Survival 101

WHAT TO BRING, by Ivan (Vice Commander)

Download the camp’s amazeballs packing list. That will get you going, but my personal needs are:


  • Make a big batch of food, like chili, fajitas, mac’n’cheese, stew, stir fry, fried rice, etc. something that isn’t in uniform shape like pierogy or burritos, then divide it into portions, and put them in quart size zip lock bags, and freeze. Once frozen, remove them from zip lock bags and put them into vacuum sealed bags and put back in the freezer until going to playa. Put them in a cooler with thick walls(like 7-day rated ones, not 3-day) along with some dry ice (wrap that in a newspaper or other non-porous paper so it’s air tight, dry ice melts faster from air than from temperature). Put it in a cool place, off the ground at the playa, and it will keep cold for almost the whole week. When needed, you take out however many portions you need, thaw it out for few hours. Once thawed, you simply put the bag into a pot with boiling water and 5 minutes later you have a good hot, home cooked meal. We have done it in last 2 years and it worked perfectly. We will have a kitchen with big pots and gas, if needed, but if you can, bring your own, or at least an extra propane tank, if you plan to use camps kitchen for your own needs.
  • Non-perishables or things that don’t need to be refrigerated. Things like bread, tortillas, canned stuff (soups, stews, chili, etc.) will be fine for a week in desert if you keep it in a shade in relatively cool place (inside your RV or whatever) Simply microwave or reheat on the stove or just eat like that… not the best, but it works.
  • Backpacking stuff. Mountain house, backpackers pantry and others offer freeze dried foods where you simply pour hot water and let it sit for a few minutes before eating. Alternatively, there is MREs (you can experiment with different countries styles of MREs, like Russian or French) taste ok sometimes, almost no prep required, but if you eat that for a week, you will be more stuck up than your toilet on thanksgiving. I usually pack a couple just in case, because they do offer a certain freedom and back up choice, and also a variety.
  • Things like watermelons, apples, pears, peaches and cantaloupes (and others) have a longer shelf life. Berries have a very short life, but you can freeze them. They won’t look good, but taste will be fine, so be wise… Get the freshest fruit before the playa and they will be fine for a week.
  • Alcohol for the bar (we always appreciate the kegs of beer for our bar) alcohol for your own consumption, something to share, but don’t forget that desert will dehydrate you, so drink water, and electrolytes. It is difficult to judge when you need to drink, because you do sweat on playa, but wind and dry air will evaporate the sweat right away, giving you false feeling that you are fine. Because with sweat you lose the salts, you need to replenish them, like eating salty things like bacon (hence why it’s so popular there) Also things like Gatorade and vitamin water work really well.


  • Tents work ok, but dust will get in everywhere. If you plan on sleeping past 9 am, you need shade structure over it. Winds will take down everything that’s flimsy or not secured properly. Those pathetic tent stakes will not stay in. Use either army tent stakes or rebar (with tennis balls or pool noodles on the ends).
  • Hexayurts work excellent. Past 3 years I was in hexayurts. Not cheap and you do have to build them prior to event, but they provide excellent protection from elements. Pro tip, get a rug for the inside, thank me later.
  • Seal all the windows, seals and vents with masking tape. It will save your rubber seals and protect a little bit from dust. Make sure everything works in it. Don’t open your fridge when not needed, don’t turn on AC if you don’t need it. Don’t shit in it if you are ok with honey buckets. Keep it clean and you will enjoy it more.


  • Camp outfit, at least 1 is mandatory for our Monday meeting/party. Go crazy, go wild, but stay within the theme. There is a pinterest board on Also if you have more questions about what would fit better with our theme, ask us. Mainly the Wanderer, Sunshine, Slay Bunny and Vampirekitten are magicians when it comes to costumes and badass outfits. My costumes will be made by Slay Bunny, so it’s kind of pointless to ask me, I am useless in fashion.
  • Be silly, BM is fun and no one is there to judge you. Sometimes it’s fun to be a unicorn. Wildest outfits are welcome. Don’t be that guy or gal who wears jeans/t-shirt or yoga pants every day on playa. You can leave that to default world. I personally rock kilts, shemaghs, harnesses, army boots and stuff, or go opposite and wear rave outfits. There are also theme parties, like tutu Tuesdays, white Wednesdays, bunny march, slut Olympics. Participate in those by creating unique outfits for those themes.
  • Nights are cold, it’s not a myth, so bring variety of warm clothes. Onesies, faux fur coats/vests, longer cool, weathered pants, sweaters that light up, etc… I rocked full on tuxedos in silly colors, like shiny sequences or hot pink, cuz it’s fun.
  • Being dark is not just uncool, but also dangerous. It is really dark at nights, and with no lights you will be a ghost, that can be run over by bicyclists, art cars or whatever. Be safe. EL wire is cool, but after 1st night they won’t shine bright at all. LEDs work better and consume less energy.
  • Comfy ones or really cool ones, but don’t bring your $400 Jimmy Choos at home, you will ruin them. Bring boots, comfy sneakers, anything you won’t regret getting dusty. Also, if they are made out of textile, especially mesh, dust WILL get in, and your feet will be disgustingly dirty after even 30 minutes of being on playa. Some people rock flip flops, but again, playa foot (dried out skin on feet to the point of cracking) is not fun. Hurting feet is one way to ruin your fun.
  • For camp buildup, wear good fitting gloves, you will need those hands to stroke somebody’s genitals (or your own) later, so save them.


  • Bring a good working but not so expensive bike to playa. Distances are pretty great and walking everywhere is almost impossible. Bring lock, bikes do get stolen, mine got stolen the first year. Light it up! Bring extra tubes, make sure all bearings and chain are good and lubed up. Dust will destroy those things first. If you travel from overseas, we do offer bike rentals, courtesy of Wanderer. Info coming soon on If you do rent one, you are responsible to return it in same condition, so locks are required, lights are required. There are bike repair camps, but they should be your last resort, not first option if something does fail.
  • Things with small wheels like rollerblades, skateboards will not work on playa. It’s not pavement, it’s dust (or to be exact, alkali bed of a dried out lake) there is a camp on Esplanade that has skating ring, but it’s more for pleasure, not for transportation.


  • Baby wipes. This is your showers most of the time. It is very expensive and inconvenient to take showers there every day. You will go through a lot of baby wipes in a week, trust me. So get those Costco size bags. Also, if you add vinegar into some of them, they will neutralize the base of the alkali. Use them, even though they don’t smell the best.
  • Lotion/crème. Skin dries out fast on playa. Keep your hands, face and feet moisturized.
  • Toothbrush/paste. You get the point. I don’t want to smell your last night’s dinner out of your mouth.
  • You might need them if you are not Asexual. Stay safe.
  • It’s pretty sunny during the day. Put it on, or we will see a different type of burning man. There is always somebody that looks like a lobster. Don’t be that guy.
  • Medical kit. Make sure you got as much stuff as you need in there. We will have a camp medic, her name is Heather, and she is awesome, but don’t rely just on her. Also, there are ranger stations and first aid stations, but those are just in case. Be self-reliant
  • Soap/shampoo/conditioner/towel. If you will have showers before/at/after the event.
  • Toilet paper/hand sanitizer. Carry it with you. Not all bio-toilets have them, especially sanitizer. It is disgusting to not wipe after the magical act of defecation. Use singly ply toilet paper only please.


  • Burning man is all about gifting. But make sure your gifts are something people will enjoy or use. Fresh cold fruit or a candy is a much better gift than a $1 piece of junk. Small lights that can be attached are also excellent gift for Darkwads. Make sure your gift doesn’t become moop.
  • Sometimes the best gift you can give is help, whether it is physically help someone build or fix something or babysit someone who is on a bad trip or having a hard time.
  • If you are into photography, taking pictures of people (with their consent) and sending it to them after playa is an awesome gift
  • Be creative, participate and don’t be mooper


  • If you smoke, bring a container for your ashes and butts. Throw all that into your garbage cans later.
  • Cameras/electronics. Capture those moments. You will be glad you did. But don’t become an Asian tourist in a museum. Life is better through your own eyes, not through a lens of your camera.
  • Ziplock bags. Awesome to store things to protect from elements, use as moop bags, etc.
  • Some people can’t live without it. Don’t moop though.
  • Think of other things as well. This list is far from complete and should be used to get you started. Remember, the more you prep before the burn, the more you will enjoy it.