How to Prep for Burning Man

Hey campers! Here is a list of how to go about having your best playa experience. You need to bring Everything you can think of to survive camping in the desert for a week. Burning Man provides only porta potties and a place that sells ice.  Radical self reliance is the buzz word.                                                                                                          

– Get your car maintained before you go — and fill it up completely with gas when you get to Reno or Sparks. Don’t wait until you’re in Gerlach.

– Make sure your AAA bill is paid. Flat tires do happen.

– Bring spare car keys.

– IMPORTANT! Unwrap as many of your items as possible before heading to the playa so you won’t have to deal with as much trash/recycling/compost to take home. Put food, drinks, water, and supplies in bulk containers and bags instead of individually wrapped packaging. Do this all prior to arriving on the playa.

– Put your toiletries in ziploc bags, arranged by how often you use stuff (most frequently in one bag, rarely used in another bag.) And then put those baggies in a medium sized plastic box. Label the box.

– Place all bottles upright for traveling (otherwise leakage can happen with pressure going up or down in altitude through Tahoe).

– Bring a makeshift “sink” –  like a bowl — for doing contact lenses and such…saline in squirt bottles for cleaning lenses.

– Charge your cell phone BEFORE you get to the playa. A car charger is a great thing to have, and there’s no guarantee of being able to charge anything once you arrive.

– Spray bottle & natural baby wipes make a nice personal shower.

– Bring work gloves

– Babywipes. The makeup remover kind, the unscented kind, the antibacterial kind…you can’t have too many. Buy the refills — they seal up better than the dispensers, which tend to evaporate.

– Bring extra trash bags for blankets, etc. to be stored in.

– Bring a trash bag for your dirty clothes

– Bring an old sheet to go On Top of your bed during the day. If there’s a dust storm when you’ve gone, your bed is protected. Shake it off and then you always have a clean bed!

– Bring lots of large heavy duty trash bags for taking away extra MOOP(Matter Out Of Place) off the playa. Everyone needs to do this, there are no trash receptacles at Burning Man. Pack it in, pack it out!

– Bring a copy of all your favorite events, workshops, parties, etc from the website

-A wristwatch to attach on to the handlebars of your bike. No need to carry around your expensive cell phone, tell time the old fashioned way.

– Bring extra bike inner tubes and pump just in case (and there’s always some bike camps that can help if not)

– Pee funnel for women: get one of these fluid funnels at O’Reilly’s/Kragen’s and enjoy peeing while standing! Best $5 purchase ever (And here’s another one on Amazon, specifically for women:

– Headlamps: Home Depot and Costco has packs of 3 headlamps for the great deal of $18 or less. So you can stop worrying about losing $50-70 headlamps on the playa.

– If you ever want to see it again, put your name on it, please.


Bring a CLEAN CHANGE OF “NORMAL” CLOTHES IN A MARKED BAG to leave in car for the drive home:



t shirt



clean towel

AND Put your “Playa Bag” of playa essentials and your work clothes and work gloves next to you in the front seat. If you arrive on playa at 4 am, or it’s storming…you can grab the bag and have your necessities (like goggles) at hand – it’s a drag if they are buried beneath boxes and you haven’t unpacked yet.) If you arrive late, you’ll need a warm coat handy too.


* Know your rights at Burning Man


Here is the packing list–it’s just the basics and does not include costumes:


Burning Man ticket-don’t leave home without it!

Vehicle Pass- every vehicle entering the playa needs to have one.

BRC early arrival pass(if you’re on the early arrival crew)

Pick up ICE, fill water bottles and Dry Ice in Reno


– Car Keys, and duplicate car keys

– Get an Oil change before you leave town

– Make sure everything in your vehicle is in working order. This includes all outside lights, as cops pull cars over and search them even if a tail light is out.

– Registration, your driver’s license, insurance card…don’t drive an unregistered car. There are speed traps all over Nevada.

– Spare tire, jack, fluids, jumper cables, lug wrench

– Bike rack (make sure your bikes DO NOT cover your license plate, even just a smidgen, or you WILL get pulled over and searched once you hit the playa.

– Bungies and tie-downs.

– AAA/CAA roadside service number & cell phone charger

– Car munchies and filled water bottles


– Lubed chain and sprocket

– Brake check, kickstand, basket

– Innertube spare & tools

– Lights (front and rear)

– Combo lock (bike theft happens Regularly on the playa, no joke)

– Decorations and lights

– pump

– lubrication


– solar shower bag

– bowl to use as sink

– baby wipes( a Must on the playa)

– dr. bronner’s soap

– prescription medication (if you take any)

– Mirror

– Lotion

– coconut oil (for your skin)

– tea tree oil (for cuts and scratches)

– sunscreen!

– aloe vera (for burns) 

– lip balm

– leave-in conditioner 

– hair ties

– brush/comb

-beeswax salve(you may actually want to apply this to your butthole every day, as people tend to get hemorrhoids from dehydration and from using dusty TP on the playa.

– Toilet Paper (you never know when the potties will run out)


– SuperGlue

– working Sharpie/pens

– Toilet paper/tissue paper/paper towel or rags kit, sponge

– zip ties

– Ratchet straps

– duct tape

– X-acto knife or scissors

Rechargeable batteries

Solar charger

Battery tester

– squirt bottle/mister

– scissors

– grommet kit

– lots of safety pins

– needle and thread


– shade structure

– guylines/rope

– Tent & fly

– tarp

– camp chair- marked with your name

 blankets or sleeping bag

– very bright tent lantern or flashlight

– inflatable mattress or futon or padding

– old sheets (and an extra sheet on top for keeping dust off)

– Extra tarp for creating shade with your neighbors

– pillow and extra pillow case(to put old clothing in to act as another pillow)

– Lights so you can find tent, like solar or el wire

– Rebar for all structures and tarp;

– Rebar coverings (orange plastic hardware store items, tennis balls, doll’s heads… anything to keep people walking into exposed rebar and getting hurt)

– mallet – something to pound them in

– dustpan and whisk broom

– air pump


– extra water – 1-2 gal. per day in big reusable water containers (fill in Reno) Do not use little 1 gal. plastic bottles — very unustainable and creates trash.

– personal cooler — thick walled kind, not the cheap thin kind. Put BLOCK ice in it, not cube ice. Lay a layer of water frozen in plastic bottles — when they thaw, you can bathe with the water. Cooler stays dry and does not create more grey water.

– little cutting board

– Electrolytes: Honey, Lemon juice, cayenne, maple syrup, seaweed flakes, & Sea salt…all to put in your drinking water when you’re ready to drink it. Gatorade is Not electrolytes….please, it’s just a marketing scam, people have gotten really sick drinking that stuff.

– Emergen C

– Vitamins & supplements to support immune system

– extra protein (smoked salmon, canned tuna, nuts, nut butter, boiled eggs, hard cheese, spirulina, goji berries, tofu jerky etc…

– snack bars

– dried fruit

– jars of salsa, veggie spreads, chips, snacks, crackers, flax crackers, cookies, nuts to bring to potlucks and cocktail parties…..

– dehydrated hummus

– miso soup mix

– cacao nibs

– maca

– green powder

– raw cacao

– bee pollen

LOTS OF PERSONAL DRINKS(you can never have too much on the playa! -like lemonade and coconut water)

 Don’t bring bread (or just one and eat it almost right away), otherwise it dries immediately after you arrive.


Your Day Pack-ready to go

– Goggles for both day and night vision

– dust masks & mask holder (like bandana)

– sunglasses to match costumes

– headlamp and batteries

– Alcohol-based hand cleaner

– water bottle

– sun hat and warm hat

– Camera (memory, batteries, charger, lens cover, Ziploc or case)

– notebook & pens in Ziploc to take down new friend’s names!

– Plate, bowl, mug, fork, spoon, or chopsticks

– Cloth napkin

– Tupperware containers to take food to go

– Blinky Lights & batteries

– Safer sex supplies

– Small bag to carry MOOP inside

– Reusable handkerchief

– Vinegar spray bottle for feet treatment

– toothbrush and toothpaste

– dental floss

– nail trimmers and file

CLOTHES – both the basics and costumes

 – work clothes for set up/strike(shorts, tshirts/tank tops, old sweater, jeans or sweatpants)

– dust goggles

– bandana and dust masks

– boots and enclosed shoes

– many pairs of underwear (there’s no washing machine out there)

many pairs of socks, VERY important to prevent feet from drying up and cracking.

– Shades

– Sarongs 

– booty shorts, bikini tops, capes, sun hats for the daytime

sexxxxy velvet, furry or comfy warm leather pants for dancing at night

tights/layered fishnets to stay warm at night

long johns in case it gets really ‘effin cold

warm funky old fur coat from thrift store

Whew! And there you go. See you on the playa!