For the uninitiated, Burning Man is the weeklong celebration of humanity that happens every year in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. 60,000+ people come together to build a temporary city full of art, music, dancing, community, love, and exploration. One of the core principles of the event is to leave no trace. This means that everything you bring in, you must also bring back out with you. This provides a challenge to pack light and pack efficiently.
After my second year, I have developed or adopted some techniques that are great on the playa, but can also be useful back in the default world. As well as a few tools that quickly become invaluable to survival. These things can also be used while camping or at any sort of festival.
1. Cooler Water
At Burning Man, there are only two things you can buy: ice and coffee. The ice comes in ten pound bags, which usually go into your coolers to keep your food from spoiling. After a day or two, most of this ice melts into relatively clean water. Not quite clean enough to drink, however. So this year I started using this leftover cooler water to wash my hair in a little plastic basin. Just a few drops of Dr. Bronner's soap and you've got yourself a clean do and a clean face! Nothing compares to having clean hair at Burning Man.
2. Pickle Jars
Whether it's pickle jars, peanut butter jars, or anything else with that overall shape, you immediately receive an entire empty mason jar when finished eating the contents! Woah! They're great for drinks, storing cooking ingredients, and miscellaneous supplies. Be warned though, that glass is generally frowned upon on the playa. One broken container could mean bloody feet for everyone!
This guy is the multitool of multitools. I bought it specifically for Burning Man, but it has been living in my backpack ever since. It comes in handy at least weekly for any number of odd jobs. The pliers seem to be used the most.
4. Hand fan
The heat! Oh boy the heat. With this simple device, you can quickly cool down in any situation with ease. At Burning Man it is commonplace, but in the default world you may feel a little embarrassed to flutter a little fan in front of ourselves, but fear not! Any onlookers will only be jealous of the comfort supplied by your portable cooling machine. Do NOT go for the cheap fans like these however. They're made very poorly and push half the amount of air as a real silk fan. Be warned!
5. Body Powder
This was a game changer for me this year. New to the whole body powder world, I had no previous experience with this magical white powder. Just a little puff down into your loins and you'll have a dry cool sensation for hours to come. This is especially great for those long hot bike rides to the other side of Burning Man.
6. Other Portable Items
- Travel toilet paper (great for keeping in your day bag while exploring)
- Travel duct tape (especially useful for packing ultra light)
- Compact dust mask
7. Other Simple Tips
- Remove things from cardboard packaging (cereal, energy bars, blinky rings)
- Make a bike beacon that reaches at least seven feet from the ground
- Use a vacuum saver to have fresh meals all week
- Canned lentil soup + sriracha = perfect cold/hot meal
I hope these tips were useful for burners and campers alike! Let me know what other little techniques you've developed in the comments below.