wrex (thesaruswrex) wrote in burning_man,

The burningman camping checklist

And extended philosophical treatise, based on 12 years of this madness.

2011: Note! Tickets are Sold out!

Refer to the Burningman website for more details!

OK, so a friend (Ranger Wish!) mentioned that my 5 (8?!?!) year old post, was still showing up on Google searches. In fact came up as a very early entry. So, I updated the old post, (as Google still points to it) and am posting it here, behind a cut.

If time permits, I will add a bit about Bikes as well, as someone suggested in 2009. This is long and involved, and has *evolved* over the last 5 years. There are some plugs for people and companies that are pretty cool. If you have issues with corporate America and or Consumerism, that is fine, you can Gloss over that stuff.

Hint: It takes a lot of technology, manufacturing, effort and "stuff" to make this "gift economy" work. Especially if you *expect* people to give you everything you need to survive. Please prepare appropriately.

So, after 5 years to cook and congeal here is my newly minty fresh Camping list:

I wrote this, as a lark, pulling from a series of lists, some from REI, (where I was working) and some from the Sierra Club (where I was taking a survival course).

Little did I know, that it would be around 10 years later, much less that Google would pick it up, on one of their spider searches, and that a few thousand people would be looking at it.

First and Foremost: Take nothing to the Playa, you would not willing throw into a fire. Simple sounding, Right? Think about it. People she shiny stuff, they covet it, you lose track of reality, they *help* you lose track of reality, and suddenly that camera bag, with 11 lenses is "gone". So, before you pack, think twice.

OTOH: I love other lists. My (real life) friend Crunchy makes a great one. Someone emailed her 2 years ago, "I spent 3,000 dollars to get all the stuff on your list".

Um. "Duh?" (these are suggestions people!)


I love this one too!


I hilight something as:
RED: when I need to obtain/borrow/buy it
Yellow: When it is sitting in a pile in my livingroom
Green: when it is packed, in a sealed container, with a number on the bin. The bin number, is put into the comment section.

Obsess much? (yep!)---- Then I print a (color!)hardcopy to help me find stuff!

Regardless of which list you use, These are ***suggestions***.

They can be spread out among the people in your car, or your whole camp, or you can show up with flip-flops, a Linus blanket, and 3/4 of a gallon of water. (Don't!!!!). But this may help you think...

2011 Update: Driving!

I-80 between Sacramento and Reno is Fuxxored this year, due to nearly continuous construction and detours. Expect *hours* of delays. 395 route, from Southern CA is absolutely preferred, this year. Details and live map link:


Also: 395 driving, Gasoline!

There is a tribal owned gas station *just north* of Bishop on 395. On the left (West) side of the street, across from the Beef Jerky place. Don't panic, but it is past *all* the other gas stations located inside Bishop.

Because they are tribal owned, (it is on-site with a Casino), gas tends to be as much as 40 cents a gallon cheaper. (no state/federal taxes!)

40 cents might not sound like a lot, until you are filling a 100 gallon RV tank.


It will be 2.6 miles north of the center of Bishop. You will already have made the left turn, heading up towards mammoth.

Paiute Palace Gas Station
2750 North Sierra Highway, Bishop, CA

(760) 872-1224


(google map, showing distance from center of Bishop to Gas station)

If you like all the effort, we put into it... stop by Greeters Camp (6:00 and D street, directly behind center Camp), ask for Enigma. Topless Deb can tell you if I am sleeping, playing, or sitting in my "shelter".

Trinkets, pictures and gifts are always appreciated. There is a card table out front of my space as well... for such things!

So. Here goes the update:

Its been 5 years. I got lazy. I started working for a "Volunteer" Camp, which has power, and I rent a trailer from these folks. I don't get anything from them, but if you call ask for Linda, and tell her one of her oldest "personal rental" customers sent you. She will know who it is... She is cool people.


I order the first one on the list here:


It costs *about* 1300 bucks, delivered, picked up, cleaned (afterwards), for two weeks. Compare that, to fuel, and cleaning deposit, on your rental motor home, and the value should be pretty obvious. Oh, you do *know* that you *never* get your deposit back on RV's that go to Burningman, Right? Remember what it costs per hour to run the generator, and the mileage charges, before you start trash talking my 1300 dollar office. Hint, "Volunteers" rented 16 of them this year, across almost all departments.

(2011. Volunteers rented 37 of them this year)

Camp Sanihut, is *on site* at Burningman. They keep spare AC units, and handle stuff like inspections and drama with the county, if it comes up.

What is the difference? You get two rooms, 10x10 each. No furniture, no bed, no stove, no potty. What you *do* get, is an A/C unit, in each room (you supply your own power silly), and double paned windows, and doors that go "Whoomph!" to keep the dust out. A few years ago, 14 of us, were sitting in the room.

We looked out the window, 4 feet away was my car. Then it wasn't, then it was, then it wasn't. At 50 MPH, the dust was so thick, a spotlight, could not find my car. So, we sat there and played checkers. I think. Yep, quite sure of it, I mean, what else would that many or more people do in a room that is only 10x12, right?

I put this together for my friends in 2004, from several sources. This will not be a full re-write but an edit and add to it.

Besides, I have a life now. I am nearly married again, have a step kid, to think about, (coolest kindergartner ever! It took all her body weight to pull down on the cable that activated the 80 foot tall flame thrower!), and I wish to continue having that life.

But that said. This is not the stuff you must bring. Its a list of potential things to bring. Stuff, you might want, and ideas, and philosophies, and whatnot from my meager 6 (Now, um.. 12?) years going to this event. Take what you will, leave the rest. Play nice, play safe. Try to stay on the top side of art cars.

Version 5.20B 8/14/2011

OK, here is my Burningman list.

"Last minute" update from 2005

If you are filling your trailer with water, (for flushing or whatever), do it in RENO, not in Gerlach. In Gerlach/Empire whatever, They wont let you, and you won't be able to flush all week. Same for Wadsworth (Fernely will sell you water!, one exit east, on I-80 from Wadsworth), but the guy at the Wadsworth 76 station let me fill two water jugs at the last moment, so go figure.

updated: stuff added, the whole drug law enforcement thing, some items removed, two added.

Before you go: Leave word..(with your family) where will you be... me too, if you want to.

Email addresses (someone will have access in an emergency... Find the ranger nearest your camp, and introduce yourself), approximate camp location. Walkie talkie frequencies, whatever it takes...

remember 911@burningman.com will send someone out to your tent, in the dark of night, for life and death level notifications. Make sure your folks know *exactly* where you are camping. Dude, it takes a *lot* of resources to make a "911" level delivery. Save it for real stuff.

Also, wifi works pretty good these days. If you can't get a signal in center camp, (too many people for the poor poor router), go way out past 6:00, towards the greeters trailer. There is another one there, and it works just fine. So does Skype, usually.

Also before you go:

Check your first aid kit. Is it stocked, whats in it, can you use it.

Check tent and ground cloth for rips and repair or replace if necessary.

Check and test all stoves, lanterns, lamps, headlamps, batteries, before leaving.

Check your vehicle, gas, oil water, air, tires, Towing sucks, is expensive, if bread and fishes allow, go to your mechanic, (not pep boys or sears, but a real mechanic, with a shop, and a history of dealing with your car), and say, 'is this car ready for a 1000 mile trip through the middle of the Nevada desert?'. No matter how much work he does, it is still cheaper than a 200 mile tow, at 8 bucks a mile.

AAA. Get the extended super premium, tow plan. Towing a trailer? Get the trailer plan. Using an RV? Get the RV plan. Getting the hint? Towing sucks. My friends last 10 mile tow, because of a little popup trailer, cost us an extra 100 bucks. Serious.

TODAY: Go to the locksmith, and get a hide a key, Bolt it, weld it, ("Tie Wraps" work fine around keys and coil springs) whatever it, and give spare keys (test them first!) to all people riding in your car. Keymasters/Locksmiths are *REALLY* expensive to find in BRC. They charge by the hour, going to BRC (from Reno) and back home again. Update. BRC has lockout service. But still, multiple keys.

Also, digicams. Most today have little watertight enclosures that are manufacture, and camera specific, and will save your precious digital. Worth the 100 dollar investment. Good for all Canon Elphs, Most nikon, and several others, check ebay.

I just checked, my 7 year old Digital Elph, still works fine. 7 trips to playa, the little plastic 50 dollar dive case, keeps it safe and dust free.

You will not be heartbroken of you lose your camera, if you have gone to "Digital Dump", check the listings and get your pictures dumped to CD for free, assuming the old couple is still running the service, out of Hotwheels camp. They still were around last time I checked.

Also, Lots of small chips, carefully stored, are not as likely to disappear as one megachip.

Also Before you leave:

Are your boots, shoes broken in. Blisters suck, especially when they are caused by your only shoes/boots.. and you have to wear them the rest of the week.

Ziplock Baggies... Lots of them. 2 gallons, 1 gallons, etc. The noises some of my camp-mates have made, finding a still sealed, clean pair of underwear, on day 9, should not be uttered in polite company.

Try this link:


Holy shit, 5 year old link, still works. Good walkies. I prefer my old HT600's, with new batteries on a "FCC licensed" frequency, myself. Hang the hand microphone, off the back clip of your camelbak and camp-mates will always get to you.

Not this one:

Walkie Talkies: See my previous post. http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=90118658&npsku=90131703&loc=111

The midland GXT400 10 Mile, 3 watt is the best I have ever seen in terms of Price/Power, etc. I love the Garmin Rhino 130, but not for $250.00 each. Still, not live savings worth it, as when Friday comes around, there are 10,000 people on the same frequencies.

Unfortunately the Midland is sold out currently at the above link... anybody find them anywhere else? Note: the standard 1/2 watt talkies will not cross BRC in the best of conditions, and when chatter is high, they won't even reach across a theme camp. More power is better... but don't expect clear transmissions. 20,000 people, 20% of them carrying talkies on this channel set, is still over 500 people per channel. Getting the picture?

Oh, it goes without saying the last cell phone service is at I-80. Start weaning yourself now... and change your outgoing message to reflect your weeklong absence of checking messages. Maybe give them a yahoo account, and find a friend with a wireless laptop... or buy a sat phone, or just deal. I do find myself looking longingly at my phone mid week.

2010: There was a cell site installed near Frog Pond last year. It appears to provide limited service (ATT only) to parts of the playa. It was powered down during the event however.

2011: Wifi is up, people are making SKYPE calls. Don't depend on it working, when *you* arrive.

Earplugs. (I forgot)... maybe one of those shooters headsets. I was two blocks from Illuminaughty two (8!!) years ago, and the thumping was so loud, it came through the ground, up into my spine, and into my mastoid bones, even with plugs in, and a headset on. Be aware of where you camp!


Extra straps with buckles

Fanny pack or fanny flask; CAMELBACK, Spare bladder for it! 1 quart is not even close to enough for a 1/2 day.

(Nalgene or stainless bottle). Put stuff that has sugar or goo in the Nalgene, and only water in your Camelbak. Really.

Oh, and a "yellow" Nalgene, should be clearly labeled. I put, "never drink from the Yellow Nalgene" on both sides of mine. Girls, Pee Funnels Leak. Always. REI or your favorite camping store, has a widget. It works, really really well. My department head can pee farther than I can, when she uses it.


Duffle Bags
Extra stuff sacks
Plastic bags for trash, with Tie Straps, 5 day old trash stinky!

2010: mesh bags for fruit scraps. Let them dry for a day, wrap them in a (Paper!) bag and find a Burn Barrel.

Zip lock bags, in various sizes 1 Gallon to 1 quart, 25 each.
Water bag, Collapsible, Sun Shower:


Air Mattress and Pump, and batteries, patch kit, or 6.

2010: I have the best Ex Girlfriend Ever. She sold me her (thin!) Futon, and it packs up to the size of a Sleeping bag, with Compression straps. I will never use an air mattress again!

Foam ground pad (see air mattress-- spare?)
Repair Kit, (Air Mattress, Thermarest)
Sleeping bag(s) (rated to at least 40 degrees)


Dish towel
Pot scrubber
Soap, (biodegradable)
Sponge or Dish cloth
Tent Broom, dustpan.

Misting Spray bottle (with fan!)


You will wear less clothing then you expect. Stuff you would never wear at home, is great at BRC. Things you might not expect to wear, seem wonderful... Sarongs, Camisoles, Coulats... These items apply to women as well.

Serious 2010 Update: Double up on underwear. Playa likes reproductive bits. If you are sitting about, sans undies, you may encounter the "bits" version of "Playa foot". Crusty broken sores, that don't heal, and radically change PH levels. Do I need to paint a more clear picture? Besides, putting naked "bits" (directly) down on other peoples furniture, is kinda gross, Right?

Bathing Suit
Boots and laces, spares
Boots, Hiking
Cap, Hat, Sombrero
Cap, Wool, Stocking (nights cold)
Gloves (work gloves, and cold weather ones)
Jacket, Down, (compresses nice, makes a good pillow, when some hippy steals yours off the couch in front of camp, on Monday)

Jacket Windbreaker

2011 Note: During the 48 hours, before the city opened, it *snowed* on the playa. Temps were in the 30's after dark. Thermals!

Pants, (jeans, etc). Cargo pants.

Rain Gear, Pancho

2010 Diversion: When it rains, stop. Don't walk, don't ride, don't drive. Just hang and chill and sit. The playa mud will cake your tires, bike, feet, gears, etc, and then you *can't* move. Just enjoy the sky show. Two years ago, we had our own "double rainbow". Never made it to You-tube however...

Sandals. See Above, Playa foot.

Scarf/ bandanna (including those cool ones with the crystals that soak up water... REI)
Shirts, Long sleeve, SPF.
Shirts (t shirts)
Shoes, Hiking, Tennis
Socks, 2 pairs per day
Suspenders (rainbow, safety orange, hot pink, whatever)
Sweatshirt, Hooded
Sweatshirt, Regular
Underwear (spares)
Vest, Down,

Cooking Gear:

Aluminum Foil
Water bag, Bota Bag, large bag with handles to carry "Ice" in. Especially in small pieces...

Can/Bottle Opener
Canteen, Camelback bladder, Spare
Measuring Cup
Cups for drinking, Coffee cup, for Center Camp
Cutting Board
Dish Soap Biodegradable
Dish Towel(s)
Egg carrier (s)
Frying pan, Non stick
Grill, or cooking rack
ICE, big *huge* blocks will last most of the week
Ice Chest, 2 smallish ones work better than 1 huge one. Avoid styrofoam, it doesn't hold up.

2010: Knife butcher, Knife pairing. Knife (not in your back or hand, cause you have the cool ones with slip on plastic covers from IKEA, they also donated like tons of stuff to the "Grilled Cheese Invitational", so they get a good plug here.

Mess Kit, or paper/cardboard plates (burn it, or pack it out) or plastic, which can be reused
Metal pot grabber
Paper towels
Plastic Tupperwear containers
Plates/Bowls (paper metal plastic)
Pots and pans
Pot (just kidding)

2010 Update: Re-above. Sigh. Next to Arizona, Nevada has the toughest drug laws in the Nation. Your CA medical prescription card is not valid. Even if you have a Nevada one, you are on *Federal* land, and the Federals don't recognize medical marijuana cards. If they see it, sense it, smell it, you are kind of making them do their job. I volunteer for a department that works a great deal with LEA's on playa. Most are pretty cool. Opening night, some get a little filled up with Adrenaline. So, no open containers (ever!) in your car. No admissions of illegal substances (Duh!), and for goodness sake, "know your pharmacist".

Pot, Coffee
Stove (Camping, propane) Extra Propane cylinders!! or big bulk cylinder
Stove, Eye dropper for fuel
Stove Fuel Bottle
Stove Fuel
Stove Funnel for fuel
Stove Pour spout for fuel bottle
Stove Pump
Stove Windscreen (seeing a theme here?)\

2010: Propane stoves work pretty well too. And you can avoid the above 11 line items.

Utensils (cooking)
Utensils (eating)

Altimeter, GPS
Axe (large)
Axe (small)
Candles (large)
2010: Carabiners for your "Pod Belt" or similar...

Cellular phone, (wont work at Black Rock city)
Satellite Phone (if you are really farking desperate)
Laptop with Wireless network card. Things get busy late in the week. I made a comment about going to Greeters Station for Wifi above. (Not Gate, Greeters, know the difference. If they are all dressed in black, you went to far, back to the tent-like pylons, with the happy people).

Digital Camera
Throw Away camera(s)
Chain or steel cable for towing
Come along
File, Small
Headlight, Spare batteries, Spare Headlight. Damn these things have gotten cheap. Check Home Depot;

Flashlight extra Bulb

2010: OSh had little "sidewalk" lights, with LED's and built in Solar Cells, for 2 bucks last week. Runs for 8 hours. Twist off the top, find a 3/8" hole someone left in the top of a porta potty for you, attach double stick tape, and you have a small Porta Light. Bring some gooo/silicone to fill the hole when you harvest your lights at the end of the week. Leave no trace.

Hammer, Mallet for tent stakes and rebar.
Lantern (candle lantern)
Lantern (rechargeable, 12 Volt)
Lantern (fuel batteries, Recharging cord for car adapter)

I now use a 14 Volt Dewalt Lantern with the batteries from my electric drill. Bring the charger. You can recharge the battery in an hour, use it all night, repeat.

Oil Motor / Lube / Vaseline / chapstick
Pad, Plastic, sit on in wet weather
Plastic Tub to use as sink
Rope, Heavy duty, you have to make your shade structure. More than you think you need.
rubber bands, Bungie Cords.
Saw, Camp
Saw, Collapsible
Stool or folding chair,
Stretch cords
Tape (utility)
Tent Ground cloth or tarp
Tent Rainfly (is it really in the bag?) (2010) Seriously. I cannot tell you enough, to Test this stuff before you arrive on playa!

Tent Stakes and poles. (go to home despot, get 20" sections of Rebar (smallest size) and ask them to cut them if possible. Bring extra water bottles to cover the stakes so you don't bang yourself one at 3:15 am. Big pinwheely things, or ribbon to tie to your guy ropes if any. Anything to increase visibility. Drunk Woofers will come wandering though your camp you have never seen, and get stuck on your stakes)
Tools, (screwdrivers, Pliers, leatherman, etc)
Water purifier (optional)

Cables, jumper
Zipper repair kit, plus lubricant, butter works. Once.

First Aid Kit:
Adhesive bandage strips, (read bandaids). By day three you will simply put duct tape on it anyways.

Alcohol Swabs
Alcohol Gel hand sanitizer

Aspirin, Pain Reliever

Burn Ointment (oh, yeah... like gospel baby)

Butterfly type closures (if you really need stitches head to center camp, or the two 24/7 paramedic stations 45 degrees out from center camp)
Calamine lotion
Collapsible Splint
Cotton Swabs (you won't believe the stuff that will come out of your ears).

Cough Drops, (cold Eze!)

Elastic Bandage
Emergency First aid handbook

Eye drops, Eye wash. Not Visine!!!! If necessary, go to center camp medical. They can was the real nasties like sunscreen out of your eyes.

First aid cream
Foot powder, (you may not believe it, but Vinegar will save your life when the alkali Playa eats your feet)
Gauze compresses
Gauze pads
Gloves Vinyl
Insect repellent
Iodine, Betadine
Lip balm with sunscreen, little tiny screw in eye bolts from home depot, with a 30 inch piece of ribbon will make you friends for life)... give them to your friends.
Magnifying glass
Metal mirror
Needle and thread
Ointment (anti bacterial)... others if you think you will need it.
Required Prescription medication;

Heres my gig on Medications: Go to your doctor. Explain to him/her that you will be 178 miles from the nearest doctor, and if you get sick, like really sick, a 10 day course of antibiotics might save your trip. A round of anti-allergy meds, like the serious Steroid kind could do the same thing... Then of course there are the medications that you *really* need (if applicable)... That you are already taking for your heart condition, your high blood pressure, etc. Bring spares... lots of spares.

There is mail delivery on playa. Use the USPS. Even over night will take a day or two, but the folks at the "real" post office work their asses off. If they make a mail delivery (or male delivery) for you, be really really nice to them.

There are doctors on site, but they don't have a lot of meds.. but if someone offers an inhaler to someone that is having an asthma attack... it might save them a $10,000 flight to Reno. Of course obey all rules, laws, and ordinances regarding controlled substances and medications.

Safety pins
Salt Tablets, (whole foods has *wonderful* salt tablets that melt under your tongue. When you are feeling cranky and bitchy, and not having fun, and just want to sit in the shade... Take two salt tablets, and drink about a quart of water, repeating hourly, until you feel like playing again. The *first* sign of dehydration is often "I'm just being a cranky bitch/Bastard"... but others will often have to recognize it.

Small knife
Snake bite kit, (optional)
soap towelettes
Sunscreen (like gospel baby)
Tape, Medical
Thermometer with case, (measuring heat stroke)
Triangular bandage
Vitamins (start taking them 2 weeks before leaving, same with increasing your water intake, it takes a few days before your body can get used to drinking a gallon per day... seriously. Like start this Monday). Four quarts per day... But take the driving days off, or your trip will take twice as long.

Food: You won't eat as much as you think, and the simplist meals will often taste the Best. My first year, Kathleen and I feasted on MRE's... they tasted like ambrosia and heating was simple, leave them in the sun for an hour, and open and eat. Canned foods, same thing. Leave the extra packaging and cardboard at home, especially the plastic stuff.

2010: Cannned foods now come lined with this "heat resistant" internal liner. You simply *cannot* cook a can, directly over a flame now. It won't work. Sorry.

There are these cool instant packs of food, not MREs, but similar, at trader joes now, mostly asian style vegggie things but at 90 cents a meal, a damn site cheaper than MREs.

Beef Jerkey

B A C O N!!!!
(Cost-co, pre-cooked, loaded with preservatives. Ranger (name deleted) cooked 10 lbs of it, and deposited the entire plate on my lap Sunday morning at a Regional. I was halfway through it, before I thought to share it with the other 8 people in camp.

Bouillon Cubes
Butter Or margarine
Candy Bars
Eggs, (for cooking)
Eggs Hard Boiled
Freeze dried food
Fruit (apples oranges etc)
Fruit Canned (2010 when was the last time you had diced fruit cups, I have seen people cry and or beg for canned peaches on playa. Just Saying.)
Fruit Dried
Fruit Juice
Gravy Mix
Hot chocolate drink mix
Hot dogs, (freeze before you leave)
Marshmallows, Chocolate, Graham crackers
Mayonnaise (blecH!!!!)
Noodles, Ramen, Pasta, (remember, keep it simple)
Peanut butter (PB and J, will seem like the coolest, and its quick!)
Peanuts (salt)
Potato chips
Potatoes, Instant
Powdered drink mixes, Protein Mixes, Re-hydration mixes)
Sandwich makings, Bread, Lunch-meat, etc. All in zip-locks
Sandwiches, (ready made for driving)
INSTANT COFFEE!!! (coffee withdrawals are a bitch).
Soft Drinks, (caffeine dehydrates)
Tea (bags)
Tea, Instant ice tea
Trail Mix, (gorp)
Trail Snacks
Vegetables (raw or canned)
Water, 1 quart bottles, 2.5 quart "cows"... 7 quart containers... 800 gallon water buffaloes, however you get it there, 2.5 gallons per person per day... Even if your camp is supplying water, bring your own... you may not find your camp.

Personal stuff: Hygiene and stuff

Comb or brush (baggy it)
Baby wipes unscented... like hundreds, from costco)
Glasses (with restraining strap
Glasses (sunglasses with case)
Hand wipes
Identification, (like on you... with insurance cards?)
Identification (spare) (if you are flying in, and lose your wallet purse, a second form of state/federal issued ID Passport, Identification card, whatever) will get you on a plane, without having to file a police report, which can take hours.
Lotion (face, Hand)
Sewing Kit
Shampoo (biodegradable)
Soap (bar, or hand, biodegradable)
Toilet paper (and extra 4 rolls)
Towels (hand, body, all in 1 gallon zip locks)
Watch (alarm, Travel clock?)
Watch wrist

Binoculars (with cleaning cloth) Use good judgement, the line is very fine with zoom lenses and binoculars... don't be creepy) A couple we walked with 4 years ago, had their entire week destroyed when un-permissioned pictures were taken of his wife from a great distance with a 300 MM zoom.
Books, movies, DVD's, Laptop,

2010: A friend of mine did her first burn ever last year. 14 days. Day three, she went back to our trailer, watched 2 hours of DVD's (TV show name deleted), and went to bed. A little bit of "normalcy", goes a long way, when you are trying to get used to the overwhelming stimulation of BRC

Camera, with underwater case. Really.

Camera bag and straps
Drawing Tablet and pens and pencils (if thats your thing, I can't draw to save me from a firing squad)

Cards, poker chips

Kite! (organized kite flying days... look it up)

Games, travel size chess
Hammock, something to hang it from
Pen Pencil Paper.

Survival: Dude, Seriously:
Candle (small for daypack/ backpack).. Flashy thingies.. so you don't get killed by a 80 foot tall art car.

Um... if you stop to um "play" out on the playa... Leave something flashing!!! Park your bikes at 180 degree angles, and leave the lights and flashers on!

People may whistle and tease you, but they guy doing 40MPH on his 36 volt electric scooter, won't roll over you. You won't even hear it coming. Really.

Emergency Survival handbook, (you will be driving over 100 miles though largely unpopulated desert with no cell phone service)

You know how to change your own tire, Right?

Fire starter
Knife (pocket)
Light Sticks (like dozens)
Match (everlasting gobstopper type)
Matches (butane barbeque lighter... on a rope, tied to your camp table)
Mirror Signal type
Rope, Thin nylon
Surveyors/ Caution tape, for marking off your space
Water purification tablets,
weather thermometer

Playa Specific Stuff:
Face mask, Dust mask, Respirator
Face mask, (spare)
Flags (so you can find your camp at dawn when you are stumbling back home)
Flashy thingys (see above)
Gloves, Teardown, setup, 2 hours of "not in your camp playa cleaning".
Goggles, Spares, Spares of spares. One set, clear/amber, one set sunglasses type. Swim / Scuba goggles work fine too.
Head band.
Ice axe (just kidding)
Shovel, (Playa gets runny muddy in the rain but water evaporates in hours... If it rains, then sit, wait for it to dry, (2 hours max) and then continue driving... don't bother trying to move sooner. Same with bikes. See notes on no digging policy on playa. But if you get soft shouldered on way to BRC, it will help, maybe.

Socks, Like spares.

Ok, stuff I have learned.

Read the website. Read it aloud while your partner is driving. Damn good place for an audiobook if you ask me. Here are my personal thoughts and suggestions... in random order.

Don't wait to buy water in Reno.. they sold out two years ago, even though the supermarket had a special truckload delivered. Any guess was 30 gallons of Evian costs? in *one quart Bottles*!!! Fortunately, I had all I needed... (G).. Others did not, and I had to laugh, well, chuckle at their misfortune.

If you buy filtered water from a water store... make sure they add back in minerals. I bought filtered water two years ago, and on day two, I felt like hell, and I was about to go into medical... A friend with a test kit, looked at my water, and said.. "Hey, is this Reverse osmosis?". "Ummm, maybe I replied". "Dood, you could Die Drinking this! This is like drinking Distilled water!!!". She gave me salt tablets, and I was fine in two hours.... but I added EmergenC and mineral solution to all my water after. Oh, emergenC, after 48 hours in a Camelbak, creates this wonderful green Bacteria rich solution that will make you wish you were dead... as in, food poisoning, in 110 degree heat, in porta potties. Getting the picture? Rinse out your camelbak, buy disinfecting solution, (or a half teaspoon of bleach, well rinsed after wards). Water in your camelbak, EmergenC in your water bottle.

However, the people at EmergenC, have this great super concentrated hydration salt packet thingy, packed like their vitamin stuff. Great stuff, not sugary, works wonders.

Shade, like think, where would I want to be in 114 degree heat. Reflective blankets, (I use the red on one side, "Space Blanket on the other" ones. Small, 5 x 7, from REI. 24 are being received on Fridays REI Manhattan Beach truck. They will likely be the last ones received before BRC. They have already sold out twice... in the last two weeks. Good ideas go far… and are copied.

2010: They now make BubbleWrap, with silver backing. Like R19 thermal insulation, for 20 bucks a roll. Put it way up high the the eaves of your Costco Structure, or 5 inches above the walls of your tent. Just saying.

2010: http://www.homedepot.com/Building-Materials-Insulation-Radiant-Barrier/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xhcZbedf/h_d2/Navigation?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&langId=-1

2010: This link is still good too. Just plain wow:


If you order online or 800, or in person, at REI, you can have it delivered to the store and pay no postage, but delivery truck only comes Fridays and Mondays. This is not my plug for them as a corporation, just what I know from working there...

These blankets reflect 90 percent of heat/light and are not hideously expensive…. About 10.00 each. Don't bother with your Mylar space blanket. One gust of wind, poof.

If you have a friend with connections, (I used to but he went away to a federally sponsored "Summer camp"...), but before he went away, he got me a fully equipped military packed camo net structure. Heres why I love camo. Its shady, it blocks the sun, but the wind goes right through it. So, your entire camp doesn't get pulled down/over/around when the wind gusts to 70 MPH, which it will, at least a few times. Tarps catch wind. Parachutes are *designed* to catch wind. Enough said. Wind. Stake it down, more than you think it will ever need... and stake it some more. However, the shade potential is not as great as it could be. ****but*** it makes a great anchor point for other shady stuff.

There was this story about a Honda prelude missing a bumper. The guy had tied an 80 foot cargo parachute to the front of his car....

2010: 3 years ago, two (bolted together!) Costco 10x20 garage structures pin-wheeled across an entire village, in a 50 MPH dust Devil. About 30 people finally wrestled it down. It was "staked" if the word can be used with Tent Stakes. The owner spent the rest of his burn, shuttling the 14 cars that ended up with a "Costco Garage Pole" punched through their windshields, back and forth to Reno. Tie It Down. 2 feet of rebar, underground, per pole. Nobody was killed. I watched from a mile away... boggle.

Nobody needs to talk about the Rebar tent stakes, right? Heres a hint. Buy the thinnest rebar you can find (1/4 inch?), and bend the top over in a vice. Takes a little extra time... but worth it, when you trip over one. Cover it with used plastic bottles anyway. For trip and fall hazards, as well as the fact that Rebar in the ground is a Perfect "lightning Rod".. Combined with your metal tent poles in your dome tent, and you have a questionable situation... potentially.

However, no reports of lightening strikes have come to my attention. You ever wonder why there are glass bottles on the exposed Rebar at 3rd world construction sites? Now you know.

AAA service... Buy Premiere or whatever they are calling thier 175 mile towing plan. Its over 100 to Reno.... at 2.50 a mile.

The morning after the burn, when you spend 5 hours getting to I-80 in 10 mile per hour traffic, and you hit the open highway... don't zoom up to 90 miles per hour. It cost me $450.00... and they didn't offer traffic school, but were nice enough to make sure that California DMV was notified, and it stayed on my record for 7 years. They had 130 cars/officers and 8 aircraft in the 10 mile section north and South of the turnoff onto I-80. Yep, airborne turkey shoot. I had to drive over a mile, to find an opening, to park, to receive my ticket. Same thing going to BRC... they know your coming. Wave, smile, drive slow.

2010: I cannot emphasize this enough. 25, means 23. I was radar zapped, 8 times, by the same officer, just past 447 junction. 23, 24, 22, 18, 13, 10, 6, 8. Finally I waved. He waved back.

Oh, it goes without saying that if someone you don't know asks you to drive their Car/Truck/Art Car to BRC, and you have not personally inspected each and everything going into it... you may want to think about not doing so. How do you spell "Mule"... Yep, "Possession with intent to distribute"

You don't need to have a big burningman emblem to tell anyone in law enforcement where you are heading to, or coming from. The overpacked cars, with 5 bicycles, will tell them for you. No Stickers obscuring windows... no emblems, , no danglies hanging from mirrors. Maintain good LEGAL visibility. All are reasons for them to pull you over, and open the whole level of legal whoopass. This Can be considered a period of "maximum or Special enforcement"... and if they have reason... they will make full use of it. Reason can often just be a nasty attitude, or Rebel witout a clue mentality, when confronted by law enforcement just doing their job.

2010: Last year ago, I spoke with a Deputy on the "spooky desert" route, directly south, of Wadsworth Fernely about 75 miles. He had followed me for 38 miles, before sleep got the best of me, and I wandered across the center line. Lights went on, he saw my paperwork, (Insurance Card!), registration and ID was in order and that I was *completely* sober, just sleepy. We chatted for 40 minutes, I promised to stop at the dry campground about 8 miles down the road (and did!), and I did not get written.

He was *amazingly* polite. Actually he has wanted to work the event for nearly a decade, but his boss won't give him that week off, (in order to work contract for Washoe/Pershing county Sheriff). Some Cops "get" what the event is, be thankful and respectful when you get to deal with them. Wait a minute: Did you get the fact that he told me he followed me for 38 miles? Then he mentioned that the deputy of the adjacent county had already followed me for 25 before that. It was three days after the event ended, at 11:40 PM. They *know* you are coming.

Personally? I'll stick with I-80 to Reno, and either 395, or I5 back south. Spookie desert route is too far off the beaten tracks, and you pass *through* many more small towns.

I cannot emphasize enough, how much a good attitude and common sense, will save you hassles when dealing with LEA's. Leave your "rebel without a clue" attitude at home. If you have one in your back seat, Duct Tape their mouth shut.

When those Red lights go on, or when you order a cheese burger, or bang on a grocery door, 3 minutes after they close at 3:00 AM, you *Are* Black Rock City. You represent, and can affect, every other person at the event.

You will be traveling through tribal lands from I-80 to BRC. Tribal speed limits are EXACT. Not 26, not 27, but twenty five... or whatever is posted. Hey, give it 23, and you don't have to worry. They are not governed by the "35 zone Ahead" federal signage guidelines. Soooo, watch for abrupt speed limit changes.... like 25 miles per hour between signs. Tribal authorities *can* require payment immediately... So have cash ready. Not sure about checks, but the tribal tickets are usually less painful, and they don't report to CA/NV DMV. Also, show respect... we are invading their homes/towns/businesses. A little respect and dignity goes a long way.

Another way to get into trouble is by trying to "sneak in". There are some very talented volunteers, whose job it is, to assist law enforcement in keeping the "closure zone" free of folks who should not be there.

They see you from miles away.

Think Santa Claus.

Now Think again, how you saw Santa, when you were say.. um 4 and a half.

These folks have Santa all levels beat. Seriously so.

Simply put, Don't. Don't listen to your friends friends friend, who has this friend that got 9 people in.. way back when. It is really scary when 8 trucks, suddenly turn on their lights and head towards you, *directly* towards you, from 8 different directions. Expensive too. Potentially a Federal trespass ticket.

Overall, I have found law enforcement to be reasonable, and polite, for all six (11!?!?!)years I have gone.

However, The nice lady at CA Agricultural inspection (300 miles from BRC) looked at my newly washed car, and newly washed me, and Clean Cut (now ex wife)... and said... "Your coming from Black Rock City, Right? Ok, move on!"

They Know! Maybe its the goofy grin. Not sure. But 300 miles away, they know.


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