Walking around the Bonnaroo camp grounds for the first time is a very unique experience. You can definitely tell who has been doing this summer after summer. Whether it be decked out RV’s or homemade teepees, most veterans take camping pretty seriously. Unfortunately, most people don’t learn what to pack for a big summer festival until they’ve gone an entire weekend ill-prepared. You paid good money to see your favorite artists, don’t ruin your weekend by packing an hour before your caravan hits the road. For all of you Bonnaroo virgins, here are some helpful tips to have a more enjoyable weekend!



Tent – depending on how many people you want to sleep in your nomad hacienda, get a tent that will fit at least one more

Sleeping Bag – synthetic fiber sleeping bags are cooler and easier to pack

Inflatable Mattress – don’t try to sleep on the ground; you will be sore the rest of the festival

Backpack – take this into the festival to carry your water, flashlight and other small stuff

CamelBack – these are so much easier to lug around than plastic water bottles; you’ll only have to refill them once a day

Flashlight – keep one in your backpack and one in your tent

Lamp – to hang outside your tent to party at night

Extra Batteries – just in case

Jumper Cables – if you charge your phone, your battery is going to die

Cooler – bring one for food and another for beverages

Grill – it’s nice to cook breakfast, lunch and 4th meal at your camp site if there aren’t any good shows on

Extra Propane – if you plan on grillin’ all day, take a spare

Trash Bags – don’t be a jerk and leave your garbage everywhere; staff will come by in trucks to pick up your shit

Towels – to take to the showers or lie on in the shade

Hat/Bandana – keep your head covered from the sun and the sweat out of your eyes

Sunglasses – you’re going to be outside all weekend….duh


1 Gallon of Water per person per day – also good for brushing teeth and staying cool

Gatorade – to replenish those electrolytes after walking all day and partying all night

Breakfast Food – you don’t want to walk half a mile in the morning for any reason

Ice – you can buy plenty there, but I suggest packing a few bags in your coolers

Sun Tan Lotion – plan on getting lots of sun, not lots of melanoma

Deodorant – you are going to stink and might not be able to shower every day

Baby Wipes – I scoffed at this at first, but ended up using over a dozen to clean the dirt and sweat off me

Toilet Paper – the porta potties are gross and won’t have TP after a day or so



It is absolutely vital to bring some sort of canopy, tarp or pop up tent to provide shade at your base camp. Manchester, TN is mid-June is miserably hot. You will be walking from show to show in a sea of thousands of people for four days straight—not counting the walking distance from your camp site to the venue. You probably think you’ll catch every show and never miss a beat. But trust me, after the first day of stumbling around in 100 degree heat you’ll elect to miss a few acts. Like the great grizzly bear, you’ll require a place to comfortably rest. No matter how late you party, once that sun comes up you will be cooking inside your tent like a gas station burrito. If you have shade, you can at least get a few more hours sleep or nap later in the day.


If you are going with a group of people, you need some sort of strategy to stay in touch with each other. Your cell phone will die after the second day. It is highly unlikely that everybody in your crew will want to see every single show you do. People will split off or randomly get lost in the crowd. Chances are your camping spot will be a good hike from the music. Once inside the venue, pick a spot where your group can meet up if you get separated.

Lock Up Your Stuff

I know it sucks, but there are plenty of thieves that scour empty camp sites while you’re having a good time inside the venue. Keep your valuables inside your vehicle. Don’t leave your camping gear laying around; throw it in the trunk or hide it in your tent.

Keeping it real, while keeping it safe



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