8/05/2013

pictorial burning man packing list for travelers

center camp cafe at sunset
you'll need a bunch of stuff to make it here
Yes! you can travel from thousands of miles away with all your camping junk, it is totally possible.

This is what I've ended up with after a few years of learning what works and what doesn't (for me personally) when coming from over 2000 miles away with bag weight and size limits.. (on trains and planes) I haven't spent all that much on my gear.. And I do not have much special backpacker super-light super-small stuff.. excluding the camera gear.. all of my burning man camping junk cost a grand total of about $800 (spread out a few years). Purchased from the big online retailers.. with no real specialty items.. my two most expensive items were: my tent at about $100 and my fancy blow up sleeping pad, again about $100 ..both well worth it!

 So How do you choose to do this?!

-Pro tip: to fit a bunch of junk in a small space nest stuff in otherwise empty spaces.. like bowls, cups, ..shoes...empty coolers. nooks.. crannies.. etc..

-Another thing is: shop around and get the smallest thing you can afford for that year.... it might mean that you have a huge sleeping bag one year, and the next you can afford to get a real nice compact one... Just try and do your best with what resources you've got.. odds are you'll be wanting to do this burning man thing again, you'll have another chance

-Don't be afraid to be comfortable! it isn't a competition to pack light.. I bring tons of small little items that could probably be left behind.. and while not living in total luxury like some, there are certain items that I wouldn't do without.. am-fm radio, melodica.. extra shoes.. a rug for in front of my tent...

-The opposite of the above thing: Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable! if you want to get there, while packing light and not having to re-buy your whole camp in Reno every year... you're gonna have to make some compromises ..maybe it means getting the 2-inch thick blow-up sleeping pad instead of the 6-inch thick blow up bed.. or a tent you cant stand up in.. or a shade structure that's barely taller than your tent.. But!! you will survive this stuff.. it might even feel like "home" after a few days.
OK lets see all your boring packing pictures
I bring two bags, totaling between them about 65 pounds, the black luggage bag contains all my camp gear, the orange bag contains clothing..i also attach my black camera bag to it so i can have one bag on my back.. and one rolling, makes for easy transport on the playa, and while traveling... see burning man ticket and paperwork for scale... black bag is 14 x 16 x 24 inches typical carry-on for airplanes in america is 10 x 16 x 24 inches... If i didn't have such a deep ice cooler this bag would be/is a carry-on bag (I've unzipped that extension thing that makes it a few inches deeper)
 
all neatly packed with a 1 foot ruler for scale

all of my burning man stuff ready to fly
my 2 person tent, tent poles, sleeping bag, super compact blanket, blow up sleeping pad, rug for in front of my tent, melodica, towel, tent stakes, light stand/tripod, extra shoes, solar-powered light-up drink/booze bottle, and importantly: cooler filled with burner stuff (not pictured when these images were made: shade-tarp and small bag with poles that also fits nicely along with all the other junk)

burner gear in detail
all the stuff from the cooler: bag of toiletries(wet wipes, earplugs, big lotion, travel size lotions, lip balm.. toothbrush, goldbond, ..etc), bag of electronics (am-fm radio, set of headphones, alarm clock, phone charger.etc), batteries, umbrella, camp stove fuel and pan, cutlery, dinner plate, expandable sponges, two bowls, 3 kinds of tape, superglue, floral wire, extra carabiners, two headlamps, work gloves, 2 head coverings, bandana for dust, water spray bottle, multi-tool, 3 water bottles, one 2 liter hydration reservoir, goggles, notebook.. small tiny expandable backpack

typical burning man camera gear with protection
cameras, notepad, 24 rolls of film, charger, extra batteries and flash extension cord
What about clothes? how much do I need to bring?
I bring: three hoodies, 3 pants, 10 socks, 4 long sleeve shirts, 3 t-shirts.. plenty underpants. 3 ‘pajama’ flannel/cotton pants for daytime heat... I'm usually out there 10-12 days and this seems 'good enough'
other stuff.
I used to bring about 10 pounds worth of rebar to hold my junk down ....then i realized it was a waste for such a small tent
good tent stakes for the playa at burning man
you dont need rebar! I bring these super light 7inch long stakes… ive got 16 of them, they cost me about $30 and in total they weigh less than 1 pound… and when pounded an inch below the playa surface have held up to some real nasty storms

look for stuff like this! ..a small backpack that squishes down small.. 2.4 ounces! ..cost about $30.. im sure theres lots of them out there these days… sunglasses for scale.. it holds a 2 liter hydration pack, and a buncha other stuff comfortably.

this can be your kitchen! I use a spray bottle as my ‘faucet’ along with some handsoap, disinfecting wipes to do the real hard cleaning.. ..with a burn barrel to get rid of wipes.. and the sun to dry it all.. youll not have any ‘gray water’ for dishes, and if yer super worried about it being contaminated.. just heat the pan up before using it (hey! i do that anyways)

shade that is good for flying to burning man with
and this is what my little camp looks like… a sort-of-low shade that is suited to keeping the morning sun off of the tent, and allowing shaded chill space for one in the ‘vestibule’ area of the tent while doing afternoon meals.. 
OK that is great and all... but what are the drawbacks? I'm coming from Kerzblakistan!!!
-depending on whether or not much of your food is shelf stable (refrigerate only after opening) you may need to have some extra space in your vehicle up to the playa for your cooler..(because you'd previously stuffed it with tons of gear!!).. I often have extra space for this with my ride up, so I take my cooler out of my luggage, put all of the gear in a big zip-lock bag and toss that bag back into the luggage.. put food and ice in cooler and ride up to the playa

-no bike!!! nope.. you cant fit a bike.. but there's hundreds of green-painted yellow bikes at burning man for public use, plus, without a bike you certainly don't have to worry about yours being stolen.

-no standing in the tent!!! ..nope, its a small 2 person dome tent.. mostly good for 1 person plus gear

-I can't bring flammable fuel on the plane/train!!! .....nope, you cant.. you'll have to organize that ahead of time...

package sent to the burning man post office
if you live in the USA you can send small cannisters of fuel via the USPS to your hotel/pickup points.. or even to burning man itself ! (really.. i mailed myself propane to burning man) completely legal too! (just follow the rules) (source: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_017.htm )

YEAH, WHATEVER.. all i really wanted to know was what tent to get.
Get a tent that packs down to 7 inches by 14 inches.. or smaller...

A big tent, and a big sleeping bag will take up most of your space.. .. try and squeeze as much out of your budget as possible to make these things small.

OK.. that's it for now..  Good luck...think small, think out of the box..