At Burning Man, you can let your creativity fly! But keep in mind that a lot of the fashion that fuels Burning Man is also quite functional for the weather conditions and circumstances. Below I've created a list of things you'll need and why you'll need them.
The goggles you see in all the Burning Man photos are not only for looks, they also have a purpose. There are frequent dust storms out in the desert, so you need to protect your eyes from the all the dirt swirling around if (or rather when) it occurs. Grab some fun steampunk aviator goggles or snowboard goggles to stay safe. They also they are a fun way to amp up your costumes.
The desert is HOT during the day, and people wear next to nothing, or sometimes nothing. Don't let that fool you, the night's can drop down into the 40s so come prepared with a nice faux fur coat, and something to cover your head with. Fur is comfortable and warm, and the style plays into the Burning Man atmosphere well.
Bike & Bike Lock
Burning Man was once a small gathering on Baker Beach in San Francisco, but that's no longer the case. The "Playa" is miles long and wide, so the best way to get around is riding a bike. I recommend getting a cheap bike from Wal-Mart or heading to a garage sale to grab an old one. It will get destroyed by the dust so don't bring anything fancy. If you rinse it after and take care of it it can last multiple years on the Playa. Get a bike lock too, as amazing as Burner’s are, bike’s break often and people will often grab someone else’s out of desperation if it’s not locked.
There aren't any street lights at Burning Man. You need bike lights and a headlamp or lights on yourself in order for the large art cars and other cyclists and people to see you. You also need them to guide your own path in the darkness.
Find ways to light up your body as well, both front and back. They'll be times at night when you want to park and wander, and if you’re not lit up it’s pretty scary for you and other people who might not see you until the last second. Get body LEDs, a headlamp, a lit up backpack, necklaces or bracelets. Whatever it is, just make sure you can be seen from the front and back so you don’t get hit by a bike or art car.
Burning Man is a leave no trace festival. Whatever you bring in, you must take with you. For this reason people bring their own reusable cup or thermos. Different camps have offerings like beer, tea, wine, coffee or water. I recommend a cup with a lid to keep things hot or cold, keeps the dust out. I also recommend getting a cup with a lanyard, or bringing a carabineer so you can attach it to your backpack or bike as you ride.
Neck bandanas have multiple purposes at Burning Man, and are a must-have. First, they keep the sun off your neck during the day. Second, they keep the dust out of your nose and mouth during dust storms. Finally, they are also a cute addition to any playa costume.
Most "Burners" wear steel toed boots. They'll keep your feet clean, they're easier to ride bikes than open toed shoes, and at night your feet will stay warm. If you find yourself in a crowd, they'll be better protection for if you get stepped on as well.
Hats are a fun accessory to any outfit, but they’ll also keep the desert sun off your face during the days. Here are some great finds you can purchase on Etsy. If you’d rather make your own hat, check out my blog post to DIY your own sparkly creation.
Food & Water.
Camps have events that provide free food and alcohol, but water and ice are a hot commodity at Burning Man. Be sure to bring it more water than you need. For each person, I recommend 1.5 gallons a day at minimum. Also take into consideration whether you’ll be using this water to bathe or cook with. Great foods to make or bring are usually salty foods. You end up craving salty foods because they help you retain water. Some great options are Mac & Cheese, chips, microwave popcorn and Cup O’ Noodles. If you’re in an RV I’d add breakfast egg sandwiches, bacon and eggs (get the bacon pre-cooked) spaghetti and frozen pizzas. The less you have to refrigerate the better, since you never know when you might have a generator failure.
Body Wipes are necessary for keeping yourself somewhat clean on the Playa, especially if your staying in a tent and don’t have access to a shower. Some additional items that are nice to have’s are face wipes, face mist or a water bottle with essential oils, argon oil, and/or conditioner. Face mist or a water bottle with peppermint oil is great to carry around for hot days. If you’re overheating, it feel amazing to spray yourself in the face. You’re hair will become a rat’s nest at some point, but to help avoid a tangled mess, you can use argon oil or conditioner on dry hair to help comb out any tangles.