Shopping for Burning Man can be overwhelming. To help first timers get the right items, we’ve compiled a list of recommended and playa tested items.
This list isn’t exhaustive. Some obvious items, or items where it doesn’t matter which you get have been left out.
Goggles – Used for keeping dust out of your eyes during a dust storm. Any goggles that adequately protect your eyes will work. http://amzn.to/2tVTnpt
Dust Mask – http://amzn.to/2sTjA8o – These aren’t the most stylish, but they’re effective at keeping dust out of your lungs during a dust storm.
Semagh – http://amzn.to/2tZvwVx – Versatile fabric used to protect face and neck from sun, as well as to keep dust out of lungs during mild dust storms.
Hat – Any wide brimmed hat will keep you shielded from the sun.
Sunscreen – After spending dozens of hours researching sunscreen, Seth found that any sunscreen above SPF30 is useless. After testing many SPF 30 sunscreens, he concluded Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen had the best feel. http://amzn.to/2sCDFvK
Jesse prefers the spray version: http://amzn.to/2sDbSLq
Personal lighting – Personal lighting is absolutely vital to make yourself visible to other people. Without any lighting, you become an invisible darkwad that is susceptible to getting run over by an art car (has happened before).
EL Wire: http://amzn.to/2sTt1ot
Cup – A mug is good to always have because everyone is always offering drinks. The ideal mug has a lid that screws shut and a clip on it to attach it to your bag.
This mug with a carabiner is a perfect playa mug – http://amzn.to/2uXQ0vd
Camelbak – When out exploring the playa, it’s important to carry essential items with you, including water. Any hydration bag will work fine.. Prices range from $20 at Wal Mart, into the hundreds of dollars.
After testing different hydration packs the past three years, Jesse concluded that the Camelbak MULE NV was the best playa bag. It has a large water carrying capacity, lots of pockets to store stuff, distributes weight evenly and comfortably on the back, and most importantly, has a breathable back to keep things cool. http://amzn.to/2uXPOfl
There is a new version of that bag now, but it is hasn’t been tested. http://amzn.to/2tCMcji
Spork – Some camps serve food, but to reduce MOOP, they don’t provide utensils, and expect guests to bring their own.
Hand Sanitizer – You’ll meet and hug a lot of people, then you’ll get hungry, and have nowhere to wash your hands. http://amzn.to/2ucx9zh
Ear plugs – Many of the sound camps and art cars have incredible sound systems that are capable of producing absurdly loud music. They are fun to hang out and dance at, however, if you want to stand any chance of hearing your grandchildren talk to you when you’re old, you’ll want to buy these: http://amzn.to/2tW2s1t
Black Rock City is a perpetually noisy place. If your sleep is sensitive to ambient noise, having some ear plugs like these will be helpful. http://amzn.to/2u5zXyW
Start with a good tent. I recommend the Kodiak Canvas tent ($500). It’s spacious enough for a person to stand in, big enough to stretch out, stands up against 75 MPH winds, and keeps out the dust. The tent is also extremely well built and will last forever.
Standard cheap tents will provide shelter, but have tons of unsealable mesh that will get penetrated by the dust.
In recent years, new tents designed specifically for the playa have hit the market including the Shiftpod. However, the reviews for them have not been stellar, and they do not appear to be worth $1200.
Shade your tent. It’ll prevent your tent from turning into a hot oven in the morning. There’s a lot of options for this, including:
EZ up type shelter – about $100 – Effective and fast, but highly susceptible to wind damage. A single unsupported, unreinforced structure has a high probability of not making it through the week.
EMT Conduit Structure – about $150, Goes up quickly, but not as portable, so its use is limited. Highly sturdy in the wind. Expandable. Buy fittings and tarps from site below, and purchase 1’ EMT conduit from local hardware store.
Aluminet – About $150 – Reflective shade cloth keeps everything underneath cool, while reflecting all the heat away. Aluminet tends to be sold out by July every year. Bring some PVC and tennis balls to elevate the shade cloth above your tent. One 14 x 21 piece will be enough for a tent.
Cool your tent
Build a swamp cooler. it will cool your tent down to about 70 degrees when its 100 degrees out. You will not be able to sleep past 8:30am if you do not have a cooling system and shade for your tent.
When building, follow the instructions exactly. They have been refined over the years and have been proven to be extremely effective. The most important part is to use the correct fan and pads. Don’t substitute any inferior fans. Doing so will make your bucket completely ineffective.
Build instructions here: https://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic.php…
Bucket: 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot are best. Other buckets will work, but Home Depots are best for this use case.
Pads: Cheaper at home depot if you live anywhere dry, otherwise, http://amzn.to/2tZlvrc
Flange: 4 inch toilet flange from home improvement store
Use a cot
Elevate your sleeping surface with a cot. It’ll make your tent feel more like a home, and create storage space underneath the cot.
I use this one:
If you’re alone, and don’t have any plans to share your tent with anyone, then a single person cot like this one will work
Organize your tent with drawer units.
Most of us use these as wardrobes for our clothes:
And these to organize random supplies
Put a light in your tent so you can find stuff at night. You can use a CFL or LED light, and plug it into the grid. Do not use incandescent bulbs, they generate heat, and draw excessive power.
A setup consisting of this light fixture: http://amzn.to/2tuNBdz
And this bulb http://amzn.to/2u5fXMI Was found to be pretty fun since users were able to change the color of the bulb to make their tent extra inviting.
A headlamp will also prove useful to carry around to illuminate dark areas and to illuminate yourself. You don’t need anything fancy. Something simple and cheap like this is perfect:
Your bike needs a basket and a nice soft seat. You’ll end up spending a lot of time on your bike and will want the ride as comfortable as possible, and be able to get your gear off your back.
The schwinn C9 seat has been happily used by many in the camp for years.
It’s a good idea to decorate and illuminate your bike so that
- you can find your bike in a sea of them
- other people don’t accidently take their bike thinking it’s theirs
- so you look cool when you ride it.
- Art cars can see you and don’t run you over and kill you (it’s happened before)
Most people just ziptie some EL wire or fairy lights on their bike. Some will use elaborate decorations
EL Wire – http://amzn.to/2sTt1ot
Bring a lock for your bike. Ideally a cheap combination lock so there is no key to lose. There is no bigger buzzkill than losing your bike.
You’ll want a headlight on your bike so that you can see what is in front of you:
Put a safety flag on your bike, and run lights up to the top of the flag. Your bike will be parked with 1000 others and you can’t see it if it doesn’t have a tall EL wire and flag on it
Picking a Bike:
Just about any bike except expensive road racing bikes will work on the playa.
Most recommend cruisers or fat tire bikes. Most in the camp prefer geared fat tire bikes because they’ll glide through soft spots on the playa
Recommended Fat Tire Bike http://amzn.to/2t0BHER