Beginner's Guide

What to Wear to The Burn 2019

The Do's and Don'ts of Playa Fashion

To some The Burns feels like a no restrictions, no holds barred, adult playground where the rules don't apply. But even in the chaos and magic of the playa there are some guidelines you should follow. Some of these are based on following certain principles and some are based on the harsh conditions that you find in the Black Rock Desert. So here are the fashion do's and don'ts:

DO Express Yourself

This festival is not about looking like everyone else. It is about freedom of expression. I know there are lots of fashion ideas here on this site that look like "traditional burner": fishnets, holsters, scarves, etc. but that doesn't mean you should dress like everyone else. Find the look that makes you feel fully expressed. 

DON'T Wear Glitter of Gems

Items that fall of your body or outfit are a no-go at the burn, starting with glitter and gems. You might be thinking, "well I'll just use biodegradable glitter," but this is a leave no trace festival, which means you don't leave anything, including things that biodegrade. Just imagine that someone, weeks after you are gone, is pulling your super cute glitter or gems off the playa with tweezers. NO JOKE. If your outfit has gems or glitter that seem to come off easily, leave it at home. And PLEASE know that anything hot glued to your outfit will likely come off in the heat, so only use epoxies that can withstand the climate like E6000. A good alternative to these items are flash tats and funky makeup alternatives. I've included a few below:

Check out the makeup section for more fun ideas.

DO Be Comfortable

You will find all ages, sizes, genders, etc. at the burn, as well as all forms of self-expression. The best way to be comfortable in the mix is to wear exactly what feels good to you. You can be entirely dressed up and glamorous, dressed down and hippie, or not dressed at all. The thing you want to avoid is dressing the way you think you should be dressing. 

Looking for inspiration? Check out our collection of men's and women's outfits.

DON'T Wear Feathers

I repeat, DO NOT WEAR FEATHERS. These little bits of fluff are a hazard to the playa, and nearly impossible to keep contained. Years ago people wore cheap feathers boa and left trails of M.O.O.P. behind them. In 2012 the festival banned feathers, but then eased the ban for items that had strongly secured feathers. There are hundreds of amazing ways to accessorize, so leave the feathers at home. 

DO Explore The Theme

Every year the festival has a new theme that is meant to inspire art, fashion, and conversation. Every year I create or buy one new outfit that is inspired by the theme, and this year Metamorphoses is no different. You can check out complete outfit ideas for men and women, or just a collection of ideas for women

Looking for more ideas?

Ten Tips for First Time Burners

Heeeeey virgin! You, yeah you! If you haven't been to Burning Man you are still an uninitiated virgin. And unlike high school where that word would garner you all kinds of attention, at the burn, we love our virgins. Yell it loud and proud that it's your first time, and keep these ten things in mind:

  1. Be teachable. Remember the first time you had sex? No matter how good it felt, you still had no idea what you were doing. So listen to the veterans, they are to help and occasionally fuck with you. There are ten principles for a reason, and Burning Man only works when they are heeded.

  2. Give yourself enough time! Don't skimp on the number of days you spend at the burn. Soak it up! Show up on Sunday and watch the city grow into a frenetic party by Saturday. And don't skip the temple burn, it is one the most sacred burns you will ever watch.

  3. Take time to prepare. There are tons of blogs and packing lists online that share different tips and tricks on how to burn, and while we do our best here at Dusty Depot to provide all that information, we still recommend you take the time to research and prepare to have the best burn possible.

  4. Participate! Wear artistic outfits, help with art, go to lectures, burn something in the temple, dance when you feel like it. There is no point watching everyone else play while you wait for an invitation.

  5. Self Care! Don't skimp on sleep. The burn is a marathon, not a sprint so plan to have a great time, but also bring ear plugs, and a good eye mask. Eat right. Everyone does the burn a little differently when it comes to food, but whatever you do, don't skip meals too frequently. The burn is hard on your body, and not nourishing it can have serious consequences.

  6. Hydrate! Just like food, you will need to drink lots of water and electrolytes.

  7. Make plans for your accommodations. During your week on the playa you will need a place to change your costumes, get some sleep, and you might even want a place to retreat for a few hours to recharge. Do yourself a favor and create a dust free environment to stay in, whatever that looks like.

  8. Learn the language. There is a culture to the burn, from the principles we stand for, to the language we speak. The burn isn't a festival, it's a community, and you are about to become its newest member. You should know what moop is, why you shouldn't be a darktard, and what a shirt cocker is.

  9. Be prepared to miss something. The burn is massive! With hundreds of pieces of art, music, and festivities. Just remember that where ever you find yourself on the playa, you are in the right place.

  10. Take risks. Watch the sunrise, fall in love, cry, release something, become a better you. The burn is a place to evolve, so come in with an open heart to what is possible.

Read: The 10 Things Every Burner Needs

Read: Top Ten Fashion Trends for 2017

Read: How to Stay Warm on the Playa

The Best Tent for Black Rock Desert

It is true what they say, you get what you pay for, and in the case of tents, nothing is more true. You can get $80 tents at your local discount store or spend thousands on a new Lotus Belle or ShiftPod tent.

While that cheap tent might do just fine on your annual camping trip, it won't hold up in 80 mph (130km/h) winds, and it won't withstand the dust storms either. I've been to the burn and watched tents get shredded, poles break, and entire setups blow away in the wrong conditions. 

Of course I know people who get by in little tents, but I don't recommend it. Instead, I suggest you invest in a strong canvas tent or something similar that will withstand the elements and provide you with some comfort for your week on the playa.


One of the tents that recently hit the market and has been extremely popular at The Burn and festivals alike is the Shift Pod tent. The general consensus from a variety of users is that these tents are superior when combined with an A/C unit because they actually can hold in the cooled air and provide a dark place for napping in the middle of the day. They are also easy to clean and are very effective at keeping the dust out. The tents are large, measuring 12'x12' and over six feet of clearance when standing up. These tents also come with a lifetime warranty.

The downside? They are too large to easily bring in a car, they cost over $1,000 and ShiftPods still need shade structures. If you are thinking of getting a ShiftPod I recommend placing your order early in the year since the company runs out of inventory before every burn.

Read our entire review of ShiftPods here.

KodiaK Tents

Inside a Kodiak Tent at The Burn

Inside a Kodiak Tent at The Burn

Looking for an alternative to ShiftPod?

I personally recommend the Kodiak Tent for The Burn. For one, these tents costs between $450 and $650 depending on the size you want and are just as effective at keeping dust out as the other tents with thick canvas and sturdy zippers. Kodiak Tents range between 10'x10' to 10'x14', have a head clearance of 6'6", and include a small porch covering. These tents easily hold up year-after-year and can easily fit a queen size bed like the other two. These tents also come with a lifetime warranty.

The downside? Unlike the ShiftPod Tents, Kodiaks are made from tan canvas and don't provide the dark conditions that are ideal for daytime napping. They also don't work well with an A/C unit so the best you can hope for is some good fans.

Bell Tents

Inspiration for your next burn.

Inspiration for your next burn.

Before ShiftPods there were Lotus Bell Tents, a high end canvas yurt that went up with one center pole and supporting guy lines. Since then the bell tent style has been copied by several companies and the price has gone from $3,000 to a mere $500. Bell Tents are between 10 and 16 feet and is also easy to keep dust free with thick canvas fabric and zippers. The original Belle Tents and the knockoffs only have one year warranties.

The downside? Much like the Kodiak this tent also doesn't keep things dark during the day, and won't utilize an A/C unit. It also has guy lines that create a dangerous tripping hazard.

Want to know how to make the most of your tent? Read my blog and discover the best way to stay comfy in a tent

Playa Guide: Your Pre-Burn Beauty Regiment

Playa Guide: Your Pre-Burn Beauty Regiment

In the days and weeks leading up to the burn you may start hearing about how alkaline the dust is and that your hair or skin may dry out in these harsh weather conditions. Most burners after their first burn create a plan leading up to the burn so they can limit their exposure once on playa. 

Playa Guide: Five Fashion Staples for Women

Playa Guide: Five Fashion Staples for Women

When it went to my first Burn I was fashion aspirations were overly ambitious to say the least. Contrary to what I thought my days would be like, I found myself spending most of my days in outfits that were more comfortable, and easy to bike in. So below I'm sharing the five staple fashion items that I wear burn after burn, even as my handmade pieces come and go. 

Understanding the Gifting Economy of The Burn

Understanding the Gifting Economy of The Burn

There are only two things you can buy at the burn: ice and coffee. If you didn't bring it, you can't buy it. A common misunderstanding about the burn is that the city is built on a barter system. The truth is, the city is built on a gifting model, and this works because everyone tends to bring enough, and then share with those around them. 

Playa Guide: 10 Critical Items Every Burner Needs

Playa Guide: 10 Critical Items Every Burner Needs

Preparing for the burn can, at times, feel overwhelming. Packing lists can grow to hundreds of items, and if you're on a budget, you may start to question what you can omit from the list. But there are some things you just can't do without, which is why I've created a round up of the ten most critical items you need for your burn. These things don't necessarily have to be bought, many of them can be borrowed, but none of them should be left behind.