What to Bring to Burning Man: A Complete Packing List

As I’ve packed for Burning Man each year, I’ve been maintaining and updating this list. If you’re going for your first time (or just don’t like keeping lists), I’m open sourcing mine for ya’ll to use as reference. Some of these items are optional. You may find that you need more than this. Use your best judgment. (Oh, and if there’s anything you cannot live without, bring more than one of that thing.)

bm16
PRE-TRIP CAR CARE

  • Rotate tires if necessary
  • Change oil if necessary (Just do it)
  • Tell the mechanic you’re about to drive a zillion miles into Hell Itself and to check the belts and all that Just In Case because it’s one hell of a walk back to town.

photo 1
CAR

  • Jumper cables
  • Jack (Make sure you know how to use it. Make sure of this while you are still at home.)
  • Spare tire
  • Gas can
  • Registration (Make sure it does not expire during BM!)
  • Proof of car insurance (Make sure it does not expire during BM!)
  • Driver’s License (+ State ID, if you have one. Carry the state ID as your proof of age for bars, just in case you lose it. You don’t want to drive home without your license. The Nevada police will be looking for reasons to ticket you.)
  • AAA Card (That 100-mile tow, yo.)
  • Two copies of your car key. Keep them in different, extremely safe, outside-of-the-car places.
  • Your Burning Man Tickets
  • Your Burning Man Car Permit

bm9
TOOLS

  • Mallet (to hammer rebar into the ground)
  • Vice grip (to pull rebar out of the ground when it’s time to go)
  • Work gloves (for your poor hands. bring some for friends)
  • Screw drivers, wrenches, hex keys never hurt. (You might need them for your shade or bike. Make sure they fit your bike.)

bm7
TENT

  • A tent that sleeps as many of you as there are + fits some of your food/coolers/clothes. You don’t want to walk to the car for everything.
  • Rebar (at least 1′-2′ long for tents. 4′ for tall shade.)
  • Tennis balls (cut slits in them and use them to cap off rebar for safety)

bm5
BED

  • Pillows and blankets that you don’t mind getting very dirty
  • Sleeping bag (I like to put the sleeping bag on top of the blankets when it’s hot, for padding, and then move the blankets on top of the sleeping bag for warmth when it’s cold.)

photo 3
SHADE

  • A shade structure that is very well secured to the ground with rebar (An EZ-UP, or a bunch of metal poles + attachments from Home Depot. Make sure the poles and the attachments all fit BEFORE you leave.)
  • Additional shade cloth for the sides/top of your shade structure (I like alluminet, or tough cloth. Tarp is too loud in the wind. If you cut slits in big pieces of cloth, wind will blow through it more easily and be less likely to destroy your shade.)
  • Bungees to hold shit together (I like bungeeballs.)
  • Big zipties. You’ll need them for something.
  • Duct tape. You’ll need it for something.

bm1
KITCHEN

  • Coolers (Make sure they do not leak or you will be sad and wet. I like to have one for food that I rarely open, and one for drinks that I open all the time. The more you open it, the less cool it will be.)
  • Small grill
  • Extra can of fuel for grill
  • One pot, one pan, one spatula, one ladle
  • Cup (this item is precious), bowl, plate, spork per person
  • One sharp food knife
  • Flasks
  • Tupperwares
  • Stovetop coffeepot
  • Paper towels to wipe scum from pots/pans. (Go easy on these.)
  • Small bottle of dish soap
  • Sponge (If you want. I just used paper towels.)

bm11
BATHROOM

  • Baby wipes (DO NOT put these in the porta potties. If I were you, I would use these only for wiping my skin in place of showering, and never as toilet paper. Too much hassle.)
  • Shower bags are nice but not necessary
  • Towel
  • Pads/tampons (and a place to throw them out. You CAN NOT use the porta-potties for these. If you have any big jugs left over from protein powder or juice or whatever, those make great places to store nasty shit, because they shut tightly and trap smells. If this is too gross for you, this is the red flag that Burning Man might not be a good place for you to go.)
  • Deoderant
  • Lotion
  • Aloe
  • Sun screen (Bring several! They will run out.)
  • Neosporin (For wounds, or very chapped lips.)
  • Vasiline (I use it for chapped lips and chapped nostrils.)
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye drops
  • Contacts + solution + container
  • Spare glasses + cases + sunglasses (Don’t leave these in the car. It gets hot. Once it got so hot in the car, my shitty glasses shattered in there.)
  • Bandaids (Before you buy some first aid kit, check and see what’s actually in it.)
  • Bandage
  • Gauze
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Gauze
  • Prescriptions. Do you have any? Bring extra.
  • Chap stick
  • Birth control + condoms
  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth paste
  • Mouth wash
  • Floss
  • Spit bottle for brushing teeth. (Again, just bring an empty jug that shuts tightly. Use a different one for this than the tampons. Come on.)
  • Toilet paper (I usually bring like… 3 rolls for two people. And it’s too much every time.)
  • Map with directions to the medical tent, just in case you drunkenly step on rebar or something else bad happens.

bm15
BIKES

  • Bike rack
  • shitty bikes (No good bikes or else they will turn into shitty bikes.)
  • Bike tire tubes (Make sure to get the right sizes for your bikes.)
  • Bike pump
  • Tire irons (to change flats)
  • Bike lock (Doesn’t need to be a strong one. Just enough to deter a jerk or drunk, confused person.)

disorient
Image from Disorient & Trammell Hudson
GLOW

  • Flash lights (At least one per person)
  • EL Wire + controllers
  • AA, AAA batteries at least (Check what your equipment uses. You may need CR button batteries for some things.)
  • Bike lights
  • Head lamps
  • Lantern for inside the tent

bm12
WATER

photo 4
FOOD

    Probably bring less than you think you’ll need. I like:

  • Some cash to buy bags of ice.
  • Pre-cooking and marinating chicken breast. Put each cooked breast in it’s own sandwich bag, and throw all the bags in a cooler on ice. Heat it up on the grill in minutes. Fresh, delicious chicken all week! Protein is important in the crazy climate. And if your friends are tired and starving, you can throw them a bag and they can have a cold chicken snack with no prep. It’s nice.
  • Instant mashed potatoes are delicious
  • Just-add-water pancake mix
  • Syrup
  • Canned coffee or ground coffee for your stovetop pot (The latter is a pain to clean.)
  • Limited fruits and veggies. Don’t bring too much to each before they go bag. Pick ones that dont leave a core.

photo 2
ALCOHOL
You’re over 21, right? Of course you are.

  • The basics: vodka, whiskey, gin, etc.
  • Ginger beer (Especially tasty on the playa. Crabbies is alcoholic, too. mmm.)
  • Champagne + OJ
  • Many beerz

bm2
BACKPACK
The stuff to put in your day bag / night bag.
Oh, also: Don’t put your phone in here. Stick it in a ziplock bag to keep it clean, and leave it in a safe place in your tent. It will get destroyed out on the playa, and you don’t need it.

  • Water (Either via a camel back or a big water bottle.
  • Snacks (It’s easy to think you’ll be gone 10 minutes and end up being gone for hours. Bring enough to not die.
  • Zip-lock bag of toilet paper. The porta-potties rarely have any.
  • Hand sanitizer. The porta-potties are usually out.
  • A cup (People will offer you alcohol. You will put it in this cup. A lid is nice.
  • A flask or bottle of your own alcohol.
  • Your ID
  • The key to your bike lock (I usually clip this to my backpack on the inside.)
  • Flash light (I like the small ones that you can clip to your zipper, for easy use in the dark porta-potty.)
  • Extra batteries for whatever glowy stuff you’re wearing
  • Hat, bandana, or some form of extra sun protection
  • Gifts. If you brought things to give, bring them with you in your bag.