Labor day weekend marks the beginning for a lot of festivals all over the United States, and many of those festivals like Dancefestopia, Imagine, Nocturnal Wonderland, and Lost Lands are camping festivals. But let’s face it, it’s not always possible to drive cross country for a camping festival. Sometimes your only option is to fly, whether it’s due to time constraints with work or a lack of reliable transportation. Whatever the reason is, flying with all your camping gear can be extremely costly with all the extra baggage fees that the airlines charge these days. If you’re anything like me then the camping is half the reason you’re going to that festival, so a hotel is out of the question. Glamping is always an option, but that can get even more expensive than the baggage fees.
So how do you pack for an entire 4-5 day camping trip AND still stay under the 50 lb weight limit that the airlines have? It’s simple: Use camping gear designed for backpacking. I am used to going on multi-day backpacking excursions in the mountains of Colorado. Any experienced backpacker knows that the four heaviest items in your pack are your tent, backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. All of my camping gear with my backpack weighs less than 18 lbs with plenty of room left for all my clothes and rave gear. While a 3-day music festival is nowhere near as intense as a 3-day excursion to the peak of a mountain, there is still a lot you have to pack.
Here are some of the essential items that can make your next camping festival as comfortable as possible while still staying within those pesky weight limits at the airport:
- Tent – This is kind of the most important item on this list. You want something that is going to be large enough to comfortably fit at least 2 people with a bag each, but when broken down will fit into a checked bag. You also want something that is going to be really easy to set up and just as easy to take down. I recommend a pop-up tent like the Wolfwise 2-person tent with built-in LED lights for easy festival camping. It sets up in seconds and only takes a couple of minutes to put away. When broken down it fits into any suitcase and only weights a few pounds! (Tip: Buy a can of waterproofing/UV protectant spray to help give you extra protection against the elements.)
- Air mattress/Sleeping pad – You need something more comfortable than the ground to sleep on. You also want something that is going to help raise you off of the ground in case water somehow gets inside your tent. Air mattresses are great for both of these. When I am camping solo, I use my self-inflating air mattress for backpacking. It’s super comfortable and I don’t need to pack an air pump at all, saving me both space and weight. REI has a large selection of air mattresses and pads at affordable prices.
- Sleeping bag – You want to make sure you’re going to be warm on those cold nights. Look for a 4 season sleeping bag that is waterproof. There’s nothing worse than waking up inside a wet sleeping bag because your tent-mate spilled a bottle of water. Learn how to choose the best sleep bag for your needs HERE.
- Hammock – A hammock is always nice to lounge in after a long night of dancing. I always pack a hammock in case I have a couple of trees to hang one off of. They have many different options when it comes to hammocks and they even have some that have your tent already built in. I personally use with a lightweight one that has a detachable bug net to keep the pests at bay. Amazon has a huge selection of all types.
- Headlamp – Not only is a headlamp handy to help you navigate the dark paths hands-free after you get out of the festival, but you can also use it as a lantern. If you take a gallon of water and put a headlamp around it with the light facing the water, it will illuminate your entire tent.
- Towel – Using a quick-drying microfiber towel, like the one HERE, will help you save both space and weight over a traditional cotton towel.
- Cookware – I always recommend taking fresh fruits and non-perishable foods like protein bars, but if you are insistent on cooking a hot meal then look into a small camping cookware set like the one HERE. They only weigh one pound and have everything you need to cook for and serve one person.
When you are packing for your flight always try to pack items that are multi-functional. When you can use something for more than one purpose, it helps you reduce the overall weight of your bag. Also, try to avoid packing unnecessary or duplicate items. Ask yourself, “Am I REALLY going to need this?”
And make sure to check out “9 Things To Never Go To A Festival Without”