A Helpful Camping Festival Packing List
This year, we left our packing for Falls to the last minute, which meant that we weren’t quite as organised as we should have been. While we were camping, we kept coming up with more things that we should have packed, so I started writing a bit of a list. What follows is what we shall now call our definitive festival camping list. If you can think of anything that I may have overlooked, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments, and I may well post an updated version of this list next time I pack for a camping festival.
This pile of stuff unloaded from Georgie’s car last week was sitting next to our back door until yesterday, when we finally started putting things away.
- Tent – the bigger the better, obviously. If you’re camping in Tassie, note that the UV is ridiculous down there, so if you’re prone to sunburn you should make sure that your tent is going to protect you.
- Tarp/s – they always come in handy.
- Sleeping mat or lilo – but make sure you check them for holes before you leave. The last thing you need is to pump up your bed for the night, only to find that there’s a massive leak.
- Air pump – to inflate the aforementioned lilo. Car pumps are the best, however you should always consider your car battery, and not inflate too many things in a row. Alternatively, you can use a foot pump [or your mouth, even], but that’ll take much longer.
- Esky – and ice, of course. Pick up the ice from a servo on your way. Try not to leave it til the very last service station before the festival [in case they’ve run out – trust me, it happens]. Aim for the second last one.
- Picnic rug – for sitting on the grass on the hill in front of the stage.
- Marquee [optional] – we like to set up a marquee area between our tents where we can all hang out at our camp site. Obviously this isn’t necessary, but it’s nice to have a mutual outdoor space that you can still use when it’s raining.
- Flag or something else to help identify your camp site – the last thing you want is to be stuck in the dark amidst a sea of tents, not knowing exactly where you’re camped. Choose something to be used as a beacon – a flag, an inflatable whale, whatever you want.
- Extra tent pegs – in case of wind, or tough ground bending your pegs out of shape. You can never have too many tent pegs. And it you ever see LED light-up tent pegs at a $2 shop, buy as many as you can, because they are awesome, and stop people tripping over your guy ropes in the dark.
- Extra ropes – sometimes ropes go missing in the middle of the night. Always take extras.
- Solar lights – garden lights, fairy lights… anything that is solar powered and made for outdoor use! The more light you have, the better. If you get solar powered fairy lights, you can clip them to your marquee with bulldog clips – they hold them in place, but are easy to remove.
- Sleeping bag – try not to get just any old cheap sleeping bag from K-Mart. I highly recommend getting a proper insulated one from a camping store so that it’ll keep you properly warm. This year, the nights were so cold that my old sleeping bag just wasn’t cutting it, and I actually bought a new one from the Falls Supply Store [it’s a pretty decent Kathmandu one, and was only $50!].
- Pillow – because sleeping without one is a pain in the neck. Literally.
- Safety blanket – you know the ones from first aid kits? They can help keep you warm on a cold cold night.
- Chairs and card table – for sitting on/eating breakfast etc. If you choose to bring inflatable furniture, consider checking the wind forecast first. Chasing an inflatable chair down a road and catching it before it ends up in the dam is kind of funny, but quite annoying after the third time you have to do it. If it’s not windy, however, inflatable furniture is awesome.
- Gaffer tape – it can fix almost anything. And you can use it to affix your torch or lantern to the roof of your tent.
- Multiple torches and lanterns – big ones for the tent, little ones to carry when you need to go to the toilet. LED lanterns can be great for providing light inside the tend. I’ve also got a wind-up torch that doesn’t need batteries. It’s not terribly bright, but it’s very helpful in the middle of your night when your tent lantern has stopped working and you need to find a new set of batteries for it.
- String – like gaffer, it can help fix things and tie things together.
- Knife or scissors – for cutting things.
- Lots of water – this isn’t just for drinking. It’s also for brushing your teeth.
- Slab of soft drink cans – put them in the esky as needed.
- Long life milk – because your esky isn’t guaranteed to keep its cool, and the last thing you need is for your milk to go off. Try to get the ones that come in little juice box-sized tetra packs. You should be able to split one of them between two for breakfast.
- Cereal – to be eaten with the long life milk.
- Chips and Arnott’s Shapes – snacky foods to keep you going between meals.
- Lollies – grab a couple of packets of snakes or party mix. Don’t take chocolate, because it might melt and make a bit of a mess of your stuff.
- Apples – they can generally withstand a bit of heat without going too gross.
- Tuna and crackers – save these as a replacement meal in case you get stuck in your tent in the rain and don’t want to make the trek to the food trucks. They’re also good for staff and volunteers who need meals before and after the actual festival.
- Plastic cutlery and bowls – for eating and then throwing away. Some people take reusable picnic sets, but I find it difficult to clean things properly when you’re camping at a festival and don’t have access to hot water. If you’re worried about the environment, I recommend getting biodegradable paper plates and bowls. You can probably wash and reuse your cutlery.
- Hat and beanie – you’ll need one hat to protect your head from the sun in the daytime, and another to keep it warm [and hide your hat hair] at night.
- Scarf – you’ll want it to help you layer up at night.
- Warm jacket – again, it’ll get cold. I had a proper winter coat at Falls this year, and still found myself shivering at night.
- Jeans/dress/skirt/etc. – all the normal clothes that you’d normally wear at a festival, plus layers to add at night. Try to bring a few extras in case things get muddy or dirty or wet.
- Shoes and/or gumboots – if you’re not taking gumboots, make sure you’ve got two pairs of shoes in case of rain. Wet shoes aren’t fun to wear.
- Thongs – for the beach and the shower.
- Waterproof jacket – or a poncho, if you like. I prefer to take a proper raincoat – you can get some really stylish macs these days [check sites like Topshop and ASOS].
- Lots of socks and underwear – if you don’t get a chance to shower, clean socks and undies are the best way to help you feel fresh.
- Bumbag – for carrying your stuff during the day. I forgot to take my leather one to Falls this year [I don’t know how], and Georgie forgot her little backpack, so we both had to buy new ones at the market stalls.
Toiletries and everything else:
- Sunscreen – because looking like a lobster is so passé.
- Towel – for the shower, the beach, and to fold up and use as an extra pillow if you’re used to having more than one.
- Shampoo and conditioner – little travel size bottles should suffice.
- Dry shampoo – for those days when the lines for the showers are too long [or your simply can’t be bothered].
- Talcum powder – it’s a miracle product. It works on your hair when dry shampoo just isn’t enough any more. It helps stop chafing, and makes you feel less gross when you’re all hot and sweaty.
- Soap – for actual cleanliness.
- Hand sanitiser – sometimes the toilets don’t have any soap left. Sometimes they’re just bottles of sunscreen that have been helpfully left out for people to use – they’ll stop you getting burnt, but they won’t clean your hands. Take hand sanitiser to the loo, and you won’t have the problem of trying to run sunscreen into your hands and wondering why they still don’t feel clean.
- Tissues – for your sniffle issues.
- Baby wipes – get the biggest packet imaginable. These can act as an alternative to a shower. They’re also a great makeshift make-up remover wipe. And they’ll help clean spills off of clothing and the floor of your tent. Basically, baby wipes clean everything.
- Toilet paper – for when the toilets run out and the Loo Crew haven’t got there yet.
- Earplugs – to help you sleep, particularly if you’re camped next to a noisy lot or too close to the stage.
- Basic first aid kit – bandaids, tweezers [for splinters], alcohol wipes, and anything else that you can think of. Panadol and/or Nurofen, and something like Berocca are probably a good idea too.
- Tampons/pads… the pill and condoms – even if you don’t think you’ll need them, it never hurts to have a spare to share. Also remember any prescription meds that you may need.
- Garbage bags – for dirty, wet and muddy things. Using a couple of garbage tapes and some gaffer tape, you can also make your own stylish raincoats.
- Toothbrush/toothpaste – and some chewing gum for the times when you can’t be bothered to brush.
- Mosquito repellent – to keep the mozzies at bay. Those things love to eat me, so I’m always prepared.
- Book – there’s always a bit of down time. It’s good to have something to read.
- Magazines [to share] – bring something good [like Q or Empire], and then something really trashy [like Famous or Take 5 – bonus points if there’s a bunch of quizzes or puzzles].
- Playing cards – or UNO. Or any travel game, really. You could also bring pens and paper and play Consequences.
- iPod and speakers – it can be fun to blast your neighbours with 90s pop music at all hours of the morning. Actually, don’t do that. It’s mean. Blast your music at a reasonable hour. Some people want to sleep.
- Nokia phone [or other brick with decent battery life] – for when your iPhone inevitably dies. Those old phones used to last a week without needing to be charged.
- Batteries – lots of batteries. AAs and AAAs. You will need them.