Your Playa Survival Pack

How to be spontaneous and prepared at the same time

You just never know what will happen on the playa. You might go for a “short stroll” and end up being gone for hours. Meanwhile, you wish you had your sunscreen, water bottle, etc. Take your Playa Survival Pack with you every time you leave your camp. With your Playa Survival Pack, you are ready for spontaneous fun, anytime, anywhere, with anybody.

The Playa Survival Pack method:

  • Pack your “survival bag” before you leave home: you will be ready to go the instant you hit the playa!
  • Don’t ever take your basic survival needs out of this pack
  • Have duplicates for use in camp so you aren’t tempted to “un-stock” your pack
  • Restock used supplies as soon as you get back to camp
  • Take your pack with you everywhere…even for a short stroll
  • Write out a list of your pack’s contents and put it in your pack. When you need to restock your pack, you won’t have to *think* on the playa…and we all know how difficult thinking can be!
  • Sort out the small items into heavy Ziploc bags: this will help you find them in your pack as well as protect them from dust. Label the outside of the bags with a marker: you won’t be able to see through the plastic after it gets rubbed with playa dust.

Basic necessities for your playa-tripping survival pack or tote

  • External Hang Tag with your name and camp location, as well as your home contact information, in case it gets separated from you (like an airport luggage tag) Seriously, don’t skip the hang tag: how many people do you know who lost their daypacks at Burning Man? It’s a real bummer to lose your stuff! With contact information, you might get it back.
  • Water bottle(s): never leave home without water
  • Sunscreen, sunblock, lip balm, hand lotion
  • Sunglasses, goggles, and eye drops (especially if you wear contacts)
  • Small flashlight, extra batteries, and/or glow sticks (You might be gone longer than you think)
  • Long sleeved cotton shirt or jacket: another layer for warmth or sun protection
  • Dust mask, handkerchief, dust scarf (see clothing section for dust scarf hint)
  • Clean pair of sox: seriously, nothing saves painful, tired feet like a clean pair of sox
  • Band-aids, moleskin, basic first aid, aspirin, Swiss army pocket knife
  • A small cup — multipurpose for hot or cold beverages
  • Powerbar or some other ‘non-melting’ type of snack food
  • Pen, pencil, or marker, and paper: there may be artwork to write on or maybe you want to exchange camp locations with someone you meet
  • Small water spritzer for quick cool downs or hand washing, etc
  • Couple of ‘moist towelettes’ like Wet Ones
  • $10 for chai or latte at the cafe, or maybe you will want to buy ice on the way back to camp
  • Intimate, personal needs such as ‘feminine hygiene products’, toilet paper, condoms, etc
  • Mints and/or maybe toothbrush/paste: it’s nice to be able to banish a mucky mouth
  • What about a disposable camera?
  • Small plastic bag: this is to pick up trash you see blowing around…if we all did this every time we went for a stroll, just imagine how much cleaner the playa would be! This is an easy way to ‘give back’ to Burning Man.

So, what sort of pack or tote should you use?

  • Pick a pack or tote that is comfortable to carry and doesn’t irritate bare skin
  • A closure of some kind is good…so everything doesn’t dump out if you pick the pack up upside down. Drawstrings and buckle/strap closures work well on the playa. Zippers work, but can fail in dusty conditions.
  • Your survival pack should be big enough for the above ‘necessary contents’ PLUS room for new items you might acquire on your playa adventures.
  • Don’t use your fancy ‘name brand’ expensive day pack: buy something fun at the thrift shop!
  • Decorate the outside of your survival pack so that it looks unique
  • You won’t need something with tons of pockets…you’ll get frustrated looking through all the pockets. One main compartment with small items in Ziplocs works well.