Things to carry with you always

guy with backpack indesert

Be ready to leave camp at any minute with prepped day and night bags

You’ve been hanging around camp, chillin’ when a campmate announces a few folks are about ready to go on an adventure to see some art, or maybe to checkout the pancakes and peaches camp. You heard they had maple syrup fresh from Vermont and really want to go. They’re getting on their bikes and are filling up their water bottles for the adventure ahead.

You say, “wait a minute, I want to come.” But upon going to your tent, you find your gear and stuff all over the place, your mind racing with questions of what to pack (will you be out for an hour, two, the whole day?”

There’s a way to be less stressed about leaving camp and that’s to know, ahead of time, what you want to have in your day pack and night pack…and then to have your bags ready to go.

The way I solve this issue is I carry a small over the shoulder bag and have this with me always. I may bring a backpack and pack other items into it, depending on whether it’s day or night, but I’ve always got this bag with me.

Burning Man Tips: Things to keep in your go-bag

Lip balm

Day and night!

Baby wipes and a small ziplock bag with toilet paper

Use the ziplock baggie to put your used wipes in and bring them back to your camp for proper disposal. This is especially important for women, and especially important for night, though I recommend having extra TP on you at all times just in case the portos are out.

Eye protection

Never leave camp without goggles or sunglasses…regardless of the current weather conditions. While dust storms usually happen later in the day, I’ve encountered them at sunrise, at 10 a.m., in the wee hours of the night and, essentially, at all hours of the day or night. There really is no “usual” time for dust storms to appear in landscape as hostile and challenging as the Black Rock Desert.

A bandana, neck scarf or dust mask

You need a scarf or mask to cover your nose and mouth in a (sudden or ongoing) dust storm. Never leave home without this item on you. Never. The way you make sure you do that is to always have a scarf or dust mask around your neck. You only take it off when you’re going to bed, and even then, only if it’s bulky. (All the more reason I wear scarves rather than dust masks: I can sleep with them on and pull them over my nose and mouth in the middle of the night, if needed.)

Artisanal salt

Ultra-critical for electrolytes and hydration. Always keep this on your person. A small amount taken here and there, by you or gifted to others, can make a huge difference in your bodily, mental and emotional condition.

Sour or xylitol candy or Ricola cough drops

Have something on you to get your saliva going to moisturize your throat. Saliva is critical to your health. Keep it flowing.

A cup on a carabiner

People will offer you drinks, more ’n likely. But they won’t offer you red plastic cups in which to consume said drinks. And why would they? Always carry an extra cup on you. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, you may be offered, as one example among infinite possibilities, ice-cold, fresh-squeezed lemonade made with lavender. I’ve spent many a year offering “refreshing elixirs,” but I never offered anyone a cup to drink them in.

It’s hospitable (and lovely) to accept the drink when the offer feels right, and who knows whom you might meet and what fascinating conversations you might have when you do.

A small or collapsible mug/bowl

You never know who is going to offer you food. You should assume they won’t have a plate or bowl for you. Sometimes people do make it easy and offer, e.g. a fish taco wrapped in aluminum foil, and they take everyone’s trash because, well, it’s drippy and fish-smelling. But, equally, most camps providing food assume you’re prepared to receive their offering with your own plate or bowl.

A spork or small utensil

You could eat gifted food with your fingers, and that’s cool. A spork is a nice alternative to fingers, if that’s more your speed and style.

One layer for warmth

Could be a scarf, a hat, gloves, a neck gaiter, wrist warmers … just have something on you in case you’re out when the sun starts to dip or if there is a temperature dip during the day. Personally, I’m a fan of merino or alpaca wool wrist warmers for instant warmth.

A little something to eat

I like to have a little something to eat on me at all times. Examples of things I bring are a pack of almonds, a fruit cup, some jerky, a single-packet of olives. Even if you only go a half-block away to an event and think you’ll come back to camp to get more supplies, you simply don’t know what the moment has in store for you. Even the simplest trip to do the simplest errand can end up becoming a day-long adventure on the playa. Be prepared to flow by having your go-bag prepped.

Lights on your backpack or festival belt

You never know how long you’ll actually be gone from camp. Always have some light on you. A small light is okay as your emergency light. Just have some light on you.

Some form of hydration

Never leave camp without something hydrating to drink. Well, maybe for a quick trip to the portos, but even then… You might want to venture off to hear some nearby live music or dance at an afternoon disco. Best to be prepared.


Backpack Photo by Taylor Nicole on Unsplash

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