What to bring to your next camping festival and why: an explained packing list for lost festival goers.
Festival season is here. After a few cursed years in and out of lockdowns, planning and cancelling and re-planning and postponing of events, Australia’s music festival schedule has finally recovered. Warmer weather equals more music festivals once more and nature’s balance has been restored.
Music festivals are fun, once you get there. But they’re also a logistical nightmare – coordinating camping out in the wilderness to party for three or four days straight (and making it back in one piece) is a pain, especially for the not-so-nature-inclined.
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Luckily for you, we’ve made a detailed festival packing list of all the necessities to bring for the most comfortable weekend of fun in the sun, plus a few things that’ll make your campsite neighbours jealous.
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Tent: You’re going to need something to sleep in, so unless you’ve got a #vanlife setup of some sort, you might need a tent. Unless you plan on not sleeping at all – brave, and we respect it.
Sleeping mat: Air mattresses are more comfortable, but they’re also a bit of a gamble. There’s nothing like popping it on day one and spending the rest of the festival sleeping on the gravel, or having it gently deflate through the night, and again, sleeping on the gravel.
Sleeping bag: A sleeping bag will ensure you stay warm and comfortable at night with minimal effort, further improve your beauty sleep and recharge effectively for the next day’s activities.
Pillow: Don’t think you can just use a hoodie. It’s not the same.
Camping chairs: After a long day of dancing, you’ll want to relax at your campsite without sitting in the dirt. Sit on a chair and hang out like civilised people.
Day bag: You’ll need something to keep all your essentials on you throughout the day. The perfect bag is small enough, light enough and built to carry comfortably (no straps that dig into shoulders). Preferably something weather-proof, closeable and not too precious, undeterred by rain or dirt or spilled drinks. If in doubt, grab something from Crumpler or Freitag like everyone else.
Portable charger: This will keep your phone alive in the wilderness. That way, you have a GPS to drive home and countless photos documenting your festival experience.
Garbage bags: Having a personal bin at the campsite is much easier than walking to the real bins constantly. It makes the pack-up process on the last day a lot faster. Be responsible and make sure your site is left clean.
Flashlight: Don’t waste precious phone battery on light.
Gazebo and table: Although not entirely necessary, they will make your life a lot better.
Something to decorate your campsite: In a sea of Kmart and Anaconda tents, make yours stand out by adding fairy lights, a disco ball, or any other fun decor. Hot tip: tying a helium balloon with a long string to your tent will help you spot it a mile off.
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Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun, hide your face from people and cope with your hangover peacefully.
Scarf or some kind of makeshift mask: It depends on the festival grounds, but the amount of dust flying in the air at some music festivals is wild. You will most likely be blowing dirt out of your nose for days anyways, but bringing something to cover your nose and mouth can definitely reduce the amount of dust inhaled while dancing.
Clothes for warm weather: T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, skirts, hats.
Clothes for cold weather: Jumpers, jackets, long pants, layers.
Rain jacket: For when it rains, which it might, even if the forecast says it won’t.
Swimwear: For when there’s something to swim in. Or if it’s really hot and regular clothes are too much or too sweaty.
Shoes (multiple): Comfort takes priority – bring shoes that you can walk, stand and dance for a long time in. Sneakers are reliable comfort shoes, but boots withstand dirt and mud better. Bring at least two pairs of shoes in case you step in a puddle or something.
Toothbrush and deodorant: We may be party people, but we’re not animals.
Sunscreen: SPF 30 or higher. Wear sunscreen and avoid skin cancer/painful sunburns (it could turn into a tan, but it probably won’t). Remember to reapply throughout the day.
Wet wipes: It’s unlikely that there will be a proper bathroom for you to wash the dirt and sweat off yourself every night. In these dire circumstances, a wet wipe makes a decent enough substitute. They’re also helpful in the case of any food or drink spillages and other messes that need to be mopped up.
Lip balm: Dry and cracked lips hurt really bad. Bonus points if it’s an SPF one.
Bug Spray: Avoid getting bitten by bugs and scratching yourself raw at night.
Hand Sanitiser: There won’t be many facilities to properly wash your hands, so hand sanitiser is key to staying clean and germ-free as much as possible.
Medication: Panadol, Neurofen or any other painkiller of your preference is good to have on hand. Bring hay fever tablets if you are somehow allergic to air (the dust, trees and grass will probably make it worse), as well as any other medications you take. Also, everyone loves the guy who has Berocca tablets in the morning.
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Food and drink
Water: Although there will be water taps, they will most likely be too far and too busy to be convenient. Bring a water tank (about $5 for 10L from supermarkets) for your campsite. A slab of bottled water is good too; buying it from the festival vendors will be a lot more expensive. Reusable water bottles are great but can be heavy/bulky/annoying to carry around.
Snacks: Chips, nuts, gummy snakes, muesli bars, lollipops or whatever pre-packaged snack you enjoy, to keep your energy and blood sugar levels up during long hours of dancing between actual meals.
Canned coffee: Buying coffee at music festivals is always expensive. If you are a hopeless caffeine addict who cannot function when deprived, consider bringing your own. Same goes for energy drink freaks.
Ice/esky: Avoid warm beers.
Earplugs: Avoid hearing damage, especially if you like being close to the stage and close to the very loud speakers.
Money: A physical card will cover most bases. If cash is necessary, there will be ATMs. If it’s cashless there will be machines that take card to exchange into whatever wristband-operated currency is being used.
Walkie-talkies: They’re kind of a hit or miss. There’s usually no phone reception at music festivals, so a walkie-talkie could be a solution for contacting your friends – just set them to the same channel before splitting up. However, you may find that many other people at the festival are also on that same channel at the same time, and it’s basically a call into the void. Fun to try, but not very dependable.
Portable speaker: Be the aux cord DJ when you’re relaxing or pre-gaming at the campsite. Have a quick refresher on the discography of whatever artist you’re about to see so you’re not embarrassed at not knowing any of their music.
Bubbles: Blow a few bubbles in the crowd between sets and watch those around you become mesmerised by their beauty.
Costumes: Bring a few fun, weird, pieces and accessories and enjoy playing dress up. Fashion over functionality this time.
Doof stick: A doof stick is a sign on a stick saying… how you really feel, what the people deserve to know, real wisdom for future generations and stuff like that. Make it unique so your friends can use it to find you in the crowd. Be creative!
For information on how to be a more sustainable festival-goer, head here.