(One of my) Ultimate Camping/Glamping Tips for Comfort
They’re easy enough to find at your nearby thrift store, and they may well be one of the best tips for your Burning Man experience.
I’ve camped. I’ve glamped. I’ve been to That Thing in The Desert. And I can tell you one of my A#1 pro tips for glamping comfort is to cover the floor of your tent with 100% wool blankets. Personally I prefer — and rescue — hand-crocheted, 1970s wool afghans in a particular pattern. But that’s me. The main thing you’d do well to focus on is securing enough wool blankets to cover the floor of your tent.
Why is wool-floor covering so important for your tent?
Don’t get me started. Well, actually, now that you’re here …
Protection – Wool-blanket floor coverings create a carpet which is cozier, more comfortable, padding and protection against small rocks or poking things under your tent pad. Yes, yes, we can lovingly joke about glamping and comfort, but the comfort from this one thing can make such a profound difference in your experience, especially at a festival when you need to “come home” to your space, your place, your 10×10, or 3×7′ or whatever-amount-of-space is your home for the next few days of your life.
Coziness — You may have a small chair in your tent (I recommend a flat seated one, not a stadium chair); or you may have a blow-up mattress pad, though the latter doesn’t function so well as a seat as they’re floppy and not so easy from which to rise; or you may have a cot (I’ve been moving away from using them with as I find I sleep better when I can spread out more). All of these things may/can/might possibly function as sitting spots and you need such things. There will (many times, I gander) you simple need to sit inside your tent and do, well, things. Find things, organize things, brush-your-teeth things. Whatever the things are that you need to do, sitting, or kneeling, will make many of these activities easier. Putting your tush on a nice cozy blanket is so much more a lovely experience than putting that same lovely tush of your on a thin piece of tent material with gravel or poky things underneath. Wool blankets create coziness in your home!
Element-proof — Wool handles it all — the wet, the dirt, the grass, the whatever (even some mild flame). Wool is God’s creation, Nature’s bounty, Allah’s love. Wool gets wet, but absorbs the water from your shoes or the dripping wet clothes you just pulled off. Cotton gets wet, stays wet and just.stays.wet unless exposed to sufficient heat, sun, wind et cetera. Usually when you’re in wet conditions, that heat-sun-wind combo is far away. You don’t want a cotton or acrylic floor covering; you want wool. Also if it’s rather rainy and your tarp below collects a bit of water, say under where your primary sitting area is, the water from below that’s mildly seeping gets absorbed by the wool and it doesn’t get the rest of your clothes, bedding and fabric things wet. Wool’s water-absorbing powers are deeply important when camping.
Easy Care — It’s a near-magical fiber that takes it all and asks little from you other than that you air it out in the sun before putting it away. Don’t wash it. Just air it out. You may have plans of taking your shoes off each time you come into your tent, but it may just be really rainy and muddy for a day or so, and, well, maybe taking those shoes off each.and.every.single.time seems a bit too much to ask of yourself. No worries. You, my friend, have a wool blanket carpet in your tent. Bits of wet grass, bits of mud, rain … it’s all good. Just sun dry your wool, and it’ll be ready for your next adventure.
Emergency Warmth — I’m a self-aware over-packer with a near-proselytizing attitude about packing wool, and still, I’ve come up short and found myself cold, coming back to a damp, dew-filled tent at 3 a.m. after 36 hours of wet-only, sunless camping. And, yes, I have availed myself — recently even — of the emergency-warmth powers of a wool-blanket carpet in pulling it up over my sleeping bag when crawling into bed.
A wool afghan blanket helps with night time warmth (especially for covering your face and creating a warm, moist-air zone when you’re first going to sleep). Just as neck gaiters create moist air while sleeping, a wool blanket can do the same thing and be a bit less confining.
Wool afghans for Burning Man
I like hand-made wool afghans, the kind someone’s grandma made for them. They’re imbued with love, they were created to protect and comfort, and, well, when they’re hanging on a rack at a thrift store, they call to me. I have my own era, color themes and afghan styles that I like. Find your own groove, if they so appeal to you, though they have become more popular recently and are sometimes harder to find.
Wool afghans come in so many different weights, sizes and styles. Some tightly woven. Some loose. Some bed-cover size. Some one-person personal wraps. Best to look for them in the colder months if you shop at a thrift store that wisely puts out items for sale based on the season and outdoor temps.
When it rains at Burning Man, which, by the way, it does, wool blankets can be a great outdoor wrap and protector. At three out of six burns, I’ve experienced rain during the festival and/or build week. At my first burn, my first evening, with not an iota of prior experience to know what was “normal” playa weather and what was more extreme, we were finally finishing with camp set up and getting ready to eat dinner soon. The day had brought a rather intense dust storm (which had me freaking out because I thought the weather was going to be like this day and night for the whole week) and then it suddenly started raining… heavily. For a short period of time the rains fell.
Then the temperature dropped precipitously.
I, and everyone else, ran to our tents to layer up. I put on all my warm clothes, my cashmere PJs (old thrift store finds, not trying to sound boujee; it’s simply what I wear for warmth), my winter coat and my Uggs. I was still bone-cold cold. Plus with every step I took, the playa dust adhered to my shoes more like cement than mud. It was intense and not what I’d call pleasant.
Then the rain stopped. The clouds cleared. And from it all emerged a spectacularly bright double rainbow arching fully and magnificently across the sky. The whole playa cheered, and the sounds of 50,000-some joyous people was quite something.
Yet, lest I get too off topic, remember: it can rain. Don’t pack a raincoat; simply bring a wool blanket that you’d comfortably wrap around yourself. Wool holds water and yet keeps you warm.