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Surviving at Sasquatch: Festival Camping 101



So you spent the money from your work study job on tickets to your favorite festival. Whether it’s Sasquatch, Coachella or Bonnaroo, one thing is certain: you will be camping. This isn’t your childhood summer trip with your parents. This is the time to pretend you know how to camp and take care of yourself. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Expect to set up camp in the dark. If you’re leaving after class on Thursday, you may not end up at the Sasquatch festival grounds until late at night, and you’ll still have to pitch your tent and set up camp. You should know how to put up your tent at night with a smartphone and headlamp as your only light. Try pitching your tent at least once before you leave (you don’t want to get there and realize you don’t have any tent poles), and hold off on any “fun activities” until after your home for the weekend is set up. You can also find solar-powered lanterns, flashlights and other tools for illumination.

Oregon Freshmen Michael Menefee can't contain his excitement for Shovels and Ropes. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Oregon Freshmen Michael Menefee can’t contain his excitement for Shovels and Ropes. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

If you don’t have the right equipment, visit the Outdoor Program. Located at East 18th Avenue and University Street, the Outdoor Program Barn rents out 2-4-person tents, sleeping bags, foam sleeping pads, rain jackets and camping stoves. Call the OP Barn at (541) 346-4371 or visit the Barn at 1225 E. 18th Ave.

Know what kinds of food to pack. After a long night of music, the last thing you want to wake up to is an ice chest full of water, melted chocolate bars and soggy bruised fruit. Clif Bars, baby carrots, dried bananas and almonds are all stellar camping food. Bring instant coffee, not coffee grounds. Invest in the Mountain House freeze-dried camping meals that just require boiling water. They’re packed with protein and carbohydrates and only run $6-10. If you want to cook, REI has MSR brand PocketRockets propane camping stoves (they’re small enough to fit into your backpack) for $40, plus the propane canister for $5.

Many fans prefer to face the sunset instead of the bands. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Many fans prefer to face the sunset instead of the bands. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Buy a portable phone charger. The best purchase you will spend on a music festival is a portable phone charger (or two). The music festival setting isn’t always full of wall outlets, so expect your phone to die. This is particularly a problem when you are sending Snaps and Instagramming all of the bands you’re seeing. You can find portable chargers for about $10 that can charge your phone once. This is a great way to make friends while waiting for the next act because, when you are the person with the charger, you are the most popular one in the crowd. Who knows, you might just meet your festival soulmate. But always remember, your social media posting needs to come first.

Print out a schedule before you leave. Alabama Shakes or Shamir? Caribou or Florence and the Machine? This year’s schedule is lousy with conflicting acts. Grab a highlighter and do your research ahead of time so that you’re not caught off-guard that day. You can even get the Sasquatch app to customize your perfect lineup.

It’s all love as the sun sets and the crowd heads to Action Bronson. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

It’s all love as the sun sets and the crowd heads to Action Bronson. The Gorge hosts the 14th Annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend from Friday, May 22 to Monday, May 25, 2015. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Be friendly with your camping neighbors. So you’ve rolled into your camping spot and realized your neighbors are planning on busting out a guitar and singing off-key Top 40 all night. It’s tempting to go over and raise hell, especially if you have been driving in a car all day and want to get some shut eye before a weekend of music. Instead, graciously share some of the freeze-dried camping meals (because you know your neighbors forgot food). In the long run, building a positive rapport with your neighbors will be useful when you realize you forgot your SPF 50 sunscreen or need help pitching your tent.=

Be adaptable to any kind of weather. The forecast calls for mid-70s and low-50s for this weekend in Quincy, Washington. Try to find a blanket or tapestry to drape over your campsite and avoid the 5 p.m. heat in a stuffy tent. You should also pack wool socks for the cold nights. They’ll come in handy since you’ll be standing on your feet all day.

Spend as little time at the campgrounds as possible. You’ve spent at least one paycheck to attend the festival. Why would you want to spend your weekend sitting at the campsite listening to bands you could be hearing in person. Sadly, many people miss the small, local acts who play earlier in the day and only enter the festival grounds to see the headliners. While it can be tempting to get a few extra hours of shut-eye, you never know when you will find your new favorite band. Even better, they will probably be headlining a few years from now, and you can say you saw them when they were still cool.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank contributed to this article.


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Emerson Malone

Emerson Malone

Podcast producer with The Daily Emerald and student research fellow with the UO-UNESCO Crossings Institute.