2017 Burning Man Checklist: The essential guide to packing

burning man packing list
“What should I bring to Burning Man?” Don’t worry, you’re not the only person asking yourself this question.  Packing for Burning Man can be a daunting task.  A week in Black Rock City is the ultimate test of self-reliance.  Running to the corner store for supplies is (almost) impossible while on the Playa.

Sure, fellow Burners may help you  if you’re in desperate need of something, but it’s not their responsibility to take care of you.  Knowing exactly what items to bring, and how many of them, will ensure that you have the best Burning Man possible!

This list of things to bring to Burning Man is designed to make sure you’re safe, well prepared, and ready for the time of your life while visiting Black Rock City.  The packing checklist was compiled from my own experience on the Playa, the Burning Man forum, experienced Burners, and the Burning Man website.  If you have a suggestion for something to pack, please leave it in the comments section and I will add it to the list.

Printable Burning Man Packing Checklist

Below is a Burning Man packing checklist I made to help you make sure you’re not forgetting anything.  A black and white printable PDF version can be found here.  If you find this checklist useful, please “like” and share

 

2014 burning man checklist packing

 

Burning Man Packing Essentials

  • General Rule: A good general rule is pack things that you don’t mind getting ruined by playa dust.  For example, don’t bring your brand new camping tent, bring an old one or buy a used one off of craigslist. Don’t bring your regular bike, bring an old one.  Playa dust WILL get all over everything. There’s no way to avoid it. Embrace it.
  • Ticket – Don’t ruin your week by forgetting your ticket.  You will absolutely not be allowed into Black Rock City without your ticket!
  • Water– A good rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person per day for drinking.  Add another half gallon for cleaning and showering.
  • Water Bottle – You’ll take it with you everywhere; make sure to get a reusable one so you’re not creating unnecessary waste with plastic water bottles.
  • GoPro – Burning Man is a life changing experience, so capture it on video and relive the memories throughout the year. I would suggest getting a GoPro because they come in a case that won’t let dust in to ruin the camera. Regular cameras are almost guaranteed to be ruined by the playa.
  • Food – Bring enough for the entire week. Read more below
  • Dust Goggles – Getting alkali dust in your eyes is no fun; wear tight fitting goggles so dust won’t seep in.  Etsy has some great choices!
  • Dust Mask – Inhaling alkali dust is also no fun!
  • Sunscreen – Remember, the atmosphere at 4,000 feet is less protective against UV rays.  Apply  SPF 100 sunscreen every few hours!
  • First Aid Kit – Accidents happen, be prepared.
  • Earplugs – The parties go on all night, so if you want to sleep peacefully, foam earplugs are an absolute must.
  • Travel Neck Wallet – These are great for carrying around essentials such as chapstick, eye drops etc.  It goes around your neck and so you won’t have things floating around your pockets.
Please share this list with your friends.

Burning Man Camping Gear

You’ll want to arrange your tent at the center of your camp, surrounded by your car(s) which will act as a wind break.  Lay down an old carpet for tarp to keep dust down.  Use melted ice water from your cooler to spray the dust.

<strong”>Tent – Ideally, you’ll want a tent without mesh so that dust won’t get in and ruin your sleeping setup.  Bring an extra tent and use it as a storage area.

  • Rebar, Mallet & Rope – Remember, Black Rock City is a windy place.  Use a mallet to drive an 18” rebar into the playa and secure your tent using the rope.  Cover the exposed rebar with empty water bottles or tennis balls so that people don’t trip on them or cut themselves.
  • Sheets – Cover your sleeping area with extra sheets to protect from dust.
  • Battery-powered Lantern – Hang it from the top of your tent. You can find affordable options for under $20 here.
  • Carpet or Tarp – Lay an old carpet or heavy-duty tarp under your camping area to keep dust down.
  • Shade Structure – Use an EZ-Up to create shade over your camping area and tent.  Make sure to secure it from the wind! Don’t forget canopy weights also, it gets windy on the playa!
  • Christmas Lights – Battery powered Christmas lights are cheap and make for a great campground decoration.
  • Marine Battery – If your camp area requires electricity, a marine battery and a power inverter are a great alternative to a gas generator.
  • Solar Shower – Let it absorb the sun in the day, and enjoy a warm shower in the afternoon.  Your camp neighbors will be jealous!
  • Flag Pole – A retractable flagpole and will help you find your camp from far away.  Throw a glow stick on top for extra visibility.
  • Leather Work Gloves – Don’t get blisters on day one! You can find these at Home Depot or on this page.
  • Other Camping Gear:
  • Bungee Cords
    Zip Ties
    Beach Chairs
    Air mattress
    Sleeping bag

 

Kitchen Supplies

kitchen setup at burning man

  • Cooking Stove & Gas – Necessary if you plan on making food. When you get the stove, make sure you also get a cans of propane!
  • Biodegradable Dish Soap – Remember, you cannot leave anything on the Playa, not even soapy water!
  • Small Tub – Comes in handy for cleaning dishes, storage, and using as a shower basin. Don’t forget a water tank.
  • Other Kitchen Supplies:
    Zip Lock Bags
    Can Opener
    Pots & Pans
    Eating Utensils
    Tupperware
    Matches/Lighter
If you find this article useful, please “like” it. Thanks!

Best Food & Drinks for Burning Man

food packing for burning man

Plan every meal ahead of time so you know exactly how much food you will need; it’s a good idea to have pre-pack each day’s meal into a bag or Tupperware. Also, don’t over-pack food that’s susceptible to rotting in the desert heat!

  • Alcohol – Be sure to bring enough to hand out to your new Burner friends.  But make sure that you don’t drink too much, alcohol and desert heat don’t mix well!
  • Pedialyte – If you get dehydrated (and you probably will) replentish your electrolytes by pouring a pack of Pedialyte into your water.
  • Gatorade – An ice cold Gatorade makes for the perfect gift to give to fellow Burners.
  • Peanut Butter – The perfect all-around snack.
  • Water Melon – Juicy and refreshing, you’ll have to eat it on the first or second day because the heat will ruin it.
  • Other foods for Burning Man:
    Snack Bars
    Dried Fruit
    Cooler
    Gums & mints
    Rice
    Jerky

Burning Man Medical Kit

first aid kit for burning man

The Burning Man medical tent is not a fun place to visit and will kill your mood.  Please, bring a simple first-aid kit, accidents do happen!

  • Band Aids – You’ll want some bandaids to cover up the blisters you’ll surely get while setting up your camp.
  • Nasal Spray – The playa dust will irritate your nose and throat, especially after a dust storm.  Use nasal spray to keep things moist!
  • Vinegar – Water mixed with equal parts of vinegar is the perfect liquid solution for removing playa dust from your body.  Make sure you bring plenty!
  • Prescriptions Meds – Don’t forget them, you’re a longggg way from any pharmacy!
  • Other Medical Items:
    Cold Pack
    Antacid
    Allergy Medicine
    Antibiotic Ointment
    Pain Relievers

Burning Man Toiletries List

burning toiletries packing

  • Toilet Paper – The porta-potties won’t have any!
  • Solar Shower – A solar shower is a great investment!  Fill it with water and let it heat in the sun, and then you’ll have a warm shower for when you get back to camp each night (or morning).  Remember to bring water!
  • Grey Water Trap Basin – Even shower water is Moop, so you’ll have to collect it and let it evaporate out of a trap basin.
  • Eye Drops – Your eyes will dry out (and get dust in them).  Use a few eye drops every day to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • Sun Screen + Aloe Vera Lotion – You WILL get sunburned, and you WILL wish that you have aloe vera to apply to your skin.  Aloe Vera is a great post-sun lotion, take my word for it!
  • Other toiletries:
    Towels
    Condoms + Tampons
    Wet Wipes
    Shaving Supplies
    Toothbrush + Toothpaste

Burning Man Bike Accessories

burning man bike decorations

Your bike will be your best friend at Burning Man.  You will share many magical journeys together.  Feet and legs are great and all, but nothing beats a bike on the Playa.  Don’t forget these bike-related items when packing for a week in BRC.

  • Bike Lock – Although most people at Burning Man have good intentions, for some reason stealing bikes doesn’t seem to be against most people’s moral code.  Bottom line, LOCK YOUR BIKE.
  • Bike Light – To avoid hitting (and getting hit by) other bikers and Burners, make sure to properly illuminate your bike at night.
  • Other bike items: Spare Tire & Tube, Tire Pump, Bike Deocrations

Burning Man Clothing & Costumes

  • Hats – Protect yourself from the sun!burning man face costume
  • Rain Gear – Yes, it does rain in the desert, be prepared.
  • Thermal Underwear – Keep warm at night.
  • Body Paints + Glowsticks etc. Visit your local thrift shop. Express yourself!
  • Other clothing items: Sunglasses, Jackets, Flip-Flops, Comfortable Hiking Shoes

Random things to bring to Burning Man

  • Notebook + Pen – Record your experiences, take notes, do some writing.  You will be happy you did.
  • Pocket Knife/Multi-tool – You’ll be surprised how many times this will come in handy.
  • Gifts & Trinkets – Gifting to other burners is all part of the experience and culture.  Bring unique things to give away.
  • Camera – Another great way to capture memories is with a camera, but make sure it’s play-proof!
  • Safety Pins
    Walkie-Talkies
    Head Lamp
    Squirt Gun + Misters
    Battery Operated Radio
    Musical Instruments
    Photos of Friends and Family

Evan is a recent graduate of UCSB and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. He loves sushi, traveling, music, surfing and any outdoor sports. You can reach him at evan[at]travelgrom.com and can follow him on Twitter and Instagram

13 Comments

  • Reply August 12, 2013

    Jon

    Last year when I went to ‘Burning Man’ I purchased most of my pants (UFO Pants) & glow in the dark items from bewild.com – They usually do a Burning Man sale every August, anywhere from 15%-20% off your order.

    -Jon

  • Reply August 16, 2013

    Torquill

    You’re suggesting watermelon? Really? Veterans tell virgins every year, “don’t bring watermelon”, and it’s in half the burningman.com literature.

    http://www.burningman.com/environment/resources/trash_tips.html#tips : Tip #6 is dedicated exclusively to watermelon.

    So leave that watermelon in the fridge at home. You can look forward to the cold, juicy sweetness after a week of dust.

    –Alison

  • Reply August 17, 2013

    $teven Ra$pa

    Thanks for your list:

    I suggest you make the following edits to your list:
    1) No watermellon. So many go to waste. Too much to consume in time.
    2) Remove the word “trinkets”. Gifting is not about trinkets. I’d say leave “Gifts” but remind people the best gifts are not tangible.

  • Reply August 21, 2013

    Clay More

    Body Taints? On your printable list it says Body taints…. might need some editing.

    What about foot lotion after washing your feet of playa dust?

    Otherwise, good list. Thanks for the reminders.

  • Reply August 22, 2013

    Kristin Addis

    Great list. See you at the Burn!

  • Reply August 27, 2013

    Carla

    Amazing list. I found very interesting and useful tips for burning man. Now I am prepared to facing burning man.
    Thanks

  • Reply September 25, 2013

    Ann Shirley

    It sounds like you really thought of everything! Nasal spray is an excellent suggestion. It’s something I always need but forget. I like tegaderm wound care dressings instead of band aids. They are more comfortable and hold up better especially when wet.

  • Reply September 27, 2013

    Michelle

    Awesome list! Something I can work with! Thanks!

  • Reply October 4, 2013

    deb

    great article but how about a decent bed ? especially if you have active seniors in the party..A good nights sleep means more energy the next day

  • Reply June 29, 2016

    Emmi Buck

    Great list, I loved the inclusion of earplugs – so important and often underrated! I also wanted to add to this list a camping festival MUST have: Organic Brushing Rinse! Essential Oxygen Organic Brushing Rinse beats toothpaste by a mile because 1) you don’t need water, and 2) spitting it out on the ground wouldn’t be toxic, but actually cleans the ground and feeds the plants. Yup! It’s a biodegradable liquid you swish with, no water needed, and can beneficially soak right into mother nature! It has saved my mouth so many times at Lightning in a Bottle, Burning Man, etc!

    Check it out here: http://bit.ly/OrganicBR

  • Reply July 28, 2016

    Darren James

    Whoa! That’s a pretty chunky list – I hadn’t actually thought about some of that, like nasal spray (first time Burner here). I have found one website that is selling kits specifically for burning man, and it has some items from your list available, such as goggles (kind figured I’d need them though!), lights, earplugs etc. Its https://bumakits.com/ if its useful for anybody.

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