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Festival Season: Time to Gear Up

A festie noob learns how to properly prepare for a summer of fun


Festival attendees should go for practical gear that's also comfortable. - MAGDALENA BOKOWA
  • Magdalena Bokowa
  • Festival attendees should go for practical gear that's also comfortable.

It's summer time and we all know what that means: sunshine, beer and music festivals. Central Oregon has more than its fair share of outdoor events. In Bend, daytime festivals include Summer Fest (July 13-15), Balloons Over Bend (July 27-29) and Brew Fest (Aug. 16-18), to name a few.

Just outside of Bend you'll find the 4 Peaks Music Festival (June 21-24), The Newberry Event: Music & Arts Festival (July 27-29), Sunriver Music Festival (Aug. 10-22) and so much more!

If you're down for a drive you'll find a seemingly endless number of festivals that include camping, including Sasquatch (May 25-27), Oregon Country Fair (July 13-15), Pickathon (Aug. 3-5) and Beloved (Aug. 10-13). You get the idea, basically every weekend is filled with something fun to do.

As someone who's just starting to dive into the scene, I solicited advice from some festival veterans to get ready. Here's what I learned.

  • Flickr

No really, fanny packs are your friend

Before going out to head bang, dance or groove to your beloved artists, pack accordingly. Keep the destination you have in mind and know you're not headed to a five-star hotel—no valet, coat check or locker for your belongings.

Bring a day pack for essentials (water, snacks, sunglasses and a light sweater) and larger pack for everything else.

*Note: Don't underestimate the beauty of the fanny pack. It's perfect for festivals: small, always on you, and can hold two beers, along with other essentials.

  • Wikimedia

Happy feet

Lines are normal and hours on your feet should be expected, so be prepared to stand! Comfortable shoes are a must. Close-toed sneakers are inevitability better than sandals, since toe coverage is important for a multitude of activities: moshing, dancing, running, jumping...

It also creates a barrier between your toes and the drinks someone else (or you) may spill on your feet.

Wipes: Not just for babies

There's always some place to go to the bathroom, but it's probably not luxurious. Hand sanitizer and wipes aren't only handy, they're a necessity. In a pinch you can even use wipes to clean off utensils, wipe shoes and remove crusty face paint.

  • Wikipedia

Dressing in layers, and looking cool while doing it

The daytime may be blistering, but here in the Great Northwest, temperatures always drop at night. A hoodie is vital, totally fashionable around the waist in the day and covering the arms by the night.

If you get cold easily, consider bringing a buff— multifunctional headwear that can cover your head, face or neck. Some even have UV protection!

*Note: if you have enough space in your pack, animal onesies are an incredible way to stay warm at night, and totally festival appropriate.

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Not too hot; not too cool

Be prepared to brave the elements. A small rain shell or umbrella is smart, even if the forecast predicts sunny skies. A small additional sack for dirty or wet clothes is also a smart idea, but a pillow case also works just fine. If you want the real deal, check out the Pack-It Specter Tech Clean/Dirt Cube, with a separate compartment that keeps wet and dirty clothes separated while limiting the transfer of odors and preventing microbial growth.

A sun hat will also keep your ears, eyes and nose protected from the sun. If you feel like a sun hat just isn't you, try a ball cap or trucker hat—practically the summertime uniform in Central Oregon. For all skin types, load up on the sunscreen.

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Stick with the cash, Johnny

Cards are convenient, but easily lost— not to mention easy to spend with and coming with high fees at those too-handy festival ATMs. Try to set a reasonable budget and don't blow all your pennies on the first day.

  • pxhere

Backpacking food: good for festival stamina, too

Trail mix and bars, hooray! Fuel yourself as if you were backpacking: nuts, dried fruit, bars. Try to pack food that's not easily damaged and stay away from anything that needs to be refrigerated.

Take a reusable water bottle and hook it to your fanny pack. Your body will thank you.

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Turn out the lights

For multi-day festivals, rest is essential. Proper sleep gear is a must: A lightweight sleeping bag and a pillow are obvious, but earplugs and an eye pillow are two easily packed items that will make your sleep so much better. Pro tip: If you forgot the ear plugs, visit the festival's medical tent. They'll usually have some on hand—but think about dropping a buck into their tip jar to thank them.

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