It’s festival time and you’re ready to go, but are you properly prepared? Maybe it’s your first time, maybe you’re a veteran, maybe you’ll just make it up as you go along, either way, check out our Survival Rules & Checklist. I’m sure you’ve missed something we haven’t!
Packing the Right Stuff
When it comes to festivals, we all at some point look at our bag and think "I've got too much stuff." It's inevitable. I mean, who knows when you're going to need inflatable toys at 4am in a field? Packing your bag is the first step to success or failure, so take a look at how to pack the essentials properly.
An absolute essential, having the right bag for the weekend is a huge factor to how much stuff you can fit in. A duffel bag, large rucksack or, if you've honestly got that much you can't live without, a suitcase will suffice for your weekend away.
Plan your outfits in advance and you won't go wrong. It makes saving on space easier and also lets you pack more of the essential stuff (like alcohol) without having to worry you can't fit it in. You'll be in T-shirts or vests most of the time, but make sure pack a jacket when the rain starts.
Showers do exist at festivals but 95% of the time you won't use them. Baby wipes, dry shampoo and deodorant will get you through the weekend. Take a cheap toothbrush and some toothpaste for your oral hygiene before you start necking pints in your tent.
Now, we all have high hopes for British weather but we also know that it never holds up. It's only going to be two options. Wellies or trainers. Check the forecast before so you know if it's going to be a wet weekend or a dry one.
We cannot stress this enough; spares are a necessity at a festival. Whilst you might plan for staying clean all weekend, you can't guarantee that Keith, 45 from Manchester, won't chuck a beer (more likely piss) into the crowd and cover you in it. Spare clothes will be needed at some point so plan accordingly.
Picking the Right Tent
It’s probably a good idea to take a tent with you. As Michael Fish once found out, our wonderful British weather system can pull your pants down when you’re least expecting it. Be prepared for the hailstones, even in July! Seriously though, this is the most important bit of kit you’ll need, so pay attention.
- Size - always go for one size above what you think you need. A two-man tent will sleep two people, side by side, with little room for much else. If you pick a three-man tent for two of you, then you have some space for all your gear and supplies.
- Check it - the main thing we see every year at festivals is ill preparation. Check your tent before you leave home even if it’s brand new. It might seem like a Dad thing to do but it's important. You don't want to get to Glastonbury only to find there's a hole in your tent the size of a dinner plate, so have a look before you go
- Waterproof - this just speaks for itself really. You want a tent that's going to keep you dry when the heavens open at Reading so make sure that you buy one that is going to work. Do you really want to wake up in a puddle the size of the Thames, all your stuff soaking wet and then move it all? We thought not.
What to look for in a good tent?
- Check the waterproof rating of your tent - The legal UK minimum is 1500mm of water pressure. Any good tent should have at least a 2000mm rating.
- Single or Double Skin – A single skin tent is a cheap tent, with just one layer of fabric between you and the elements. A double skin layer, has both a waterproof layer, and an inner tent, which stops the build up of condensation.
- Pop-Up Tents – yes they are easy to set up, fool proof in fact. What the nice salesman didn’t tell you is that you need a degree in Nuclear Science to get the bugger back in its bag!
- Who to avoid buying from? I would avoid all supermarket tents; they are single skin tents, which will not be the best quality. They will maybe survive the weekend, if you're lucky!
Picking The Right Sleeping Bag
Choosing a sleeping bag is quite easy, you just need to choose something with the correct temperature rating for your camping trip. A cheaper sleeping bag only has one layer of insulation; whereas, the double offset layer sleeping bags offer plenty of warmth and comfort. A sleeping bag is a personal choice, maybe you feel the cold, or maybe you do not feel the cold. You can pick up a very nice two – three-season sleeping bag for £20 nowadays. That’s less than a round of drinks for the lads!
What to look for in a Sleeping Bag
- Baffles – Baffles line the zip and neck area, and they are designed to keep you warm by stopping cold air getting into the bag.
- Offset layers – This is where the sleeping bag has two offset layers to stop cold air penetrating the bag.
- Small pack size – If you need to carry it onsite, then something not too big – stay away from cotton or polycotton sleeping bags, as they are large pack sizes. Go for a mummy style if you want a smaller pack size.
- Mummy or Square sleeping bag – It depends on how you sleep, if you do not like to feel constricted, go for the square sleeping bag as they offer more sleeping space. Mummy sleeping bags are warmer though.
What to Do When You Arrive at the Festival
- Pitch before pub – Ok, so you're in a field, and there’s probably not a pub nearby, but the ideology is exactly the same!
- Mark your territory – Pick a good spot that’s ideal for you and your mates to camp in. The campsites further away from the arenas tend to be quieter areas. So choose wisely!
- Pick an elevated spot to camp on - In case it rains heavily and floods the campsite a la Glastonbury 2005.
- Pick a spot away from the main blocks of toilets - This doesn't need explaining!
- Avoid areas with trees – Us boys are lazy folk, and once the seal is broken, that small area of trees looks like a toilet.
- Don’t camp too close to the main walkways - These are often the areas with higher rates of theft.
- Make your camp identifiable - A flag is always a good call, or something reflective in the dark.
- It’s a trek – The bus stops, car parks or drop off points can be up to half a mile away from the entrance, and even further to the eventual camping area. Therefore, some wise advice (from experience) is to have something to carry your gear in/on.
Most people go for a trolley of some description. My personal favourite, was the two blokes with a canoe at Glastonbury, who used the canoe to carry all their gear in with, then upturned it for a bench, once they got onsite and set up their camp.
How to Survive Camping at a Festival
- Packing - remember to pack the essentials. Don't overpack things you don't need, it's just going o be excess weight
- Tent - invest in a good one. Yes, it might be more expensive but chances are the quality will be a lot better than your £20 pop-up one
- Sleeping bag - again, spend a little more for the quality. At a festival, you will be freezing at night so it's worth the extra money.
- Unpacking - take your time and make sure everything is done properly. Nobody wants to wake up at 4am, raing pouring through the ceiling because you forgot a pole when building.
- Don’t forget - you can pretty much get most things on site at most festivals, but it will cost you more on site!
- Have fun - you're at a festival, go and enjoy yourself!
On That Note
We know that you probably have remembered everything on our checklist, but double check if you haven't. It might require a bit more spending but it's going to be worth it in the long run. Your festival home for the weekend is your sanctuary so it's worth the additional expense of a nice tent. If you have forgotten something then don't fear, all festivals have shops. However they are more expensive so check, double check, triple check this list before you go! Have fun and we'll see you there.