Keep in mind that if you are camping in a small group (or sub-camp) at Spanky’s Village, some of these items may be provided by others in your group, so check with people to ensure that you are not duplicating items unnecessarily. For example, not everybody needs to bring a small sledgehammer to drive your rebar into the ground. There are “tool guys” in Spanky’s who bring a few of them. Many of the things on this list are not required, just recommended. If you’re flying and pressed for space, pare it down to the bare essentials. You can also coordinate with camp mates who are driving to Burning Man who might be able to bring things you can’t fit in your luggage.
Last of all, give some thought to what you personally can bring to the burn. Do you wear great costumes, make cool cocktails, cook well, play an instrument, are you “crafty” or artistic, are you skilled in a trade that might come in handy…how can you enrich the burn for those around you?
Once you get to Burning Man, things get a little crazy so get organized and have a plan before you pack. Think about shade during the day, think about what you’ll need/want to relax around camp, what you’ll want to eat and drink and what it’ll take to make that happen, what your sleeping arrangements will be and what creature comforts you’ll want, how you’ll get around (usually it’s a bike), where you’ll stash your important items (phone, driver’s license, keys, tickets, passports, insurance cards, etc.), your personal physical and medical needs and consider your daily habits (are you a coffee drinker, use a lot of this or that, require daily showers, etc.)
Think it through. Also consider the environment. Hot during the day, cool to cold at night, with dust pretty much everywhere, with the possibility of “white out” dust storms arising without warning. Be prepared for all of it. If you’re in a tent, dust will come in – think of ways to protect the items in your tent. You’ll want to illuminate your body and your bike, and you’ll want convenient ways to collect and remove your trash and gray water. Break down all the segments and think each one through, making a list as you go.
Have the post office hold your mail or have a friend take charge of that.
Let your friends and family know they can contact you on the playa if there’s an emergency. They can reach you at the following email address, which is checked daily: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our emergency phone number is 714 408-1388. Callers should leave a voicemail message. We’ll check it regularly. We will probably also have Wi-Fi at Spanky’s.
Things specific to Spanky's
- Costumes to wear around Spanky’s and Burning Man.
- iPod, MP3, or DJ stuff if you want to “spin” a playlist at the bar
- Extension cords and splitter (if you want to plug anything into the power grid) – write your name on them.
Things You Should/Must Bring
- Your ticket, at least until you get through the gate, know exactly where it is!
- All relevant material for rental vehicles
- Your vehicle pass. Only one needed per vehicle
- Flight information or plane ticket
- Cell phone
- Baby wipes
- Phone chargers – regular and car
- Work gloves
- Driver’s license or other ID and a safe way to carry it – you’ll need this with you when you’re away from Spanky’s. It’s safest to make a copy and carry that or tape a copy of your license to the cup you carry!
- Copy (or download) of the official Burning Man “Survival Guide”
- Hotel reservations info
- Money (for ice on the playa – the only thing for sale at Burning Man)
- Water (2 gallons per person, per day minimum… more if you are using the village showers… 2-4 gallons for a decent shower)
- A Camelbak or similar water container, with pockets (and put your name, your camp name and address inside it) Or you can bring a small, cheap knapsack.
- Food & beverages (you will not eat as much as you think and you will drink more beverages than you expect to)
- A way to cook you food (camp stove, pots, pans, etc.)
- A way to wash your dishes – soap, sponge scrubbie, etc.
- At least one tub (for dish washing, storage, soaking your feet in vinegar water, etc.)
- Fuel for stove – propane is preferred for safety (but you can’t fly with any fuels)
- Cooking and eating utensils (see separate list, below)
- Drinking cups for hot and cold liquids (try to put your name on it & make sure it’s easy to carry with you)
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) * TIP – If you burn easily, also think about lightweight, long sleeved shirts, parasols, etc.
- Dust mask and goggles – or big, face hugging sunglasses and a scarf
- Any needed prescriptions or medicine you often take
- Prescription glasses, contacts, spares and cleaner (you might find daily contacts work best)
- Sunglasses and a backup pair or two
- Cooler(s) for fresh food and drinks
- Shelter (a good tent, RV, etc. – wind/dust storms can reach 75 mph)
- Bring large zip lock bags. When you buy ice, transfer it into the bags. Your cooler will stay drier and you’ll have fresh, cold water when it melts!
- Cubed ice cools food and drinks fast; block ice lasts longer.
- As an alternative to block ice, pre-freeze drinking water or juices in clean milk jugs. They’ll help keep foods cold and provide a handy source of cold beverages as they thaw.
- Keep your cooler in the shade – consider a reflective material to deflect heat
- Plenty of cooler space with some separation of drinks, meats, snacks, etc. makes accessing and preserving things easier.
- If you’re knowledgeable about dry ice use – consider it for freezing or long term holding. Read about it before you decide to use it – for example, you can’t mix dry ice with regular ice.
- Elevate the cooler a few inches from the ground – it’ll stay colder.
Make sure the lid of your cooler stays closed tight.
- Make sure you maintain your cooler daily – drain excess water, add ice, clean if dirty, etc.
- If you’re bringing a tent, bring the type that allows you to zip-up all screened windows.
- Some people bring two – one for sleeping and one for changing and storing stuff.
- Some find covering their bed and clothes with a large comforter and zipping the tent closed helps keep out dust during the day. At night just fold the dusty cover to trap the dust and set it aside.
- Ideally, bring one that is high enough for you to stand in – makes changing easier.
- Replace cheap tent stakes with 18” rebar stakes (you can sometimes buy them on the internet with a ring welded to them specifically for this purpose). This is not just a nice to have, the winds can do serious damage.
- Bring tennis balls or a pool noodle to cap off the protruding ends of the rebar stakes and bring something to hang from the tent’s guy wires so they are visible at night. Reflective tape or clips work.
- Warm sleeping bag (night temps can range from 70-40 degrees)
- Air mattress, cot or sleeping pad – you’ll be glad you brought it. Consider a mattress pad or foam topper between the air mattress and you.
- An air pump will come in handy, too.
- Think of how you want to elevate or hang your stuff inside the tent to keep it out of the dust.
- Lights for inside (and outside) the tent (do not use gas lanterns inside your tent)
- Radiant barrier material (aluminized bubble wrap) can be used on the east side of the tent to reflect the hot morning sun. Be careful of buying things that could blow away or become moopy, and secure it well.
General and personal supplies
- Camp chair – preferably with a cup holder
- Bike with a comfortable seat – beach cruiser or bike with wide tires work best. NOTE: The playa is hard on bikes so leave your good one at home.
Bike lock – make it hard for people to randomly “borrow” your bike when you’re out exploring.
- Consider a basket or rack to hold your stuff, make sure it has at least a front light and bring a bike lock and extra lube for the chain. Also, write your name and camp address on a piece of duct tape taped to the frame. If lost, you might get it back. Get a rack for your water bottle if you don’t have a basket or Camelbak. Most cool burners decorate their bikes. It’s important to light up your bike as well with blinky/glowy things.
- First Aid Kit (see separate list below)
- Head lamp (spare batteries)
- Single ply toilet paper (in case the porta-potties run out – they often do)
- Heavy duty trash bags with ties – contractor bags work well. You’ll want heavy duty bags to carry out trash.
- Flashlight with spare batteries – *TIP – it’s a good idea to review all your battery powered items and make sure the batteries are fresh and that you have extras. When traveling to and from Burning Man, reverse the batteries in the chamber so the flashlight can’t accidentally turn on in your luggage.
- Toiletries (see separate list below)
- Lip balm with SPF protection
- Any items you need to block sounds and light if sleeping during the day (earplugs).
- A sleep mask
- Vinegar and moisturizer (for foot care) *TIP – a 50/50 vinegar solution is a magic elixir for removing playa dust and keeping your feet from cracking.
- Both light and warm clothing (though rare, temps can exceed 110 in the day and 40 at night) – you’ll want warmth at night.
- Comfortable shoes, boots, sandals (don’t walk barefoot too much… playa can dry/crack feet!)
- Extra socks!
- Towels – both bath and kitchen size for wiping up
- A hat that won’t blow off your head
- If you’re camping in a group, it’s nice to have tarps, tapestries, etc. for privacy, flooring between tents, and to create shade between tents, structures, etc. and the clamps and ropes to secure them (paracord is best).
- Also bring strings of lights to illuminate dark areas.
- Common sense, an open mind and a positive attitude
First Aid Kit
- Aspirin, ibuprofen
- Band aids
- Antiseptic wipes
- Eye drops
- Stomach meds
- Cotton balls
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Nasal spray
- Cold meds/allergy pills or supplies
- Small knife
- Small flashlight
- Pain killers
- Gauze pads
- Medical tape
- Ankle/wrist wrap or wrapping bandage
- Nasal Rinse
- Talcum powder
- Hair products (gel, ties, clips)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Razor and shave cream
- Small mirror
- Nail clipper
- Q tips
- Waterless hand soap
- Feminine products
- Small basket or container to take shampoo, etc. to and from the shower
The Playa is dark. It can be hard to find your tent/RV and it can be hard to see other people and bikes when walking around at night, so be prepared with items to light your bike, your tent, your campsite and your body.
Think about convenient lights for the inside of your tent. Trying to find light in a dark tent late at night can be frustrating. Consider hanging a lantern or flashlight or a small motion detecting light. If you use gas lanterns (outside your tent only, please), remember to bring extra mantles.
Personal Cooking Supplies
This is one of the areas where people who are flying to Burning Man need to coordinate with people who are driving in. Base your cooking supplies on what you intend to cook, however, unless you’re a foodie and well prepared, cooking can be tedious and time consuming on the playa. Some people live all week on ramen noodles and salami while others cook elaborate meals. Think about your specific needs and infrastructure, and coordinate with your camp mates, then plan accordingly. If it works for you, sometimes prepping or pre-cooking items at home and keeping it on ice can save time later (i.e., barbecued chicken breasts, pre-made salad, dips, meatballs, hard boiled eggs, cooked ground beef, de-boned rotisserie chicken, etc.). Think through the meals and snacks for the week so you have enough. Bring cheap storage containers for leftovers.
- Stove and fuel (propane is best, however it’s illegal to fly with propane or other liquid fuels)
- Stove top (or electric) coffee pot and supplies or teabag type coffee
- Large pot
- Small pot
- Large frying pan
- Small frying pan
- Plates (paper… fewer dishes to wash)
- Sharp knife/cutting board
- Cooking spray
- Large spoons/fork
- Hard spatula
- Can opener
- Plastic food containers
- Dish soap and scrubbies
- Paper towels – you’ll use more than you think
- Drying bag or rack for cookware/dishes
- Pantyhose to strain dishwater
- Pot holders
- Plastic wine glasses
- Dish towels
- Dish tub
- Table for your stove and supplies
- Gray water receptacle for dish water
Some easy food items to bring:
- Canned fruits and veggies (don’t forget the can opener!)
- Canned or other precooked ready to eat meals
- Dried foods
- Instant soups (cup-o-noodles/miso)
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Beef jerky
- Summer sausage
- Pre-made, canned tuna and crackers
- Canned beer/booze
- Plastic containers of non-alcoholic drinks
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Boil-in-bag dinners
- Granola bars
- Cooking oils
- Pasta and sauce
- Canned chicken/ham spread
- Dry cheeses
- Smoked salmon
- Hard boiled eggs
- Ciabatta bread (or other sturdy, long lasting bread)
- Alcohol to share
- Gatorade or something with electrolytes (Pedialyte powder is sugar free)
The following are nice to have, but aren’t essential
- Utility belt or Utili-kilt
- Misting bottle
- Stackable bins for clothing or supplies
- Shade structure or tarp (to cover your tent and create shade)
- Reflective sun shades for RV or other windows
- Kickstand with ball on end
- Spare bike tube and pump
- Portable fan or swamp cooler
- Ropes or cords
- Bungee cords
- Carabiners of different sizes
- A great way to label things is to get countertop samples (like formica) from a home improvement store. You can write on them, then zip-tie them to anything
- Musical instrument (drum, etc.)
- Camp table
- Anything you plan on burning at the Temple
- Small box, Tupperware, tray, etc. for your small, easy to lose items. A good way to organize stuff in your tent, is to bring one of those mesh/Velcro hanging organizers.
- EL wire, glow sticks, blinky things
- Large zip-lock bags for keeping clothes clean you will wear after Burning Man and various other size baggies – they’re extremely handy.
- Laundry bag
- Matches/Lighter (a long tipped lighter or long matches are handy for lighting lanterns or stoves – tie it to your stove so it doesn’t walk off.)
- Ashtray if you smoke (Altoids tins work great as you can carry them with you)
- Small flask or water bottle (good for traveling with booze on the playa – don’t put anything but water in your Camelbak)
- Hangover medicine (Emergen-C)
- Pee Funnel and container (females)
- Rain poncho
- Long undies
- Spare set of car keys – *TIP – put these somewhere safe right from the get go…you’ll be glad later!
- Wisk broom for tent
- Sewing kit
- Safety pins
- Duct tape
- Extension cords (if you are plugging into the grid or have a generator)
- Fire extinguisher
- Sharpie permanent marker
- Swiss army knife (with corkscrew, of course!)
- Zip ties (various sizes) – they’re invaluable!
- Giveaway trinkets or items you think will be appreciated
- Condoms, lube, toys etc.
- Carpet for tent and area in front of tent (tape carpet edges) you’ll likely throw this away afterwards
- Fire spinning toys (if qualified to use)
- Aloe gel (good for sunburn)
- Wash basin
Things NOT to Bring
- Feather costumes or boas or sequins (they cause MOOP)
- Avoid glass containers
- Nuts in their shells
- Loose glitter
- Anything that shreds, flakes or creates MOOP
- Too much fresh food/produce
- Styrofoam coolers
- Friends, spouses, etc. who are closed minded, whine a lot, or are fragile
- A bad attitude or a closed mind
First Timers Guide:
Burning Man Tips:
Health and Safety: