Photo: WavebreakmediaMicro

How To Prepare for Music Festival Camping

With a little prep, you’ll have everything you need to relax and enjoy the music.

Music and nature were made for each other, and outdoor festivals embrace the amped vibes of a party and the simplicity of camping in the great outdoors in equal measure. From creating the perfect festival campsite to staying clean in between shows, get ready to party-camp outside with these helpful tips and tricks.

Setting Up Camp

Once you arrive, the fun can begin. But first, set yourself up for festival success with a low-stress camping experience. 

Arrive Early

The earlier you are, the better selection of sites you’ll have to choose from and the better parking opportunities you’ll find. 

Pick a Spot

Consider proximity to shade, bathrooms, show stages, and afterparty tents. Shade is always an asset, and you’ll want to be close to amenities but not so close that crowds and noise keep you awake at all hours. In addition, look for flat and soft (but not wet) ground to pitch your tent, and avoid placing your tent at the bottom of a slope. Pro tip: Put a tarp underneath your tent to block moisture.

Create Your Site

If you’re camping with multiple tents or vehicles, arrange them in a circle to create an outdoor living room for your group while still maintaining easy access to personal spaces.

Shade

Beat the sun with a pop-up awning or two. Look for lightweight options that are easy to set up and break down.

Build a Camp Kitchen

Keep things organized so everyone in the group knows where to find supplies and utensils at mealtimes.

Tables and Chairs

Bring portable tables and chairs to make food prep, cooking, and eating easier and more comfortable. Assign a location for the camp kitchen and unload all your food and cooking equipment there. Pro tip: Use large, transparent tubs to store your goods. You can stack them so they’re out of the way but still accessible. 

Cooler

Keep your drinks and perishables in a cooler. Look for one with wheels if you have to walk with it, and consider high-performance coolers that’ll keep their contents cold for multiple days. 

Trash Bag

Don’t forget to hang up a trash bag for everyone to use. Keep your campsite clean and ensure you pack out all your trash once you leave.

Packing Cubes

Keep your items organized with packing cubes or stuff sacks. Use different cubes for different categories (food, utensils, and also items like clothes and toiletries) so you can always find what you need.

Get Some Sleep

Your festival experience will quickly turn sour if you can’t catch some sleep while you’re there. To get your rest, don’t forget these essentials.

Tent

Depending on how many people you’re camping with (and your willingness to sleep with other people), consider a large group tent that you can stand in and use to store clothes and personal items. Another option is to have a specific tent designated as the “gear tent” where clothes and other items are stored. Pro tip: Bring a small lock and loop it through your tent zippers if you’re worried about interlopers.

Blankets and Sleeping Bags

You probably can’t have too many blankets or sleeping bags. Look for synthetic sleeping bags that’ll dry quickly if anything spills and bring some insulated blankets for extra warmth if temps drop. 

Sleeping Pad

Whether it’s a blow-up air mattress, a cot, or a backpacking pad, these items will make your sleeping area much more comfortable. Also, don’t forget a pillow.

Eye Mask

Need to nap during the day? An eye mask will make it much easier to fall asleep while the sun’s shining.

Headlamp

A headlamp is ideal for navigating after dark because it keeps your hands free. Store it in a convenient place in your tent so you won’t fumble around in the dark to find it when you need it.

Transport

Whether you’re heading from your car to camp, or camp to the show, here’s what you need to know about hauling your belongings.

Fanny Pack

These small, affordable bags are great for securely carrying your essentials: phone, hand sanitizer, ear plugs, sunglasses, sunscreen, or whatever else you want to fit inside.

Daypack

If a fanny pack isn’t big enough, try a small daypack. 

Duffel

If you’re not able to park your car near your campsite, use duffel bags with backpack straps to transport essentials. With their large cavities, duffels are great for packing personal items like clothing and camping equipment like sleeping bags, pillows, and tents. 

Wagon

For extra-heavy or unwieldy items like coolers, speakers, and water jugs, bring a wagon to wheel the gear from your vehicle to your site.

Photo: Halfpoint

Prepare for the Weather

Don’t forget to check the forecast before you head out. Here are some tips for dealing with different kinds of weather.

Hot and Dusty

Are you hitting Coachella or Burning Man? 

Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the powerful desert sun by applying (and reapplying) sunscreen throughout the day.

Eye Drops: If dust irritates your eyes, pack eye drops to relieve dryness and itchiness.

Lotion: Hot and dusty environments can dry out your skin, but lotion can help restore it (you could also use a moisturizing sunscreen instead).

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water in hot weather. 

Shade: Seek out shade to keep from overheating and to protect your skin from 

too much direct sunlight.

Rainy and Muddy

Checking out Bonnaroo or Electric Forest? 

Dry Bags: These are the best way to keep essentials dry in a rainstorm. Bring a variety of sizes—smaller ones for valuables like cell phones and wallets, larger ones for clothes and bedding.

Rain Jacket or Ponchos: A rain jacket with a hood will keep you dry, but ponchos are extra versatile; they’re easy to throw on over whatever type of outfit you’re sporting.

Boots or Shoe Covers: If you’re positive your feet will dry out later, flip flops or sandals can expedite the process by keeping your feet ventilated, but if rain is forecasted to continue, keeping your feet dry can pay off. Look for waterproof boots, or consider reusable shoe covers that slip over your shoes to keep them dry (and clean).

Minimize Musty Smells: If your clothes do get wet, you have two options. First, hang them to dry ASAP—unless you’re uncertain that the sun will return. Otherwise, put your wet clothes in a plastic bag and wait until the rain stops to hang them (or until you're back home). At least you’ll prevent musty odors from seeping into your tent.

Managing Noise

What would a festival be without noise? Embrace the fact that peace and quiet won’t be easy to find; that’s why you’re at the festival, after all.

Ear Plugs

These are a tried-and-true method of noise management. Look for reusable sets that are moldable or come with a variety of ear-tip attachments—the better the fit, the more sound protection.

White Noise

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, or in this case, sound with sound. Look for a portable or travel-size white noise machine, or download a white noise app that you can play offline (so as not to drain your phone battery) to drown out the sounds of a crowded campground. Some newer wireless earbuds also offer impressive degrees of noise-canceling technology.

Hygiene 411

Keep yourself safe and healthy throughout your festival days with these hygiene tips.

Wet Wipes

These are great for both freshening up and more thorough cleaning. Look for face-specific wipes that have gentler cleansers and body-specific wipes that can attend to layers of dust, dirt, and sweat. 

Hand Sanitizer

For quick cleaning when you’re away from a sink, hand sanitizer is essential. 

Microfiber Towel and Biodegradable Soap

Microfiber towels are great for picking up dirt and they dry quickly. Using biodegradable soap will prevent harsh chemicals from contaminating the local environment.

Shower

Some festivals have showers on site, but they might require payment and waiting in a long line. (Modest bathers, consider bringing a swimsuit.) If you want to set up your own personal shower, try these options: 

Makeshift Water Bladder Shower: Fill a two-liter water bladder with water and set it on the roof of your car to warm in the sun. Once it’s warm (after around 30 minutes), use that water with a biodegradable soap and a washcloth to wash up.

Camp Shower: Basically a fancy water bladder with a shower head attachment, camp showers are designed to be hung up above your head so that gravity can feed the water onto you.

Shower Tent: These tall, minimalist tents are designed to hold a camp shower above your head. They have no floor and afford a lot of privacy.

Dry Shampoo

Especially in hot and humid environments, dry shampoo can keep greasy hair at bay, and you don’t even need to shower to use it. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.