Ah, the music festival. Concert after concert under the hot sun, huge fields of camping fans, available yet astronomically priced food, and port-a-potties stretching to the horizon combine for a strange breed of “roughing it” with large doses of civilization mixed in. Prepare properly and you’re in for the weekend of a lifetime; shirk the prep and you’ll be poor and plenty grumpy come Sunday night. Here are ten pieces of gear — appropriately fitting the chaotic and not at all fashionable atmosphere you’ll come to know and love — to get your music festival experience on track for “Epic!” status. We’ll leave the collapsible peace pipe to you.
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Poler Two Man Tent
Shelter is a must, both at night and for impromptu (read: alcohol-induced) afternoon siestas. A one-man tent is great for backpacking, but you’re driving in, so go big. Poler’s Two Man tent has two entrances and vestibules making it comfortable for you and a friend (with or without benefits). All seams are taped, and the whole tent has a 3000mm waterproof coating to keep you and your gear dry; there’s nothing worse than waking up in a puddle. It’s quick to set up, and at $250 a good value that will serve you for many trips to come.
Kelty Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner
Come sundown it won’t be cold in the slightest, and your down 20-degree mummy bag will become perfect for hot tubbing in your own sweat. This Kelty sleeping bag liner, made from silk, cotton, polyster and fleece, provides just the right amount of warmth and gets second use as an insulator for your winter bag when the chillier months roll around.
Snow Peak 2.5 Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Sleeping in a tent might be fun, but it’s still not the most comfortable experience. After spending numerous hours on your feet cramming in as many acts (and parties) as you can, nabbing every precious minute of sleep is vital. Snow Peak’s 2.5-inch thick inflatable sleeping pad is the Temperpedic mattress of camping. At 6’4″ long, it’s also got plenty of rooming for stretching out tired bones. Like much of the gear on this list, it will come in handy any time you need an impromptu bed in the future, not just at festivals.
Coleman Steel Belted Cooler
Your best bet for not going broke over the course of the weekend is hauling in as much food and drink as you can keep cold. The Coleman Steel Belted cooler has chilled the beers and sandwiches of weekending men for generations, and it hasn’t needed any upgrades. Unlike weaker coolers with plastic hinges, handles and latches, the Coleman goes heavy on the stainless steel and has a 6-year warranty. Its 54 quarts can hold up to 85 beers, though we recommend easing up (slightly) on the brews and hitting the ice hard, which along with some cold cuts, cheese, and a loaf of bread will set you up to dine like a campground king.
Depending on how well-run the festival is, you hopefully won’t need toilet paper, baby wipes and Purell… but chances are you will, and they will make ALL the difference between a great time and a crappy one. Ahem. Bring enough for the whole crew, and some extra as a lifesaver for the hot neighbors.
Big Time Game Boards Corn Hole Set
Your number one priority is enjoying the music, but eventually you’ll need a break. Corn hole is the perfect lazy game to pass the time while recharging your batteries with friends both old and new — and trust us, when you break out the corn hole new friends will be made. Grab a drink and a partner, pace off 27 ft, and toss the bean bag. Life will be good.
E-Z Up Sierra II Canopy
If you hit the festival with a crew (and we recommend you do), you’ll want a place to congregate. Your two person tent doesn’t qualify. This E-Z Up Canopy tent will get you out of the sun, rain, and even wind if you splurge on the sidewalls, so you can relax or keep the party going. Make sure it’s staked in nicely, because nobody likes a runaway canopy during a 4 a.m. squall.
Lawn Chair USA Low Back Beach Chair
Depending on the music festival you’re at, a lawn chair is a perfect concert spot or tailgate reclination — hopefully, both. This one is inexpensive and made in Georgia. We like the old-school aluminum frame and plaid webbed seat.
Philips ShoqBox SB7200 Bluetooth Speaker
Even in your campsite you’ll want the tunes cranked to 11. The ShoqBox’s Bluetooth means anyone with a smartphone can DJ wirelessly; it’s splash- and shock-proof, so a spilled wounded soldier won’t ruin the good times; a lithium ion battery means 8 hours of play time.
Part of the fun of festivals is the freedom to wear pretty much whatever you want. (Trust us, you’ll be hard pressed to have the craziest outfit.) To get yourself headed towards attention grabbing while remaining a gentleman, we recommend Chubbies. They’re unabashed shorts — just like your dad wore them in the ’70s. Chubbies’ motto, “sky’s out, thighs out” sums up their, ahem, spirit succinctly.
Uniden GMR Two Way Radios
Dropping tens of thousands of people into a field for three days tends to completely overwhelm cell towers. There’s nothing worse than tracking down your friend who got lost on his way to the bathroom instead of seeing your favorite band, which is why walkies are vital. These Unidens have an excellent 30-mile range, which is really more than enough. Thank us later for the chance to invent awesome call signs.
Bonus: TASCAM iM2 Recorder for iPhone
The spirit of the festival absolutely disallows stealing music to sell. But we’re not talking about being a douche here, just saving personal recordings of your favorite bands for later reminiscence. Tascam’s IM2 digital recorder for iPhone, iPad or iPod packs a pair of condenser mics and a DAC into a small device topper. It can handle up to 125dB sound levels for pretty much any concert setting, and most importantly, it works well with just about any recording app.