Whether it’s your first music festival or your hundredth, there are lots of little hacks that will improve and simplify your festival experience. Planning ahead helps you focus on what really matters once you arrive: the festival itself. Here are some things to consider as you prep for next summer’s music festival scene.
Whether it’s a multi-day or single day festival, there are plenty of items that you’ll want access to throughout the day and should plan on carrying around in a small pack. Packing the right items will keep you from hauling a heavy, bulky pack around all day and will ensure that you haven’t under-packed – which is almost as bad as not packing in the first place. There’s nothing worse than having to return to the tent to retrieve a phone charger because you’re down to 2 percent battery life or shelling out a ridiculous amount of cash for a bottle of water because you lost your reusable bottle the night before. A zippered bag, like a light backpack, makes a great day pack because the zipper serves as a deterrent for pick pockets, who have an easier time slipping items out of open tote-style bags.
If you plan on being out all day (and probably all night), it’s crucial to consider the many types of weather you may encounter. In hot desert locations, it’s all about staying cool and protected from the sun during the day and keeping warm at night. For the daytime, pack a hat with a brim. Make sure it’s something you’ll actually want to wear (or, more importantly, something you want to be wearing in all the pictures from the festival). Opt for a classic trucker’s hat, floppy sun hat, or even straw cowboy hat. Pack some sunglasses – ideally a set with polarized lenses so your view isn’t impinged – to wear with the sun hat. Now, your face and your eyes are ready for the desert sun.
Light clothes, like thin cotton tops and shorts, are perfect for hot temperatures – but don’t forget to pack some warm layers for the evenings when temperatures can drop substantially. While sandals may seem like a great choice for footwear at a hot weather festival, consider all the dirt and mud you’ll be traipsing through. A better bet is a pair of comfortable, cheap sneakers or other closed-toe shoes that will keep your feet clean but that you won’t mind tossing if they get too grungy.
For colder climates, where the weather can change in the blink of an eye, layering can get a little trickier. In rainy climates, whether the forecast calls for precipitation or not, a pair of rain boots are indispensable. A nice comfortable pair of rain boots make splashing through mud puddles and standing around in the gloom a more palatable experience. If you have flat feet or generally like some arch support, invest in a pair of insoles to slip in the boots.
Though far from stylish, a plastic poncho is lightweight, packable, and your best friend when the clouds roll in and it starts to rain; there’s no point in ruining a nice rain jacket by bringing it to a music festival. In a matter of seconds, you can throw a poncho over whatever you’re wearing and get back to the festivities. Because of their lightweight material, ponchos don’t last very long, so consider packing a couple or bringing along some unused garbage bags, which can be turned into ponchos in a pinch.
Keeping your devices charged and functional can be challenging at a large festival, where networks are easily overwhelmed and outlets for charging are at a premium (or nonexistent). A quick fix is to bring your own battery pack and a solar charger. The battery pack gives you a quick charge when your battery is low, and the solar charger will get the battery pack back to full. A solar charger that hangs on your pack is a good investment because it’s easy to keep track of during the day and is low maintenance. If you need to keep in contact with your friends, don’t rely on your phone to send or receive messages. The number of festival attendees trying to do the same often overloads the network, and it could be hours until a text message goes through. Instead, consider a set of walky-talkies, which will work no matter how many people are in attendance.
More and more festivals are asking attendees to be aware of the impact they have on the festival grounds. Glastonbury requires attendees to sign a pledge to leave the farm as it was pre-festival – a tall order for an event that attracts more than 175,000 attendees! Burning Man has a crew of volunteers who spend days returning the desert to its natural state. It’s really not too much to ask people to leave the festival with everything that they brought onto the grounds. However, far too often, festival attendees bring cheap tents and clothing that they won’t mind destroying and then abandon everything when the event ends, leaving fields strewn with tattered tents and piles of other refuse. This creates a huge mess for the event organizers – which is easily preventable. If you bring an item, be sure to bring it home, or at least put it in a real garbage can or recycling container when you leave. During the day, carry a small plastic bag in your pack to put your trash in; this saves unnecessary trips in search of a trash can and also keeps the festival grounds from getting covered in pieces of garbage.
The music festival scene is growing bigger and better every year, which can make it difficult to secure a pass to the world’s most popular events. If there’s a festival you’re looking to attend this summer, start getting ready now – tickets for many of the year’s hottest festivals begin to go on sale during the winter, and they won’t be available for long! Look online for the start of ticket sales and save the time and date so you don’t miss the short window of sales.