17 Top Burning Man Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2019)

Updated on April 26, 2019 by Asher Fergusson

Burning Man is an epic annual gathering celebrating art and community.

It’s held in the western United States at Black Rock City—a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, (about one hundred miles north-northeast of Reno).

It draws crowds from every walk of life, calling everybody from celebrities to accountants to commune with nature, jam to music and collaborate to turn Black Rock City into a man-made utopia, if only for the week.

Must-have items for Burning Man:

1) Shade Structure – One of the most important things you will want to bring to burning man is a sun shade for your group site. Your group site is where you’ll chill in between events, have your own jam sessions, eat all your meals and camp out for the festival. It gets super hot and sunny during the afternoons, so be prepared with a canopy of some sort. This one is easy to set up and has excellent reviews.

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2) Tent or RV – You are going to need somewhere to sleep! An RV is ideal if you have one or if you have enough people in your group to rent a big one for the festival. If an RV is out of the question, bring a tent (like most festival-goers). This one fits two people, and has a wide entrance for easy entry and exit.

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3) Extra Long Tent Stakes – It gets windy out there in Nevada, not to mention the dust storms that are usually a daily occurrence! Keep your shelter firmly in place by investing in some extra long tent stakes. These aluminum ones are not too heavy, but are long enough to go extra deep into the ground to ensure your tent doesn’t fly away.

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4) Toiletries – Festivals can get dirty and dusty, but you don’t have to. Bring your toiletries including face wash, shampoo, body wash and everything else you normally use. At the very least, bring some wet wipes and deodorant! To organize everything and spend minimal time hunting for bottles at the bottom of your bag, bring along a toiletry organizer. This one is perfect for weekend travel.

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5) Clothing – In recent years, Burning Man has become somewhat of a fashion showcase for some festival-goers. The style at Burning Man is distressed, earthy and relaxed. Bring a pair of cutoff shorts and a crochet tank top, or a funky sundress. These shorts are very festival-worthy.

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6) Costumes – One of the coolest parts of Burning Man is the costumes that people wear. They range from Mad-Max-inspired to glow-in-the-dark light suits. If you’re one to dress up in outrageous outfits, stock up on a few entertaining costumes. These LED hand gloves are perfect for the late-night techno at the festival.

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7) Sleeping Bag – A lightweight sleeping bag is perfect for Burning Man. You won’t need anything heavier. Throw it into your tent with a pillow (or bundle of clothes to use as a pillow) and you’re good to go.

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8) Lanterns – Decorating your group space is so much fun, and helps everybody distinguish theirs from the hundreds at the festival. Lanterns are a cute and practical way to decorate. They’ll help you find your way in the dark and then totally set the festival mood at your site. These ones are inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing.

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9) Folding Chairs – When you’re not out roaming the festival grounds and listening to music, you’ll probably be with your friends at your group site. Definitely make sure to bring some folding chairs to kick back in. Floor pillows work well too, but if you want to go the extra mile you should purchase a few of these ultralight, foldable camping chairs.

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10) Camp Stove – Maybe you plan on bringing your own burgers to grill or bacon to fry in the mornings. If that’s the case, don’t forget to bring a camp stove. This classic propane stove is easy to pack up and take anywhere. Perfect for making s’mores!

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11) Picnic Blanket or Tarp – You will need to lay something on the ground at your campground since the area is so dusty with loose dirt. A simple blue tarp from the hardware store will do. Your other option is to invest in a solid waterproof tarp specifically for camping. This one is super durable and camper-approved.

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12) Sunscreen – Usually, any festival requires loads of time out in the hot sun. This is definitely true for Burning Man. Bring some sunscreen with major SPF, and apply it every couple hours every day. Nothing can ruin your perfect weekend like a nasty sunburn!

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13) Fire Extinguisher – Accidents happen. With so many bonfires, lit-up installation art pieces, and light shows going on at Burning Man, every festival veteran will advise you to bring your own fire extinguisher to keep at your group site. Keep it by your tent in case of emergency, and make sure to read up on the instruction manual before you head out to the festival.

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14) Cooking Supplies – Bring some cooking supplies so you can make your own food at the festival. Simple recipes that are easy to make are probably your best options. Think beans, rice and pasta. This backpacking cooking set is a good size, ultra durable and comes with everything you might need.

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15) Water – Bring LOTS of drinking water. It’s extremely easy to accidentally get dehydrated during the hot and dusty festival days. The rule of thumb is one gallon per day per person. Stock up on a few huge tanks before you go. These gallons of spring water fit the bill perfectly.

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16) Easy Snacks – It’s a good idea to bring low-maintenance, zero-prep snacks with you to Burning Man. Fresh fruit that you can grab and go, like apples, bananas and oranges, are a great option. For more filling snacks, bring some trail mix or cereal bars. These ones are filling and full of fiber.

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17) Bike – Biking is the most popular way to get around Black Rock City. Bring a bike, and deck it out in its own costume to fit in with the regulars. An old mountain bike from Craigslist will do, but if you’re looking to buy a new one, this one is not too expensive and has high ratings.

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Other packing list items for Burning Man:

What to wear at Burning Man:

One of the most fun parts of Burning Man is the costumes! Go a google search to find images and blogs showing what sort of costumes people normally wear. If you’re not into costumes, bring functional clothes, no brand names necessary. Temperatures can range from super hot to very cold, so layering is key. Bring one warm jacket or hoodie, and opt for sturdy rather than stylish shoes (sturdy hiking sandals are perfect). As Burners say, “Your costume ends at the ankles.

What NOT to bring:

Avoid bringing these items into Burning Man. Thievery has been known to occur, and some of these items are just downright illegal at festivals:
1) 🚫 Electronics
2) 🚫 Valuables
3) 🚫 Explosives, aerial flares, rockets and fireworks
4) 🚫 Firearms of any kind including BB guns, air rifles and paintball guns
5) 🚫 Hand-held lasers (all other lasers must be registered)
6) 🚫 Wood chips, loose feathers, tubs of confetti, etc.
7) 🚫 Anything that will break up and/or blow away in the wind
8) 🚫 Unregistered Mutant Vehicles
9) 🚫 Plants, living or dead
10) 🚫 ATVs and scooters
11) 🚫 Animals

Burning Man FAQs:

1) What is Burning Man?

Burning Man is an annual festival gathering in which participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and community.

2) Where is it?

Burning Man takes place in Black Rock City, Nevada.

3) What is this year’s theme?

This year’s theme is I, Robot.

4) Why is it called burning man?

It’s called Burning Man because Burning Man began as a bonfire ritual on the summer solstice in 1986. Larry Harvey, Jerry James, and a few friends met on Baker Beach in San Francisco and burned a 9-foot wooden man.

5) How can I make the most of my burning man experience?

Like any festival experience, make the most of it by losing yourself in the music, taking lots of pictures, and forgetting about your worries for a bit!

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