Driving a small car to Burning Man? That’s what we did for our last two Burns, and it certainly posed some packing challenges for our week-long camping trip in the dusty playa. If you’re wondering what you can reasonably pack for two people in that tiny car you own, take a look at our Burning Man packing list to find out!
Packing a Small Car for Burning Man
This year, I insisted on packing our car for Burning Man all by myself not once, not twice, but four times this year.
I packed us in LA for our pre-Burn trip to Reno, and I re-packed us in Reno after collecting all the stuff we’d had shipped there. Then, post-Burn, I packed us up for the ride back to Reno where we washed our stuff and then re-packed for LA.
The organization was different every time, but one thing remained consistent: We had zero room to spare while still managing to pack everything we’d planned to take along. It was some of my best packing work yet!
Our Burning Man Packing List
Inside the Car
Here’s the sizable stuff that filled the interior of our Yaris hatchback for this year’s Burn.
- Shade Structure
- 3x canopy structures
- 8x tarps
- 42 feet of cut 3/4″ PVC
- Storage Totes
- 17-gallon storage tote, stacked with a second empty one (costumes + food)
- 2x 10-gallon storage totes (clothing + electronics)
- 4-gallon storage tote (shower)
- 4-gallon storage tote (kitchen)
- 3-gallon storage tote (toiletries)
- Cooler (14-gallon)
- 2x collapsible camp chairs
- 2x zero gravity lounge chairs
- Swamp Cooler (5-gallon)
- Banquet Table (6′)
- Tent Setup
- sleeping pads
- sleeping bags
- camp pillows
- Power Setup
- solar panel
- Loose Grocery Items
- 24x 1-gallon water jugs
- 3 paper bags filled with groceries
- 36-pack beer
- 1-gallon box wine
- Other Loose Items
- 2x king size pillows
- 2x towels
- small rug
- full length mirror
- 2-gallon watering can
- engine coolant
- motor oil
- 2x People
Outside the Car
With no roof rack, we had to get our bikes to Burning Man somehow, so two years ago we bought a bike rack that mounts perfectly to our hatchback door. It holds two bikes. Exactly what we needed.
- Bike Rack
- 2x decorated burner bikes
- 2x bike rack frame adapters
- 2x bike locks
Reaching the Limit
When things start spilling into your seating space, you’ve reached capacity.
Two people in a two-door hatchback with no roof rack meant space was severely limited. I had two large pillows invading my lap and a small tub on the floor at my feet. Our full-length mirror rested against the ceiling between us, held up by our sun visors, just shy of the windshield. Ian’s silly Vietnamese hat (which he wore for about 2 hours) hung annoyingly between our seats.
We were completely at our limit. It’s a good thing we didn’t buy any more crap because if we had, we’d have been choosing what to leave behind.
Have you successfully packed a small car for Burning Man? Tell us about it in the comments below!