Surviving Camping Festivals

A basic field manual to surviving camping festivals like Utopiafest

A basic field manual to surviving camping festivals like Utopiafest

Austin Photo Set: News_Arden_Utopia fest_ sept 2012_1
How to properly tackle a camping festival. Utopiafest/Facebook Courtesy of Utopia Fest Facebook

The phrase "camping festival" is relatively non-threatening. Who doesn't love hanging out under the open sky, listening to tunes and sipping a beer with 1000 of your besties? Turns out that it's a teensy bit more complicated. We prefer to be safe rather than sorry during our time communing with nature. Here are the things to know, bring and expect when committing to a camping festival like this weekend's UtopiaFest.

Identify your organizer
You know that person, the anal retentive planner that you're alternately annoyed by and grateful for. They get there early with tickets printed, flasks full, exit routes mapped out in case of of emergency and extra packs of wet wipes and breath mints. Find that person and stick with them. They're more responsible than you. Accept it and glory in your newly pocketed wet wipes.
 
Pack light, pack right
Do not drag a body-sized suitcase out there. You'll curse every extra outfit you brought whilst chugging your bag down the long, rocky path to camp. All you need is a couple changes of comfy clothes, a towel, a tarp, a pair of sunglasses and some sunscreen. Bring extra pairs of undies, socks and an optional set of feather earrings. (Peep the list below for a realistic checklist of the must-haves and the nice-to-haves.)
 
Sleep
Catch it when you can. Expect to be the unwitting victim of someone else's off-key karaoke, high-decibel snoring or crying kid. The whispered "shh" and muffled laughter as someone crashes into your tent quickly becomes the most dreaded of wakeup calls. Combat these distractions with liquid melatonin, earplugs and some form of sleeping mat or air mattress. 
 
Put your tent up sober
Your home, your haven, your respite — and a place to store your stuff. Don't padlock it; there's no point. (Camping knife cuts right through nylon anyway.) Instead, get a tent that's easy to put up and keep your valuables at home or on your person. Add a tarp under to keep out the wet, add an indicator flag/inflatable, and for god's sake, put your tent up sober. Make sure it's the right size, too. The only person comfortable in a "one person tent" is an Oompa Loompa. 
 
Ditch the modern conveniences (kinda)
Go as native as you can. Leave your cell in the car but — if you must take an extra charged external battery to avoid frustration. Other lo-fi things that are helpful include battery operated fans, a lantern or flashlight and a small backpack or cross-body purse. Definitely have cash on hand as there are often no ATMs on the premises.
 
Keep it fresh, keep it clean
It's hard to maintain your general cleanliness when there's mud/dirt/dirty people all around you. You'll find that a combination of wipes, toilet paper, a couple of trash bags, a towel, a jug of water and liquid soap will help you out. Showers are often available, but can have a long wait. And ladies, don't even bother with your hair. Just let it dred up and detangle it later. A small first aid kit isn't a bad idea either. 
 
Drink, drank, drunk
If you're lucky enough to be able to BYOB, do it. (But leave the glass at home please. Your vodka will taste just as good out of a plastic container, promise.) Bring jugs of water, electrolyte tablets, flavor squeeze bottles and your Camelbak for optimal hydration. The one thing you don't want to run out of is water. In the land of the thirsty, the man with Ozarka is king.
 
Eats
Check with the camping info to find out what you can bring. Most camping festivals allow small stoves but no outright fires. Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to easy grilling and camping recipes. You'll most likely be out there for a few days, so keep it simple, stupid. While there are usually food vendors, try not to rely on those as they can be low in nutrition and high in crap carbs. If you're with a group, going in on groceries is a good idea. (So is having a secret hoard of granola bars so those hungry, hungry hippos don't eat all your stash, man.) Most people who go to camping festivals believe caring is sharing. And it's generally acceptable to borrow — and even better if you've got a beer to trade. 
 
Must-haves
ID
Phone and charger (or extra battery)
Cash
Quick drying clothes
Flashlight
Underthings
Socks
Sandals
Closed-toed shoes
Sunglasses
Toiletries
Sunscreen
Towel(s)
Bedclothes
Tarp
Wet wipes
Jugs of water/bottles
Camping mat/blow up mattress
Folding chair
Nutritious snacks
Tent/mallet
Earplugs
Printed tickets
Insect repellent
Rain gear
Trash bags
Small ice chest
Swimsuit
 
Nice-to-haves
Rain boots
Electrolyte tabs
Flavor squeeze bottle
Camelbak
First aid kit
Bandanas
Lip balm
Lotion
Ziplock bag
Camping stove
Utensils
Pocket knife
Camp marker
Paper towels
Cooking pot
Emergen-C
Unicorn tattoos
Hammock