It's almost time to set the desert ablaze with art, music, ritual, fashion and, of course, literal fire: The Burning Man festival heats up the Nevada desert once more August 26 to September 4. And while the experience is certainly life-enhancing, man cannot survive on creativity alone: Thankfully, we've got the lowdown on what to bring to Black Rock City.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: A week in the desert requires copious amounts of water. A gallon-and-a-half per day is a safe estimation–more if you're planning on drinking alcohol or indulging in other ways. A particle mask and goggles are also a must to handle dust storms, and you may want to bring a five-gallon bucket and garbage liners to serve as a makeshift toilet.
Living out in the harsh sun requires an arsenal of remedies at the ready: sunblock, eye drops, lip balm, and aloe vera or some other sunburn ointment. And, remember, the desert is a terrain of extremes: So pack breezy clothes that protect from the sun while providing relief from the heat, as well as heavier clothes and an insulated sleeping bag for when the sun goes down.
Other essentials include a portable air conditioner, flashlights and LEDs for nighttime, earplugs and a first-aid kit. But where to procure them? Though its convenience may seem tempting, veteran Burners say to avoid the Walmart in Reno at all costs: This time of year It looks like a warzone and the overwhelmed staff can be understandably ornery. (They also don't honor returns after the festival, even for unused items). Purchase as much as you can online to avoid the stress, crowds and price hike.
For any last-minute needs, five-year Burner Stephanie Sartori advises, "There are a lot of small, funky shops on the road from Reno to [Black Rock]. I love those places—it's worth leaving some time to shop there."
Non-perishable food is also paramount, but there are many options at the Playa: Sartori's camp, Feed the Artists, arrive in the runup to the festival and provides food to artists building their installations. During Burning Man itself they give out food to revelers. Cook in advance if you can and pack it all up so you don't need a camping stove. (Protein-heavy sandwiches that won't spoil too quickly, like grilled chicken, are an easy option). It's also important to have calorie-dense foods like peanut butter, granola, nuts, breads, etc.—sometimes you may only have time for one meal a day, so make it count. Playa's "Leave No Trace" policy also means you can't just dump wrappers or plates, so use minimal packaging or stuff that can compost or burn easily
But the most important thing to bring to Burning Man is yourself, free of inhibitions and ready to offer your talent and enthusiasm.