We published this story a few years ago, ahead of Burning Man’s Carnival of Mirrors in 2015. Yet, our guide is still applicable this year as it will be in years to come. Enjoy it in its entirely below!
Another year has passed, and another year has arrived. We have departed the nomadic realm of the Caravansary last year and have entered the spectacular kingdom of the Carnival of Mirrors. This year’s Burn will indeed be the Greatest Show on Earth with 60,000 wandering souls descending upon The Playa at Black Rock City. The Man will stand atop a circus tent in all its glory, and we will see the effigy cycle through birth, death, and a grand rebirth in flames again.
Burners new and seasoned must follow the fundamental Ten Principles to utilize the true transformational potential of Burning Man. The Ten Principles are the foundational ethos in a community that values creativity, inclusion, and liberty. With Burning Man fast approaching, here’s our comprehensive survival guide to this year’s Carnival of Mirrors.
Surviving the Burn
First and foremost, the essential way to survive Burning Man is through the self. Come with good vibes and a clear head, and be ready for just about anything physically, mentally, psychologically, and psychically extraordinary! In addition, being prepared and organized is of the utmost importance. Burning Man does not allow the use of monetary exchange for goods, other than for plain coffee at Center Camp and ice which is distributed at Arctica in Center Camp and 3 and 9 o’ clock.
What to Pack
WATER – DO NOT skimp on the essence of life! At least 1.5 gallons per person per day is recommended. It’s a hot windy desert and this is one you should bring in abundance
FOOD – You will be spending up to a week on the desolate Playa. Here are a few food recommendations:
Portable and easy to pack snacks like granola, nuts, dried fruit, chips, crackers, cookies, jerky, hard cheese, canned food, instant ramen, tortillas, bread, nut butters, coconut oil
Fresh produce with skins like avocados, apples, citrus, pineapples, melons, pomegranates, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. that you can store in the cooler for the first few days
Bringing a cooler is recommended. Prepare and package meals beforehand and store in cooler. Pack the ice in large ziplock bags so you can use the melted water for drinking/washing later on
Pack like you’re going camping for a week. Tent/shade structure, stakes, sleeping bags, portable stove, eating utensils, paper towels, TP, tools, the whole nine yards. Here are a few miscellaneous items that might also be of use:
LIGHTS – Decorative, utility, all kinds of lights. Bring them!
Bicycles, preferably with fat tires (beach cruisers or mountain bikes). Playa is huge and the dirt is loose and uneven. A bike lock and some basic tools are important for sustaining your ride too
Toiletries, cosmetics, sunblock, lotion/oil, baby wipes. You’ll be covered in playa dust and will not be able to shower for the time unless you get lucky and find a portable shower somewhere
What to wear
Standard accessories on the Playa include goggles and a dust mask or face bandana. Be prepared for (un)expected dust and sand storms
Your wardrobe is limitless in creativity! Prepare for high desert temperatures, as hot as 100F and as cold as 40F. The Playa can be windy and also experiences surprise rain/floods.
Good boots are a must – other footwear wear at your own discretion.
Avoid things like glitter, feathers, sequins, and other loose accessories that can fall off easily and get lost on the Playa (called MOOP aka Matter out of Place)
Tips for First-Timers
Aside from being prepared, enjoy the moment! Burning Man is an absolutely life-changing experience whether you want it to be or not.
Major art pieces burn close to the end of the week, the Man burns on Saturday, the Temple burns on Sunday.
Know your limits. It’s a festival of physical and psychological endurance.
Ride on at least one art car and watch at least one art or sculpture burn. Make friends! Find a spirit guide! The sky is the limit.
My first year, I did not keep to a schedule. However, if your crew wants to do certain activities (find a music art car, go to a discussion/activity/gathering/etc.), open communication is key.
And most importantly… get enough rest and sleep! It can be hard, but there are plenty of rest areas, and if you ask nicely you can probably hang out or crash at other camps.