summerfest feature


11 summer festival items you'll only forget once

Published January 5th, 2016

If you've ever been to a summer camping music festival you'll know certain sacrifices need to be made regarding comfort. Tents turn into sweat baths, port-a-potties bubble over and the airbed brings you closer to the ground each night.

Every camper endures similar treatment, because the music, people and atmosphere are all worth the slight drop in civilised living. However, forgetting an item or two usually means putting up with worse than everyone else.

Take a gander at the following list. You might already have everything; you might have sorely missed some; or you might consider me a pansy glamper for suggesting them.

I've enjoyed three summer festivals, two with and one without the items below. Believe me, there's nothing you'll miss more when you forget them.

Pack the right items for a good time (Image: Getty)

1. Extra Tarp For The Tent

I learned early on that a tent under a tarpaulin is cooler than one exposed to the sun. Although not groundbreaking, it's surprising how many people forget this simple fact in a festival setting.

You don't even need poles. Just drape the tarp over your tent and you'll be able to sleep an extra 30-60 minutes each morning before you start cooking.

2. Battery-Powered Fan

This one sliced my savvy-camper pride in half. How could I have spent so many sweltering days without one? It's a simple instrument: three blades, eight batteries and a steady flow of cooling air.

Now it runs whenever I'm at the campsite. In the morning when I wake up hung over in a 40-degree tent, I'll stumble outside, collapse into a chair and aim it towards my face until I can stand again.

Keep the sauna turned off for that little bit longer with a tarp (Image: Ben Stower)

3. An Extra Camp Bed

Aside from mingling and drinking with fellow campers, a lot of time at festival camp grounds is spent battling the heat and getting enough sleep before the next nine-hour music bender. Packing an extra camp bed, the kind that unfolds and raises you above the ground (inbuilt cushion preferable), helps you do both.

Once the tent becomes too hot, scramble outside for a few more hours of sleep on the camp bed. It also doubles as a lounge and works best when coupled with a canopy (see #7).

4. Water Mister

Initially I thought a small, hand-held bottle that sprays a cooling mist was a little bit precious. Stuck in the middle of the pit with my favourite musicians on stage, I'm not going to care about overheating ... so I believed.

The reality is it's easy to carry, cools you off with one spray and everyone else treats you like a god for aiming it their way.

Not every festival keeps you this well hydrated (Image: Getty)

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5. Collapsible Charcoal Barbeque

Yep, on a hot summer day I'm recommending fire. A healthy charcoal flame that will cook burger patties, sausages, bacon and eggs, because meeting the inflated prices at food stalls gets annoying fast.

I've found collapsible charcoal varieties best. They're space efficient and you don't have to worry about gas cylinders, which have been known to spontaneously combust.

6. Camp Shower

We all think we can make it through, but by the second or third day most of us are prepared to trade our airbed for a shower. Some festivals have the necessary facilities, but these usually come with long lines and a cost.

It's much easier to pack a camp shower and a couple of jerrycans filled with water. I top my shower up most mornings, tie it to the side of the SUV and enjoy a cold, refreshing five-minute wash.

A complete and comfortable setup (Image: Ben Stower)

7. Canopy

A canopy might be the most important item on this list. The year I didn't pack one our campsite became the worst place to exist – we would huddle in the small rectangle of shade afforded by tying the tent flap to the car boot.

Two years later at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival we were able to eat, play drinking games and socialise a lot more within our camp thanks to the canopy. Life was much better.

8. Table

Pack a damn table. You can store items and food on it away from ants and bugs, and long tables also double as a beer pong arena.

This is more a convenience item, but it will stop you from having to keep food in the car or tent, both of which could melt bread during the day.

9. Mandarins

Random? Not quite. I'm sure there are other options, but mandarins have always treated me well.

Toss a few into the esky each day to keep them cool. They act as a quick source of nourishment and refreshment whenever the heat becomes too unbearable.

Winning at summer festival camping isn't hard (Image: Getty)

10. Tapestries

The canopy is clearly the hero when it comes to shade, but putting a tapestry or two up on the sides stops the sun from shining through at the beginning and end of each day. Don't stare too long; tapestries are easy to get lost in, especially the 3D ones.

11. Frozen Water Bottles

Packing frozen water bottles into eskies is still one of my favourite festival tricks. In their frozen state they act as ice bricks, helping to keep your food and other drinks cold.

Once they melt you have icy cold bottles of water. And you didn't need to devote any ice to making or keeping them cold.

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Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.