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Essential Festival Packing Guide

Ellie MacsymonsEllie Macsymons · Apr 17, 2013

As we say goodbye to the cold winter months we can start looking forward to the long summer nights. It’s amazing how quickly we can be done and dusted with scarves, warm clothing and cosy evenings in front of the telly and start craving the sun-kissed fun of the great outdoors. Summer also marks the welcome return of a multitude of music festivals. There are literally loads to choose from. In fact, you may have seen our blog detailing a handful of the best value-for-money events out there. However, there’s more to planning which music festival you’re going to attend than picking the one with the best line up. You’ll need to come prepared. At most of these events, you’ll be roughing it for a number of days. Go to Glastonbury and you’ll be sleeping in a tent, wading around in mud and living without proper showers for almost a full week. With that in mind, we’ve picked a handful of invaluable items that’ll help you look and feel your best without breaking the bank.



This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. If you’re going to a festival, you’re going to need a tent. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to bring a pop-up mansion. After all, you’ll probably only use it for sleeping, storing food and sheltering your poor hungover body from the elements. All you basically need is a base and if you’re sleeping solo, a Tesco two man dome tent will do just fine.

Sleeping Bag

Make no mistake, you WILL have to sleep at some point. You’re not the Energizer Bunny, your batteries will run out and eventually you will collapse like a pile of dirty laundry. When you do, you’ll want a good night’s sleep, so it makes sense to bring a decent sleeping bag that’ll keep you warm during the coldest part of the night and let you escape easily when morning arrives and the heat inside your thermal tent becomes unbearable. Halfords provide a range of inexpensive sleeping bags that fit the bill perfectly.

Inflatable Bed

Picking the right camping location is important as it’ll be your home for the next few days. You want to be just the right distance away from both the main arena and the toilets. Why? So you can access the former with relative ease and avoid the ungodly stench from the latter. However, it’s always a bit rubbish when you finally lay down to sleep at night on your carefully scouted tent spot to discover you’re sleeping on rocks. Thankfully, this pain in the neck (and back) can be avoided by picking up a £20 inflatable bed from Millets. You can’t put a price on a good nights sleep but if you must, make it low!

Solar Shower


Have you seen festival showers? Naive fest-virgins may have an almost-civilised mental image in their minds. In actual fact, they’re more like something out of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie where the dirty masses have been captured and hosed down in a big communal room. Well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if you’re after a bit more privacy then this great gadget could be for you. Go Outdoors offer a dead cheap solar shower. What’s a solar shower? Well, it’s exactly what it says it is: a bag of water that uses the sun’s rays to heat it to a comfortable temperature. You then hang it up and use its funnel as an impromptu shower. At just £4.99 it’s worth a shout. All those not so desperate for a wash might want to pack some dry shampoo.

Camping Chair

You’ve made it to the festival site. You’ve lugged everything bar the kitchen sink to your coveted camping spot. You’ve figured out the half-ripped tent setup instructions and your new home looks sort of stable. All you want to do now is chill out with a beer and wait for the live music to start. But where are you going to sit? At festivals, you quickly discover that those with the camping chairs have all the power. They get to decide who sits comfortably and who are forced to spend the evening stood up like an achy-legged idiot. Be smart, bring a camping chair. You won’t regret it.


Unless you’re a millionaire, you won’t want to depend on festival bought grub for the duration of your stay. A typical meal will usually set you back around £5 and that’s without a drink! It makes much more sense to invest in a portable gas camping stove. They’re lightweight, can be used for more than just food preparation (brew, anyone?) and at just £15.99 from GoOutdoors it will save you a ton of money in the long run.


Packing for a festival is an art. You’ll want to make sure you don’t forget anything integral – contact lenses, underwear etc – whilst packing as light as possible. The worst part of any festival experience is having to carry your stuff from your car all the way to your chosen camping spot. During that strenuous journey, you’ll wish more than anything that you’d left that 12 pack of coke cans at home. When picking rucksacks, bigger is better. If you’re likely to only use it once or twice, then you’d be best visiting somewhere like Tesco. They can hook you up with a decent sized pack for around £20.



If there’s one thing you can count on at a festival it’s rain. You can look at the weather forecast for as long as you like. It may say ‘sun’ but it really means ‘showers’. Bringing wellies may just save your life (well, your feet) from the treacherous mud that’s been churned into thick quicksand by thousands of stomping festival goers. It pays to be prepared too, because as soon as on-site traders see those rain clouds looming the price of wellies mysteriously rises. Hmm…


Like wellies, a sturdy gazebo can become a lifesaver when the weather turns sour. However, they also serve another valuable purpose. If you’re partying with a few mates odds are you’ll all want to hang out in one place before heading into the arena to check out some music. With the booze-running freely and muddy shoes a-plenty, the thought of bringing the party into your tent-home will seem as appealing as doing an impromptu exam. Having a gazebo lets everyone take shelter socially. Get all your mates to throw in a couple of quid and this £17.99 Argos option will feel like a right steal.

Don’t Forget The Little Things…


No matter how prepared you think you are, there are always some things that you inevitably forget. The real kicker is that they’re usually the things that you need the most. Sure, you may have your body weight in vodka and Dairy-Lee Dunkers but do you have a torch? Night time tends to be a bit dark, doesn’t it? Similarly, it’s easy to assume that you won’t accidentally hurt yourself during your outdoor adventure. While all festivals offer emergency medical care, it might be worth packing some plasters or a first aid kit just in case. Paracetamol for hangover headaches and Imodium for germaphobes who’d prefer to avoid the less-than-clean festival toilets are excellent added extras, as are bottled water and sun cream. The last thing you want is to succumb to heat exhaustion (weather permitting) or return to work looking like a lobster. Even though that would be pretty funny. Unfortunately, the party has to stop sometime.

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