Shelves, bins and drawers are Burning Man essentials


If you bring it, you’ll want to be able to find it. Right?

When I was packing for Burning Man the first time, I was so focused on what to bring that I didn’t give much thought to how I was going to set up my tent once I got there. I had some experience with camping and using my tent, and I am a Virgo, so the thought of tent organization hadn’t occurred to me. I simply had no idea how crucial tent organization was at Burning Man, not simply because it was a longer event than the typical weekend regional burns I was often attending, but more so because of how the dust makes everything look the same. It can be very hard to find things in your tent because everything is covered in the fine playa talc.

Especially if this is your first year going, I do encourage you to think about your tent organization and set up. Bring things that will allow you to create order in your tent.

Pro Tip: Bring shelves!

Having shelves at Burning Man is definitely a pro tip. No question about it. You absolutely need places 1) to put stuff quickly and 2) to find stuff quickly. Shelves are one of the best solutions for this many-times-a-day need. I place my shelves right by the opening door of my tent.

I like the easy-setup 3-tier shelves from Origami. You can’t lose a critical piece (which is not the case for most shelving systems I’ve seen) because the shelving unit comes together and packs down without needing to assemble any parts. They’re brilliant and perfect for Burning Man and camping.

I’ve had my Origami shelves for several years now, I use them at all festivals and camping events, and they work just as well now as they did when I got them, which is not the least bit true for the various other shelving units I’ve brought camping in years past.

Trust me on this one. Bring shelves. And Origami brand (or style) if you’re in the market for some camping-friendly (and sturdy to use at home) shelves.

Use open baskets or small bins as you would small drawers

For your shelves to be even that much more functional, bring a half dozen or so small bowls, baskets or bins. (Make sure these all stack for easy packing.) Use these bowls to store items on your shelves. Clump like with like, e.g. quick-access lights and blinkies (including your headlamp) in one bowl; some admin items such as a small notepad, pens, sharpies and scissors in another bowl; hard candies or quick-grab snacks in another bowl; maybe even a bowl just for small miscellaneous items that you have no idea where to put… whatever works for you.

I cannot overemphasize how much you will appreciate having these open baskets for dropping like items into. You have to create an organizational system inside your tent.

Bring a dozen or so stackable bins and small baskets to put on your shelves! 

Put a small night stand with drawers by your bed

Anything that replicates how you organize your life at home will make your tent life experience at Burning Man all the easier because you’ll organize your stuff more naturally, as you would at home. For your bedroom area, a nightstand is an excellent addition. Here, a small (probably plastic) 2-drawer unit works well. The nightstand provides a place to put things “by your bed.”

You can also use a small table or one of your bins here, though I find that I really like a nightstand with drawers. One of my drawers is always a “misk” (miscellaneous) drawer to put all the little things that I don’t know where to put!

Many a burner can attest that looking for things you know you have—but have no idea as to where they are—can be rather frustrating. It’s one thing to look for a pair of earrings you’d like to wear. It’s another thing to look for your eyedrops that you need because your eyes are fried after being out in a dust storm.

Place a small open bin on your nightstand

I pack a fair amount of personal care and toiletry items. This makes me happy and it helps me feel more prepared. I take a few minutes when setting up my tent to pull out my multiple-times-a-day toiletries from my extensive-care toiletries. I keep what I need for brushing my teeth plus eye drops, saline nasal spray, Q-Tips (for cleaning my eyes and ears) and ear plugs (for quick access when I crawl into bed) accessible in a small bin by my nightstand. Easier to find; easier to use. All my other toiletries and personal care items I put in a drawer or bin and store them there.

A place to put admin items

Pick an area in your tent, preferably one out of the way of your everyday activities, and have some sort of container, envelope or folder where you can store important items such as your car keys, extra cash, drivers license and such. Do this right away when you set up your tent. You really don’t want to be searching for your car keys on pack-down day.

Some people call this their “Adult Bag.” Call it what you will: you need to create one.

For more ideas, google tent organization

Lots of pics and ideas.

Shelf Photo by Harprit Bola on Unsplash

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