Packing Ninjas!

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Packing Ninjas!

Post by trilobyte » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:00 pm

Taking a cue from a comment lemur made in another thread about "examples of what's possible", I'd like to start a thread for people to show off and share examples and tips of how they pack their stuff. Sure, some are local or coming in with plenty of cargo space in trucks and other vehicles, but the majority of burners travel from afar. Carryon allowances can be incredibly challenging, and packing light for rideshares or to be able to squeeze it all into that sub-compact rental car they gave you instead of the bigger ride you reserved... can be maddening.

Share your tips, show us your mad skillz!

Lemur, I know you've posted it before, but if you'd care to share it again here that'd be awesome.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Sic Pup » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:16 pm

2011 Eastern Long Island, NY to Reno/BRC


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I reserved the front seat for water and food and whatever I picked up in Reno:

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Theraplst » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:21 pm

My ford focus was packed 100%. my monkey hut pvc barely fit inside, and my front seat passanger actually had to climb over it to get in/out.

guy in the back seat had stuff packed all the way around him, and when we stopped for last minute supplies in reno, he ended up with cartons of food and beer on his lap.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by maladroit » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:47 pm

I packed monkey hut poles, 7 man tent, 72qt cooler, two deep-cycle batteries, a solar panel, 20 gallons of water, a huge box of food, a huge bin of tools, stakes, and rope, a full-sized suitcase, a two-burner stove, a table, a loveseat, a 20x30 tarp, blankets, a bin of kitchen supplies, a bin of medical and hygiene supplies, and a bike. This was all inside a Jeep Grand Cherokee except for the bike; I was able to fit the 10 foot PVC inside by removing the front passenger seat. And I actually brought an extra person + their gear and tent back home with me.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by lemur » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:57 pm

back by popular demand!

Yes! you can travel from thousands of miles away with all your camping junk, it is totally possible.

This is what I've ended up with after a few years of learning what works and what doesn't (for me personally) when coming from over 2000 miles away with bag weight and size limits.. (on trains and planes) I havnt spent all that much on my gear.. And I do not have much special backpacker superlight supersmall stuff.. excluding the camera gear.. all of my burning man camping junk cost a grand total of about $800 (spread out a few years). Purchased from the big online retailers.. with no real specialty items.. my two most expensive items were: my tent at about $100 and my fancy blow up sleeping pad, again about $100 ..both well worth it!

So How do you choose to do this?!

-Lemur tip: to fit a buncha junk in a small space nest stuff in otherwise empty spaces.. like bowls, cups, ..shoes...empty coolers. nooks.. crannies.. etc..

-Another thing is: shop around and get the smallest thing you can afford for that year.... it might mean that you have a huge sleeping bag one year, and the next you can afford to get a real nice compact one... Just try and do your best with what resources youve got.. odds are youll be wanting to do this burning man thing again, youll have another chance

-Don't be afraid to be comfortable! it isnt a competition to pack light.. I bring tons of small little items that could probably be left behind.. and while not living in total luxury like some, there are certain items that i wouldnt do without.. am/fm radio, melodica.. extra shoes.. a rug for in front of my tent...

-The opposite of the above thing: Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable! if you want to get there, while packing light and not having to re-buy your whole camp in reno every year... youre gonna have to make some compromises ..maybe it means getting the 2inch thick blow-up sleeping pad instead of the 6inch thick blow up bed.. or a tent you cant stand up in.. or a shade structure thats barely taller than your tent.. But!! you will survive this stuff.. it might even feel like "home" after a few days.


OK lets see all your boring packing pictures

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I bring two bags, totalling between them about 65 pounds, the black luggage bag contains all my camp gear, the orange bag contains clothing..i also attach my black camera bag to it so i can have one bag on my back.. and one rolling, makes for easy transport on the playa, and while traveling... see burning man ticket and paperwork for scale... black bag is 14 x 16 x 24 inches typical carryon for airplanes in america is 10 x 16 x 24 inches... If i didnt have such a deep ice cooler this bag would be/is a carryon bag (ive unzipped that extension thing that makes it a few inches deeper)

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all neatly packed with a 1 foot ruler for scale

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my 2 person tent, tent poles, sleeping bag, super compact blanket, blow up sleeping pad, rug for in front of my tent, melodica, towel, tent stakes, light stand/tripod, extra shoes, solarpowered lightup drink/booze bottle, and importantly: cooler filled with burner stuff (not pictured when these images were made: shadecloth and small bag with poles that also fits nicely along with all the other junk)

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all the stuff from the cooler: bag of toiletries(wet wipes, earplugs, big lotion, travel size lotions, lip balm.. toothbrush, goldbond, ..etc), bag of electronics (am/fm radio, set of headphones, alarm clock, phone charger.etc), batteries, umbrella, camp stove fuel and pan, cutlery, dinnerplate, expandable sponges, two bowls, 3 kinds of tape, superglue, floral wire, extra carabiners, two headlamps, work gloves, 2 head coverings, bandana for dust, water spray bottle, multitool, 3 water bottles, one 2 liter hydration ressovoir, goggles, notebook.. small tiny expandable backpack

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cameras, notepad, 24 rolls of film, charger, extra batteries and flash extension cord

as for clothes.. i bring: three hoodies, 3 pants, 10 socks, 4 longsleeve shirts, 3 tshirts.. plenty underpants. 3 ‘pajama’ flannel/cotton pants for daytime heat... im usually out there 10-12 days and this seems 'good enough'


other stuff..

I used to bring about 10 pounds worth of rebar to hold my junk down ....then i realized it was a waste for such a small tent

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you dont need rebar! i bring these super light 7inch long stakes... ive got 16 of them, they cost me about $30 and in total they weigh less than 1 pound... and when pounded an inch below the playa surface have held up to some real nasty storms

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look for stuff like this! ..a small backpack that squishes down small.. 2.4 ounces! ..cost about $30.. im sure theres lots of them out there these days... sunglasses for scale.. it holds a 2 liter hydration pack, and a buncha other stuff comfortably.


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this can be your kitchen! I use a spray bottle as my 'faucet' along with some handsoap, disinfecting wipes to do the real hard cleaning.. ..with a burn barrel to get rid of wipes.. and the sun to dry it all.. youll not have any 'gray water' for dishes, and if yer super worried about it being contaminated.. just heat the pan up before using it (hey! i do that anyways)

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and this is what my little camp looks like... a sort-of-low shade that is suited to keeping the morning sun off of the tent, and allowing shaded chill space for one in the 'vestibule' area of the tent while doing afternoon meals..

OK that is great and all... but what are the drawbacks? im coming from Kerzblakistan!!!

-depending on whether or not much of your food is shelf stable (refrigerate only after opening) you may need to have some extra space in your vehicle up to the playa for your cooler..(because youd previously stuffed it with tons of gear!!).. I often have extra space for this with my ride up, so I take my cooler out of my luggage, put all of the gear in a big ziplock bag and toss that bag back into the luggage.. put food and ice in cooler and ride up to the playa

-no bike!!! nope.. you cant fit a bike.. but theres hundreds of green-painted yellow bikes at burning man for public use, plus, without a bike you certainly dont have to worry about yours being stolen.

-no standing in the tent!!! ..nope, its a small 2 person dome tent.. mostly good for 1 person plus gear

-I can't bring flammable fuel on the plane/train!!! .....nope, you cant.. youll have to organize that ahead of time...

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if you live in the USA you can send small cannisters of fuel via the USPS to your hotel/pickup points.. or even to burning man itself ! (really.. i mailed myself propane to burning man) completely legal too! (just follow the rules) (source: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_017.htm )


YEAH, WHATEVER.. all i really wanted to know was what tent to get.

Get a tent that packs down to 7inches by 14 inches.. or smaller...

A big tent, and a big sleeping bag will take up most of your space.. .. try and squeeze as much out of your budget as possible to make these things small.




OK.. thats it for now.. if youre really dying to know the exact things I have.. I guess a PM to me would do, unless you want to see brand names spewed out in here..... my guess is the only thing thatd be harder to find these days is my tent... but there are more like it available nowadays!

Good luck NINJA PEOPLE...think small, think out of the box.. and all that burny stuff.
Last edited by lemur on Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Savannah » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:14 pm

That is probably the 5th (and the absolute best) version of Lemur's Suitcase.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by BBadger » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:48 am

I don't have to worry about packing shit up tight as we have a trailer and a truck, but this comes from backpacking trips which I think is applicable:

Organize your shit into plastic bags before packing them into bigger containers (backpacks, carry-bags, etc.). Those plastic bags add virtually nothing to the weight and bulk of what you're bringing, but keep your shit from getting mixed up together. Preferably, you'd use stuff-sacks in different colors to help you locate what is where; they're tear-resistant and sealable. I also keep toiletries in a special bag, which makes it easy to get ready for bed. Aside from food, water, and large-scale shade (i.e. a Monkeyhut), I was able to pack everything I needed into a camping backpack worth of space. Tents, bags, mattresses, even camping pillows have come a long way and often taking up little space and weight despite their utility.

Clothing doesn't have to take much room if you bring the right stuff. Buy/bring convertable pants so that you have shorts and pants in one. They're light weight, warm, and dry off quickly. Likewise, bring some long-johns (long underwear) to stay warm, as a light additional layer, a hat, a lightweight shell in case of rain or another layer of clothing, and a hoodie (or something to wear on your upper body to stay warm). You'll remain warm, but not have lots of bulk. All that shit can be stuffed into bags easily, or even be stuffed in around your sacks.

For eating, bring a single polycarbonate bowl, a set of utensils, a polycarbonate mug, and a water bottle. The bowl, utensils and mug can fit virtually anywhere, can't break, and as lemur pointed out, you can stuff other shit inside them to save space. You'll want a separate mug for drinks that you don't want to contaminate your drinking vessel with (coffee, booze, etc.). Rinse off your stuff after eating and rub them down to keep them relatively clean. Bring a small camping stove if you're going at it alone, or rely on campmates to bring one.

After your basic gear above, the bulk of your stuff will end up being water, food, and shade -- maybe a bike. You really can't avoid using but space for those. For shade, consider attaching a decent silvered tarp to the car and sleeping next to your car. The tarps take up little space, especially small tarps. You can also wrap them around things to hold them down during transportation. If you have camp buddies with cars, you can even fix the tarp between two cars for shade, which works pretty nice as the cars also provide shade and are immoveable.

When packing in stuff via car, consider using coolers as your storage box rather than Rubbermaid bins, bags, or crates that can break. They're strong, have handles, hold a lot of stuff, can store wet items, are at least partially insulated, and can be used as seats.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Cal_cloud » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:30 am

You just made my day lemur

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Savannah » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:52 am

BBadger wrote:Organize your shit into plastic bags before packing them into bigger containers (backpacks, carry-bags, etc.). Those plastic bags add virtually nothing to the weight and bulk of what you're bringing, but keep your shit from getting mixed up together.
I used to keep those squared clear bags that bedding is sold in. Those are marvelous for Burn items, but I've started to run out.

Then I found 2.5 gallon plastic slider bags at a large big-box store a month ago. They're fabulous!
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by tahiti_treat » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:18 am

Compression sacks are fantastic if you like to bring fluffy clothes. I can get my fleece penguin suit, fleece cloak and two tutus down to a loaf-of-bread size; without the compression sack they take up half a tote box. Also good for bedding.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by BBadger » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:41 am

Savannah wrote:
BBadger wrote:Organize your shit into plastic bags before packing them into bigger containers (backpacks, carry-bags, etc.). Those plastic bags add virtually nothing to the weight and bulk of what you're bringing, but keep your shit from getting mixed up together.
I used to keep those squared clear bags that bedding is sold in. Those are marvelous for Burn items, but I've started to run out.

Then I found 2.5 gallon plastic slider bags at a large big-box store a month ago. They're fabulous!
Yeah, those bedding bags work great, and hell, you'll never get the bedding to fit back into them anyway! The best part is that they're transparent and thick too. Those giant zip-lock vacuum bags look decent too.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by BoyScoutGirl » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:43 pm

Quick tips I don't think have been mentioned yet:

1) Remove as much packaging as possible before packing. Why carry out to the playa and back again what is effectively trash, in the process risking it becoming MOOP? Unpackaged items often squish or stack better, too.

2) Remember that while some of what you're bringing will be consumed (water, food, fuel) and will take less space on the way out, you should still plan ahead a space for trash. If you find you absolutely must attach trash containers to the outside of your vehicle, try again to pack it on the inside. Then, as a very last resort, strap that shit down tight - plastic bags were not made to resist sustained highway driving speeds and the huge amount of MOOP along the roads leading to/from the playa is SHAMEFUL for a community that prides itself in Leaving No Trace...

3) Nothing packs up after a trip quite as neatly as it did when you had your whole living room or driveway, no wind, and all the time in the world to make it fit (and possibly a vacuum to seal bags). Instead of spending your last hours on the playa folding dirty laundry, have the sense ahead of time to leave just enough breathing room for the clothes you so neatly rolled (rolling takes less space than folding!) going out to come back wadded up. And maybe enough space for something you picked up at the Home for Wayward Art.

And, as said above, you almost certainly don't need as much as you think you do, especially clothes. Be prepared for hot/sunny and for cold/windy, yes, but you definitely don't need to bring a different outfit for every day and night. Before packing, lay everything out and evaluate critically. Remove half the clothes. There, you're ready!
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Eric » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:17 pm

BBadger wrote:Those giant zip-lock vacuum bags look decent too.
If you hunt around, you can find "manual" versions of the vacuum bags - once they're closed, you roll the air out of them. I've been using them for ages, and they're great no matter how much room you have (we come in an RV, but there's still space limits). I also separate everything into little ziplocks - fresh socks & undies for a day will easily fit into a sandwich bag, they don't get dirty when you're grabbing other stuff, and you have a place to put them once they're used.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Elderberry » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:19 pm

Eric wrote:
BBadger wrote:Those giant zip-lock vacuum bags look decent too.
If you hunt around, you can find "manual" versions of the vacuum bags - once they're closed, you roll the air out of them. I've been using them for ages, and they're great no matter how much room you have (we come in an RV, but there's still space limits). I also separate everything into little ziplocks - fresh socks & undies for a day will easily fit into a sandwich bag, they don't get dirty when you're grabbing other stuff, and you have a place to put them once they're used.
Great tip. We've been doing that since my first burn.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Eddie » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:34 am

I travel light

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If I REALLY need it I'll leave the 75 liter aluminum trunk on

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But I prefer just the duffel on the back seat, this way if I am fortunate enough to find a passenger willing to hop on the back I just move the duffel to the rack and she takes the seat.

Only thing I don't carry in is water.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by TT120 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 10:39 am

The water made me a little too heavy

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Eddie » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:08 am

Here is my packing setup when coming in a motorcycle. Some of the tips would also be useful if there are multiple parties coming in a cage and need to share packing space.

Some of the items are a little heavy for a plane ride but you might find a few tips that work for you.

BRC on a motorcycle, a how to guide & FAQ

http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... 86&t=65113

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by Eddie » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:11 am

TT120 wrote:The water made me a little too heavy

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Nice, came in from Kaliforniyuh?

My rear end started to sink in the entry one year when the playa was super soft. I just found a "lane" that was more hard packed and split to the front.

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by eLPea » Sun Aug 04, 2013 5:53 pm

TT, is that Jungo?



Thanks to whomever mentioned the "fluffy things in stuff sack" idea - I think this made me able to eliminate one 20 gal tote and replace it with a large, but squishable, stuff sack that will be much more forgiving to pack!

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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by TT120 » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:47 pm

That pic was actually taken at Eureka Dunes in Death Valley but I have taken the same rig on Jungo Rd and the surrounding mountains. The sand isn't nearly as deep on Jungo.
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Re: Packing Ninjas!

Post by eLPea » Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:22 pm

Very cool! I bet that is a fun little rig to roam around on.

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