Burning Man Packing List: How to Survive and Thrive on the Playa

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Burning Man, 2018

This guide exists to help you pack for and survive Burning Man.

Planning for Burning Man is overwhelming. You have to get tickets, find transportation, join a camp, and figure out what you need to survive 7+ days in the Nevada desert.

To make your planning and packing process easier, I’ve created this resource of the essential items you will need to thrive and survive at the Burn.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a good starting point. If you have any questions, send me an email at [email protected].

You can also learn more about my experience at Burning Man in What Burning Man Taught Me About Death, Dancing, and Intimacy.

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Bring your tickets and a photo ID. Many camps won’t let you drink without showing your ID.

Staying Hydrated and Energized

  • CamelBak: Get a bag that can hold 2-3 liters of water and that has space to carry other items. This CamelBak will work really well, or if you already have a bag, you can get this 3-liter platypus for it.
  • Electrolytes: The Burn is exhausting. I found that drinking one to two of these electrolyte packs a day helped me feel better throughout the experience. I often put them directly into my CamelBak water.
  • Extra Energy: I enjoyed having a stock of 5 Hour Energy to give myself a little energy boost when feeling tired.
  • Feel Refreshed: This Rosewater mist spray smells great and is incredibly refreshing on your skin.

Sleeping and Shelter

  • Tent: You need a good tent to survive the Burn. I stayed with another person in this Coleman Cabin tent, and it was perfect. It’s sturdy, spacious, and well-priced. Make sure to buy the tent kit and rainfly as well.
  • Pillow: Getting enough rest will make or break your Burn. I really enjoyed this travel and camping pillow. It provides a ton of neck support and compresses into a small sack so it’s easy to carry.  
  • Sleeping bag: You want a sleeping bag that has enough support, room, and warmth. This sleeping bag worked really well for me.
  • Earplugs: There is always bass at Burning Man, so you absolutely need earplugs to sleep. These foam earplugs worked well for me in 2018, but I have since fallen in love with Mack’s silicone earplugs and would bring them instead.
  • Eye mask: The sun rises early at the Playa. Having an eye mask can help you sleep a little later and take a daytime snooze if you need it (you will). I use this eye mask.

Eating and Drinking Essentials

  • Eating utensils: This Snow Peak Trek Titanium Bowl is great to have for getting food from around the playa. Eating Get a spork so that you can eat with someone in case your hands are dusty or dirty.
  • Drinking: You need a cup or mug to get drinks while you’re out and about. This GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug should be your go-to for drinks. You can attach it directly to your Camel-Bak. I was also happy to have these stainless steel cups as backup drinking vessels.
  • Sanitation: Small packets of hand sanitizer are useful to have in the small bag you carry.
  • Trail Mix: I’m not sure I would have survived the Burn without Archer Farms Peanut Butter Monster. It’s delicious and caloric, so it’s perfect for when you want some quick and tasty energy. I stocked up on it at Target before heading to the Playa.

Essential Clothing

  • Boots: You absolutely need boots on the Playa. I loved having these Japanese Tabi Boots. Not only are they comfortable and sturdy, but they are incredibly light-weight so you can still be nimble as you dance around the desert.
  • Pants: You need pants for when it gets cold at night. I enjoyed having a lightweight pair of hiking pants and putting these sports tights under them to keep warm at night.
  • Shirts: These are fun shirts for the Burn.
  • Socks: Having merino wool socks is great for when you’re going to bed. You can wipe the dust off of your feet with wipes, put a little coconut oil on them, and then put on the socks.

Staying Clean

  • Bathing wipes: You will get incredibly dusty at the Burn, and you might not have a shower. Having a large supply of these no-rinse bathing wipes is a must. I recommend using them directly before going to bed and when you wake up.
  • Towels: These microfiber towels are good companions to have around.

Protecting Your Skin

Fun Toys and Accessories for the Playa

  • Singing bowl: I loved having the Silent Mind Tibetan singing bowl at the Burn. I carried it in my backpack for quick meditation and intention setting sessions.
  • Headbands: These GOT headbands are amazing. They have fun patterns, and they can be used as accessories, for sun protection, and as a makeshift face mask for dust storms. These floral headbands are cheap and easy ways to add some flavor to your wardrobe.
  • Goggles: These retro goggles will protect your eyes during dust storms and are fun to wear at night.

Lights to Stay Safe

  • El Wire: At night, you need to wear lights on the Playa, so that people don’t mow you down on their bikes. The best type of light for the playa El Wire. You can string it along your body, your bag, and your bike. Get more than you think you need.
  • Flashlights: It gets very dark at night, so it’s helpful to have a headlamp and flashlight to navigate, especially when you’re in the tent. This headlamp and these flashlights.

For transparency, some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you decide to make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I have personally used all of these products and found them incredibly valuable at Burning Man. I’m recommending them to you with the hope that they will help you have a better experience at Burning Man, not because of the small commissions I will make.

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