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Don’t Forget: 7 Last Minute Packing Tips for Burning Man

August 18, 2013

The gates at Burning Man open on Sunday August 25.bmirbg

Which means that 60,000 Burners are madly packing for the Playa.

So if nothing else, what should you be doing to prepare for Burning Man?

ONE: Get turned on and inspired by BMIR.

That’s Burning Man Information Radio–the Voice of the Man! It’s got the sound you crave plus plenty of lively Public Service Announcements for on playa events that you’ll want to attend!

TWO: Get your bike ready.

Beg, borrow, buy a bike. A bike is an absolute necessity in order to get around that big old playa. While there may be a Playa Subway, it’s not like there are regular bus stops, and you never know when an art car might come by that will stop and make room for you.

  • Make sure NOW your bike runs well, and that you have extra tubes.
  • Make sure your bike is well lit: blinking rear lights, front headlight, side reflectors might be required by law off the playa but seriously you run the risk of getting hurt on the playa if you’re not sufficiently lit…um I mean if your BIKE is not sufficiently lit!
  • Make sure YOU’RE bike ready! This week get around by bike so you’ll bMonkey Lectric Lightse in shape and won’t get too saddle sore. Make this bike to school and work week!

Once you and your bike are in excellent running order, start fixing your bike up! We’ve got Monkey Lectric lights (pictured) and they’re affixed to our Burner bikes. Please tell MonkeyLectric the Art Predator aka Gwendolyn Alley (Sheridan) sent you! Being well lit is super important out on the playa both so you can see where you’re going and so others can see you.

Give your bike a funky paint job! Source some spray paint and go wild! This makes your bike more fun and more distinct–harder for someone to accidentally grab it. Hot glue fur onto it. Deck your bike out so it matches what you’re wearing so your bike is part of your ensemble–no clashing costumes with bikes! If you don’t have a hot glue gun, wrap your bike in fabric. Here’s another post about bikes and Burning Man.

THREE: Don’t be a darkwad. Get your lights in order. Avoid glowsticks.

615512_2560943399291_224654632_oThis is kind of a corollary to getting lights on your bike. For years, people on the playa consumed thousands and thousands of glow sticks. They made you findable for your friends, but they create a lot of trash from the packaging to the one use only glowsticks themselves (although they can work for two nights out there if when you get back to camp you put them in a cooler…)

EL wire is the bomb. Reflect. Glow. Shine!

And there’s lots of ways to adapt it and use it, especially if you’re somewhat engineering minded and comfortable with a soldering iron. Far better to go to or elsewhere to find battery operated led lights. Order a bunch to give out on the playa! If you find yourself in Nevada without any EL wire, you will find it for sale at roadside stands. Bring cash!

Solar lights are easy to source these days, but you want to set them up and get them ready NOW, not on the playa. There are lots of great ones out there or you can modify them like our friend Alan Sailer does and make something really cool. Figuring out something lit to put high at your camp makes it easier to find it at night. Flying flags does the same for you during day. Both make Black Rock City more festive. At the very least, pick up a solar powered lantern.

Watch for batteries to go on sale. You don’t want to run out.

FOUR: Get your camp on. How you gonna stay cool, fool?ArtPredatorvan2011

It’s a lot easier to figure out your shade structure at home, not on playa where at any moment you will find you’ve already melted or a dust storm has struck.  We use rolls of lightweight, thin, insulating material which we move around blocking the windows to keep out the heat and the light.

Fix up your camp to turn it into public art! Bring fun, stable materials to doll up your camp and make it a fun place to walk by and stop by and visit. Give your camp a “front porch” so it is inviting rather than “circling the wagons” to close the world out. Bring vegetable oil or spray oil to cover up logos for rental RVs, trucks, etc so that it gets covered in playa dust. You could do this to your car too! Paint your shade structure.

What will you put down on the ground under your shade structure? In case you haven’t heard, it gets dusty out there. Real du1009483_414039035374063_1959450147_osty. People say they’re afraid to go to Burning Man because of the heat; I say, be afraid of the blinding dust storms! Lots of people haul scrap carpet out there; tarps work well also but if someone spills a drink or it rains (and it can big time!) you have a sloppy mess, and it’s certainly not as nice to sit around on a tarp as it is on carpet. Or combine with a lighter, washable drop cloth.

Create a front porch. That’s part of what you want to do with your camp–make it enticing, a place you want to hang out in during the heat of the day, to chill, to process what you’ve experienced, a place to eat and drink and stretch your body also. Back in the day, camps used to open to the streets. It was wonderfully like a small town where people hung out on their front porches to watch the world go by.

If you have time, here are plans to make cool playa plywood  easy to assemble travels flat furniture!

FIVE: Figure out where you’re going to camp. Place your camp. Find friends.

mapIf you intend to join an established village, you need to connect with them, the sooner the better. Locations for theme camps are set and you can see who’s going to be where here. If you’re joining a group of people, it’s good to have a plan about where you’re going to be. You can add your name and camp to this nifty Burner Map (you can also list tickets to buy or sell).

This year the theme is Cargo Cult so the street names after Esplanade, follow suit: Airstrip, Biggie Size, Consumer, Desiderata, Extraterrestrial, False Idol, etc.

SIX: Consider creative but useful gifts. And art projects! And clothing!

1097872_298972686910232_1304403449_oIt’s probably too late to do something major or to order a playa-fied gift like stickers or bandanas like we do or wine openers like Pineapple Helen had made or reusable cups like the Elvis chapel or these amazing gifts that Lava 1082345_299701930170641_1936996618_oprocured (click images to enlarge). With some imagination, you can come up with something! Consider:

  • earplugs
  • dust masks
  • sunscreen (offer to massage it in!)
  • clean up a camp during or after they throw a party
  • lip balm
  • body paint

SEVEN: Check the weather.

It’s been a WET summer in the Black Rock Desert. I’ve been out there when it’s been wet and warm and wet and COLD (like water bottles frozen cold.) It’s desert, it’s 4000′ elevation, and it’s late summer. You never know what weather might strike. But you CAN monitor the weather here from the BRC weather station which updates every 5 minutes:

Here’s NOAA’s weather forecast for Gerlach NV.

Weekly Forecast
Day Min/Max
Rel Hum
Weather Prob
Today 99° Today's maximum temperature will be 99°F 10% The weather Today will be Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy 0% The wind direction at 3pm Today will be from the NE
6 G 9
Tonight 70° Tonight's minimum temperature will be 70°F 32% The Weather Tonight will be Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy 0% The wind direction at 3am Tonight will be from the NNE
6 G 8
Monday 98° Monday's maximum temperature will be 98°F 11% The weather Monday will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3pm Monday will be from the W
5 G 7
Monday Night 71° Monday Night's minimum temperature will be 71°F 39% The Weather Monday Night will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3am Monday Night will be from the ENE
2 G 3
Tuesday 94° Tuesday's maximum temperature will be 94°F 16% The weather Tuesday will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3pm Tuesday will be from the NW
3 G 6
Tuesday Night 67° Tuesday Night's minimum temperature will be 67°F 51% The Weather Tuesday Night will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3am Tuesday Night will be from the W
6 G 9
Wednesday 92° Wednesday's maximum temperature will be 92°F 13% The weather Wednesday will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3pm Wednesday will be from the SE
6 G 9
Wednesday Night 64° Wednesday Night's minimum temperature will be 64°F 63% The Weather Wednesday Night will be Chance Tstms Chance Tstms 30% The wind direction at 3am Wednesday Night will be from the W
8 G 13
Thursday 88° Thursday's maximum temperature will be 88°F 14% The weather Thursday will be Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy 20% The wind direction at 3pm Thursday will be from the WSW
Thursday Night 59° Thursday Night's minimum temperature will be 59°F 49% The Weather Thursday Night will be Mostly Clear Mostly Clear 0% The wind direction at 3am Thursday Night will be from the WNW
Friday 88° Friday's maximum temperature will be 88°F 9% The weather Friday will be Mostly Sunny Mostly Sunny 0% The wind direction at 3pm Friday will be from the SW
Friday Night 58° Friday Night's minimum temperature will be 58°F 37% The Weather Friday Night will be Mostly Clear Mostly Clear 0% The wind direction at 3am Friday Night will be from the WNW

And before you leave home, make sure you do these things.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2013 3:45 pm

    Thank you!! :-D

  2. August 18, 2013 4:18 pm

    You’re welcome! See you on the playa!

  3. John permalink
    August 19, 2013 12:48 am

    Thanks for the info

  4. Aubrey Belford permalink
    August 19, 2013 11:17 am

    Reblogged this on Planning For The Playa and commented:
    It’s coming down to the wire! Here’s a great article for you last-minute packers.

  5. checkers permalink
    August 21, 2013 4:49 pm

    Hi, can my daughter still write to Santa Claus?

  6. August 21, 2013 9:07 pm

    Of course! I am sure Santa is there at Burning Man–it’s a nice change from the North Pole!

  7. August 24, 2013 8:06 pm

    And dont forget your ticket… Seems like common sense but I know 2 people who have left without…

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