12 Experienced Burners Share Their Best Burning Man Packing List Advice

Going to Burning Man can be a bit daunting. What should you bring and what should you leave at home? How do you bring all your stuff to the Burn – and what about all that dust that gets into the eyes and everything else?

To make sure you pack the right stuff, we have talked with 12 experienced burners and asked them to share their best packing list advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (the 12 burners here have been to a total of 55 burns, so they know what they are talking about!).

The 12 Experienced Burners

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

A few things that I’ve found to be useful:

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I live close enough to Black Rock City that I drive every year. I pack my things up in clear Rubbermaid totes—usually about 4 of them—and then smaller things in smaller plastic bins. I usually dedicate one bin to each:

I absolutely have a hydration pack and never leave my camp without it! I might also wear a fanny pack or bring a camera bag.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

There really is no escaping the dust out there! So if you’re wanting to protect against it, just don’t bring the item in question. You can try your best to keep things less dusty by storing things in bins and supplies in plastic baggies within those bins…but yeah, everything’s going to be covered by the end of that week. Guaranteed—so embrace it!

I love heat, so I just throw on a little sunblock and I’m done—plus I drink a little less than a gallon of water daily. For cold nights I come prepared with lots of layers of the Burner clothes I like. But I also bring base layers, warm layers, and windproof layers that are a little more heavy-duty, like what you might take camping in the mountains. They’re not quite as fun to wear around, but on the nights I’ve been there and it hits freezing, I’m sure glad I’ve got them. And as you may already know, a large, fuzzy Playa coat is essential and super fun.

And as for thieves, that’s a tricky one. I think with BM’s popularity more and more folks are going who don’t really understand or even read the 10 Principles. It’s so disappointing, and with that comes people who are not wanting to contribute in any way and actually want to take advantage of people. However, I’ll be honest: the only thing I ever lock up at Burning Man is my bike. There are really fantastic people at the Burn who will restore your faith in humanity. The last year I went, my fanny pack which had both my new camera and my iPhone was taken from a bench where I had accidentally left it. I was certain it had just gotten snatched up and would be gone forever. But I went to Lost + Found (which is spectacularly organized there) and found it. Someone had noticed it was unattended and was just being helpful.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

  • My Adventure Attitude. This is my way of looking at life differently, so that it isn’t hard, it’s fun. For the past two years I’ve been out there for 2 1/2 weeks (from pre-build, build week, the Burn and breakdown). It’s a lot of work to build our frontage and camp. It gets hot. People get frazzled. Stuff happens. It takes courage, flexibility, openess to other people’s opinions & methods, as well as being ok with all that dust. When you look at it with gratitude, or as a learning lesson, or that even challenges can be fun…then work at Burning Man is fun. And after all that work, exploring all the other amazing things there is even better.

    I admit, this past year was hotter than ever. There were times my attitude wasn’t great. But – because over the years it infected others…well, some came to my rescue. Taking me out to a cacao ceremony in a dust storm; or to the misting tent where we ended up feeling chilled on a 105 degree day; or to enjoying a bespoke tequila drink in a real glass at the French Quarter!

  • My Princess Potty. It’s actually a mini porto potty that has a purple lid and I bedazzled. It’s a camping luxury, but hey – it’s way better than a pee bottle at 4am!
  • Nuun hydration tablets. I drink tons of water (like most people out there). I don’t like all the calories of Gatorade. Nuun makes these great flavors and the tabs are easy to carry. I’ve often gifted to others out there – having those extra electrolytes & vitamins are a definite benefit over just plain water.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I’m from NY, so it’s a process getting everything needed across country. There is a group that has organized those massive shipping containers. In these, NYers buy space by the cubic foot for their bins, boxes & bikes. I’ve heard other east coast cities do this too. The most common bin you will see is a yellow top (from Lowes or Home Depot). They are sturdy and stackable. My camp has 200 people, so our dues cover things like daily dinner, water, and shade structures for over our tents. Some people are really organized with packing these bins. I try, but mostly want to fit “all the things”! Those huge zip lock bags that suck air out are really practical.

For the times I leave camp I usually wear a utility belt (some call them festival belts). They ride around your hips and have lots of pockets. There are some really cool, handmade, leather ones out there. I made myself one (more for build week) out of old jeans, an old belt and some scrap fabric. Holds my phone, bolts, safety pins and a hammer! The most common hydration backpack is a Camelbak. I have one, but hated the hose and rubber bladder. So now I use it to hold my goggles, dust masks, sunscreen, camera, snacks, tissues etc. My water bottle goes either in my bike basket or in an outside pocket of the backpack.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

The first thing to know is that you can’t protect against the dust at Burning Man. You have to go knowing “DUST GETS EVERYWHERE”!! I’ve always felt sorry for the people who try and fight this. However, having a good dust mask is important, and can help against “playa lung.” I use one that dirt bike riders use. Some swear a bandana is enough. In the middle are those paper 3M ones. I bring baby wipes to clean off before crawling into my sleeping bag (I have an extra sheet that I cover my sleeping area with, because dust creeps in to tents and in to RVs).

In my camp we build shade structures to go over groups of tents. Ours are made of tarps and 7′ poles. Other groups have used different materials, but having shade over your tent (and even your van, if you’re sleeping in it) is key. Some people use swamp coolers in their tents to keep cool. This year I discovered the misting tents, so I will be finding those again in the future! The spritzes of water on those dry hot days is ah-maze-ing! At night, people layer their outfits and faux fur coats that have had lights added to them are popular (you do NOT want to be a darkwad, or rather, not lit up at night since there are no street lights and the danger of being hit by a bicyclist etc is real).

Another thing to understand is that you don’t bring anything that is really important to you (or is non-replaceable). The dust is alkaline, and can ruin lots of things – especially electronics. You’ll see pro photog’s with their big lenses wrapped in duct tape. We had a friend who lost his memory card data to the dust. You can have a laptop out there, but you have to take tons of precautions. A big can of pressurized air is handy. I’ve had white clothing that now has permanent yellow stains from the dust. The faux fur coats can be washed (but don’t put them in the dryer!). White vinegar tends to be the most common solution for cleaning this dust (people do bring jugs of it out there). My first year there was a massive rainstorm – shut down Burning Man for 22 hours! Our shade structure wasn’t meant for rain, and sagged under the weight. Another year winds were big (60MPH?) I saw an art car’s top completely bent over. My camp’s 20′ King Kong lost his arm when the entire Empire State Building blew over.

The fact that we survive camping in the desert with it’s harsh conditions is a very bonding factor. Burning Man offers an experience not replicated any where else. If you go, the best advice I could give is to participate…really become part of the experience–not just observe it or use it as a bucket list item.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Wearable lights are one of the most important and fun things at a burn. Glow sticks suck because they fall off and create moop (matter out of place). EL Wire and LEDs are better, just bring extra batteries.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

  • Suitcase since I RV camp and I put some essentials like undies and favorite costumes in plastic baggies to keep them dust-proof until needed.
  • Carry my Yeti cup full of water that stays nice and cold or sometimes a Camelpak with ice and water.
  • I wear pocket belts to carry essentials and snacks because sometimes you don’t get back to camp for many hours. I prefer cloth belts over leather because they are easy to throw in washing machine after burn.

Bring only electronics you have to have. Store them in Freezer bags.

Make sure camera lens does not have to retract like Sony Cybershot. Broke 2 of those before I bought an Olympus Tough Camera. Always ask permission when photographing people at the burn.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

Bring only machine washable items (dry clean bills post burn can be mega high).

Everything gets dirty. At home, wash clothes in laundry soap and vinegar to get the dust out. Do the same thing with bikes. Clean them thoroughly with vinegar and soap to get dust off.

Budget to take the vehicle you brought to BM to a car wash in Reno where they spend 1-3 hours getting it clean using the chemicals that restore cars to pre-Burn condition (especially rentals). Expensive cleaning but it is the best method for restoring cars/trucks/RVs. Don’t know any other city besides Reno that specializes in removing playa dust.

Some things never get truly cleaned again, but the experience makes it worth it. 🙂

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I use packing cubes and multiple duffle bags to keep organized (but let’s be real… but the end of the week, my things are in NO way still organized). People with bigger tents brought full sets of plastic drawers, and those would be ideal if you have the room! I also use a smaller daypack when I’m out exploring the playa, with a hydration pack for water, and a clip-on water bottle for any other drinks.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

The elements are pretty harsh, so good protection is crucial. Sunscreen, goggles and bandanas are all a must! For photos, I keep my phone in a Lifeproof case, and I carry around a GoPro as well. I personally wouldn’t bring many nice things to Burning Man, but if I did I’d make sure they were in dust-proof cases. I also label everything with my name, phone number, and camp, just in case. The Burning Man community in general is caring and considerate, so if you lose something there, chances are whoever finds it will try to return it! I also bring a ziplock bag to protect one outfit for leaving. After being covered in dust for a week straight, it’s nice to have a fresh, dust-free outfit to change into.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Essential oils, to help me and everyone smell better. And to smell something besides the generators. 😉

A top sheet to pull over the entire bed during the day so my pillow and bedding is a dust-free zone.

Concentrace brand 40,000 Volts Electrolyte Concentrate. I add this to my water/Camelbak and it helps me hold on to my hydration without any added sugar.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I bring stuff in rubbermaid storage containers. I ziploc my undies or other clothes that I want to stay dust-free until I wear them. We also have a 3-cooler system for food. 1 cooler for drinks that gets opened lots. 1 as a fridge that we open for meals, and 1 as a “freezer” with dry ice and kept closed until we’ve been there a few days and need to “thaw” something in the fridge cooler.

I carry a backpack/hydration pack so I can be out all day and have MOOP bag, cup, sunscreen, baby wipes, snacks, and fun stuff with me. I like to have a basket on my bike so I don’t have to wear it all the time though.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

We’ve got a pretty sweet set-up. We have a self-designed geodesic yurt that is covered with fabric and aluminet. We can tie a couple sides open, or tie the whole thing closed to avoid dust/rain. Inside we have a Kodiak tent that seals up tight, with a rug out front. Everything we use fits in the yurt, so our bikes and everything else is in at night.

We have an old-school canvas and flannel sleeping bag that stays warm on cold nights.

We use a lot of ziploc bags to store things away from excess dust. I carry my phone/camera in a cut up sock, using the stretchy top of a tube sock to keep it protected from the elements and impacts.

We have had a portable speaker get dust in it and needed repair at home to get it working again.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

Efficient transportation at Burning Man is essential. You can’t fend off dust and wind storms if your gear is blowing around or playa is creeping into the cracks of everything you brought.

When traveling to Burning Man, I use a smaller suitcase or stuff bag that is as dust-proof as possible. Packing cubes- including an empty one for unspeakably dirty clothes- feel almost like a luxury when you see costumes and clothes scattered across your friend’s tent floors.
While you’re on the playa, a small day pack is perfect for water, snacks, extra gear, gifts you receive, and to pick up any trash or faulty costume pieces along the way.

Nota Bene: If you have the chance, get a bike basket! You may feel like the Wicked Witch of the West, but trust me when I say, it is literally a weight off your shoulders.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

Use eye protection all the time! I have goggles during the day and a sleep mask at night. There’s nothing worse than waking up with trace amounts of playa around your eyes.

As for thieves, don’t bring anything valuable in tent while you are out and about during the day. My favorite move so far is locking your valuables in the car when you’re leaving camp.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Burning Man is inherently a gifting culture so the first thing I would say is to be thoughtful about the types of gifts that you bring to give to other burners. There’s no need to go crazy and spend a bunch of cash either, one of the best gifts I got on the playa was a pendant in the shape of the man. A good gift can create an excellent conversation!

The playa is a hostile, alkaline environment so my other two tips would be to pack Bag Balm and a Saline Nasal Rinse. The Bag Balm is great for hands and feet to keep them moist and crack-free and the saline does a great job of clearing playa dust from out of your nose.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

A big backpack with packing pods for all my clothing, accessories, and toiletries etc. A smaller daypack with a hydration bladder for daily use. In this daypack I store – spare batteries, a small first aid kit, flashlight, gifts, and some snacks.

Water is the most important thing you’ll need to carry at all times and a hydration bladder/pack is the easiest way to carry larger volumes around all day.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

Tape up the vents in your vehicle as best you can to stop playa dust from coming inside. If possible, create a small ‘mud room’ where you can remove your shoes and dusty clothes before entering your living quarters.

The weather is unpredictable, it gets really hot in the days and freezing at night. Make sure you are adequately prepared for both. Use tightly sealed goggles and a quality face mask when you are out exploring… you never know when the next dust storm will hit.

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

It’s important to bring the stuff that makes you comfortable in your regular life, because you need that comfort on the playa, too. I bring a novel to read during down times and really comfortable bedding (even if it’s not exactly practical). I always have a notebook and pens on me to journal, and I ask interesting people I meet to write in it to. I’ve got some great notes and poetry from strangers that bring it all back when I re-read them later. I’ve also learned that just because you’re supposed to bring something doesn’t mean you have to if it really doesn’t fit you. Everyone told me to bring a hat for sun protection, but I hate hats. I brought one anyway, but guess what? My hatred for hats doesn’t magically disappear in Black Rock City. Know yourself, and pack accordingly.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I pack in Rubbermaid ActionPackers. I’ve checked them onto flights or tossed them in a bus hold depending on how I’m getting out that year. I also have a “home bag” that’s a change of clothes in ziploc bags, all important documents, keys, phone, spare toiletries, and money that I tuck away and don’t touch until after I’m off the playa and have had a shower. On playa I have a hydration backpack that is always packed with everything I need for 12 hours away from camp. As soon as I come back to camp I re-stock it so that I can always grab it and go at a moment’s notice.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

I keep all my clothes individually in ziplocs so that I’m always putting on clean clothes. For everything else I go with the flow and become one with the dust. Maybe I’m hot, maybe I’m cold, I’m always covered in dust, but I’m always having a great time, so it’s all good!

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

The magic of burning man happens in unplanned serendipitous moments, when needs and desires can collide.

As an avid foodie, I have started bringing a great chefs knife with me as one of my means of contributing and participating. The larger a camp grows, the more elaborate the communal kitchen is; multiple volunteers are required to keep things running smoothly. I have been welcomed in to numerous camp kitchens when I offer chopping skills – and that leads to new friends, great meals and a concrete way for me to participate on a personal level. Likewise, you never know when someone might offer you a meal, or you’ll get caught with old or new friends in a mighty dust storm. Truffle salt elevates everything – from a slice of avocado to a ribeye, offering up my little tin of seasoning has made me plenty of new friends.

I love to celebrate and connect with friends over wine in my daily life, and there’s no reason to leave good taste behind. Watching the Burn on an art car, drinking a Chateau la Nerthe or a rose champagne with my close friends, united in energy and joy – there’s really nothing better.

I like to watercolor, and find miscellaneous moments to create sketches – whether in Temple, or at a bar or over morning coffee, it’s another way to share my adventures and create meaningful gifts and memories.

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

Each year is different – I have been part of an art project that hauled 2 box trucks worth of equipment and gear for 20 people, and I have done a solo drop in without much gear at all (but always enough water!) If I’m going for just a few days, I pack one suitcase with all my playa clothes, and keep one set of post-event gear in a double zip lock bag, to keep it protected from dust; if I’m there for a week or more, everything gets packed in to large plastic bins. Food is prepared meals in a coffin freezer packed with dry ice, unless it’s a short visit – in 2017, I was there for just a few days and had brought just a bag of avocados and some tomatoes, oranges and bananas, miso soup, some tuna packets, and lara bars: highly nutritious, easy to carry foods. I have always purchased water in gallons or 2 gallons, though some friends bring jerrycans of 5 gallons or more; in any case, I always bring plenty of water. All of this stuff stays at the camp. When I’m out on an adventure, I carry a backpack with a camelback full of water, a vacuum -traveler container of an electrolyte-packed beverage, goggle, dust scarf, an extra layer for nighttime, watercolor kit and paper, chefs knife and truffle salt, toilet paper, solar charger and phone (for pictures), and a notebook.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

Protect anything from dust by not bringing it. If it goes to burning man, you are accepting the fate of alkaline dust everywhere.

Protection from heat and cold: layers layers layers, and hydration. Some years I brought multiple blankets and layers of bedding; in 2017, I slept in a sleeping bag next to communal fire pits. The worst year was 2000, when it rained a freezing rain all night, making it impossible to walk for the mud and mess; in times like these, fabulous music and dancing all night keeps you warm. Overheating is also an issue: hydration, energy management and lots of electrolytes/quality nutrition is key.

Jerks and Thieves: it’s the same as any city. If it’s valuable, keep it locked in the car (or don’t bring it); don’t leave your backpack someplace unattended, and keep control of your possessions. I haven’t had anything significant or valuable stolen or damaged in my time at the Burn…..

What top 3 things do you always bring to Burning Man besides the common stuff everybody bring?

How do you bring your stuff to Burning Man?

I organize all of my Burning Man gear in Ziploc Slider bags. They’re extremely convenient because you can see exactly what contents are inside. The Sliders are more expensive, but worth it because you know whether it’s closed airtight or not. They also come in different sizes (quart, gallon, etc.). I would store a single outfit (dress, hat, jewelry) in one Ziploc bag and could easily sort through which outfit I wanted to wear that day. Everyone was always impressed with my organization.

During the day, a backpack is essential. In it, you need to have a bottle that you can refill with water or booze, sunscreen, chapstick, hand sanitizer, camera, a notebook, and a pen or pencil. You will constantly be running into people who will say, “We’re having a party on Wednesday night, you should come.” And you need to be able to write the events down otherwise you’ll forget.

How do you protect your stuff against the elements?

Because I’m extremely sensitive to heat, I’ll speak to protection against the sun. Clothing that is light but protects your skin from direct exposure is really important. Also seek out shade or head to Center Camp Cafe for a coffee break. There wasn’t a single year that I went to Burning Man and didn’t get a rash. Make sure to have any prescriptions or rash cream/hydrocortisone with you.

I’ve never had anything stolen from Burning Man. I count myself lucky. Anything really important was locked up in someone’s RV or in the glove compartment of my car.

About MightyGoods

Here at our site MightyGoods, we have checked thousands of reviews in order to build the biggest directory of backpacks, luggage, handbags and lots of other bags.

So far we have checked more than 2,1 million reviews!

Using our bag review summaries, we aim to help you find the perfect bag without having to spend a lot of time reading an endless list of reviews.

Comments are closed.