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 pack, 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 Burning Man packing list 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 add to the checklist, 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.
Burning Man Packing Essentials
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.
With that said, the following items are musts for your Burning Man packing list:
- 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! Check out some premium face masks here.
- Sunscreen – Remember, the atmosphere at 4,000 feet is less protective against UV rays. Apply SPF 45 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.
- Trackimo GPS – A portable GPS unit is great for keeping your gear safe. I keep one of the 3G Travel Trackers in my camera bag and suitcase whenever I travel. If in the unfortunate event of a theft, you’ll be able to track the location of your stuff right from your phone! Sadly, thefts do happen on the playa.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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
Best Food & Drinks 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! The following items are just a few ideas of food items to add to your Burning Man packing list. This list will vary based on your personal preferences. If you’re going to Burning Man with a camp, they will likely assign a food shopping list to you.
- 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
- Gums & mints
Burning Man Medical Kit
The Burning Man medical tent is not a fun place to visit and will kill your mood. Please, add a simple first-aid kit to your packing list, 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
- Allergy Medicine
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Pain Relievers
Burning Man Toiletries List
- 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:
- Condoms + Tampons
- Wet Wipes
- Shaving Supplies
- Toothbrush + Toothpaste
Burning Man Bike Accessories
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 Decorations
Burning Man Clothing & Costumes
- Hats – Protect yourself from the sun!
- 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
- Head Lamp
- Squirt Gun + Misters
- Battery Operated Radio
- Musical Instruments
- Photos of Friends and Family
Burning Man is a wonderful and exciting adventure. Don’t let your long week be ruined because you forget some essential items on your packing list. With proper preparation, the week can go smoothly and you can focus on the art and experience rather than an item you forget to pack. Have fun!