Spiral Oasis: Burning Man 2001  


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Keep on Person

GOOD Sunglasses (warning)

Good UV-blocking sunglasses are essential even in the shade, because the playa reflects intense light.

WARNING: Cheap or just stylish sunglasses can be really dangerous.  They cause your pupils to dilate, letting in more UV, which can sunburn your retinas without immediate pain.

Sun Hat with strap

The wind whips off your hat if it isn't strapped down.

Neckerchief dust mask


A sunscreen called NoAd is highly recommended, cheap and good, from retailers like Safeway; look on lower shelves for it.

Drinking water bottle

Cocktail Cup

At any moment you may be offered a drink at a party.  If you have a cup, less trash!  One with a belt loop is cool.

Bike lock key

Put your car key and bike key on a secure thong around your neck, or whatever.  Put away all your other keys for when youre home.

Car key

Card-holder necklace

A plastic card-holder (like the ones for convention badges) is handy for cards and little slips of paper. On a necklace chain, you can also use it for your bike lock key regardless of costume.

Luminous Wristwatch

Very often you need to check the time, to synchronize with friends and not miss events.

Headphone radio

It can be fun to keep various Radio Burning Man stations tuned in for announcements.

Keep in Backpack

Backpacks are uncomfortable to wear in the heat, but easy to put in a bike basket.

Toilet paper

You are gonna get enormous boogers called Nose Tators from the dust.  (They got their name when someone painted out two letters from the NO SPECTATORS sign.)  Before you come, trim away all the nose hairs that would anchor them.

Spray water bottle

Folding umbrella/parasol

Really handy out in the sun.

Portable Radio

For Burning Man news, announcements, and safety alerts

Shampoo for sudden water

When the road-watering truck rolls by, I like to jump into the spray for a quick shampoo with a little hotel size bottle.  Clean hair!


Swiss Army knife

Butane Cig Lighter

Better than matches

Butane Mini-Torch

If you need fire in the wind.  Only $3 at Bonanza Surplus.

Small Flashlight

Safety Glasses for night use

Essential when the wind blows dust, let alone cinders and sparks, fireworks, or sharp pointy things.

Spare keys

Dont get locked out.

Pen and paper

Business Cards

In a Ziploc bag with all the other little slips of paper you get from other camps.

Cork Puller

for party emergencies, or use your Swiss Army knife.

Safety Pins

for costume emergencies

Laser Pointer Toy



Walkie Talkie

If you have a Walkie Talkie set, train yourself with it and give it to your partner before departing. Meeting up at Burning Man is tough to manage.  The message board is huge and chaotic; agree on a VERY distinctive set of signs (more than one copy) such as diffraction-grating plastic or a bold logo in color.  Plan to leave messages on windshields when you finally find their car.

Smokers Ash Tin

Keep on Bicycle

Bike Basket

If it doesnt have one, get it.

Bike Helmet

Bike lock

2nd Drinking water bottle


Your bike needs a headlight to avoid obstacles.

A lamp on a headband is great in other ways too.

Make sure you are lighted with at least a light stick to avoid being hit by a bike in the dark.

Tire Pump

Bike Tool Kit

It may break on the Playa!

Tire Patch Kit

Keep in Car Cab

Your $200 Ticket

If your Burning Man ticket is not in the glove compartment right now, right next to your registration and insurance certificate, go put it there now.  If you have an Oh My God moment you will not pass Go and will not collect $200.

Good flashlight

Highway Flares

Roadside reflectors

First Aid kit

Fire extinguisher

Work Gloves


Ear plugs & muffs

Pee bottle

Toilet paper

Small drink cooler

Mountain Dew, Coke with

Foam sleeves on the cans


Whisk Broom

Hand cloth



Burning Man Info Kit

Camera Kit



LOTS of them for cameras, flashlights, whatever.

Oven thermometer

For checking the air temperature outside the car, I use a Polder oven thermometer, which has a sensor probe on a wire.

Music CDs


I carry these, along with tambourines just for laughs

Keep in Car Tailgate

(always accessible during the road trip)

Big water bottles

I fill these up in Reno after going over Donner Pass.

Garden hose fragment

For easily filling water bottles in place, from faucets that are often in an awkward place.

Smaller bottle

I use a 3-gallon bottle to pour from more easily.

Motor Oil


Brake Fluid

Window Fluid

Jumper Cables

Tire Chains

Tool boxes

Swim suit


Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad


(for emergency too)

First Aid Kit

First Aid Booklet


Band Aids

Sterile Pads

4x4-inch, 12-ply

Gauze Pads


Adhesive Tapes

Kling gauze

2-inch and 4-inch

Non-adhesive pads

3-inch by 4-inch

Elastic Bandages

3 inch by 15 feet

Petroleum Gauze

3 x 18

Butterfly closures

Safety Pins

Instant cold packs

Paramedic Shears

Sterile Gloves

Face Shield

Artificial respirator

A rescue mask for CPR. Also available: CPR Microshield ® Barrier

Bite Sticks

Cotton tips, sterile

Eye wash solution

Eye pads, sterile

Alcohol wipes

PVP iodine swabs


Ammonia inhalants

Ipecac syrup

Burn cream

Hydrogen peroxide

Sooth-a-Sting swabs



Oral thermometer

Digital only, no mercury!

Camera Gear

35mm kit bag

Polaroid Bag

Extra Polaroid Film & 35mm


Cable release


Maps and guidebooks

Star map

Knot reference books


More toilet paper

Liquid soap (pump bottle)

Handi Wipes

Wet Ones dont smell

Skin Lotion

Bath sponge or cloth

Toilet bucket and seat

Just in case.

Clothes Closet

Loose, lightweight drawstring pants

Wear without undies for maximum comfort in heat

Warm sweat pants

Sweat shirts

Warm ski gloves

Yes, it can get bloody cold!

Warm socks

Slip-on shoes

Sandals let in dust and invite stubbed toes, but wear slip-in shoes so you can courteously drop them outside tents.

Costume clothes

Work Clothes

Work gloves

Safety Toe Boots

Hard Hat

Leather Jacket

Welders Chaps

Welders goggles

Dust Mask


Food Effects

In camp, remember that what you eat affects body odor (garlic) flatulence (beans) and maybe diarrhea or toilet urgency (varies by individual).

Avoid dishwashing

Minimize glass

Beer in cans

Guiness Stout etc. Becks is in cans at the Beverages & More stores.  You may find that cheap beer (called lawn mower beer in the trade) is OK on the Playa

Tonic Water in cans

It glows under black light! Safeway has a cheap brand.

Soda in cans

Gatorade Mix

This (or equivalent) is used for avoiding and treating serious dehydration.

Fruit juice in cans

Fresh Lemons

for cocktails and other tart drinks.  Free from friends trees, they need no cooler.

Liquor in 20-cl hip flasks

Plastic bottles are safest. Too bad good wine is always in glass.

Coffee/Tea bags

Cocoa Mix

Salty Snacks

Sweating people need lots.



Salted nut meats (no shells!)

Olives (no pits!)

Beef Jerky

Hard Cheeses

Dinner Rolls

Hamburger buns


They keep better than sliced bread.


Cookies (no-melt)


Dried fruit

Hard Candy


Oh all right but keep it cool!

Chewing Gum

But please pack it out.

Vitamins C and E


Salt & Pepper

Ramen soup packs

8-oz canned fruits and vegetables

The small size is easiest for a single eater.

Salame chubs

Keep dry or even OUT OF the cooler; or else the paper wrapper gets slimy

Canned ravioli

Pasta shells

A bit easier than spaghetti

Canned tuna

Canned salmon

Canned sardines

Canned oysters

Canned hash

Canned: chili

Cans: Pork N Beans

Food Cooler

Milk in pints

Unopened pints keep well if always on ice.  Small plastic milk bottles (Chugs) with screw caps are expensive but close securely, unlike cartons.  I make café au lait if the café is closed or the line is too long.

Mozzarela single- packs

String cheese is easy to eat, doesnt dry out or spoil

Hot dogs


in small plastic packs

Corn on the cob


Apples, Oranges

Bacon (keeps well)

Cut the whole slab in half

Eggs in plastic egg box

Big Drink Cooler

Bottled water, frozen

Freeze plastic bottled water at home instead of Blue Ice.  No mess, more to drink later.  At Burning man you can buy ice daily.  Square plastic water bottles dont roll away in the wind and pack together in less space.

Mess Kit

Big mug

for coffee, soup or cold cereal.  Take it to the Café instead of getting a paper cup of Joe in the morning.

Sturdy glasses

Serve drinks to guests in flat-bottomed heavy tumblers such as Arcoroc - they wont break or blow away in the wind like stemware or plastic.

Steel Pie plate

Sturdy fork & spoon

Serrated steak knife

Kitchen Equipment

Paper towels

Aluminum foil

Plastic wrap

Garbage bags

Ziploc bags

Wine corks

A few of the soft plastic ones make re-corking easy.

Grill or hibachi

A Weber BBQ is big, clumsy and inflexible.  Much better is (1) adjustable-height chimney-starter that doubles as a stove, (2) tiny hibachi (3) a tripod-mounted fire-dish and suspended grill that folds into very little storage space.


Kindling sticks

Propane torch

Lights charcoal SO well!

Fire Starter Chimney

Charcoal-handling tongs

Candle lamps


Coffee Pot for water

Coffee Plunger Pot

Lemon squeezer

Fine coffee strainer

Fry pan & cover


Food tongs

Sunshade Gear

Tent stakes made of  rebar

Read Rebar 101 about bending the ends over.

4 lb Single Jack hammer

A steel handle is better than a wooden one.

Stake covers: tennis balls

Inferior to using bent rebar.

Rope for guy lines

The cheapest good stuff is ¼ polypropylene, about 3 cents a foot at surplus stores.  Its slippery, so you need to tie it carefully with good knots.  Get the yellow, not the blue, so its more visible at night.

Mylar glitter tape

(for marking guy ropes) If you cant find scraps, garden supply stores sell it for scaring off birds.

Scrap bike inner tubes

(perfect shock cords for tarps)

Canvas Tarps

These are less noisy and better-looking than the common blue tarps.

Blue Tarps

Leave shock-cords in the grommets.

Support poles and framework

Carpet pieces

Other Camp Site Gear

Landmark beacon

Camps away from the Center need a daytime flag and night-time reflector as landmark beacons. The Bubble Tower had an amazing searchlight beam; a 12v headlight might do it, on a good battery.

Xmas lights (12 v)

Patio Umbrellas

Tie them down firmly and try to collapse them before the wind catches them.  Never leave them up unattended.

Folding Beach Chairs

Hammock and A-frame rig

Pup Tent in its bag

This makes a handy storage tent for stuff that would clutter up the car.

Ground cloths

Oriental Carpet

Plastic floor mats

Solar shower

Gray water collector

This can be a simple wading pool, or a heavy plastic sheet laid under a foot platform, with the edges held up.  Scoop out the water and sprinkle it in the dusty road.  Dont dump it or let it make a mud puddle.

AstroTurf for shower area

Nice place to dry off.

First Aid Posters

Little Tool Box always in Car

Ratchet wrenches, ½ & 3/8

½ extender, 3/8 adapter

24mm socket, deep sockets

Crescent wrench 6

Wrenches; Box/Open End

Torx wrench  set

Hex (Allen) wrench sets

Vise Grips

Pliers, heavy, needle nose

Scissors, tweezers, knife

Steel baling wire

Screwdrivers-shorty flat & Phillips, folding T-handle, offset, multi- bit set

File set


Church key beer opener

Sharpening stone

Plastic Steel Epoxy Cement

3-in-1 Oil

Awl=fid for knots

Seam ripper tool

Paper drill bit

for punching signs, fabric

Feeler gauges (!)

Big Tool Box (bring sometimes)

Combination padlocks

Tape measure (25 ft)

Yellow lumber crayon

Straight-Claw hammer, 20 oz

Monkey wrench to pull stakes

Measuring Vernier caliper

Liquid-Lube for Bike Chain

WD-40 water-displacing lube

Rope, ¼ and ½

Dental Floss for strong thread

Duct tape, glass tape

Staple gun and 3/8 staples

Power drill 3/8 & Portalign

Hand drill and bit sets

Wire brush, grinder bits

Center punch

Tin Snips

Box cutting knife

Razor scraper


Wood chisel, 1 inch

Hacksaw & blades

Stiff-back saw

Rasp/File for shaping

Abrasive cloth

Steel wool


Neon voltage tester

Hose clamps, all sizes

Grommet Kit

Great for tarps, hat straps.

Small C-clamps

for holding things down.

Nuts, bolts, all sizes

Nails: 6d roofing, 16d box

Gripper claw tool

Magnet for pickup

Sports Locker

Xerox copies of hiking maps

Topo Maps in flat portfolio

Snorkel and Fins

For hot springs, ponds, lakes

Surf booties

for wading or around camp

Rubber sandals

for wading or around camp

Office Supplies

Marking pens

Sticky press-on labels


3-hole punch

Large quadrille tablet

Scotch Tape

Masking tape

Post-It in 3x5 size

Very handy for laying out a scale model of a big camp site on paper

Possible Supplies

Area Rugs 52x27 (qty 8)

Site Marking sign on a T-stake

Nylon yardage in colors

EMT fabric for streamers

Lumber (2x4, plywood)

Pipe (steel, ABS, PVC)

Structural steel, fasteners

Bamboo Poles

55-gal drums (steel, plastic)

Come-Along hoist

Party Decor

Fluorescent Black Lights

Extension cords

Power strip outlets

Clip lights

Drop lights

Extra light bulbs

Spray Paint

Mylar aluminized roll

Madras fabric


Sailboard masts, PVC & metal

Pineapple Flag

US Flag

Burning Man Special

Camp Beacons

For night & day location

Gifts to dispense

Lockable storage chest for tools

Traffic Cones

Yellow CAUTION marking tape

Large wall thermometer

Just so you can boast later about how much you are suffering.

High-powered air blower

If you have AC power, its cool, especially with a

Misting System

Sold for hot climates. You can run one with a 2-gallon garden sprayer.  Aimed into a fan airstream, its heaven.

Mirrored bath cabinet

A discarded bathroom cabinet is a handy way to have a mirror that can be packed more safely, and it serves as a storage box for make-up

Spray paint, fluorescent

Paint and brushes for signs

Sign board matl

Sign Easels

They are safer than stakes and easy to move.

Sewing Kit

Kerosene in jugs

Rubber stamps for passports

Cool camps have a rubber stamp for visitors who got a passport from the Artists Republic of Fremont.

Flaming Polo

Burning Man logo decor for tailgate

Wave to other Burners on the highway!

Solar Battery charger for 12 V toys

Cupola Project

Plastic letters

For making sand-cast or Playa mud negative letter forms.

Things Left To Buy

Fill in your own stuff

Extra Advice

Read the Web site

Its great.  What little I have to add is the following:

Label all containers

It gets confusing up there. Start out organized.

Use Transparent containers

Ziploc bags (1 gallon size) are great for little things like flashlight batteries and Band Aids that you need to find in a hurry.

Pack messy things together

Changes in air pressure caused by driving from sea level over Donner Pass can make flexible containers leak or crush. Put them all (sunscreen, mustard, syrup, hand lotion, shampoo, etc) in a plastic tub.  Ideally, open them partially and prop them all upright.  Keep them away from other luggage.

Mark your tools

Anything that is likely to get borrowed or mixed up should be marked.

Dust is Everywhere

When you reach the playa, close off the air vents from the outside.  Next time you use them be prepared for a blast of nasty dust.  It will be in the nooks of your dashboard, your radio, everywhere.

Often the wind around the rear of a car creates negative air pressure that can draw dust (and exhaust fumes) into the tailgate, so go slow.

The dust is like raw cement.  It contains a lot of alkali, the opposite of acid.  It attacks metals just like acid when it gets damp or wet.  Its hard on skin and eyes and makes sticky mud.

On the playa, never leave car doors or windows open.  Cover all you can.  Put everything away out of the wind if possible.

Use dust-proof boxes

Plastic bags are annoying and empty ones blow away easily. Put things in Tupperware or those square plastic buckets (with lids) that some kitty litter is sold in, and also restaurant supplies such as frozen eggs.  Plastic lunch pails are great

Dont Follow Cars

Stay back; youll be glad.

Wash your Bike

As soon as you get home, if you dont wash your bike it will be horribly rusty.  Just look around you for examples.  When the chain jams, the bike is unusable.

Plan your Trucking

You can fit a surprising amount in a 14-foot rental truck if you plan ahead.  Warning!  The companies are unreliable and may not honor your reservation.  The cheaper short-haul trucks are the older ones that are more likely to break down in the desert.

Install Tie-down points

If you have a smooth car, figure out how you will secure a roof load and protect the cars paint.

Tie padding well

If it flaps it will shred and/or blow off the car on I-80.

Learn to Tie Good Knots

Its handy and fun anyway. Camping in windy areas, it turns into a critical skill.

Keep Food Simple

Heat reduces the need for food, and cooking is a hassle unless you really love it no matter what. Personally, while I love to cook and share meals, I bring easy food to Burning Man.  Single-serving canned fruits and vegetables are SO much easier than fresh.  I treat ice as a dispensable luxury for cold drinks, not a necessity to keep my broccoli from turning to stinky mush.  I cant plan slow meals when incredible events may occur without notice.  Your mileage may vary.

Cover your coolers

Keep them in the shade, up off the muddy playa.  Use your sleeping bag to insulate them from daytime heat.

Allow 8 hours to drive from SF

Leave by noon to get to the playa before dark.  Earlier is better, especially because the Central Valley gets hot.

A good food stop is Ikedas fruit stand and burger joint just east of Auburn at the Bowman Rd exit. A good gas stop is Sierra Sids at Exit 19 in Reno.  Just up the street (East McCarran) a few blocks from Sierra Sids is a big 24-hour Safeway for your last minute ice, milk, etc.

Plan your departure

The highway can take only 450 cars/hour, or 10,800 in a 24-hour day.  The rush hour Sunday just has to last for many hours.

Pull over and sleep

Dont risk driving drowsy.


Not on the Playa, but be very careful at roadside stops.  In August 2000 the US has almost no supplies of anti-venin in hospitals.


In the surrounding desert, watch out for little ones.

No Mosquitoes

No problem on the Playa.

Danger to Eyes

Going without sunglasses can sunburn your retinas, a very painful and dangerous injury.  At night, wear clear safety glasses against dust and sparks blown by wind.

In many camps, people are welding metal to fix bikes and build things.   NEVER look at a welding arc.  Be alert; a welding flash could happen without warning.  Look away if you see any kind of a flash.

Burning metal (magnesium, titanium, aluminum) can make light that is dangerous to look at.  Some people use it in fireworks displays. Dont stare at it.

The people running powerful lasers at Burning Man have promised to take all possible safety precautions, but be alert for accidents.


Got any suggestions? Send them to [email protected]

Original document by Ray Bruman. Thanks Ray :-)


"When you love someone, all your saved-up wishes start coming out."
-- Elizabeth Bowen
Page most recently soulified: 12-Jul-2001
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