The information I’ve prepared is focused on your personal care and comfort. I assume you’ll be in a camp (recommended) and that many amenities and other needs you’ll have will be included with your camp’s infrastructure and supplies.
You’ll notice I don’t include on my list or in my book things such as kitchen setup, grey water management, power considerations or large structures, such as domes and towers. I’ve always camped with a theme camp. I like that option and recommend it to first-timers, as it will support you when you’re around more people from whom you can learn. Being in a camp also allows you to lean into the structures, supplies, systems and support a theme camp typically offers. Plus, it’s more fun to be a part of the gifting and participation, and theme camps offer that in spades.
This book is an expansion of a packing list spreadsheet I created. The book provides more narrative (more of the why) and stories about the items I recommend you bring. If you don’t want as much of the narrative, the spreadsheet contains the same information in shorter form.
I’ve written the packing list from my perspective, which includes some of the travel considerations and issues I have to solve coming from the east coast. I also recommend items such as comfy skirts, and you may not want to wear a skirt at all, as a woman or as a man. I recommend flavored vinegar, and you may hate vinegar. Yada yada.
I think you’ll see soon enough that I’m pointing out areas of planning and prep to consider. How you’ll solve and address those issues will be your own path that works for your own circumstances.
I do encourage you to print out this packing list and take it with you to the playa, or to have it in your suitcase to review when you’re traveling back home. Debrief yourself as soon as possible after you attend. Write down what you want to do differently the next time you attend. What did you bring too much of? Not enough of? What new possibilities can you see for your tent set up or bike decoration next time around?
In 2016, I wasn’t planning on attending Burning Man. I thought to myself, perhaps I’m done with attending, and perhaps I’ve taken this train as far as I want to go. Then a dear friend of mine (and one who does so much hardcore volunteer work with Burning Man that she literally earns two fully comped tickets to Burning Man) said to me on July 29th, “Are you going to Burning Man this year?”
“Nah,” I told her. She then told me she had only made up her own mind to go earlier that day and had finally purchased her plane tickets. Then she dropped a doozie on me. “If you want to go, I have an extra ticket. You can have it. It’s a gift.”
Hmmm. I asked her if she could give me a few days to think about it. I went home, juggled some thoughts around in my mind, got clear about why I wanted to go, and said, “Yes, I’d love the ticket.”
The D.C. shipping containers (the three 53-foot containers that get stuffed to the gills with Burning Man bins, bikes and camp infrastructure) were being loaded that weekend, so I essentially had about three days to pack. Three days!
And it was a breeze. I got out my packing list, gathered my gear (and my labeling tape), purchased a few extra provisions I needed and packed the majority of my gear, clothing and supplies onto the shipping container to be ferried out to the playa.
From three weeks of prep my first year to three days six years later. Wow!
For you, as a first-timer, I’d still give yourself at least three weeks to gather your gear, purchase what you need, and figure out your outfits. I know that you can rely on the packing list and the information here to help you make more informed decisions in your preparations.
Best of everything to you!
May your journey to the playa open your heart and mind in ways heretofore unimagined!