Burning Man: My Complete Gear List, Virgin & Photo Guides
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
~ Scott Adams
So it’s been awhile since I did my original virgin and photography guides part 1 and part 2 for Burning Man. However, one of the things that I didn’t include with those guides was a really complete gear list, and let’s face it, getting your gear together is one of the bigger tasks at hand before heading to the playa. So here you go, my complete gear list compiled over 6 burns, items are not listed in order of importance. Two disclaimers, first I’m sure I’ve overlooked some things, feel free to add to the comments. Secondly, my list has evolved every year, feel free to hit the comments section with questions and I’ll reply snark free. :)
First couple of things should be incredibly obvious, ticket, parking pass, directions to Black Rock City and DON”T bring things on the prohibited list, GATE people will turn your ass around and send you home. Please leave your pets at home, the playa is a nightmare for them and dogs are prohibited. Bring your schedules for any volunteering you’re doing, you are volunteering right? :)
shade structure (2) – 11 foot metal poles, with T connectors, tarp 8 x 12 & 6 x 10, rebar, old tennis balls to cap the rebar, 100 ft of clothing line rope. This is a simple and basic structure, keep it tight so that it doesn’t flap and it’s damn near indestructible. The picture below is a similar design with a better view of the structure from one of the Alternative Energy Zone folks, mine uses steel instead of wood and I also hang camping clothesline wire around the side and have sewn fabric panels I hang for decoration and privacy, punch holes in them so the wind doesn’t catch in them.
Here’s an external shot of my set up:
surveyor tape to mark out camp and flag camp lines
water jug cooler – fill with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks
home made AC for tent
Music source w/radio function – BMIR 94.5 is funny and gives good info, there are usually a couple of small radio signals on the playa. I bring an old boom box with a CD player but you can get much fancier.
Tools (vice grips (not cheap ones, you use this to pull rebar that has become cemented in the playa by twisting and wiggling it out, have a veteran show you how), hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties (various sizes), pliers, staple gun, nails, screws, 5 pound sledgehammer, 3 in 1 oil, tie downs, bungees, knife, scissors, etc…
tent stakes – but supplement them with rebar on your tent and no dinky stakes, at least 8 inch metal. I have seen a tent airborne in a dust storm
bucket and rebar – bucket for holding rebar, tools etc… bring extra rebar various lengths
ground cover – I look all year for cheap old carpets, however, if the edges are frayed they can be a huge MOOP problem, I’ve duct taped the edges before going out, works ok. This year an experiment I’m using a canvas drop cloth, I’ve also seen artificial turf used.
lighting – camp lantern, flashlights, head lamps are essential, I also use cheap solar ground lights and some decorative hanging solar lights as well
Sun shades for the inside of the car to keep it from getting super hot inside
small camp table
Shower, evaporation pool – 1 metal pole with hook, solar shower bag, thick black plastic .6 mil (not garbage bags), wood for frame, small platform to stand on, shower chair
Below is a picture of a similar set up from a shot on the web, don’t have a pic of mine, but do some research there are a million shower designs out there, mine is the most basic
Dr. Bronners soap – can use it to wash dishes, teeth, body whatever
Big bowl and wash cloth – alternatives to showering, bowl (sponge bath) and baby wipes are the most basic alternative
Sleeping tent – and years when camping with others I’ve brought a garage tent for storage, including a stand up mirror, usually use the garage for costumes, food other things I want access to that don’t involve sleeping
plastic painters tarp – put over your mattress, sleeping bag, pillow to keep dust off during the day
small hand broom to sleep out tent
pots, pans, glasses, plates, utensils, etc… – if you go environmentally friendly, bring a bucket for dish washing and remember to evap the grey water, DON’T dump it on the playa
camp cup – if you want a drink at most camps you’ll need to have your own cup
ziplocks – they are great to protect everything from dust
stove – I go minimalistic Mountain House camp food (Beef Stroganoff is awesome) and a pocket rocket or other way to cook off of propane. However the options are unlimited, camp grills or even full sized propane grills.
extra cooking fuel
A minimum of 1.5 gallons per person per day, I bring 2.0 to be safe, it allows me to share and lets face it, you don’t want to be short on water. Don’t forget you do get to buy ice, I fill one drinking cooler just with ice and let it melt for cold drinking water and ice for drinks.
This list is utterly personal, I like having my main meals as dehydrated camp food and lots of easy food. Some fresh stuff for the first day or so, but I avoid things like bananas that leave green waste that will end up stinking.
I bring my by good cameras but that’s a choice, the photo guide will give you more info. Using your phone for photos will open up your phone to a lot of dust. I recommend cheap digital cameras or even the temporary digitals if you’re just recording fun shots. If you’re shooting more seriously take a look at my photo guides part 1 and part 2 for more info. One warning I have had cameras die after being on the playa for one burn.
seat post rack – particularly good for carrying ice but if a bigger camp bring a little kids wagon
tie downs, bungees – to hold ice on the bike rack
extra tubes, patch kit
items to decorate your bike with
backpack – I bring both a small backpack and my camelback that has a bladder a small amount of storage space
goggles – really, sunglasses just don’t cut it in a dust storm
dust mask & bandanas
crocs, sandles or other shoes for late night porta potty runs
personal lighting – EL wire is best, glow sticks are MOOPey, but don’t be a darkwad on the playa
cold weather gear – layers to warm up, gloves, warm hat, sweat pants to wear in your sleeping bag if need be
hats – for sun protection, warmth and decoration
Completely personalized but remember to have costumes for all the potential temperatures, something for sunny hot, warm evenings or freakin cold nights. I’ve seen every temperature from 115 to 35 on the playa.
1st aid kit
Emergen-C, aspirin, ibuprofen any other meds you ordinarily use
vinegar – helps with playa foot (the acid counterbalances the alkalai)
car battery charger – this is a stand alone car battery charger I bring to be able to jump other cars or mine :)
garbage bags – for your trash and MOOP pick up, don’t throw your bags on the side of the road on the way out, there are lots of trash drop options on the way back to the default world
batteries, bring extra
skin lotion – your skin will dry out on the playa
toiletries and toilet paper – the porta potties usually have some but be safe and remember nothing but toilet paper and your bodily products in the porta potties, NO BABY WIPES in the porta pottie.
personal items – anything from sanitary products, to condoms to whatever you might need
journal, pens – I’m a writer so I spend some time on the playa writing
List of locations where people told you they are camping.
extra car key to hide in your camp
night time potty alternative if you don’t want to walk to the porta potties, here’s a final image for you
Art Project – if you are doing a project you know what you need
Gifts – bring something to gift people who have been helpful or nice or just because you want to.