With a just over a month and a half to go until Bonnaroo 2014, fans are excited to get to The Farm and see acts like Elton John, Shovels & Rope, and Ice Cube perform. But if you've never been to Bonnaroo, it's important to follow the lead of seasoned veterans and make sure you pack certain essentials. June in Tennessee is hot and humid and 4 days of getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night is enough of an endurance test without forgetting something that could make you more comfortable or, in some cases, save your life.
Here are a few items that should be in every Bonnaroo camper's car before heading out:
The old graduation speech meme about how important it is to wear sunscreen is doubly true at Bonnaroo. The June Tennessee sun is brutal and many of the stages have limited shade options. A good sunscreen is essential to keep yourself from being in pain and looking like Lobster Boy by the end of the weekend. Make sure it's waterproof and at least SPF30, although the higher SPF you can get the better. Bonnaroo is not the place to work on your tan. Another tip is to set a regiment for re-application of your sunscreen. Every other set should be plenty until after dark.
Do not spend $250 on Bonnaroo and then have your weekend ruined by $20 discount shoes. Blisters will make that long walk into Centeroo and the treks between stages an exercise in pain. If you splurge on just one Bonnaroo supply, make it shoes. For our money, Sanuk makes the best shoe for Bonnaroo. They are super comfortable, durable enough to stand up to 2-3 years' of Bonnaroo wear, and not terribly expensive at $50-75 a pair. Even with the best shoes, it's probably a good idea to pick up a blister kit at the drug store to keep at your tent, just in case.
You will do a lot of sweating at Bonnaroo and sweating can quickly lead to chafing which can quickly lead to some delicate areas becoming very uncomfortable. A good medicated powder, applied liberally in the morning before heading into Centeroo, will make all the difference in the world.
Douglas Adams called a towel the most useful thing in the universe and he's right, but at Bonnaroo, carrying a towel around with you is cumbersome. Wet wipes, on the other hand, can be purchased in travel sizes perfect for a backpack. Wet wipes are the multi-tool of the festival world. They can serve as a refreshing face and hand wipe to wash away the grime on dusty days or they can wipe down a suspicious looking porta potty seat before use.
If you are going to attend Bonnaroo multiple years, the $100 or so you spend on a shower tent will pay for itself in no time. Not only do you have to pay for showers, but you also don't have to stand in line. Just set up your tent, bring some water with you, and enjoy your own private shower every day. While a jug of water and a battery powered pump might not be the lap of luxury, it will feel like the most refreshing thing in the world at Bonnaroo. It's also a good idea to keep a plastic bath mat inside the shower tent. The ground is too dry for water to seep very far away from your tent, but the ground inside the shower tent will get pretty spongy.
Get the largest, floppiest hat you can find. You may see yourself in the mirror at home and think you look like Old MacDonald, but you'll quickly stop caring once that sun starts beating down and you have a nice shady brim. Straw hats are cheap, ventilated enough to be cool, and wide brimmed enough to provide plenty of shade.
Trail Mix and Protein Shakes
Bonnaroo has plenty of food for sale inside Centeroo, but they also allow small snacks to be brought in. Take advantage of this and save your money for the really excellent Food Truck Oasis trucks or one of the more exotic meal stands. Trail mix, or just nuts if you don't want the raisins, are a great boost of nutrition and, more importantly, salt, which will help you maintain your hydration.
Protein shakes are for camp. Keep a few in your cooler and chug one before you head into Centeroo. Premier Nutrition's shakes provide the most protein bang for your buck, at 30 grams per shake. Your body will be starved for protein with all that heat and exercise and a protein shake for breakfast is just the kick your body needs.
Water bottle or Camelbak
Bonnaroo sells water inside Centeroo and you'll probably want to buy some at some point in the weekend just because it's cold, but for the rest of the weekend, take advantage of the free refilling stations scattered around Centeroo and save your money for other merchandise or food. Nothing will ensure you get to take a firsthand tour of Bonnaroo's fine medical facilities like dehydration. Like sunscreen, it's best to stay on a regiment at dehydration can sneak up on you before you notice it. You should be drinking at least some water between every set. The hotter it is and the more you sweat, the more your body needs. Camelbak makes a great backpack style water container that will hold much more water than a bottle and save you some trips. Reusable bottles or Camelbaks are also in line with Bonnaroo's greening message too. Why waste plastic when you can reuse?
While most people know about the heat at Bonnaroo, what many newcomers don't know is that it rains at least a little bit almost every year. Sometimes it rains a lot. When it rains, a pack of those thin disposable panchos for you and your crew will be a godsend. Nothing's worse than getting drenched and wondering if all your electronics are going to work.