How to Prepare for Burning Man
If you’ve actually never been to Burning Man before there’s really no way to actually “prepare” for it because, in most cases, it’s going to blow your mind. On the other hand, as far as surviving for a few days out in the desert is concerned, there are definitely a few ways to “prepare” for that and, since that’s what you’re basically going to be doing once you purchase your BurningMan tickets, this blog article should help you a bunch. Also keep in mind that preparation for anything inherently makes that thing easier and so, if you want to, you can call this the “easy way” to prepare for Burning Man. (To heck with those purists who think you have to do this the “hard way”.)
If you’ve never been to Burning Man, Black Rock City is the company that puts it on every year in the Nevada desert. If you’ve never been to the Nevada desert, you need to know that it’s ridiculously hot during the day and gets rather chilly at night so preparation for those extremes is a good idea. What I found when I went my first time was that talking to veterans about how to prepare wasn’t exactly the best way to get the information I needed. Let’s just say it’s a “pride” thing.
How to actually get to Burning Man from the Reno Airport.
After talking to a number of people I was convinced that, since I was flying out to Reno, Nevada to attend, I would need to rent a car to get to the event. If I would have read the entire Burning Man website however I would’ve found out that there’s actually a shuttle service that will bring you directly to Burning Man called the Burner Express shuttle.
Now, if you’re trying to save money you might think that the $60 cost to get there and the $60 cost to return ($120 in total) is kind of expensive but the fact is that if you take the Burner Express you’re going to be able to get into the Burning Man location almost immediately instead of having to go through the entrance gate, something that can take about five hours. When you leave to go back to the airport it can take even longer and so, unless you’re really keen on standing in line in the hot sun for approximately 10 hours plus, taking the Burner Express shuttle is definitely a good idea. By the way, for those flying into San Francisco there’s a Burner Express shuttle from there as well. One thing to keep in mind is that, if you do take the Burner Express shuttle, there’s a limit per person of 2 suitcases (unless you want to pay extra to bring a third).
When you buy your Burning Man tickets you should rent a bike at the same time so you don’t forget.
One of the craziest things about the Burning Man website is that they have a full 3 separate pages about bicycles. What kind of bikes to bring if you are bringing your own, how to transport them and so forth. The only thing that they didn’t mention was the fact that you could actually rent a bike from one of the other camps nearby. They do mention that there are bicycle rental places in Reno (and they are actually cheaper than where I rented my bike) (Playa Bike Repair) but, since I didn’t rent far enough in advance, they were all out.
Frankly, I got lucky because I was told about the bike rentals at the “camps” and rented mine a few weeks ahead of time. If I wouldn’t I would have been completely out of luck because not only was Playa Bike Repair completely out of bikes when I finally did get there but, as they told me, every other bike rental place was out as well. So, if you’re keen on having a bike to get around while you’re at Burning Man, you definitely should either rent one in advance from one of the other camps nearby or rent one from a bicycle rental place in Reno well in advance of Burning Man 2016.
You can pay one of the nearby camp’s for all of the things that you’re going to need while you’re at Burning Man.
I already mentioned that you can rent a bicycle from one of the other “camps”. These are actually groups of campers have combined their resources to make getting everything they need for the week to the Burning Man event a lot easier. For example, instead of everyone taking in their own food, one person with a big truck will carry in a week’s worth of food for the entire group. Getting into these camps isn’t exactly easy and, in some cases, some of them have actually closed their memberships and there’s no way to join them at all, even if you are a close friend of an existing member. On the other hand some of the camps sell memberships to the general public and some of them will let you into their camp if you are friends with a member.
The best reason to pay dues to a camp (I paid $250) is that, once you do, you’re assured that you’ll have a camping space, food, drinking water and a place to throw away your garbage. You will also (possibly) be able to get a shower during the week, depending on the camp that you sign up with. If you’re wondering why you’d need a place to throw away your garbage it’s because Burning Man does not provide it.
You will definitely want to do some research on these camps before you decide on one and make a Burning Man checklist, if you will, to compare them. The reason is that the camps vary widely in how much they charge and what they provide for those charges. I’ve seen some that charge $300 and give you very little and I’ve seen others that charge $100 and give you an abundance of food and plenty of showers.
By the way, the reason that you will either need to bring in all of your own supplies for the week or use a camp is because, at the Burning Man location, they don’t sell almost any food, water or other types of supplies whatsoever. Thus, either having a camp supply you with the food and beverages that you’re going to need or bringing in your own for the entire week of Burning Man is definitely a must.
Bring a regular camp tent rather than trying to make your own shelter and shade.
One of the things I read before I went to Burning Man the first time was the Burning Man Survival Guide. It had a lot of great information but, after reading it, I got the distinct impression that not only would I need a tent but also a separate tarp or covered to provide shade for the tent.
Now here’s the thing; the Burning Man location is in the middle of the Nevada desert and, during the day, it gets mighty hot. That being said, if you plan to spend most of your day inside your tent you definitely are going to want to have another cover above it for shade. That being said, most tents actually come with an extra shade cover that you can use so that it doesn’t turn into an oven during the day, so bringing a next her shade cover is unnecessary. That being said, there’s actually very little chance that you’re going to be spending any daylight hours in your tent because there’s so much stuff to do that you probably won’t go back to your tent until late at night.
One thing you definitely do want to have with you are some extra heavy stakes to anchor your tent to the ground because, during the day in the Nevada desert, it can get quite windy and if you don’t have it staked firmly to the ground you might come back to your tent at the end of the day to find out that it’s been destroyed. Not only that but, if your tent does come loose in high winds, it could be a hazard for other people at the Burning Man event. (They’re called “burners” by the way.)
One extra thing that you might want to bring is an electric fan that you can use either in the morning while you’re still sleeping or in the early evening when you get back to your tent in order to circulate air and get any hot-air out quickly.
One thing that they do sell at Burning Man is ice, so make sure to bring a cooler, a thermos and a spray bottle.
The company that organizes Burning Man, Black Rock City, knows that if you gather any group of people in the middle of the Nevada desert and you don’t provide them with water (at the very least) you’re going to be in for some big trouble. That being said, one of the few things that the event organizers actually do sell at Burning Man are large bags of ice. When I was there I usually bought at least one bag of ice (crushed, 10 pounds) every afternoon that I would stuff into my backpack and take with me back to my campsite. There I had two big plastic water jugs and I filled them with the ice and basically let the sun do its thing.
This usually gave me ice water for up to about three hours, well worth it to have refreshing water to drink during the hottest hours of the day. If I would have known about it ahead of time however I would have brought at least a small cooler with me on my flight (or I would have purchased a bigger one in Reno before taking the Burner Express out to the site) because it would’ve been nice to have been able to buy a few bags of ice and keep it cold for at least the better part of the day. I would also have brought myself a thermos to carry around with me because, as you might guess, a regular plastic water bottle won’t keep your ice water cold for much more than about an hour.
One of the things that I did see people carrying all over the place at Burning Man were Camelbak water containers but, since these aren’t insulated, they were basically drinking water that was either room temperature or, after a few hours, hot. In my opinion it would definitely be worth it to have a decent thermos with a strap so that you can carry it around just as easily and, instead of drinking hot water on a hot day, drink ice cold water instead. (Yes Any water is better than no water but if you can actually drink cold water instead of hot, why wouldn’t you?)
One final thing that I would definitely suggest you bring is a spray bottle similar to what you can use to spray your houseplants at home. I saw a few people carrying those around at Burning Man and, occasionally, one of them would even give me a nice cooling spritz. (There was one pretty lady that actually had scented her water with lavender.) During the middle of the day you’d be amazed how incredibly refreshing that darn spray bottle spray was. Also, one of the interesting things about Burning Man is that they expect you to somehow contribute to the event. Unless you’re a stilt walker, a fire breather or an incredibly gorgeous woman with “bodacious tatas” that you can flash at a moment’s notice, I would think that carrying around a water bottle and misting people would suffice.
With the Burning Man dates for 2016 coming up quick, and Cheap Burning Man tickets going on sale soon, the advice above should definitely help you prepare for what will no doubt be one of the most interesting, entertaining and hot events you’ve ever been to in your life.