including trash, recycling, and grey water.

  11. Skin Care: Not always necessary, but if you have sensitive skin it's something to consider. If you have thick thighs (like myself) or are prone to chafing, then you'll want some chafing gel. This stuff literally saved my thighs, I bring two tubes (my favorite is linked below). Lip balm is also good to have, it's very dry in the desert and you'll want something to avoid cracked lips. 

  12. Travel: You will want to bring a bike with you to the burn. The city is 7 miles wide and while trying to tackle it on foot is possible, you'll want to get around faster so you can experience more. Don't plan to bring your fancy new $3000 bike, bring a cheap one you found for a hundred bucks as the playa dust will do a number on the parts. Make sure to also bring a bike lock, extra bike tube, and a seat cushion. Think of your bike as your personal mini art car. Decorate with blinky lights and other fun items, but be careful not to make it MOOPY...for instance, if want to decorate your bike like a cat with fluffy fake fur...

Another tip that doesn't fit into a category above is white vinegar. This is the only thing that will cut through the playa dust to give your skin a break. If you have sensitive skin, are prone to dryness, or plan to walk around barefoot, this will be a necessity. I bring a gallon of white vinegar and mix it with some water in a spray bottle and use it with some paper towels (or baby wipes) to clean my feet right before bed every night. 

Packing for Burning Man can be a fun and rewarding experience if you plan ahead and consider all your needs for this unique event. Below is a summarized list with some extras and links to my favorites:

  • Tent
  • Fur jacket
  • Camelbak (or other type of wearable hydration pack)
  • Wide-brim sun hat
  • Dust scarf (shemagh)
  • Sunscreen (lots!)
  • Wearable lights for night exploring
  • Non-perishable snacks & meals
  • Goggles (many people bring ski or snowboarding goggles)
  • Battery powered headlamp 
  • White vinegar
  • Lip Balm 
  • Chafing cream (I bring two tubes, literally saved my thighs)
  • Baby wipes 
  • Single-ply toilet paper (in case the portos run out)
  • Bike
  • Extra bike tube
  • Bike seat cushion

Comment below with some of your favorite items and ideas!

Happy burn :)

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