I love music festivals of all sorts, but if there’s anything I love more than the festival itself, it’s the camping experience that comes with it. There’s something incomparable about waking up covered in dried sweat from the previous day, sprawled against your closest friends in a clammy tent, brushing your teeth with a water bottle and pregaming your favorite artists by listening to playlists hours before you see them live. It’s a kind of happiness I can’t find elsewhere.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned about camping at music festivals, it’s that improperly setting up your campsite could make the camping experience atrocious. I know it because I’ve lived it.
I’ve been attending Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, for the past six years (minus 2020, of course). My friends and I started our experience, well, inexperienced. But now, we roll up to the campsite like professionals with everything we could need for those just-in-case scenarios. And trust me, those just-in-case scenarios happen.
Over the past few years, we’ve gone through it all. We’ve slept on wet ground, we’ve slept in the car after our tent entirely blew away, and we’ve even been fully robbed of lots of our essentials (for that, consider locking anything of value in your car and covering it with blankets). That said, I’ve had a lot of experience camping at music festivals, so I know exactly which camping supplies you need to ensure your time on the campgrounds goes smoothly.
1. A Tent + Rainfly Awning
This one seems obvious, but you’ll need a tent when camping. More importantly, you will need a tent with a rainfly awning when camping at a festival (with Coachella being the one possible exception). Most tents come with a sun dome mesh top that will allow sleepers to gaze at the stars. While cute, it’s irrational. You won’t be in your tent unless you’re sleeping or changing during the festival. The rainfly awning will keep all rain out of your tent, so you and your items stay dry. Coleman is the brand I go with because I trust them beyond belief. This tent can hold three people comfortably, but you can squeeze in four if necessary.
Keep in mind: Most music festivals utilize campsites the size of elongated parking spots. Be sure to look up camping at the festival you’re attending, so the tent you purchase does not exceed the size requirements.
2. A Tarp
Any of you who have been camping before know that even if it doesn’t rain, the bottom of your tent will get wet. Even on a dry weekend, the ground is almost always saturated with water. Throw a tarp the same size underneath your tent before you set it up, and you’ll be good to go the entire weekend.
Keep in mind: You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on your tarp; any cheap tarp will do just fine. In addition, make sure you don’t get one that’s too big or too small. Too small obviously won’t cover the underside of your tent, and too big will have you folding or cutting your tarp too many times for the proper fit.
3. Heavy-Duty Tent Stakes
Every tent comes with tent stakes, but most tent stakes sort of suck. Get a pair of heavy-duty tent stakes so your tent doesn’t blow away. Even if the weekend calls for no wind, stake your tent. It’s not worth the risk.
Keep in mind: If you plan on taking a tent you’ve used many times, be sure to count how many tent stakes you have a few days before leaving. Stakes are often lost when dismantling and putting away tents from previous trips. You don’t want to get to the music festival and be without any tent stakes!
4. Portable Power Station
You use your phone a million times a day, and that will not stop when camping at a music festival. Sure, there will likely be areas throughout the campgrounds where charging stations are available, but these are often way too overcrowded. We suggest bringing a portable power station like the Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station to juice up directly from your tent. These are long-lasting so that you can charge through the weekend. I brought one of these camping last year. It charged six phones at different times and numerous portable speakers, and the power station was still running on around 85% battery when the weekend was over.
Keep in mind: Charge the power station before bringing your trip to ensure you get the longest possible lifespan. In addition, when you’re not at the campsite, this is something you want to lock in your car. This is a high-ticket item people will most certainly want to get their hands on.
Read More: The 10 Best Portable Power Stations for 2022
5. A Wheeled Cooler
Food and drinks inside of any music festival are way too expensive. Keep a cooler filled with ice, drinks and some snacks. A wheeled cooler is the best option for a music festival because it is easy to push around. You’ll want to keep your cooler in the shade. YETI is the best brand to go with because of how incredibly cold it keeps whatever you have inside the cooler.You’ll add new ice less frequently than with most other coolers.
Keep in mind: Do not wait every morning on festival grounds for iced coffee; purchase some and keep it in your cooler along with your favorite creamer. Thank me later.
Read More: The 5 Best Coolers With Wheels for 2022
6. A Canopy
Hear me out: You’ll spend more time than you think at your campsite. Sure, you paid for the festival, but the campsite is where you pregame, get ready for the concert, relax, eat and more. You will need some shade while there. Every single group camping correctly will bring a canopy. It’s essential for keeping cool and having fun pre- and post-concert.
Keep in mind: Make sure this canopy matches the guidelines for size requirements of your campsite. Look online to make sure that your tent will fit!
Read More: The Best Canopy Tents for Outdoor Gatherings
7. Full-Length Mirror
My group brings a full-length mirror every year when camping at a music festival. Why? To see if our festival outfits are looking top-notch. You need to check yourself out when getting ready, and it’s hard to do with just the camera on your smartphone. Pick up a cheap full-length mirror for under $10 from Target, lean it against the front of your car and get exactly what you need to get ready the right way.
Remember: Many festival campsites will not allow mirrors on the premises due to fear of glass shatter. I can tell you that every year we’ve brought one, we’ve never had a problem. Regardless, keep the mirror on the discreet side just in case.
8. A Drinking Game
Not everyone camping at the music festival will be drinking alcohol, but it’s safe to say that the majority will be. Pick up one of the best drinking games to help you pregame the festival at your campsite. “These Cards Will Get You Drunk” is a game I’ve brought once or twice when camping at a music festival and have always been a serious hit.
Keep in mind: Drinking games are an excellent way to help you befriend your camping neighbors, so if you want to make some pals that will last a lifetime, consider bringing something along.
9. Fold-Out Table
While we’re on the topic of drinking games, you need a fold-out table. Yes, lots of people play drinking games like beer pong and flip cup when pregaming at their campsites which means you will need a table, but a table is also important for keeping various items such as snacks, drinks, glitter, sunscreen, etc. This, essentially, should be your local grocery store.
Keep in mind: While fold-out tables are quite big, we suggest packing this as one of the first items at the bottom of your trunk so you can lay everything else flatly on top of it.
10. A Lantern
Normally, we’d say your iPhone flashlight is the best flashlight you can use — because how often are you really using a flashlight? Almost never. Plus, your phone is way too convenient. That’s not the case when camping at a music festival, though. A lantern is needed for hanging out at night, which we’re most certainly sure you’re going to do. In addition, this is needed for heading out to the bathroom and changing in your tent at night.
Keep in mind: Bugs, of course, tend to love these lights. Therefore, be sure to bring some bug spray.
11. Toilet Paper
Here’s one you absolutely can’t forget. Sure, the bathrooms or porta-potties on the campground will have toilet paper, but that’s never promised. Most of the time, there isn’t much toilet paper at all. Be sure to bring more than enough rolls to the campground.
Keep in mind: I suggest bringing toilet paper to the bathroom every time you go on the campground. The worst feeling in the world is waiting on that bathroom line, doing your business and realizing there’s no TP left. It’s a nightmare of an experience.
12. Travel Bidet
While I’ve never actually brought a travel bidet when camping at a music festival, this year might be the first time I actually do. I finally own a bidet of my own and swear by it. So much so, that when I have to use the restroom in public, I hate that I do not have access to a bidet. This travel bidet will hopefully make me feel as clean as I do at home this year, even though as previously mentioned, the bathroom situations are always filthy.
Keep in mind: While this product isn’t necessary because a lot of Americans still aren’t using bidets (which, like, you absolutely should be), it’s sure to give you peace of mind when knowing how dirty the rest of your body likely is.
13. A Pop-Up Restroom
To start us off, no, this isn’t for number two, this is for number one. While guys can pee just about anywhere publically and have no fear, that’s not the same case for women. These pop-up restrooms are always a smart purchase if you’re traveling with a lot of people that do not feel comfortable peeing out in the open. Most of the time, port-o-potties are a bit of a hike, so these will come in handy when you least expect it. I’ve known some people who have placed buckets inside and others that just keep it in between their cars for a quick go.
Keep in mind: You don’t have to use this for urination. You can also use this as a quick changing tent if your tent is on the tinier side.
14. Water Jugs
No, I don’t buy these water jugs every year for drinking. Typically, my friends and I purchase around four or five of these to use scarcely throughout the weekend on the campsite for non-drinking purposes. Whether it’s brushing teeth, washing hands, washing your face or taking a “shower” with your swimsuit on, these water jugs saved us many times throughout our experience camping at music festivals. When heading into the actual festival, we will typically take refillable water bottles to carry around for easy refilling.
Keep in mind: While we suggest throwing some of these in the cooler to keep water refreshing, we also recommend leaving some out in the sun for washing your hands and face. Nothing like lukewarm water when cleansing!