Black Rock City is scorching hot during the day and cold at night; come prepared for both.
Black Rock City is scorching hot during the day and cold at night; come prepared for both. (Nick Kelley )
Gear Guy

What Gear Do I Need to Survive My First Burning Man?

We asked Burner veterans for tips. What they suggested will make your stay more pleasant, but no less weird.

Black Rock City is scorching hot during the day and cold at night; come prepared for both.

Burning Man can be a life-changing experience. But you have to come prepared because the Playa is a miserable place without the right gear. To find out what people should bring, I interviewed friends with more than 20 years of combined Burning Man experience. Here are their top six picks. 

ShiftPod Tent ($800)


Expect scorching hot days and cold nights out in the Black Rock Desert. You can handle these wild temperature swings in a regular tent, but you’ll be much more comfortable and happy with this structure, which has insulated, reflective outer walls to bounce rays away during the day and trap heat at night. It can also be paired with an air conditioner. 

Spy Optic Ace Goggles ($130)

(Spy Optic)

The Playa’s dust storms are terrible, so you’ll want full-coverage eye protection. The cool kids like Steampunk glasses, but ski goggles work great, too. Just make sure you bring a pair with replaceable lenses, like Spy’s Ace goggles, because the sand will scratch the surface and you’ll need to swap in a new lens before ski season.

Yeti Tundra 110 ($500)


Ice is a cherished commodity on the Playa. Based on our tests, Yeti is the top dog when it comes to ice retention. Plus, this cooler has enough room to store all your food and water for the week-long event. Tip: freeze your water bottles before the event and put them in your cooler. They’ll keep your food cold, and when they melt you’ll have cold drinking water.

Uline Carboy Five Gallon Jugs ($21)


You have to haul all your own water into the Playa. Large containers with spigots, which make it easy to regulate flow, are the best option. You can also turn the stream on low, get underneath, and use the jug as a rudimentary shower. When Burning Man is over, fill the jugs back up with your gray water to comply with Playa rules that state you can’t leave anything behind. 

26-Inch Huffy Men’s Nel Lusso Bike ($130)


A bike is the best way to travel the Playa. The Burners say the fine dust destroys bike components, so you won’t want to bring your regular whip. We like the Nel Lusso, with its front basket and rear rack for stashing extra water and clothes. 

Nathan LED LightBender Armband ($20)

(Nathan Sports)

Wear this armband so you don’t get run over by a car or drunk cyclist while cruising around at night or in a dust storm. Opt for the Nathan LED LightBender (instead of Christmas lights, the prefered choice of some Burners), because it’s a water-resistant, hi-vis accessory that you can also use while jogging back at home during the other 51 weeks of the year. 

Lead Photo: Nick Kelley