Your Ultimate Festival Packing List
From Coachella to Outside Lands, make sure you pack these festival essentials
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Ready for Anything
The West has some of the largest festivals you can find, going from the deserts at Burning Man and Coachella to Napa’s BottleRock and Vail’s GoPro Mountain Games. But don’t go unprepared—check out our recommendations to be ready for a weekend of fun.
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Grab Your Bag
Even if you aren’t carrying much, it’s important to have your belongings safely secured. The best way to do so while running from show areas and food tents? A trusty backpack. If you’re looking for a classic backpack that can endure dust and dirt over the course of a weekend, and comes in a variety of colors, go with a Fjallraven Kanken
). The Kanken Mini
) is great if you’re looking for something on the small side that still fits a water bottle (although it’ll have to go in the main pocket - the Mini’s side pockets are only big enough for items like sunglasses).
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A Modern Pack
Another on-trend option is the modern-day fanny pack. Yes, you heard us right. The latest iterations take the dated accessory and bring it into the current century. Belt bags, like the Payton from Free People
), can be found at a variety of retailers, and look more like change purses that happen to be resting on your hip. They make for a smooth addition to a pair of jeans or shorts, and can fit the ultra-essentials like phone and cash. Upgrade to a more spacious model with a hip pack that can be slung across the hips, like a Hershel Fifteen ($29.99)
—or over a shoulder to deter any unwanted fanny pack jokes.
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For a day (or three!) spent entirely outside, it’s important to stay protected and fueled. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to keep any sunburns at bay—try the variety of SPF options at Supergoop! (from $16)
. A phone and wallet will need to come along too, and make sure to suit up your smartphone in a case (we like Otterbox) that can protect it from any sudden tumbles, spills, or even a turn for damper weather. Festival food is notoriously pricey, so bring along a few snacks to keep the day’s spending from skyrocketing. Bring along granola bars from Nana Joe’s (from $3.50)
that anyone in your squad can enjoy whether they’re vegan, gluten-free, or just need some fuel.
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Hydrate on the Go
If there’s anything you shouldn’t forget on a three-day weekend in the sun, it’s a hydration plan. You’ll need it more than ever while running between shows or camping in the desert. Bring a water bottle like a Hydro Flask (from $44.95)
to keep your water cool and easy to access with a straw lid. The wide mouth and double walls make it easy to throw in ice cubes and keep your water cold all day, or fill it up with something warm in the evening if a cold front rolls in. Or, grab a hydration pack for convenience—while they might not be as stylish as a backpack, they’re built to be comfortable all day long while keeping your water close at hand. Grab one that’s compact but still has room to spare, like Camelbak’s Rim Runner 22 ($100)
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Claim Your Space
Planning to put down stakes in one spot for the entire day? We’ve got you covered there, too. The most important thing for any space-claiming at a festival is a great blanket, ideally with a waterproof base to keep grass moisture out all day long. Try the Nemo Victory Blanket ($49.95)
or, if you’re up for a splurge, Pendleton’s Roll-Up Blanket ($139)
. Want a comfy upgrade? Bring in your own seating. You’ve likely seen the instant-inflate couches before, and we’re fans of the blue leaf pattern of the Chillbo Baggins ($49.99) air lounger
. We recommend practicing filling these before you arrive at the festival, as it can take some practice (and natural breeze). If you’re toting a bigger bag and they’re within the venue restrictions (call ahead to make sure!), try bringing in a few Leki chairs (from $109.95)
. These compact camp chairs fit into a small bag attached to the bottom of the seat, making it possible to throw a couple into a backpack.
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You can expect some technical hiccups at a festival: nowhere to charge, a terrible cell signal, and one too many photo opportunities. While it’s more important to enjoy the experience than to keep yourself wired in, we’ve got a few handy gadgets to keep you connected with your group (and your ride home). Take advantage of the sun with a Nod’s Beam Bank ($25)
. The fully charged device can power up the battery of a single phone twice, and it has solar panels on it to keep it recharged as you enjoy the day. Use the included carabiner to hook it onto your backpack and enjoy power all day long (but since it takes at least 12 hours to completely recharge in the sun, we highly recommend charging it at home first, and using the sun to keep the battery full all day long.) Worried about finding everyone who’s riding home your car at the end of the fest? Grab a couple goTennas (two for $179)
before you head out. The device connects to its companion app on your cell phone and creates its own signal with other gotenna devices to text one another within the app. Make sure to download the app and connect with your friends before you arrive at the festival grounds, and it’ll be easy to stay in touch all day. Bonus: it’s also a GPS, so you can download some local maps in advance if you’re worried about finding your way back to the parking lot, or home from the desert.
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Don’t just dress for the photos when you’re at a festival. Keeping in mind that you’ll be on your feet for an entire weekend, you’ll need footwear that will keep the blisters away. You get total arch support and festival vibes all in one with a metallic pair of Birkenstocks ($135)
that pair nicely with anything from a boho dress to comfy jeans. If the festival is a danger zone for lots of dust or mud (or fog!), consider going for a comfortable pair of boots. Grab a pair of lace-ups like Timberland Waterproof Boots ($170)
or a classic Chelsea like these from Madewell ($68)
. Skip the flower crown
and focus your headwear on sun protection. Go for a literal statement with an “Out of Office” Wordplay Straw Sun Hat ($35)
that has the extra bonus of friends easily finding you in a crowd, or at least grab a trusty baseball hat to keep your face out of the sun. Rep your favorite San Francisco neighborhood and/or magazine with a Sunset Snapback Hat ($30)
. Speaking of San Francisco, if you’re attending Outside Lands, make note that summer in SF is notoriously foggy and can turn cold in an instant. Be sure to pack plenty of layers and water-resistant shoes to protect you from moist grass.