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Your Essential Burning Man Packing List

You've been planning Burning Man art projects and sourcing costumes, but now it's time for practicalities. Use this checklist to be prepared

Mandy Ferreira
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Solid Shelter

Yes, you can take any tent, but typical backpacking or camping tents let the dust right in. This canvas tent breathes without turning your bed into something out of a ghost movie. It’s also better equipped to stand up to the wind. Don’t forget a camping mattress or sleeping pad to make the desert more comfortable, a warm blanket or sleeping bag for cold nighttime temps, and earplugs and a sleep mask if you actually plan to sleep.
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High-Quality Cooler

As you could imagine, ice goes fast in the desert. Fantastic news: You can buy ice daily from Arctica and the Ice Caps in Center Camp and at the three and nine o’clock portals. Bring a high-quality cooler that will retain ice for days so you don’t have to wait in line every morning to keep your veggies crisp and your drinks cold.
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Dust Shield

The sun and dust are relentless out on the playa. Protect your neck and face with this UV buff made with Coolmax fabric that doesn’t trap heat or moisture. When the wind picks up (and it very likely will), pull it over your mouth and nose to help filter the air. You may want to add a real mask and goggles for extra-strength protection.
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Sun Protection

Be one of the cool kids – make breathable sun-protective clothing, a solid hat, and a UV-blocking umbrella part of your Burner look. Liberally apply sunscreen like this lightweight mineral lotion from BurnOut that goes on easily and doesn’t leave you feeling sticky. Bring an extra bottle or two so you can easily share, and don’t forget about your lips either! For an extra gold star, share the love: A portable carport creates much-needed shade during the day. Install one at camp and friends will flock to your spot.
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Hydration Pack

Keep your water always at hand with this hydration-ready backpack. Lightly padded straps make it comfortable for all-day and -night wear, and there is plenty of room for a warm layer plus snacks to share. Use a large water jug to hold the rest of the 1.5 gallons of water per person per day you’ll need for your time in the desert. Good news: You can toss the bag in the washer and hang to dry later on.
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Trusty Light

Illuminate your path, camp, and body with the right tools. This little lantern is easy to carry and packs a punch for its (pocket) size. Even better, it changes colors so you can match the mood or let it groove to its own beat. When you get home, simply rinse it off to remove traces of the playa. A waterproof headlamp with a red light setting and a reflective vest can also help you be seen moving around Black Rock City after dark.
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Camp- and Party-Ready Dishes

Burning Man takes Leave no Trace principles seriously. Reduce your trash by bringing reusable camping dishes and an insulated cup that’s ready for any beverage. This tumbler seamlessly transitions from steaming coffee in the morning to snow cones in the afternoon to wine under the stars. Or spread the love with a stainless steel shot glass set.
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Dust Removal Wipes

You are in the middle of a dust bowl; “clean” is a concept you should just let go of once you arrive in Black Rock City. That said, you can wipe off the day’s grime, costume makeup, and sunscreen with these biodegradable face wipes. The individual packets prevent them from drying out and keep the dust out when sharing. Larger wipes can help clean the whole body. Prevent and soothe the dreaded playa foot – dry, cracked feet from the alkali dust – by adding vinegar to baby wipes before you arrive.
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Somewhere to Sit

While the playa is made for exploring, you’ll have some periods of downtime at your camp. Pack a comfortable chair to ensure you have a cozy spot for R&R. The Treo from Therm-A-Rest folds up small and is light enough to take with you as you go forth to discover new places to chill. You can also carry a piece of canvas or a pocket blanket to plop down anywhere throughout the day.
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First-Aid Kit

Prepare for anything with this field-ready kit. It has remedies for allergies, dehydration, headaches, cuts, and even an upset stomach.
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A Few Nice-to-Haves

We’ve gone over the Burning Man essentials, but of course you might want to bring along a few extra creature comforts. They’re all practical, we swear.
  • Outdoor shower (Nemo Helio Pressure Shower, $100; pictured): Set up a small basin and a tarp to evaporate the water and you’re all set for a fancy pressure shower or foot rinse.
  • Poncho in case of unexpected rain (it’s rare, but it has happened on the playa)
  • Small pen and notebook for jotting down your new friends’ contact info
  • A bike – although don’t bring your nice one. The dust wreaks havoc on playa cruisers. We suggest finding a used beater bike on Craigslist prior to the event. And don’t forget your bike lights.
  • Handy apps like Time to Burn
  • Airtight containers to keep dust out of your food
  • Pee funnel and menstrual supplies
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bring extras of your essentials to share. What goes around, comes around on the playa!
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