So you’ve got your festival ticket, you’ve scoped out the lineup and have started stocking up on festival supplies. Here’s the ultimate festival packing list to help you conquer your packing like a pro.
We’ve all been there. Somehow you were prepared enough to sort out your ticket months and months in advance but somehow you find yourself on the evening of the festival with a ticket, an empty bag and…. not much else. Much as the idea of “winging it” with a few changes of undies and a pop-up tent might sound like a good idea, it’s never that great in practice (trust me, I’ve tried).
I’ve been going to festivals for more years than I would like to admit (eight if you insist). Some boiling hot, some freezing cold, across the UK, Europe and further afield. What unites them all? A little bit of preparation goes a long, long way.
Now, it’s completely up to you whether you’re up to the challenge of lugging one of those massive trolleys for what seems like endless miles, but spending a little time on packing and preparation before you go can make your life a lot easier. So here it is, the ultimate festival packing list to help you rock your next festival.
Essential Festival Kit
First on the list because (it almost goes without saying) that it’s the most important item on it. Don’t forget your festival ticket. There’s nothing worse than packing and hauling all your gear to the festival only to remember that your ticket is sitting jauntily on the kitchen table at home.
Money + Cards
Festival love doesn’t normally extend to free food, drink and all the festival supplies you need to make you happy. Bring some cash and a card for extra withdrawals.
Now it goes without saying that you need a tent in your festival kit list (unless you’ve hired a pre-erected one, obviously). I think it’s safe to say that not all tents are created equal. Make sure you get one that is big enough for you sit up in – I once brought a tent that was so low I basically had to slide into it in a near-horizontal position, which made getting dressed very difficult and got really quite tiresome after five days.
If you want to feel like a total baller, get a tent that you can stand up in (though due to weight and size, it makes sense to share larger tents with a few people). Whichever size you go for, a porch is worth its weight in gold when it comes to having a morning-after cider-fuelled catch up with your mates when it’s bucketing with rain (or burning hot and sunny) outside.
Like tents, it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest sleeping bag and be done with it. After all, what’s the worst that can happen… Erm you spend your whole night freezing your tits off and wistfully thinking about your nice warm, cosy, fluffy, snug, bed at home. A proper sleeping bag it is then.
Sleeping Mat / Airbed
I’ve never really understood the point of those super thin sleeping mats. That’s because they’re pretty useless at doing the one thing that they are designed for: stopping you from feeling like you are sleeping on the ground. Buy a thicker one or go all out and get an airbed (and a pump, don’t forget the pump!). I have this sleeping mat and love it, but recently made the jump to this airbed and it’s just dreamy.
It’s a bit OTT to bring a full sized feather pillow with you (and it’s highly likely that you’ll get a lot of flack from your friends for it too). Get an inflatable pillow – they’re much more comfortable than propping your head up on a pile of your dirty clothes.
Not just for looking like a prima donna resting on a chaise longue. Eye masks are great for helping you get those extra few hours of sleep to help you feel like a (kind of) fully functioning human being. This one does a great job.
You’ve become friends with the guys camped next to you. They’re cool, funny and great… until you have to listen to them yarping on when all you want to do is sleep. May we introduce earplugs: getting festivalgoers a good night’s sleep since time began.
Reusable Water Bottle
Alcohol is really fun but it’s not going to help you stay hydrated (even cider, which is basically like water but tastier). Bring a reusable water bottle and keep drinking it and refilling it. You’ll thank yourself for it in the morning. Bobble Bottles filter your water automatically, or metal bottles are tough and durable. Either way, just make sure that you remember to use it.
Portable Battery Pack
Portable battery packs have come a long way over the last few years. This power pack is just about small enough to fit into to fit into a bumbag but is hefty enough that it will last you through the festival. Don’t forget one, queueing for a charge is boring and such a waste of good time.
For when you inevitably get separated from your friends and don’t know where you are. Who doesn’t want to be that person shouting out everything they can see in a desperate bid to help their friends locate them.
Hand-held torches are great. Until you start using a head torch. Head torches do everything that hand-held torches do but you don’t have to hold them in your hand. Mind blown.
Stay classy, stay true with this beaut of a head torch.
Blankets can be used to protect yourself from the elements. We need protection.
One night we were sleeping in our tent. We were woken up by some panicked shouts and a lot of swearing. Turns out someone had tripped over some guy ropes (see necessity for head torch) and fallen into the tent next door (and the sleeping inhabitants within). Not only had he disturbed our neighbours’ sleep, he’d also ripped a massive hole in their tent. Luckily they had duct tape so they taped it back together and went back to sleeping again. This is why you need duct tape. It’s also useful for leaky air mattresses, ripped bags, shoes that are falling apart.
Bin bags are surprisingly useful at festivals. We’ve all seen a picture of a person wearing one in the rain, but they’re also good for sitting on if the ground’s a bit wet and keeping your bag dry. Plus you know, you can use them as a bin bag too.
Clothing & Accessories
Mr Duke of Wellington, we salute you for coming up with a way that we can keep our feet perfectly dry when it’s raining a storm and we’re battling through a river of mud. The calf high ones are risky in really wet years (unless you want to end with a welly full of mud). I’m happy to stick with Dunlop wellies but if you want your wellies to make a statement, obviously Hunter is the way to go. Wellies really should be on your festival packing list. Better to have and not need.
No one ever talks about welly rub (when your welly rubs against your leg and makes it really sore), which is weird because it’s absolutely awful. Save yourself the pain and get some welly socks.
They come in all kinds of fancy colours but essentially do one job, keep you dry when the weather wants to make you wet. Breathable rain macs won’t make you feel like you’ve been wrapped in cling film. This one’s fabulous.
Sunglasses stop you from squinting when the sun does come out. More importantly, they hide your haggard day-three onward eyes from the rest of the world.
A Thick Jumper
Unless you’re going somewhere super hot, a thick jumper is recommended. One with a ridiculous pattern or motif is even better.
It’s summer after all. Shorts are the best.
T-Shirt/ Light Top
I don’t think that I need to explain the functions of t-shirts and tops. Do I?
A Bum Bag
Bum bags are really useful and sometimes attractive. There’s no point in doing things half-heartedly. Go all out and get a gold one to make a statement.
Hats shade your face from the sun, make you look amazing and help keep you dry if it rains.
Well, I guess you never know.
Other equally awesome things for your festival look
Sure, there are other practical things like underwear, socks etc that you need to bring. But what I’m talking about is the stuff you need to create your best festival self. I’m yet to get through a festival without covering myself in glitter. Try it, I think you’ll like it.
Food and Drink
Case of Beer or Cider / Box of Wine (IF ALLOWED)
Check if you’re allowed to bring booze in first. Different festivals have different rules.
Bring some booze but not too much, carrying it in is a right pain and it’s almost always nicer cold anyway.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. A cereal bar can help you out with any/all of these if required.
A wet wipe shower is a real and beautiful thing. It’s also much easier than queueing for the shower. Bring lots.
Because it doesn’t grow on trees and you’ll need some.
Fresh. It’s a key goal for your festival experience and deodorant will help.
Don’t go overboard with the sanitising. You don’t need to do it every time you touch anything.
Don’t get sunburn, it will make you uncomfortable and grumpy.
Microfibre towels dry quickly and don’t take up much space.
Toothbrush + Toothpaste
See comment for deodorant.
I’ve never used it (afro hair) but have friends that swear by it.
If You Want to Go The Extra Mile
If you like a good coffee or a cooked breakfast without having to walk more than a few paces away from your tent, a camping stove is worth its weight in gold.
Bring a cool box to keep booze and chilled food cold for a few days.
To go with your portable stove. Everyone can take it in turns to cook while you all gossip about the night before.
No coffee, no functioning human. It really is that simple.
Always a splitter: is the pleasure of sitting in a camping chair worth the hassle of having to carry it all day? I go with yes, but you can decide.
Do Not Bother With
Rolls eyes. Do you really need them?
You’ll hate it as soon as you have to carry it and they hog camping space.
Different festivals have different policies on this but generally, plastic only.
Take everything home with you. You went to all the effort (and spent the money) on buying stuff and bringing it in, so take it when you leave. You are 100% a tosser if you don’t.
Hope you’ve found this festival packing list useful – share with anyone else who will too. Now go and have an awesome time.
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