[this can be applied to any festival, really]
- Your ticket/wristband (which arrives in May).
- Map and directions there and back (in case of phone troubles if traveling far).
- Games to play in the car if you’re carpooling from a ways away.
- List of important phone numbers (just in case).
- Spare car keys (one is none, two is one).
- Cash (enough for gas, ice, food, t-shirts/apparel, beer, ???; I find a $50 per festival day works well, with extra for the trip home).
- Swiss army knife, or a multi-tool (camp setup, fixes, etc).
- Duct tape (quick fixes, if you feel like being creative, or pretty much anything, it’s duct tape).
- Your phone (find your friends, photos, app). The Electric Forest app is great. It usually has lineup information, a festival map, and some more goodies. It doesn’t require a data connection for those things. I turn the internet off on my phone because there’s spotty service at the festival and it increases battery life. I also keep it off when I am with friends at camp. Last year I didn’t have to charge it all weekend. Remember a car-charger just in case. If you charge it with your car often, start it occasionally as to not kill your battery.
- Water toys (a squirtgun, a mister, or whatever, its all fun to cool down on hot days).
- A hydration pack. (I recommend an Osprey or Camelbak brand. I own one that has 22 liters of storage, and a three liter water bladder. It’s a decent size but slim enough to get through crowds). They have filling stations throughout the campgrounds and festival grounds. Get up earlier and stay up later to have the most fun, and you’ll need a lot of water to do it. Different sizes will also carry your keys, wallet, shirt or sweater, and whatever else you need.
- Ear plugs. Whether you’re sensitive to huge speakers, or want to get to sleep in the noisy campground, you’ll want a pair. Electric Forest is a marathon, not a race. To rest comfortably you’ll need to drown out the music and chatter. I have specific ones for loud music, and foam ones for sleeping either in my tent, or in my hammock once my tent is too hot and I make my first trek to the forest for the day.
- A pen and paper.
- Koozies (to keep your beer cold, or if you have a few people at camp, to tell which beer is yours).
- Jumper cables for your car battery, or to help someone else out.
- A lock for your tent, backpack, or hammock (we’ve never had an issue with stealing, but I’ve heard stories, better safe than sorry).
- Camp entertainment (card games, frisbee, etc).
- Disc golf equipment (if you play disc golf, you’re in for a treat. A 9 hole black light lit disc golf course awaits you near the GA entrance to the campgrounds, open until 5 A.M.)
- A hammock. Eno makes a great hammock (we prefer the doublenest, even for one. The straps are sold separately). The festival provides some, but they are often filled. Trust me, at some point in the weekend, you’ll regret it if you aren’t able to relax somewhere in the forest.
- Yoga mat, if you’re into that. (Yoga happens every morning with an instructor at one of the stages).
- Your tent (make sure this is easily accessible for a quick setup when you arrive).
- A tarp or two (for underneath your tent to prevent rain/ground water from seeping in)
- A mallet (to stake down your tent, the ground can be pretty hard).
- Shade. I recommend a 10x10 shade tent per 4 people in your group. Although the festival grounds have trees and shade, the campgrounds do not, the last thing you want to do is wake up from your tent and have nowhere to stay out of the sun. Make sure to stake it down, I’ve seen one or two fly away in storms.
- Decorative tapestries or a tarp to hang from the side of your shade tent. I recommend the former, as you can have a tie-dye party with some friends and a few cotton twin sized sheets. They block the sun when its tilted, and because they’re light, let in a breeze. We use clamps to fasten them, but you can also use a cord and tie them up
- A small broom, to clean up your tent from your dirty feet
- Camp chairs. Foldable ones, enough for your crew, and maybe a visitor if your car has the space.
- Foldable table. You don’t want to have to move things from the lid of your cooler every time you need another beer or a snack.
- Camp lantern(s). I hang one lantern from the roof of my tent, one from the roof of my shade tent, and leave one on the table.
- Headlamp (like you see on miners, cave divers, or night time cyclists), you don’t need to spend a ton of money on this, mine was $10 and has worked fine for 4 years now. Remember spare batteries for all electronics.
- A tent fan is nice to have. They hang from the peak of your tent and keep the air flowing. They also keep your face cool enough to take a midday nap. Again, bring spare batteries.
- Sleeping supplies. The ground isn’t soft. In addition to regular blankets and pillows, it’s nice to have a sleeping pad or cot. Quality rest is key to restoring the energy needed for 4 days of partying.
- Trash bags. A lot of them. Don’t make a mess. We tie them to the legs of our shade tent to keep cleaning up easy on us.
- A test kit. I’m not going to pretend like not one person reading this is going to try drugs at some point in their life. If you have to do drugs, it is important to be educated and safe. Testing reliably for drugs with reagent tests requires some knowledge. I strongly recommend people do their own research to understand what’s happening, but here are the basics. Use marquis reagent for MDMA. Mix a small crystal with the reagent. It turns black (dark dark black… not off black) for MDMA and MDA. Further reagents are needed to distinguish, but most people enjoy both substances. At least you’ll know it’s not bunk. Use ehrlich’s reagent for LSD. It will change purple for LSD and one other analog, 5-meo-AMT. Drop a half tab directly in the reagent. Look at the color of the liquid, not the paper. The liquid should turn purple in 5-10 minutes for real LSD and it turns purple in ~10 seconds for 5-meo-AMT (dependent on reagent strength, but should be close enough for most test kits on the market). This is because 5-meo-AMT has ~30X the mass per dose and reacts much faster. You don’t want 5-meo-AMT…bad times (and a much much lower LD50!), so time your test! Good luck, and be safe! This information was given to me by another Redditor, but I feel it is safer to not source him on this kind of information.
- A music player. You’ll be at your camp for several hours a day, relaxing, eating, or just having some fun. I’ve seen countless people kill their car battery just to play some tunes. Just get something loud enough to enjoy over the music of your neighbors/stages.
- A flag and flagpole. The camp grounds are huge, and it’s always nice to be able to locate your camp from far away. The collapsible one that we use is roughly $50 on Amazon. String up your flag beforehand so you know what you’re doing when you get there.
- A first aid kit. (Band-Aids, Blister pads, Neosporin, Pain Reliever: at a minimum).
- Wet wipes.
- Basic hygiene products (Fingernail clippers, soap, deodorant, shaver, toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts (+spares), glasses, etc).
- Toilet paper. (the paper they provide is sometimes gone, and it’s pretty low quality stuff, bring your own).
- A towel.
- A bucket to wash with if you don’t want to pay for showers (~$10).
- Gold bond and/or bodyglide (if you have chafing issues).
- Tampons (ladies, no one takes you seriously when you’re in the forest calling out “tampon, tampon, I need a tampon!”)
- Paper towel.
- Sun block (use it!).
- Melatonin (in moderation, as needed for sleep).
- Cooler with ice (its expensive at the festival). Fill your coolers when at your last stop before getting there (some of the stores close to the festival sell out, so be prepared for that). The fuller your cooler, the less quickly the ice melts.
- A small propane grill with fuel and cooking utensils (if you plan to cook anything).
- Disposable or washable eating/drinking utensils (cups, plates, forks/spoons).
- Ziploc bags.
- A water resistant container to store dry foods (and keep them dry).
- Water. Bottled water is convenient to keep in your cooler, but there are also filling stations around the camps). Drink a lot.
- Vitamin Water or Gatorade. You’ll be burning a lot of calories, you want those electrolytes.
- Beer. Cans only. No glass is allowed. The limit is 3 cases of person of age in your car. You are also allowed 1 half gallon (also has to be in sealed plastic) per person of age in your car.
- Pasta salad has been good to us already prepared and bagged up. All you have to do is serve.
- Granola bars /power bars/cliff bars for quick nutrition and calories.
- Hard boiled eggs.
- Hummus & pita bread.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly.
- Lunch meat & condiments.
- Salt + Pepper.
- Prepared proteins (burgers, marinated chicken, etc) and associated dressings.
If you are camping in G.A, it could be a mile or more walk back to your campsite from the festival grounds. You’re probably not going to want to make that walk every time you’re hungry. We usually try to minimize the walking back and forth by grabbing food inside the festival grounds at least once per day. P.S. The greatest pizza on Earth happens at EFF. Try the pizza from the “Spicy Pie” booth inside the festival grounds AT LEAST ONCE.
It can range from 95 to 50 Fahrenheit, this is Michigan.
- Long sleeves (hoodie, sweater, hockey jersey).
- Basic clothing for each day. (Jeans/long pants, socks, shorts, underwear, plenty of t-shirts, tank tops, etc.)
- Bathing suit.
- Waterproof footwear that is easy to apply (flip flops, etc).
- Bandana(s) (to block light when you still want to sleep after 7 A.M., or to keep cool and keep the sun off your head).
- Comfortable footwear. You’re walking miles a day on rough terrain for 4 days. I wear my Vibram toe shoes each day, but if I need to make it to the bathrooms I take my sandals. No heels, ladies.
- Hula hoops or other rave toys.
- Body/face paint (and a way to wash it off before bed).
- Camp entertainment. (cards, beech ball, frisbee, etc).
- Your homemade totem/rage staff.
- Glow sticks (caveat: glow sticks raining from the skies is an amazing sight to behold, but glow sticks are not very friendly to the environment and create a lot of garbage when they’ve exhausted their short life).
- Set up your tent in advance so you know what you’re doing when you get there. Take that opportunity to waterproof it with a good spray waterproofer (wet tents can ruin a festival).
- When packing your car, hide anything that would indicate that you are going to a music festival. You don’t need a highway patrol officer tearing your car apart. Do not paint your car like you’re going to homecoming.
- Set a plan with your friends (where you’re meeting on the trip, and what to do if something goes wrong). I recommend making your last stop on your trip in Muskegon, if you’re arriving from that direction. It has the closest Meijer and Walmart, and are great meeting places. While you are there you can check to see if you forgot anything, fill up on ice (although they occasionally sell out), and most importantly, top off your gas tank.
- When you get in line to enter the festival, make sure your caravan is together. You may separate when going through security checks, but make a plan to pull off to the side after you get through the security to get your friends back in order. The parking assistants will ask you how many cars are in your group so you can all park next to each other. You will then be lead in a line to your home for the weekend. They park you, and you’re not supposed to move, so don’t. Just leave your car where they make you leave it, and then GO! Claim your territory, but be nice to your neighbors when doing so. You are home.
Be cooperative and friendly. These people are there on their time doing a job. Realize this and treat it as such. They are predominantly looking for glass, fireworks, and weapons. This is what they will ask you about. Do not bring these things. Glass will fuck your bare feet up. Be conscientious to everyone and just don’t bring any. Fireworks are extremely dangerous considering the flammable nature of everyone’s tent. It is also worth mentioning to not bring Chinese lanterns (the ones you light on fire to create a tiny hot air balloon). Although cool, what goes up must come down. They have created fires, and leave scrap everywhere around the festival. Even if they claim to burn up or biodegrade, it’s generally not true. The festival gets hundreds of complaints of these landing in people’s land every year. If you want the festival to continue, don’t bring them!
- Have your tent ready. Grab it out of your car along with your tarp and claim your spot. Our group sets up our tents, then our shade tents, followed by our furniture, flagpole, and accessories. THEN we drink our first beers. Be fast and strategic if you want your space.
- Meet your neighbors, learn their names. Not only can you borrow things you forgot to bring, but they are great to socialize with and can keep an eye on your things when you are off having fun.
- When you leave your camp to explore, all valuables should be locked in your car, and out of sight. No one is going to break into your car if they can’t see anything of interest. The best thing you can do for your money is to have it where your spare tire would be in your trunk.
- Remember to keep your campsite clean daily.
- When you park, you will notice that its like several city blocks of tents. You may be lucky enough to walk for 5 minutes to get to the venue, but maybe you’re unlucky and have to walk for 20. There is no guaranteed time-to-location formula for when to get there for where you want to camp.
- Bathrooms will always be within 5 minutes of walking from your camp, you will be guaranteed to pass a cluster of them on your walk to the venue. Bring your own toilet paper as they sometimes run out. Having a headlamp at night is the best way to see you have a clean seat to sit on. Using your phone as a light here can end catastrophically, we’ve seen it.
- Showers are $10 for GA and free for Good Life VIP. They are cleaned every so often, and almost never warm.
- There are food, ice, clothing, and all sorts of vendors in the campgrounds as well.
- It’s a huge party, make friends. Everyone else is there to do what you’re trying to do. Just have fun, be nice to everyone, and get to know your neighbors.
THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS
On arrival to the festival grounds, there are several lines for the search stations. If you’re entering with a group, make a plan to meet just inside the festival grounds, as some searches take longer than others. After the search of your bag/pockets, you will scan your wristband by waving it over a sensor and enter the festival grounds. Water fill up stations will be to your left. The gate is next to the Ferris Wheel, and opens up at the Tripolee Stage. A few big names play this stage in the later evening. Yoga is held there some mornings and I highly recommend it.
From there, you head left to a walkway leading to the main stage, the Ranch Arena. Its beautiful, and huge. Bathrooms, water filling stations, and food vendors are in the back.
Past that is the Sherwood Forest, the heart of the festival. It contains mysteries abound, and surely your home away from home. It has 3 stages, and various other attractions. The forest stage is small and intimate but always nice to visit. The observatory has beer, and the smallest and most visual of acts. The Silent Disco gives you headphones to enjoy some DJ sets. There is another bar, that serves Bud brand beer, and Bells (a great Michigan local brewery). The forest is entirely another world than the one you’re used to. They change it every year, and I can only encourage you to explore it and enjoy it to the fullest.
It opens up on the other end to the Sherwood Court, the second largest stage. Bathrooms are at the end of the forest to the left, or past the food vendors on the rights. The right side also has water filling stations.
If the band you want to see is playing at 6, get there at 5. The line for searches can get lengthy when popular acts are performing.
They (kind of) search your car, they patrol the campgrounds on horseback, they walk around the venue. They are for your safety. I’ve seen them helping someone who fainted more often than I see anyone in cuffs. They stop people from selling drugs or other things without a permit. They are generally very helpful and nice, most seem to be in disbelief that they are being paid to be there. Be nice to them. It is also worth noting I have seen them notice people smoking weed and not do anything about it. Just be respectful. When questioning if its an undercover cop, simply check their shoes. If they’re clean, they’re a cop.
- Water, water, water. Mother fucking water. Drink it. Drink it again. It is not a race, it’s a marathon.
- You will miss either lunch or dinner doing what you’re doing. Eat festival food. Spicy Pie makes the best pizza ever, but anything will do. P.S I do not work for them, but I do work in pizza, and seriously they have the best pizza ever. I ate it every day.
- Pack your backpack once for the day, head back in the afternoon, repack it for night. For day: sunglasses, sunblock. For night: a light, your light up toys, something for if it gets cold.
- Light up your friends. Glow stick bracelets work, but LED options are brighter and more environmentally friendly. I found my friends so many times with the help of a few glowing bracelets on their arms
There is little to no help when it comes to filtering 30,000 people to the freeway Monday. Arrive with a full tank of gas, and don’t kill your battery. Try to leave earlier than most people, meaning take it easy Sunday night. We left at 6AM Monday last year with no wait, but the year before we left at 10AM, and waited in line for 2 hours. Also, although volunteers clean the entire place after its over, its important to make their jobs easier. We tie garbage bags to each pole on our campground to prevent leaving garbage out. When we leave we gather all our bags into one spot so when they get to my camp, you’d never know that 11 people lived there for a weekend.