This page provides a helpful pre-Burn packing list to make sure you’ve got everything!
Camp Supplies & Equipment
First, let me talk about what the camp will be providing, which you don’t need to bring yourself. Building, purchasing, and maintaining this stuff is basically what camp dues are for. Additionally, some consumable supplies are better purchased in bulk, like water and cleaning supplies.
- Shade (in the form of two geodesic domes and structures created with shade cloth)
- Propane stoves and cooking supplies
- Camp meals (not including the first Sunday)
- Single-ply toilet paper (1 roll/person, more than single-ply is not allowed in the portapotties)
- Vinegar (for feet washing)
- First Aid Kit
While the camp does supply some essentials, you are responsible for bringing everything else you need to survive and thrive on the playa. While thinking about what to bring, keep two things in mind: first, everything you bring to Burning Man you must also bring back from Burning Man; second, everything you bring is going to be saturated with dust by the time you leave. This second point is especially relevant when it comes to electronics; take care of your gadgets and they will survive the burn in reasonably good condition. For example, you should probably put your camera away mid-dust-storm, or at least shoot through a plastic bag.
Your tent is your home base on the playa, so make sure it’s comfortable. You won’t be spending much time in it other than to sleep though, so keep it simple. Another important point is to ensure your tent takes up a reasonable amount of space, as shaded areas are at a premium in the desert. For example: a single person should not be taking up a four-person tent.
- Tent or other shelter
- Sleeping bag
- Foam sleeping pad (Optional, but the ground is pretty hard, and it gets cold. Yoga mats also work.)
- Plastic tubs to keep things in
- Plastic bags to seal unused clothes/items in
- Ear plugs
Having a cup with you as you journey the playa is a must! Burners are generous people and would love to pour you a drink, but every place on the playa is BYOC to prevent litter from disposables. Ideally, your cup will have a closed handle so you can attach it to a belt loop or a backpack with a carabiner. Another great feature to look for is a lid that can open and close a small drinking hole – this will help keep the dust out of your cup when it’s not in use (also when it is). You’ll frequently be using your cup for cold drinks in the day and it can double as a soup cup at night, so make sure it is insulated as well.
- Utensils (I <3 my Titanium Spork)
- Cup (as above). I would definitely recommend bringing two or more cups. You will often run into the issue of having coffee in one cup and being offered a bloody mary, and it'd be rude to refuse. A locking lid is helpful but not essential.
- Bowl or plate to eat out of (bowl is preferred, collapsible bowl/plates have worked well for people in the past)
- Personal food (mostly snacks, things that do well in extreme heat.)
- Many people keep their snack food in the kitchen to be shared among the camp for more variety.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc.
- Towel(s). Microfiber is best here!
- Biodegradable soap
- Deodorant (I’d recommend against anti-perspirants – the desert is dry enough)
- Moisturizer! (it gets very dry!)
- Wet-wipes (work great in place of showers)
- Hand sanitizer
In addition to the supplies needed for a week of life in the desert, you’ll also need equipment to handle and enjoy the environment of the playa. These are items you will be taking with you on your journey through the desert.
This is equipment you should generally always have on your person as you journey through Burning Man. A Camelbak or similar water carrying device is essential for a good experience. This is one of the things I consider to be non-negotiable. I went to my first burn with a Nalgene on a carabiner and trust me, you want something better than that. If not a Camelbak, you at least need a backpack with enough room to store your water and the rest of your day or night essentials.
- Dust goggles (non-shaded, bring a second daytime pair that is shaded if you want)
- Dust mask (a couple bandanas does fine)
- Camelbak (SERIOUSLY)
- Digital watch with backlight
During the day, the most important things are to protect yourself from the sun and remember to drink enough water. It can be very windy, so make sure your equipment will stay attached to you!
- Shade hat with chin strap (or other secure head covering)
- SPF 30+ sunscreen
- UV-blocking lip-balm
- Light-colored clothing
- Flip-flops or sandals
Note on footwear: According to Skipper, socks and birkenstocks is the winning combination, if you're ready to rock that look. Otherwise, sneakers work, but I've never had a pair look good through Thursday.
At night, the temperature drops very quickly and can hover near freezing, so it is important to be prepared! This calls for radically different clothes than the daytime, so make sure you pack for both. A headlamp is also essential for night-time navigation – don’t settle for a flashlight. The other important note is that it is very, very dark on the playa, so it’s important that you can be seen by other Burners – especially the ones on bikes. This means lighting yourself up as much as possible with as much style as possible, in a way your friends can recognize. Part of the thrill of wandering around at night is seeing what people have dressed themselves up in, so go nuts on your own costumes!
- LED headlamp (bring spare batteries, one that switches between red and white light is best)
- Walking shoes (close-toed – it’s cold!)
- Costume clothes!
- Jacket/Coat (go crazy, just make sure it’s warm)
- Lighting: something recognizable and pleasant to look at is ideal
A bicycle, while not a necessity at Burning Man, does make some activities significantly easier. They are mostly used during the day to make long distance travel through the heat faster and easier, or for touring the sights. However, it is certainly still possible to walk anywhere in Black Rock City. At night, more people walk so as to not have to keep track of their bike’s location, but it can still be useful for reaching that far-away art exhibit. You can buy & bring your own bike (remember to take it home with you!), or rent one in Reno from Black Rock Bicycles (as of 2022, you cannot pick up a rental bicycle in Black Rock City). If you do bring a bike, it is important to kit it out appropriately:
- Mountain bike, beach cruiser, or fat bike
- Headlamp / taillight for visibility, and additional lighting for nighttime flair
- Bicycle chain + lock, use this always
- Identification tag with name and camp address
- Basket for carrying loose objects (optional)
- Spare inner tubes / patch kit
- Decoration! (the more unique your bike is, the less likely it will “look like someone else’s” in the dark)
A final note, make sure that the bike you bring is in decent condition. If you get a cheap bicycle right before the Burn, realize you’re going to be riding a cheap bicycle in very trying conditions – if you wouldn’t want to ride it on normal streets, you’re going to want to ride it even less over bumpy desert dust.