Gear Guide: Ultimate music festival packing list

With Coachella getting underway today, it’s officially the season for throngs of music fans to crowd onto fields and concert grounds for weekends of bands, booze, and camping. Music festivals are one of spring and summer’s great joys, as long as you go with the right attitude and the necessary gear. Aside from your basic shorts, t-shirt, and tent, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite essentials that will help you get through a wild weekend without a hitch. Prepare to rock on.

Clockwise from top left.

Sunglasses
These are a must-have and should not be forgotten. Not only would you be blinded without them (unless it’s unexpectedly cloudy), but they always add to your cool factor. Shield yourself from bright rays with these new wood-framed shades from Shwood. Shwood The Oswald, $115.

GPS watch
One of the worst possible things about music festivals is the possibility of getting lost. People are everywhere, and if you are camping, cars are likely packed together like sardines. If you are prone to wandering in circles, a GPS watch will let you program landmarks (like your car) and guide you back to them if you need help. It will also help you make sure that you are 15 minutes early to your favorite bands’ sets. Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Sport Watch, $250.

Lightweight jacket
A common mistake that first-time festival-goers make is assuming that the weather will stay consistently hot and sunny. While a few festivals might stay warm into the night, most will be in areas where temperatures drop significantly after the sun goes down. Nothing is worse than shivering through a show, or god forbid, trekking back to camp alone to warm up. Pack a lightweight down or synthetic jacket that folds up small but will give you warmth. You’ll be glad you did when temperatures go from balmy to crisp at night. Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover, $149.

Durable sneakers
If you’re assuming you can just wear flip flops to a fest, think again. Not only will your feet be dust-or-dirt-covered within the first hour, but they will probably be stepped on a significant amount, which makes real shoes a better bet. Don’t wear expensive shoes either. Pick up an inexpensive, but comfortable, pair of dark sneakers or slip-ons that will hold-up with festival wear-and-tear. We like Native shoes for this because they will keep your feet dry and comfortable, and they can be washed clean with a hose when you’re done. Native Howard, $50.

Flask
This is a bit of a rogue pick, but we’re going with it anyway. All festivals that we know of prohibit bringing any sort of alcohol into the festival grounds. They want you to pay $15 for a frozen margarita instead. Be sneaky and cheap with a stealthy hidden flask, like this one that deceptively looks like binoculars. Tricky tricky. Binocular Flask, $12.

Backpack
While there are limitless bag options, a simple backpack is the best way to go if you need to carry more than just your wallet and camera. A backpack won’t slip off your shoulder while you are rocking out, and it’s generally just less awkward than your other choices. Be comfortable and hold all of your essentials in a simple style like this pack from Herschel Supply Co.. It has plenty of storage and the reinforced bottom will keep your stuff protected and dry. Herschel Heritage Backpack, $55.

Chargers
Unless you have an basic flip phone that lasts for days, chances are the battery on your smartphone will run out pretty quickly. This can be a major problem if you are trying to reconnect with friends after you’ve split up to attend different shows. Luckily, there are several devices available that use rechargeable lithium ion batteries, old-fashioned batteries, or solar power to give your phone or other electronics extra juice. Top left: Solio Classic Solar Charger, $70. Top middle: Callpod Fueltank DUO, $50.

Portable iPod dock
Like most festival veterans know, the party doesn’t stop when the official doors close. If you’re camping with a bunch of other music-lovers, that’s when the real fun starts. Keep the music going, or pump yourself up in the morning with festival tunes blasting from your iPod. Pick up a portable, battery-powered iPod dock to take the music with you wherever you are and avoid running down your car battery like your less-brilliant peers. This version from Altec Lansing will run for up to 24 hours on just four AA batteries. Altec Lansing Compact Speaker System, $50.

Pocket utility knife
You never know what you might need one of these for, but it’s never a bad idea to keep one on hand. This version from Buck is particularly festival-friendly with a knife, corkscrew, and bottle opener. It also easily attaches to a carabiner. Buck 760GRX Summit Knife, $45.

Camping stove or grill
Most festivals involve camping, at least for the hardcore folk, so be prepared and be able to cook some real food for your friends with a camping stove or grill. Trust us, eating cold baked beans out of the can sucks. Making eggs, hot dogs, mac ‘n’ cheese, quesadillas, and burgers on your stove-grill combo, however, does not. Try this propane-powered version from Coleman that has a grill and stove burner that can be used simultaneously. Coleman Signature InstaStart Grill Stove, $90.

Water bottle
It seems like a no-brainer, but considering most festivals won’t let you take water inside, it’s a good idea to bring along a bottle you can refill on the grounds to stay hydrated. No one wants to be pulled out of the crowd by security because they didn’t drink enough water. We like the tough and durable Sigg styles, which come in solid colors as well as artsy designs. Sigg Water Bottle, $22.

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