5 Things First Time Burners going to Black Rock City Should Know

I remember my first burn, I went in with eyes wide open knowing little to nothing about what I was getting into. I was gifted tickets after which I had one week to prep. Luckily I was well prepared and the weather was in my favor. With more burns came more challenges, more experiences, and technology that has made things a bit easier. 


Here are my top 5 things to know to make it through your first burn:

  1. Prepare for extreme heat, near freezing colds, dust, and strong winds.

    For the cold: If you are camping in a traditional tent think about a sleeping bag with a low temperature rating and a sleeping pad with a good R value to help keep you warm. Bring layers including coats, hats, gloves to wear at night.

    For the heat: If you are camping arm yourself with a small generator and air conditioning unit. A reflective tent fly can easily drop your tents temp 10-20 degrees on a hot day so you can sleep a little later! Bring WATER and lots of it. At minimum one gallon of water per person per day. You can't buy it so you must bring it in.

    For the strong winds: If you are camping, bring long stakes and a hefty mallet to anchor them into the tough dried ground. If you don't, your tent may fly away! 

    For the dust: Bring goggles, save your eyes! Bring a face mask, save your lungs from the fine dust that gets kicked up just milling about or during a storm. Renting an RV? Tape the windows with garbage bags so the fine dust doesn't get in.
  2. Learn the 10 principals.  Don't know them? They can be found here: https://burningman.org/culture/philosophical-center/10-principles/

    They govern life at Black Rock City. If you plan on visiting camps, they are often heavily incorporated into their efforts.
  3. MOOP is a thing, don't leave MOOP.

    Matter Out Of Place is a big deal. People are part of the clean up crew and note how MOOPY each space is. You can view the 2017 Moop Map here: https://journal.burningman.org/2018/04/black-rock-city/leaving-no-trace/moop-map-2017-high-resolution-moop-map/

    For example, if someone gives you a watermelon piece, take that rind back to camp with you, put it in YOUR garbage, and toss it away after you leave Black Rock City. It isn't anyone else's job. It is yours and your alone.  

    Feathers?  They are moopy. Sparkles and glitter? They are moopy. Soap and toothpaste? Moopy. Don't bring it or in the case of toothpaste, spit in a jug and toss it after the Burn.
  4. Bring a Cup

    I missed this my first year, of everything I brought I forgot a cup that could get clipped on my CamelBack. Simple, yes. Necessary, also yes. Why? For those gifted drinks you'll find throughout the playa. 
  5. Double check your packing list, don't forget any of the basics.

    You can only buy coffee and ice on the playa, everything else MUST be brought in. Everything. The barter system some first timers bring up isn't a thing, just a myth, so don't expect to barter your way through your Burn. Below are the bare minimum basics to remember.

    -Clothing for extreme hot and cold temps, don't forget things like socks, shoes, underwear, flip flops, etc.

    -Food for all meals all days. Be realistic what you can keep cool for how long then bring non-perishables for the rest. Everything you need to make it such as a jetboil in addition to all the utensils like scissors, knifes, plates, cups, forks, etc. Small snacks to take with you out on the playa are great, too.

    -Water / drinks. At least 1 gallon per person per day. Electrolyte options are great to help combat the heat.

    -No shower access? No worries, bring baby wipes.

    -Camping gear: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stakes, tarp, mallet


    -Garbage bag for your garbage and someway to keep it contained as well as from blowing away

    -A bike and bike lock

    -LEDS for your bike, camp, and clothing at night. You don't want to get lost or get ran into. Headlamps come in handy, too.

    -Your ticket, an ID, and car pass (if applicable)

    -Hygiene basics: toothbrush / toothpaste, deodorant, wet wipes, paper towels

    -A 'ride home' outfit you keep clean by placing it in a ziplock bag, and isn't used until you leave the playa. 

    -CamelBack, carabiners, clipped cup for riding around the playa.

    -If you are driving, a spare set of keys you leave with someone else just in case you somehow lose yours or lock yourself out.

    -Backup batteries to use to recharge your cellphone.