‘What to bring?’ is one of the most common questions asked on Metal Festival forums, so I’ve put together this Packing Checklist which will pretty much cover everything you will need to help you survive and be festival ready.
Travel & Arrival
I’ve started the checklist off with all the things you will need initially, and focuses on travelling to the festival and getting in. It’s all about planning your trip and making sure you have all the tickets and passes you need to park and get in.
If you are taking lots of valuable and important items such as car keys, door keys, ID, flight tickets etc. then consider hiring a locker at the festival to keep them all safe.
- Directions and postcode of the festival site / car park
- Hotel postcode and directions
- Coach / Bus Timetables and pick-up point locations
- Driving Licence (if driving abroad)
- Festival Ticket
- Car Park Pass
- Locker Ticket
- Pre-Purchased tokens
- Petrol (fill the car up and check it is roadworthy for a long journey)
- Car Key Lanyard Clip/Cord (I clip my car keys onto a lanyard cord and tie it onto my trousers)
- If flying – 20cm x 20cm Plastic bag for liquids (ensure all liquids not over 100ml)
What to Bring Specifically if You Are Camping
If you are camping, there’s going to be a whole lot extra you will need to bring to the festival. You will most likely need a decent tent, unless you have paid for a a tepee or similar in advance.
Comfort at night is important do make sure you will be warm enough and comfortable. The days are going to wear you down and a good night sleep is essential.
Remember that you will need to carry everything and will likely have a long walk from a station or car park so don’t pack so heavy that you can barely lift it all off the ground.
Tip! Put your tent up a few weeks in advance of your festival to ensure it is all still in good condition and you have everything you need.
At night when you are trying to work out which tent is yours from hundreds of other similar looking tents, it is invaluable to have some sort of flag attached to your tent so you can recognise your tent. It could save you so much time stumbling over guy ropes and apologising to people.
- A flag or something that will help you identify your tent late at night in the dark
- Lightweight Mallet (to bang tent pegs into hard ground)
You will need a sleeping bag if you are camping. There’s plenty of choice regarding what sleeping bag to buy so consider the material it is made of, how warm it says it is in cold temperatures, the shape (mummy or rectangular), if it has pull cords, and the weight.
For festivals you are unlikely to need a sleeping bag that is designed for mid-winter and the lighter in weight the better. If you are tall, make sure you check the sleeping bag length before you buy.
A sleeping bag like the one below by EMONIA rates highly on Amazon is reasonably priced, lightweight and waterproof. So ideal for festivals.
- Sleeping Bag
Rather than lying in your sleeping bag directly on your tent groundsheet, you can buy some very comfortable inflatable camping mats that inflate easily and afterwards roll up very small so are easy to carry.
These camping mats are not only really comfortable, but they help keep you warm as you are raised off of the ground.
- Inflatable Camping Mat for under your sleeping bag
- A device to inflate any inflatables
- Groundsheet if you tent doesn’t have one
Camping chairs are often forgotten and then people have nothing to sit on for the many hours you spend at the campsite. The last thing you want to be doing is standing up at the campsite when you will be on your feet all day once the bands have started. So don’t forget to take a camping chair and you can sit and relax with your buddies in the mornings and evenings.
To help you get to sleep, some cheap sponge ear plugs are really useful to dampen down the noise from around the campsite. Once you are asleep, you don’t want to be woken up in the early hours by bright sunlight so an eye mask is a really good addition to your kit.
- Bin Liners (handy to put rubbish in, dirty clothes, keep things dry etc.)
- Duck Tape / Gaffer Tape (to repair tent tears and fix almost anything)
- Large Fishing Umbrella (so you can sit outside and stay dry if it is raining and your tent doesn’t have a porch)
Seriously consider taking a trolley to wheel all your gear from the car park / stations to the campsite. It is usually a fair trek to the campsites and you will have lots of heavy camping gear, food, drink and other things on this list to take, and pulling it along in a trolley is so much easier then trying to carry it all.
Consider sharing the cost with your camping buddies and you can reuse the trolley year after year.
A less expensive alternative to a 4 wheeled trolley is an upright 2 wheeled trolley. I own the Bison Folding Trolley below. It is well built, excellent value for money and has very good reviews on Amazon. It folds down flat easily and the wheels can quickly be removed if necessary.
Once you have one of these trolleys, you will find it has all sorts of other uses art home. I currently use mine for fishing. You can find alternative 2 wheel trolleys here.
- Large Bags to fit all your gear in if you don’t have a trolley. (A large garden sack is perfect.)
- Music player and batteries
- Loo roll
What Food and Drink To Take to a Festival
Regardless of if you are camping or not, it is vital you drink plenty of water each day and stay hydrated. Most festivals have a free supply in the festival arenas. If you are camping, make sure you have plenty of water with you.
Tip! Salt water will help heal a sore throat
Beer and Alcohol – of course! Remember not to bring any glass and consider that your drinks will likely get warm as the days go by so if you hate warm beer, don’t bring so much that it won’t all get drunk.
- Beer / Alcohol
It’s a fair bet that you might want to cook some food at the campsite. Be wary that most festivals do not allow cookers with flames and gas canisters, but fear not as you can purchase for a very reasonable price solid fuel stoves that will do the job pretty well.
- Solid Fuel Cooking Stove like the one below. Don’t forget to buy Solid Fuel too.
- Solid Fuel
- Matches or lighter to light your solid fuel
If you are planning to cook your own food, remember to take cooking, eating and drinking utensils.
- Food that can be cooked
- Tea bags / coffee
- Plates, Cutlery, Mugs
- Pans to cook in
- Something to clean your Cutlery & Pans with
You will probably need to bring plenty of food that doesn’t need to be cooked. The problem here is that you can’t bring things that will perish (unless you have a fridge or cooler). Here’s a few suggestions:
- Snack Bars: Cereal Bars, Protein Bars, Biscuits, Jaffa Cakes
- Fruit: Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Dried Fruit
- Tins: Beans, Fish i.e. Tins of sardines or mackerel
- Pot Noodle – If you can get some hot water
- Crisps & Peanuts
- Mini Cheddars
- Most festivals now have points where you can charge up your mobile phone but it may cost you to use them and could mean having to stay at the charging point for an hour which is a nuisance. A Mobile Phone Charger Pack is an ideal solution to this problem, especially if you are camping.
- Phone Charger Pack REMEMBER to charge it up before you leave!
What to Wear at a Metal Festival
It’s often tricky working out what to wear at a festival and the weather plays a major factor in decision making. If there is the slightest chance of rain, take a waterproof jacket or poncho as it’s horrible getting soaked and then staying soaked for hours.
Avoid Denim (except for your Battle Jacket) as when Denim gets wet it gets heavy and takes forever to dry out. Shorts are a much better idea than long trousers for comfort and for drying out if it rains. Wear shorts with pockets that either zip up or button down tight.
- Clothes for sleeping in (ensure you stay warm as even in the summer it gets cold at night. )
- Clothes for each day (if it’s likely to be wet and muddy your wet clothes are unlikely to dry out overnight)
- Comfortable socks that can take some wear ‘n’ tear
- Battle Jacket
- Lightweight rain coat
- Coat / Jacket to keep dry/warm
Tip! It can cool down considerably in the evening so consider taking a hoodie
If there is a slight chance of rain and you don’t really want to carry a raincoat around all day, then a Poncho is ideal to stick in your pocket and use if necessary. Admittedly they don’t look ‘Metal’, but they will keep you dry and mean you have a much more enjoyable time. So many people wear them now at festivals when its raining that the un-cool factor isn’t really an issue.
- Fold Away Ponchos
- Sun hat
- Baseball cap
Finally in the Clothing section we have to make special provision for the all important Band T-Shirts. Choosing what T-Shirt to take to a Metal Festival is a ritual and cannot be hurried. If you are not sure of the drill, then here it is…
Firstly you need to lay all your band T-Shirts out on the floor and reflect on what bands are playing at the festival. Next you need to select one T-Shirt per day. Either T-Shirts of the bands you will be going to see or bands of a similar genre.
Once you have a T-Shirt for each day, you have to then change your mind, and then change it again. Then about an hour before you leave for your festival, you change your mind for the final time.
- Band T-Shirts
What you wear on your feet at a festival can really make or break weather you actually enjoy yourself or not. Uncomfortable footwear will make your feet hurt and your back ache.
Always take footwear you have worn in and know will be OK for standing in for long periods of time. Note that trainers designed for running can be really uncomfortable for standing in.
If you are going to be moshing or in the thick of the big crowds then expect to get your toes trodden on. Boots in this situation are ideal. If you are going to wear trainers, ideally wear ones that have some protection around the toes. Else, expect some black toenails!
- Trainers (great if it’s not likely to rain)
- Boots (make sure they are worn in)
Tip! Wellies aren’t great for walking in and can get uncomfortable if standing for a long time so a decent comfortable pair is recommended if you do want to take any.
Hygiene & Personal Items
The next section of the checklist covers pharmaceuticals, hygiene and attempting to stay clean and healthy. Think about all the things you use at home or pack for holidays. If you are camping and won’t be able to shower consider how you will stay clean.
- Flip flops (if using the shower)
- Medication / Prescriptions
- Paracetamol / Ibuprofen
- Wet wipes (very important if you are unlikely to shower each day)
- Prescription glasses & spares
- Contact lenses, spares, solutions, drops for sore eyes
- Shampoo / Shower gel
- Lip balm
- Shaving gear
- Deodorant & Body Spray
- Insect Bite cream
- Plasters and Vaseline for blisters
- Diarrhea Tablets
- Anti-bacterial gel
- Females: Make-up, Sanitary products, Shewee
Other Useful Things to Bring to a Metal Festival
Lastly, the checklist covers a load of miscellaneous things to consider. Many are recommendations from personal experience.
- Bum Bag or small bag
- Credit/Debit Card
- Festival Ear Plugs ….really important to avoid damaging your hearing….. do take a look at my Best Concert and Festival Ear Plugs page
- Water (those small collapsible water pouches that clip to your belt are quite handy)
- Snack Bars for inside the arena. (I munch a few of these on the way in and stick one in my pocket to delay the need to buy expensive food)
- Lanyard cords to tie valuables to and attach to your clothing
- Mobile phone, Charger cable & plug
- Anything that will stop you losing your phone.
- Band timetables
- Cigarettes & Lighter
- Bin bags (ideal for sitting on if the ground is wet)
- Aftersun / Aloe Vera product
Tip! Keep a topped up small bottle of sun cream in your pocket
Tip! If it’s going to be raining, take some small plastic bags to line your boots with. They will act like waterproof socks and keep your feet dry.
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