Staying hydrated: think outside the box

hydration is critical at burning man

Hydration is key at Burning Man. Electrolytes are key to hydration.

From your mood to your mental clarity to general (and critical) bodily operations, you need to stay hydrated at Burning Man. You are going to be in a high desert and the wind will wick away your sweat and dry you out in ways that may surprise you. So, drink up!

I am not much of a water drinker, so it’s critical for me to find alternatives to “just water.” I encourage you to be more creative than simply buying flavored drinks out of a can. There are so many choices!

For starters, get a Hydro Flask

Invest in Hydro Flask brand flasks (or better) if you’ve the money to spend and are in need of a good flask. I don’t know why you’d bring anything other than the best flasks to the playa unless you’re a fan of drinking tepid water, day in and day out. I like to drink hot/warm tea; others really like their drinks cold. Whatever temperature you prefer for your drinks, a mediocre flask just isn’t going to cut it.

Personally, I like the Hydro Flasks with a little handle on top for carrying. If you have an older Hydro Flask, this relatively new top design can be purchased as a separate item online. Some of the older Hydro Flasks had tops that either spilled often or were harder to drink out of. The newer top designs in recent years are much better, in my experience.

Bring flavored concentrates for drink variety

I am not a fan of bringing a lot of pre-flavored drinks, particularly juices and teas and anything that is essentially flavored water, to the playa. Exceptions to this preference include drinks such as alcohol, kombucha or coconut water–those are in a different category of drinks. The reasons I’m not a fan of bringing pre-flavored drinks are numerous–

  • They are heavy and bulky to bring into the playa.
  • They can take up a lot of precious cargo space in cars ferrying people and gear into the playa.
  • They don’t tend to stack well in trucks and vans.
  • They create a lot of plastic, glass and aluminum waste that has to be hauled out, and
  • They are a one-use only item, which means if you provision with too much juice, soda or pre-flavored drinks (and you probably will), you then have to haul it all back out. Or maybe you drop it at the DPW food- and drink-collection station during exodus.

Water can be used for many purposes–

  • drinking plain water,
  • making hot and cold tea,
  • mixing it with flavor concentrates to make juice,
  • cooking,
  • washing dishes,
  • brushing your teeth,
  • sponge bathing and
  • whatever else you need water for.

Juice can only be used as juice

Pre-flavored drinks can only be drunk. You can’t use juice or bottled drinks for anything but drinking them. You can’t do a sponge bath with juice. You can’t wash your dishes with kombucha. I recommend looking for drink-flavoring packets such as ginger-honey crystals, herbal and green teas, and various concentrated juice drinks, which —

  • are lightweight,
  • create little waste,
  • pack easily and
  • keep for long periods of time.

Flavoring agents such as honey, flavored vinegars, flavored simple syrups, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and lemons and limes (or good-quality lemon and lime juice/less MOOP) are also great options.

Many people bring Camelbaks for on-the-go hydration

I own a Camelbak (bought it for my first burn as a “must-have” item), but I don’t like using it. At all. Bring one if using it suits you. Actually, for a virgin, if you’ve never used one, I’d recommend bringing a Camelbak (or another brand of a similar product) so you can use it and decide if you like it or not.

Think outside the flavor box

I encourage you to think outside the flavor box. Try an elderberry flower juice concentrate mixed with some lime juice and cool water, or a healthy pour of peach-basil simple syrup and lemon-flavored sparkling water over ice. Try a healthy dose of pacific spice vinegar, blackberry with roasted pepper vinegar or a kiwi mint vinegar in your ice water. My local oil and vinegar shop is Secolari, and I always stock up there before the burn. They do ship, though if you have a similar store closer to you, you can shop locally.

Why the vinegars? If you don’t love vinegar, just skip this part. If you do like vinegar, you know that vinegar can be incredibly refreshing and satisfying to drink.


Coconut water is a go-to hydrator for many people

Many people swear by coconut water for hydration, and it is a nice source e a lot of potassium. Don’t buy coconut water unless you know you like it. It’s an acquired taste. Brands and flavors vary. It could suck to show up on playa with a whole lot of coconut water, only to discover you don’t like it at all.

Teas are nice to drink, hot or cold

green tea is a good alternative to waterPeople have different preferences around hot and cold food and drink; I understand that. For me, I drink hot and/or warm tea day *and* night, whether it’s 100 or 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) out. Drinking warmed drinks means I drink less volume of water, and the warm liquid is more soothing to my throat.

Plus, eschewing black tea (which doesn’t resteep well) and favoring green tea, runa, matte etc., I can keep adding to my thermos hot water, different teas, flavors, ginger, lemon, honey, sangria, and so on. My drinks evolve over the course of a day and into the night. And I like things that way. I bring a handful of tea flavors with a focus on making sure my tea flavors blend well.

Bottom line: Bringing more water and mixers, while bringing less juice and pre-made drinks, gives you more options and flexibility and less waste and trash or recycling to haul out.

Tea photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

Zebra photo by Vincent van Zalinge

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