In about a week, close to 70,000 entrepreneurs, activists, artists, nudists, families, musicians, company teams, philosophers, celebrities, and those who simply want to expand their worldview will all come together for Burning Man. It is, for many, a transformative experience.
It can also be a challenging one. The Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man takes place, is in no way hospitable. It is dry, flat, dusty, windy, and has no vegetation nor water of any kind.
Here are 10 things you will need if you go:
1. Printed directions to Black Rock City (Burning Man)
There are long stretches on the way where cell reception is nonexistent, so don't rely on directions from your phone.
Pro tip: Fill up on gas frequently and consider bringing a small gas can. There are very few gas stations on the 90-mile stretch between Fernley and Black Rock City.
2. Face mask
Major dust storms are a major issue during Burning Man, and minor ones happen daily. You will absolutely need nose and mouth protection.
Pro tip: No need to be elaborate here; just go to a hardware store and get one of the masks workers wear when they're sanding. The elastic straps make it easy for you to get it on and off and keep around your neck when off.
Again: Sandstorms. They're serious. Plus, even without storms it's easy for the very fine dust to get into your eyes, which can be painful, annoying, and dangerous. Goggles are a must.
Pro tip: Consider looking on eBay for used military goggles.
4. Adjustable headlamp with red light
A lot of the coolest stuff at Burning Man happens at night. It will be very dark, and you'll want to both see and be seen on the Playa. (This is partly for safety; art cars roam the Playa and have been known to hit pedestrians.)
A headlamp that emits red light and allows you to point it down is the smart choice. It frees your hands, red light is easier on the human eye than white, and by pointing it down you'll politely not blind people when in conversation.
Pro tip: Don't skip this. You will need personal light, and it's best for it to be hands-free.
5. Closed-toed shoes and vinegar
Wearing flip flops at Burning Man is a rookie mistake. You could easily contract "Playa foot" -- an unsightly and painful condition caused by a chemical burn from the alkali dust (remember that desert "dust" at Burning Man is actually the remains of an alkaline lake bed). The common cause of Playa foot? Not wearing socks and closed-toed shoes.
Bring vinegar to keep your feet clean and dust-free. Vinegar cuts the dust better than water, because its acidity counteracts the dust's alkalinity.
Pro tip: Have two pairs of clean socks for each day (one for day, one for night), stored in an oversized ziplock bag. Also bring a large tub to wash feet daily in, in a mix of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Immediately don socks and shoes.
6. Sunblock and chapstick with SPF
Another rookie mistake: Getting fried the first day and spending the week trying to recover. Be sure to bring hats, and heavy-duty sunblock for both your skin and lips (zinc is great).
Pro tip: Burning Man functions on the gift economy. Consider bringing 10 extra chapsticks with SPF and gifting them to others. They're small, lightweight, and have the potential to make someone's day (or entire festival).
7. Hand sanitizer
You'll eat, drink, and use porta-potties shared by a number of other people (on all kinds of substances). Make it easy to keep your hands clean.
Pro tip: Ditto on bringing small bottles of this as gifts.
8. A bike
The city grid extends half a mile out from the inner playa, which is already almost a mile in diameter. A bike helps you explore the deep playa and see more than you ever could on foot. To truly experience all of Burning Man, a bike isn't a nice-to-have -- it's a must-have.
Pro tip: Don't bring a nice bike. The alkali dust corrodes metal and can wreak havoc on bike parts. Buy a beater.
You need clothes that'll work for when it's very hot and very cold. Temperatures have been cooler this year near Black Rock and there's a good chance they won't get above 90 during the day, which is good. However, they're also likely to drop into the 40s or below at night.
Pro tip: Make sure to bring both a warm coat and quality sleeping bag.
10. A CamelBak
To stay hydrated, you've got to drink an entire gallon of water a day at Burning Man. Symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke include chills, stomach pain and headaches. Avoid them. Because you'll spend long days out on the Playa, it's best to bring water with you in a hands-free way.
Pro tip: This is quite possibly the most important item of all.
Now what are you waiting for? Get packing.
Mind-expanding joy, learning, inspiration, and growth await.