Festival season is upon us, and for some anxious few so has the packing and pre-festival preparations. Venturing off into the wilderness for a weekend of good vibes and great music isn’t entirely as easy as buying a ticket and showing up. Being a little prepared beforehand can often make the difference between a good time or a headache. As somewhat of a group of festival veterans, we’ve had our far share of “oops forgot that at home” or “should have thought to bring that.” So rather than give you the usual, and sometimes obvious, list of things to bring, we’ve decided to share our list of not so obvious, festival essentials.
For those festival virgins out there, we do have a few great places to look when wanting to see a full list of suggested packing items. Most events also provide a pretty solid packing list on their website such as Shambhala, Glastonbury, and even REI. While we will say these lists are pretty well rounded, there are certainly a few things you could do without. For an avid camper, most of these items come without saying, but those new the the idea of packing in/packing out their needs we’ve got a list of not so obvious, and not so essential items for your packing list.
Over Packing vs The Bare Necessities
Packing for any extended time away can be somewhat of a chore, especially when you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to need. Festival camping does come with a few extra items that you need to pack, but certainly not the same as a weekend visiting the family. The best way to approach your packing list is thinking of the absolute bare minimums you need for the weekend. The easiest thing to do is rule out anything with a plug right off the bat. While you should be comfortable for the weekend, you should leave the laptop, curling iron, or camera charger at home.
- Tents – We see way too often people setting up massive 6-8 person tents. Tent sizing can be a little misleading but a simple 4 person tent will provide you with enough room for you and a friend without being too big. Having the ability to stand up and get dressed in privacy is always a plus, and plenty of 4 person tents give plenty of head room while minimizing their footprint.
- Air mattress – Sure they’re comfortable but usually require a pump to be filled. Battery powered as always an option but consider a decent sleeping pad from your local outdoors store. Smaller, light weight and batteries not required. Not to mention most will roll up to the size of a football.
- Sleeping Bag – Sleeping my be low on the list of activities you plan to take part in but we promise a good sleeping bag goes a long way. It can get pretty cold at night in the PNW and jump back up to blistering warm once the suns up. Looking into a synthetic “spring” sleeping bag that gives both breathability and warmth. They’ll also roll up much smaller than other sleeping bags and easily fit back in their compression bags. We all know how much of a challenge trying to get those back into their bags can be.
- Cameras – Cameras are expensive, don’t risk ruining them. Get a rugged case for your phone instead like an Otterbox or Lifeproof. Most camera phones are on par with some DSLR cameras available and at a fraction of the weight.
- Bottled water – TEAM HYDRATE! Staying hydrated is essential, but why bother with the waste from a package of water bottles? A refillable Nalgene bottle and 5 Gallon water jug goes a long way. A good portion of festivals provide free water filling stations for their campers.
- Cooking stove – A 2 burner cooking stove tends to be cumbersome and you may not even use it more than once or twice. A single burner backpacking stove is highly efficient for boiling water or making quick and simple meals at camp
- Solar charger – You see this recommended quite often. While wanting to have a charged phone all weekend is important for some, solar chargers aren’t always reliable. They require sunlight, aren’t very portable and you’ll have to sit and wait while things charge. A better and likely cheaper options is a portable battery bank. Charge at home before you leave and have enough power to charge your phone 2-3 times. They can be stored away in your bag or even a pocket.
- Shoes or Sandals – You’ll likely want both, but a better alternative is a pair or waterproof shoes or even better, a pair of Keens. These bad boys are perfect for spending all day on your feet in the mud, dust, dirt or river. They clean easily, and you don’t have to worry about ruining a good pair of shoes.