Below are the things you may want to consider to bring along, speaking from my experience. My overall packing philosophy is to pack as little as possible.
If you don’t plan to cook, then dry or packaged food is your friend. It’s hot there and you will gradually lose your appetite. I recommend bringing crackers that are plain and slightly salty, these will fill you up to a certain degree. I also recommend getting some packaged fruits (with juice). These are small plastic cups with fruits and juice inside. They will taste amazingly well trust me. Avoid anything that will melt, or have high sugar level. They will become very yucky.
Just bring water. Get the 1-gallon bottles. Do NOT get the 2.5 gallon ones as they are so heavy to move around. If you plan to just walk around most of the time, then 1 gallon per person each day is about right. (assuming no showers of course). But if you bike around and stuff, then 1.5 gallon each day.
Oh, and bring a water bottle to carry around, and a coffee mug. It’s best if you can also hook your mug onto your backpack. There are camps that give out beers. All you need is to give your mug to them, and they will hand you back a nice cup of beer!
If you have a minivan or something of that size, it’s much easier to just sleep in there. I managed to sleep in my station wagon. But make sure to bring a tarp to cover your car from the sun, then tie it on the 4 wheels so it won’t get blown away. You can also hang big towels inside your car. Either way, make sure you leave an opening to get in and out.
If you need to set up a tent, try to use your car to block some of the direct sun light. Also try to be surrounded by other cars so that your tent and others’ tents are well protected from any crazy drunk drivers.
If you are to set up the tarp as mentioned above, then you would need some strings, a pair or scissors, clothes clips, or maybe duck tape? If you are to bring a bike, then have your wrenches ready, and a few other screw drivers depending on your kind of bike. Bring your jumper cable just in case.
Probably all summer clothes, coz it will be real hot in the day. At night it does get cooler so bring a light jacket. Make sure your sleeping bag is warm enough, but not too warm. Don’t over pack, especially if you don’t plan to take showers.
Taking showers is possible, but it can get troublesome. You will need to set up a shower structure, and then have a way to collect the dirty water. Then yea, you will need to take it down at the end of your trip, good luck. I only saw small communities of camps set these up, coz they have more man power. If you are on your own then don’t bother.
If you want to go around, I highly recommend you to bring a bike with you. Just bring a beat up bike, coz it will get all dusty very soon. Bring a bike lock, but I have seen many times people don’t lock their bikes and it was totally fine. Use your judgement. While at night it gets dark with all the moving bikes and people, you are pretty much required to bring flashing lights in front and behind you. People get creative and you will almost feel like you are in a fashion show at night with all kinds of blinking lights moving around.
Even better if you have a bike basket to put your backpack in. You will thank me for that.
If you can afford to just use your phone, then you are blessed. Otherwise, just to be prepared that your DSLR will be covered with dust from the wind. Make sure you have a UV lens over your actual lens due to the dust in the wind. Forget about changing lens, I dare you! 😉 I recommend taking your zoom lens with you. Bring enough spare batteries and memory cards with you since it is hard to recharge them. Bring your tripod with you as well, you will definitely love the night pictures.
This is not mandatory, but you may feel out of place if you don’t dress up/down a little. Especially at night, when the disco lights and music are on, you will find your costumes very useful.
Sneakers or boots, with socks. Don’t wear loose shoes like crocs or sandals, they will keep scratching your feet and sooner or later you will get blisters.
Bring sunscreen. If you cannot reach your back, consider the spread kind. If you don’t wear glasses, you can bring the snow goggles, which will protect you from the sunlight and the dust.
Things to notice
Take some time to study the layout of the whole camp site. The most happening places are around the inner circles (mostly A), and on the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock aisles. These locations have the most music, actions, and people. So, try to place your tent close to these areas, but not too close coz you will need to sleep. 😉
The Central Camp is like a town hall where people gather. It’s located at 6 o’clock. They sell coffee, latte, iced tea, etc. So have your mug and some cash ready.
If you want to get free beer from some of the camps you will need to show your ID, have it ready.
The bathrooms are the portable potties. Yes, it’s gross. I know. When you poop, get ready to squat. If you are not used to squatting, your legs may get numb… So… do it quick and get out!
The sand storms come and go. You will see them coming and you have like 20 seconds to cover your nose and stuff. So have a handkerchief ready in your pocket at all times.
Don’t miss the main events. Check your booklet (received when you enter the site) for time/location.
Traffic is always bad. The Hwy 447 is the worst. Be patient, play some music in your car, and enjoy your ride!