The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada

Packing and preparing for burning man is an absolute mission, i’ll tell you that for free.

Packing for Burning Man is not something you can rustle together a few days before you head into the desert. If you do? There’s bound to be things you forget and things you then don’t have time to source.

You’re going to need to make Amazon orders and store pick ups alongside both Walmart and Costco outings for this one.

Burning Man is the real deal. Burning Man is the festival of all festivals and as the commandments state, this festival is all about radical self – reliance.

I.e. you have to rely on yourself.

You can read the official 10 commandments of Burning Man here.

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

The only thing that you can purchase when you get to Black Rock City (the festival location) is ice.

Ice price at Burning Man 2017 (you will need cash): $4 per bag / block or $24 for 6 bags. (No deal. No deal there at all.)

I think that’s all you can buy anyway. I read somewhere that you can buy coffee too, but i never saw it.

So here’s the deal….

Aside from the ice pick up, you won’t find a dollar in sight during your time in this pop up city.

You have a week to survive the desert heat, dust, raves and energy zapping activities galore – and you must bring enough to accommodate for all.

Shopping for the latter is rather difficult when you have no idea what your week is going to entail and therefore have no idea what you’ll be wanting.

That’s where I’ve got you! 

I guess the mystery surrounding Burning Man was one of the things that attracted me to the ‘playa’ all this time. The mystery, the magic and the fact that until you go – you really don’t know what goes on in this famous playground.

Oh now I do, I really do. 😉

Now that i’ve been to Burning Man I have a pretty good idea of what one might need and what one might want during the week.

Disclaimer: This packing list will vary from person to person depending on how you choose to camp, how much of a desert princess you are and how dirty you’re ready to get.

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog
Burning Man from the drone

Are you ready?

Here’s my ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man:

I’m breaking it down into sectionsbecause you’ll  yprobablgo crazy otherwise…


The Burning Man Wardrobe

Weather

You are in the middle of the Nevada desert in the summer heat so days are hot (30-38deg this year) and nights are usually pretty cold. Friends that had attended last year (2016) emphasised to me the need to bring ALL THE FUR for the nights, but this year most evenings were super mild and I only wore a fur coat out twice.

This year the wind was also not so het up (hence the milder temperatures) and so we only had two little dust storms during our time at Burning Man.

I actually didn’t use my dust masks or goggles at all and guides I had read made me think i’d wear them 24/7. Saying that, they are a good idea to protect particularly your nose from dust build up. More on that later…

Basically, you have to be prepared for all potential weather here in the desert and it has the potential for anything.

Outfits

Daytime

Girls, you’ll pretty much be naked, or half naked at least. It’s simply about how far you’re comfortable to take it. As the week progresses and you settle into your new home, you’ll be wearing less and less. You’ll soon realise no one cares and that there always someone more naked than you. It’s HOT and we prioritise being comfortable in the desert.

Think along the lines of:

  • Leotards / bikinis / swimming costumes
  • Hotpants
  • Floaty long skirts (transform yourself into the ultimate Playa Princess)
  • Pasties (nipple covers)
  • Jewelled crops / bralets
  • Shoulder chains / feathers
  • Flipflops (for pottering around camp in the day)
  • Glitter / face and body jewels

Must haves for the day:

  • Hydration bladder – shop here
  • Sunglasses (bring a selection, you’ll probably end up losing a pair)
  • A vacuum insulated bottle – shop here
  • A BIKE. YOU CANNOT DO BURNING MAN WITHOUT A BIKE. (Bike lock too)
  • An awesome quality pair of boots (you’ll be doing a lot of dancing and walking, it’s worth the investment otherwise… hello blisters. I got my black ones (see below) from Unisa and absolutely loved and lived in them)

Tip: Get a bottle with a loop on the lid or somewhere to attach a caribena to attach the bottle to your bike / utility belt. Shop caribenas here.  As you explore the playa and camps you will be offered beverages, for which you’ll need this bottle. Having it insulated means you can keep it cool despite the desert temperatures.

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog
My Black Unisa boots and pink Timberlands
The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog
Photography by Morgan Allen
The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog
Photography by Morgan Allen

Nighttime

  • Jumpsuits
  • Awesome leggings
  • Netted dresses
  • Leotards

(Basically daytime clothes with the addition of layers depending on the temperature)

Must haves for the evening:

  • Hydration bladder – shop here
  • LED lights (these are perfect, Amazon all the way)
  • A BIKE. YOU CANNOT DO BURNING MAN WITHOUT A BIKE (bike lock too)
  • More LED lights for your bike (You can literally never have enough LED lights)

You should never go out at night without lighting yourself and your bike up.

Tips for outfits:

  • Use Ziplock bags to separate things (under wear, leotards, jewellery), keep them fresh and away from dust
  • There’s a thing called ‘tutu tuesdays’ at Burning Man so if you want to get involved – pack your tutu!
  • Grab a couple of big tubs from Walmart for $3 keep your bits separate and stored efficiently
  • I actually bought a pair of sculpting black hot pants from Primark for £2 and ended up living in them. They were the best comfy daytime option that transferred to a great evening option with some sparkles on top half. I would grab a couple extra pairs next time.
  • Clothes with LED lighting can be pretty expensive. If you want some but need to stay in budget, we added some LED’s to our lights with safety pins so grab some LED’s shop here and then a pack of safety pins!

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

Recommended shops for awesome outfit sourcing:

  • Dollskill – shop here
  • Amazon – shop here
  • Asos – shop here
  • Burnt Soul – shop here
  • Ebay
  • Goodwill (second hand stores located all over the US)
  • Haight Street (If you make a pit stop or come from San Francisco, which most people do, head to Haight Street. It’s literally got everything you could possibly need for Burning Man in one single street.)
Vintage store on Haight Street
My gorgeous Burnt Soul Jumpsuit

The big food shop

Food purchases depend on whether you have a generator for running a fridge, whether you have a freezer or whether you’re camping with cool boxes. We got mainly food that didn’t need to be cooked and took a few cool boxes that we topped up with ice (which we bought on the playa, see above).

Obviously possibilities are endless if you take a gas stove, generator, camper van or RV. Maybe next time!

Here’s what we bought (to feed two of us) from Costco on a no-cook basis:

  • Dried mango
  • 8 pack pre-cooked chickpea curry sachets
  • 8 pack brown rice and quinoa sachets
  • Fresh food for first few days (lettuce, tomatoes, salad bits)
  • 4 x guacamole tubs
  • Tub of pesto
  • Watermelon
  • Oranges
  • Pop tarts
  • Oreos
  • Mixed peppers
  • Coconut chips
  • Broccolli
  • Cauliflower rice (went off and SMELT straight away – do not recommend)
  • Hummus
  • Almond butter
  • 30 X Berry and protein smoothie sachets
  • resuable waterbottle
  • bin bags

Other great ideas for no onsite cooking:

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blogThe ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

Liquids

  • Water – aim to 1.5 gallons each per day. You don’t want to run out!!!

Tip: Pick up your water in Reno on the drive through. Less weight to carry.

  • Coconut water (amazing for hydration)
  • Energy shots (amazing for… energy!)
  • Fruit juices
  • Chosen alcohol spirits
  • Mixers of your choice
  • Milkshakes

My personal desert favourites:

  • Fori oven baked meat snacks – shop here
  • Propercorn – shop here
  • Miso soup sachets (just mix with hot water) – got them in bulk at Costco
  • Rebel kitchen dairy free mylks (pop a bit of ice in and these will chance your playa life) – shop here
  • Pip and nut peanut butter sachets – shop here

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog


Housing, comfort and getting around

The main choices you have for desert ‘accommodation’ are:

  • A tent (hardest option, unless you have a fan or a generator to run A/C through)
  • Hexayurt (these are awesome but take a couple of days to prep before you get to the desert)
  • RV (ultimate)
  • UHaul it (I mean this isn’t a legit option that people consider, but it’s what we did)
The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog
Our UHaul set up!

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

If you’re camping / yurting you’ll need:

  • Mattresses
  • Duvet and pillows
  • Sheets

Getting around:

  • A BIKE. YOU CANNOT DO BURNING MAN WITHOUT A BIKE.

Tip: You can pick one up at Walmart for as little at 79$. I ordered one online and picked it up at Reno Walmart on my way through to Nevada.

Tip: If you can, get a tricycle where you can put a cool box on the back for daytime explorations. When you’re in the desert and dancing you’ll be gagging for anything cold. Having a toolbox of beers and drinks is the ONE. Next time.

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

For comfort, also consider…

  • Spray bottle / mister

This will change your entire life, I made BBF’s with anyone that had one. I wouldn’t go without one again.

  • Shade structure.

Seriously. Create shade. Noone likes hangovers in the desert heat.

  • Big mirror

To check up on your awesome outfits, apply glitter and generally check you’re alive. Obviously.

  • Outdoor chairs

To chill on in the day, to use while you eat or are pre-gaming.

  • Foldable table

To raise food / clothes / cooking equipment off of the floor.

  • Cultery, cooking utensils etc.

Tips:

  • Costo stocks lots of cheap pillows, mattresses, sleeping bags and cushions
  • Walmart has all your camping essentials.

Toilettries / Beauty

  • Medical kit including: emergen C (vitamin c sachets popular in america), electrolyte drinks and packets, blister plasters, lip balm (I got sun blisters on my bottom lip after spending a full day in the sun), advil / paracetamol.
  • party recovery vitamins (berocca, vitamin mix, 5 HTP)
  • baby wipes, face wipes
  • tangle teaser, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil
  • tarpaulin for shower, stop mud pond
  • nose filter
  • tissues
  • toilet roll
  • eye mask (you’ll be trying to sleep in the day after an all night party at least one day trust me)
  • face and body moisturiser
  • eye drops
  • quick dry towel (even if you don’t have a shower, you can pour water on yourself)
  • gum
  • hand sanitiser

… and of course your standard toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, ear buds, facial cleanser and moisturiser, suncream etc.

My top tips:

The fine white playa dust will get EVERYWHERE… up your nose, in your hair and everywhere on your body.

  • Your nose is likely to dry, bleed and block unless you take nose plugs or wear a dust mast. You kinda embrace it though. Keep tissues on hand for nose bleeds and vaseline to soothe it.
  • Your hair (even if you don’t wash it for a week like me) won’t get that greasy. The playa dust kind of acts like a dry shampoo and does wonders for your hair volume and styling. Don’t stay on top of it though and it will begin to matt and dread. I left conditioner and hair oil on the ends everyday and ran my tangleteaser through it. There were breakages but it wasn’t totally destroyed. Others get their hair braided, keep it up or wear wigs to protect it.
  • Your body will just need to surrender to the dust. I would recommend body lotion to keep it hydrated though.

My absolute Burning Man essentials:

Just don’t go to Burning Man without the following:

  • a bike
  • Hydration bladder – shop here
  • LED lights

Personal essentials:

  • hair oil
  • glitter (just because)
  • lip balm
  • wet wipes
  • hair clips
  • invisibobble hair ties
  • face mask (I had a bandana that I kept around my neck and lifted if there was a sand storm)
  • batteries for lights (usually AA) – shop here
  • portable charger to give my gopros juice – shop my favourite here
  • disposable camera (keeps the mystery of photos a treat for when you’re home, no battery issues and easy to carry)
  • scissors (cutting things, opening things, adjusting outfits)
  • spare tyres / bike pump (your bike is so essential you do not want to be without it)

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog


WOOOOAHH. I think that is everything?

I’ve probably missed some bits though, as I remember them, i’ll add them in!

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog

What were your Burning Man essentials? I’d love to know, as i’m sure would everyone else!

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

If you enjoyed this post, please SHARE it for me!

I can’t do this without you <3

Are you part of the Where’s Mollie Global Travellers community? If not, why not!

Click here to join the ultimate travel family

Ever wondered what cameras I use on my travels? What websites I use to book my adventures? What essentials I always take with me?

SHOP MY TRAVEL ITEMS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND DISCOUNT CODES HERE

Oh… and you can SIGN UP FOR MY EXCLUSIVE MAILING LIST HERE 

Pin this for later…

The ultimate packing and shopping list for Burning Man, Nevada | Where's Mollie? A travel and adventure lifestyle blog