Packing for Music Festivals: Tents, Tank Tops, and Glitter

Shawn Forno

I woke up this morning sweaty, a little hungover, and covered in glitter. Man, I love music festivals.

Battling the elements (and your liver) is what makes summer music festivals great, but nothing sours a John Mayer dubstep remix faster than not being prepared. So, I’ve created this packing list straight from the festival trenches (I’m at the Secret Solstice music festival in Reykjavik, Iceland) to get you ready for your next music festival. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don’t “glamp,” I camp. My list of essentials is spartan, but they’re carry on compatible and keep me footloose and fancy free. Add to this list if you’re fancy.


2-Person Tent

Tent color is more than just a way to express yourself

Black or dark blue tents get hot in the early morning sun, and nearly unbearable in the afternoon, but I’m a big fan of the shade they provide (I’m a vampire before 10 am).

The trade off of a darker interior to sleep in, and the increased heat is ok as long as you open some vents. If you like to sleep in, and you’re camping somewhere like, oh I don’t know…Iceland a.k.a. “Land of the Midnight Sun,” a dark tent is essential.

3 Season Sleeping Bag

Things to look for in a great festival sleeping bag:

  • Stuff Sack
  • Small
  • Light
  • “Mummy” Hood
  • 3 Seasons (spring, summer, fall)

It’s summer, so don’t go overboard on warmth. Odds are you’re just gonna pass out around dawn anyway, so pack for convenience. I use the Erskine Drover three-season sleeping bag that I’ve had for years.


Bike Light

Ditch the headlamp and clip a bike light to your belt loops. Finally, hands-free illumination that doesn’t make your hangover worse.

Tek Towel

A no-brainer. You’re going to get dirty.

Bathroom bag (w/ a hook)

Please fill this with deodorant, toothpaste, and protection of all kinds…from the sun and…other stuff.

bedphones headphones



I party ’til dawn with the best of em, but catching a few zzz’s is crucial for enjoying the next day’s acts. That’s why I rock Bedphone headphones ($59) to get to sleep.

These bad boys have soft foam cushioning and adjustable straps so they lie comfortably against your ears even when you’re lying on your side. A tad pricey, but worth it when you need to sleep. I honestly forget I’m wearing them, and the sound quality is solid.

Bonus: They come with an eye mask.


  • 2 x Tank Tops – The go to festival garb. Sun’s out guns out.
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Henley Shirt – For chilly nights
  • 1 x Bathing Suit – You could wear this the entire weekend. Pack your A-game
  • 1 x Shorts – If it’s hot, cut the legs off your pants. Now you have two shorts
  • 1 x Pants – One pair is all you need. If hot, see above.
  • Light jacket – I recommend the Nau Cranky Jacket. It’s pricey, but fantastic.
  • Boat Shoes – Perfect for any weather and made for dancing

Just for Fun

Uno cards

Strangely fun, especially if you’re at a festival in another country. There’s something fun about learning the word “red” in Danish.

Temporary Glitter Tattoos

Metallic temporary tattoos are worth their weight in gold. Literally. Apply a few strategically placed geometric symbols to your cheeks and get ready to make some friends and pose for photos. It’s your festival war paint. 

music festival

Permanent Marker

Write on your tent, your shirt, or anyone who passes out early.

Solo Cups

For apple juice.


I never leave home without my trusty travel frisbee. It’s a plate, a bowl, a hat, and a darn good time.

Happy Birthday Banner

Make your campsite stand out. 

Bonus: Wear it like a cape and get a bunch of happy birthday wishes

A Cool Hat

Make it easy for your friends to find you. Bonus points if your hat has moving parts.

bluetooth wireless speaker music festival packing list

Bluetooth Speakers

Not high on the list of essentials, nevertheless speakers can make your campsite bump. Wirecutter recommends the Logitech UE Mini Boom ($95), and they know what they’re talking about.


Music festivals are gnarly. Your stuff is going to break and you’re going to get dirty. Fight back against the chaos with an organized packing list and spend your time enjoying the bands, not drying out your last muddy t-shirt

  • Dark tents let you sleep in later
  • 3 season sleeping bags are perfect for any weather
  • Glitter tattoos = friends
  • Bedphones will let you get some sleep

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