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The Ultimate Music Festival Camping Checklist
Wondering how to best prepare for a camping music festival? We've put together the ultimate music festival camping checklist just for you!
As fun and exciting as camping music festivals can be, they require a LOT of preparation & planning if you want everything to go smoothly.
Without careful planning, it’s easy to end up like I did at my first festival with a broken flip flop in the mud, constant dust in my throat, and all my belongings soaking wet by the end of the weekend. My hope is that you chose to be a little more proactive than I was, and that you’re reading this BEFORE you actually attend your first camping festival.
Despite my first music festival camping experience being being pretty rough, I have to say that it was honestly more fun than I could have ever imagined. There’s so many benefits/advantages of camping at the festival rather than staying at a hotel or AirBnB. To start, you are FULLY immersed in the experience, and there is so much more to do and explore when you choose to camp. It’s also extremely convenient to get in and out of the festival, and you never have to worry about coordinating rides, assigning DD’s, or frantically looking for members of your group if you get split up towards the end of the night. If you really want to experience everything that a music festival has to offer, camping is absolutely the way to go.
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together the ultimate music festival camping checklist that breaks down everything you need to know to make sure you avoid all the mistakes I made, and have the very best time possible.
The Ultimate Music Festival Camping Checklist
Preparing for the weather is the BEST thing you can do for any camping festival to ensure you have the very best experience possible! On top of that, making sure to pack ALL of the essentials is going to help create the most comfortable & vibey living quarters for you and your festy fam during the weekend.
Survival Tip #1: Check The Weather!
With ANY camping experience, you want to make sure that you’re prepared to face the elements. You do NOT have the everyday luxuries of running water, a roof over your head, or heating or air conditioning, so make sure to remember the basics.
If the forecast calls for RAIN, these are your must haves:
- Tent with a rain cover
- Tarp for under your tent
- Canopy for your hang out area
- Extra tarps to go underneath and on the sides of your canopy
- Tapestries to hang on walls of your canopy
- Extra tent stakes
- Poncho and/or rainjacket
- Rain boots/combat boots
- Extra layers of clothing
- Extra socks
- Extra blankets
- Zip ties and/or rope
Now, when I say a tarp for beneath your tent, make sure it’s dimensions are BIGGER than your tent. If you have a tarp border before you enter the tent, water is less likely to pool into your tent and you’re less likely to track mud or water inside of it. It also gives you a place to leave those muddy shoes so you don’t cause more of a mess. To avoid your shoes getting rained on, you’ll want to place your canopy so the edge is covering your tent entrance. Doing this makes for a patio feel when you step outside of the tent without ever leaving your handmade shelter.
Having an additional tarp to use as the floor of your canopy will create a clean area to walk around without shoes on. If you want to connect the rain fly to your canopy, you can use those zip ties or a good old fashioned knot with some rope. You can pack a couple more tarps to use as the walls of your canopy to avoid any sideways rain drenching your belongings. If you want to make it feel a bit homier, then you can use tapestries as your walls instead. They will hold more water, but still do the job.
We don’t want to forget that rain usually equals wind so DO NOT forget extra tent stakes for your tent and canopy. Trust me, you do NOT want to be that person chasing their tent/canopy as it flies away. I’ve witnessed it on more than one occasion.
Rain can also mean cold, so make sure to bring extra layers and socks. When the pair you wore to the festival gets soaked, you want a nice dry pair to throw on for just hanging around the campsite. My first year at Elements Music Festival, I was NOT prepared for the weather that Mother Nature threw my way. Looking back I wish I had more long pants, more socks and more blankets.
Rain also means MUD so bring shoes that can handle a miniature swamp. Boots are a must in my book when it comes to rain. Firefly Music Festival 2014 I went into the mud pits with flip flops on and neither of them survived the suction of my foot being yanked out of the mud. Those $5 rubber thongs never stood a chance and were never seen again.
If the forecast calls for HIGH HEAT, don’t even think about leaving these at home:
- Lightweight long sleeves
- Bucket hat or wide brimmed hat
- Pashmina or other facial covering like a bandana
- Tent fan (electric or battery powered)
- Canopy to stay out of the sun
- Extra tarps
- Hydration pack
- Blender Bottle or Hydroflask
- Raveraide hydration sticks
- Sandals or flip flops
When the sun is beating down on you and you can’t take shelter, your skin becomes your shelter. Your skin is the only thing between you and the sun, so make sure to bring sunscreen, lightweight long sleeve clothing, and a bucket hat or pashmina to cover your head/neck. The pashmina will also come in handy for covering your face anytime it starts to get dusty. Instead of the mud pits you’d experience from the rain, when it’s hot and dry outside tons of dirt can get kicked up from the crowd, making it feel like you’re walking through a cloud of dust. Unless you want to wake up with all of that coating your throat, you’ll want a pashmina or facial covering to protect you from the air you’re breathing. The good news is, it’s easy to get fun and fashionable with these things by making them part of your festival outfits! A cute pair of sunglasses will also come in handy to protect your eyes from the dust and the big bright yellow ball in the sky. I experienced this dust cloud effect at Firefly, Okeechobee and Bonnaroo so check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Now when it comes to the campsite, you’ll regret it if you don’t bring a canopy to be your living room for the weekend. Tents get EXTREMELY hot when the sun is out so having another covered area with airflow is a necessity. Battery powered or electric fans will allow you to sleep in a little bit longer as the sun is beginning to boil you alive in the tent, but nothing compares to the airflow of the wide open space under your canopy. Having those extra tarps or tapestries to be your walls will also help to shade you from any light creeping in. Without putting up any walls, you have a square of shade that moves as the sun moves. You’ll find yourself having to relocate your table, chairs and your cooler all too often.
If you’re planning on hitting the early shows you’ll definitely want a bucket hat or pashmina to keep your head and shoulders shaded from the sun. You also want to make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, as you can easily ruin your entire weekend if you get too dehydrated. Make sure to bring a hydration pack like the ones GenZ makes, so that you can easily carry it around with you and refill it throughout the day. Water refill stations are scattered all around the festival grounds so make sure you take a look at the map so you know where the closest place to fill up is. It’s also important to remember that you need to be replenishing lost electrolytes throughout the day, not just drinking water. Raveraide makes all-natural, vegan friendly hydration sticks that are loaded with electrolytes, vitamins, and nootropics to help you stay energized & clear throughout the weekend. Be sure to stock up with plenty of sticks for you and your fam, and bring some sort of blender bottle or hydroflask so you can easily mix it up and drink it throughout the day.
If the forecast calls for COLD WEATHER, grab your sweater!
- Extra Blankets
- Something to boil water – hot food & drinks are saviors!
- Hand warmers or gloves
- Thick, fuzzy socks
- Fuzzy rave coat
- Warm hats or beanies
A pashmina is great for shading you from the heat, but also defending you against the cold. On top of that, fuzzy coats, thick socks and long sleeves will trap your heat and keep you warm during the show. If you want to take it one step further, pack your favorite onesie to wear around the campsite and into the festival!
Extra blankets and layers to throw on when you get back to the campsite are EXTREMELY comforting after a long night in the cold. Girls… I know we love to say “hoes don’t get cold”, but let’s be honest ladies, WE DO! Especially for the cheeks when we break out the ass-less chaps, having some warm sweatpants waiting for you at the campsite is a god send. When I went to Elements Music Festival, I was backing it up against my friends to soak up their body heat before we got back to the campsite. After all, sharing is caring!
Now, obviously some of these lists overlap so make sure you have the items YOU’LL need for your unique experience. Some weekends will have a little bit of everything when it comes to weather so again, just make sure that you check what you’re going to be up against. There won’t ever be bad weather if you’re prepared for everything.
Survival Tip #2: Keep Up With Your Hygiene Habits
Once you’ve established which version of mother nature you’re preparing for, you should add items that will make your experience feel like home. Anything you do in your daily routine can be modified to fit into your festival schedule. Skin care routine? – keep it up! Like waking up with a shower? – Don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure!
- Dude wipes or other cleaning wipes
- Baby wipes
- Bathing suit
- Changing/Shower tent (optional but recommended)
- Water pump
- Hair care products
- Collapsible water jugs
- Shower caddy/tote bag
- Full length mirror
- Collapsible cart/wagon to carry everything
Not everyone has the room in their vehicle to add a shower tent to the packing list, but if you still want to enjoy a shower, bring extra water jugs and a bathing suit to take an outdoor shower. Showers are usually available at camping festivals, but some actually make you pay to use them, so be sure to check on their website ahead of time. Either way you’ll definitely want to bring your toiletries and a towel to dry yourself off.
If a shower isn’t your go-to wake up call, then you’ll still want to bring baby wipes to clean your skin during the festival. Whether you’re wiping dirt off your feet or ketchup off your hands, they are a great item to have with you. Bringing separate cleaning wipes like dude wipes can help you when cleaning your folding table, shoes, or anything else that might get messy over the weekend.
When it comes to brushing your teeth, you’ll typically use the water refill stations to fill up your bottles & jugs, and rinse off your toothbrush that way. Some camps offer bathrooms with sinks where you can brush your teeth, but if not you can also have a designated spot around your camp to spit and rinse off your toothbrush.
Bringing collapsible water jugs is the best way to save space in your car, but still be able to stockpile water at your campsite. You’ll want to have as many jugs as possible so you don’t run out often and have to take tons of trips back to the water refill station. Bringing a collapsible cart/wagon is a good idea if you plan on bringing a lot of water jugs. You only have two hands and water is heavy in large quantities, so having something with wheels will make the bulk water refill go a lot smoother.
Survival Tip #3: Make Yourself at Home
Want to feel more at home? Decorate the place! Go from camping to glamping with just a few extra items:
- Extra tarps or rugs
- String, rope or zip ties
- String lights
- Camping light/lantern
- Folding table
- Camping chairs
- Inflatable couch
- Hammock stand
- Baby pool
- Giant Jenga
- Music speakers
Again, you’ll want the tarps and tapestries to keep you safe from the weather, but they’ll also give you a sense of comfort. You’ll have more privacy and get to enjoy the beautiful wall art you’ve just hung in your temporary living room. You can also place them on the ground as a rug so you can stay shoeless while you’re just waking up and walking around. But don’t stop there, string lights will bring the vibes and lanterns will help add some brightness for those dark nights.
To make this new room even more livable, you’ll want to pack a folding table and camping chairs so you don’t have to sit and eat on the floor. Girls, you can even use this table as a vanity when doing your hair and makeup! Obviously it’ll also come in handy for any drinking games like pong or flip cup.
If you want to go above and beyond for your festival family, then you can bring a hammock stand in case there are no trees nearby. You’ll still be able to hang while enjoying the morning or evening. Another great option is an inflatable couch so you can sit back and relax in style. Lastly, for those hot days you can even bring the pool party to your campsite with an inflatable baby pool. My festival family did this at Bonnaroo Music Festival this past season and it was a great way to cool off! We filled it up with our collapsible water jugs, and even built a giant Jenga tower in the center of the pool and had a great time playing!
Survival Tip #4: Meal Prep The Days Leading Up To The Festival
This will not only save you money, but time when trying to get to your favorite artist’s set. If you have everything prepped to quickly reheat or throw together it’s going to satisfy your hunger MUCH quicker than waiting 30 minutes in a line for $20 chicken tendies. We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it… but you don’t have to! Stay tuned for a future blog post ALL about the easiest foods to prep as your festival favorites.
Must Haves For Cooking/Food:
- Grill or stove
- Forks, spoons, knives
- Napkins or paper towels
- Serving spoon
- Red solo cups
- Camping mugs – you CANNOT pour hot coffee into a red solo cup!
- large containers for water refill – condensable ones are the best for storage purposes
- Cooler full of prepped food
When it comes to food you don’t want to be unprepared. Food is fuel and you do not want to know what happens when Brad & Chad get hangry so pack the propane! A grill is nothing without the power source so I usually bring more than I think I’ll need because I’d rather bring some home than run out of it while camping.
You’ll want to bring the cooking essentials like a large skillet, saucepan, spatula and serving spoon. You can’t use plastic forks and spoons as your grilling utensils or they’ll melt into your meal. Same thing goes for hot tea or coffee. Red solo cups are great for cold beverages, but pouring hot liquid into one will not end pretty. Having camping mugs is a great solution to that problem if you’re going to be drinking hot liquids.
Having plates to eat off of is a must and you definitely want to have napkins and/or paper towels for when things get a little messy. A sponge and soap will come in handy for cleaning off any of the reusable kitchen tools. This is another scenario where having plenty of water at the campsite is really important, as washing your dishes won’t be possible without it.
Packing your cooler before heading to the festival can sometimes be a game of Tetris. You want to make sure you have plenty of ice to keep things cold at the festival, but you can always buy more ice when you get there. If there are any items that can start at room temperature and be thrown into the cooler later, I’d recommend keeping them out for the drive to the festival. If you only have one cooler you want to make sure the items that require refrigeration take priority over any drinks you might just prefer to be cold. That way, you can fit everything you need to bring.
Survival Tip #5: Hydrate or Diedrate!
Once again, I would highly recommend bringing a hydration pack so that you can refill and stay hydrated inside the festival. If you don’t, you’re going to end up having to purchase a ton of expensive waters, and spend more time at the refill stations throughout the night. Our favorite hydration backpack is the one from GenZ. Not only do they have a ton of stylish designs, but they also have other cool functions like anti-phone theft pockets to help protect your valuables from potential pick-pocketers. As someone who has personally gotten their phone stolen at a festival, I can say that it’s much better to invest in a high quality pack like GenZ upfront, than to have to fork out a bunch of money to get your phone replaced. Not to mention the fact that it really kills your vibe when you get your stuff stolen. Better safe than sorry right?
In addition to the hydration pack, make sure to bring a blender bottle for that pack of Raveraide you’ll be drinking before and/or after the show. You can also pour a couple sticks of Raveraide into your hydration pack and sip on it throughout the night, just make sure to wash your pack out well afterwards so it doesn’t dry & get stinky. Hydrate or diedrate my friends!
Survival Tip #6: GRAB THE TICKETS & Other Last Minute Items
- Wristbands & camping passes, etc
- Cash and cards
- Phone chargers
- Portable chargers
- Anything you use on a daily basis that could be forgotten because you weren’t able to pack it ahead of time
You don’t want to waste time at will call so make sure you DO NOT FORGET THE WRISTBANDS!! Your ID is going to be necessary if you plan on buying any drinks inside the festival so don’t forget it at home. Having cash on you is helpful when quickly buying food, drinks or supporting the vendors. Cards can typically be used too, but if you’re the kind of person that might lose something it’s better to lose some cash than your entire debit card. That would be a headache when you get back to the real world!
Portable chargers and charging cables are a lifesaver if you’re someone who enjoys documenting the memories. Taking a lot of pictures and videos can kill your phone battery so don’t expect it to make it through the whole weekend on one charge. Make sure your portable chargers are pre-charged in the days leading up to the event. I have made the mistake of assuming they were full, and ended up only getting one use out of them over the entire weekend. Believe me when I say, you don’t want to have to ration your battery life.
Batteries come in handy for any items that might get a lot of use. Tent fans, battery operated string lights, lanterns, air pumps for air mattresses, etc. You definitely want to make sure you’ll be able to blow up your air mattress or you’ll be sleeping on the ground.
Lastly, I’d recommend taking inventory of anything you use on a daily basis might get forgotten. If you have a medications or supplements that you take as part of your daily routine, be sure to grab them before you leave! These are the kinds of items you couldn’t pack ahead of time because you’d be using them again before you left.
Survival Tip #7: Make Your List & Check It Twice!
You’ll probably continue adding things to your list until the moment you leave, but don’t stray from the original list. You’ll want to make a pile of all the things you need outside the car so you can see it all laid out. This helps you to see if you’re forgetting anything on the list before stuffing the car full, then realizing you don’t have the tent.
Do one last walk around the house before committing to take off. I know you’re excited to get on the road and enjoy your magical weekend of music and good vibes, but you don’t want to leave anything behind. Check the refrigerator for any food or drinks you might have missed. Check your bathroom for any toiletries you could’ve forgotten. Check your bedroom for any last minute outfit pieces that might have gotten left behind.
- All the shoes you plan to wear
- Underwear & socks
- Shorts & pants
- Sweatpants & hoodies
- Shirts & different outfits
- Phone chargers
- Speakers for music
- Earplugs for the festival & to help you sleep at night
- Festival accessories like fans, toys, kandi, gum, etc..
Once you’re confident that you have everything you wanted to bring, you are ready to hit the gas station and get out of town! Stock up on your car snacks & drinks if you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, and turn up the stereo because the show awaits!
So there you have it! As you can see, there is a lot of prep that goes into planning a successful music festival camping experience. The best thing you can do to begin preparing far out in advance so you have plenty of time to get everything ready. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail, but if you stick to what’s on this list you should be ready for whatever comes your way! Lastly, if you’re looking for some tips/guidance on the best ways to bounce back faster after your festival weekend, check out some of these awesome posts:
- Using Breathwork For Post Rave Recovery
- Using Dry Saunas To Help With Post Rave Depression
- The Best After Rave Recovery Tricks You Need To Try
- Using Cold Exposure To Beat The Post Festival Blues
- Using Fasting as a Secret Hack For Post Festival Recovery
- 13 Rave Recovery Ingredients Inside Raveraide That Will Help You Bounce Back Fast
This post was all about what to include in your music festival camping checklist.
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