Bonnaroo 2015 Survival Guide: The Essentials

By Amber Donoghue

June 7, 2015

Bonnaroo is a test of the human condition. This diverse music festival hosts around 100,000 people from all walks of life in the peak of the summer season on “The Farm” in Manchester, Tennessee. Hot, unshaded long days make for a marathon of fun, so to speak. Just add dancing, high fives, and incredible music. It’s a festival for the veteran, the educated, the willing. No number of metallic temporary tattoos or flower crowns are going to sustain you for that Billy Joel show at the end of the weekend. They may have a place, sure, but it’s way down on the checklist. Preparation for the event is mainly common sense; bring rain boots and a poncho, wear sunscreen, drink water and don’t be “that guy.” Still there are some key products that can help carry you through from stage to stage. Over the years it has been boiled down to a science known as Bonnaroo survival. Here is a list of suggestions to help you get through the four days of sweltering temperatures, long lines, and unadulterated fun.



First rule: always have a towel. A cooling towel will save your life (and neck) at a festival. Frogg Toggs, Chill-Its and Enduracool are a few fitness cooling towels on the market that really work. Feeling overheated during Bassnectar? Slap that towel around your neck and you’ll be cool in no time. Dancing all night can make you work up a sweat. Your towel is your best friend! Take it everywhere!



H2O backpack! This is a must for hydration and storage. Nobody wants to have to break away from that clutch spot at Shakey Graves to hit the water station and refill their water bottle. Besides you want your hands free for endless high fives and jazz hands while dancing. With 70 ounces of cool water on your back you’re in good shape for hours of hydration, without having to stand in line for a refill. Keep in mind that bottles of water are around the steep price of $4 at Roo! Also Camelbaks come equipped with compartments to hold raw almonds, granola bars, and your money, ID and cell phone baggie.



The Food at Bonnaroo is great, but sometimes you need to curb your appetite in between that last slice of Spicy Pizza and plans to hit The Food Truck Oasis after seeing Sylvan Esso. Kind Bars are the obvious go-to snack with nuts, fruits and sustaining whole grains. These portable snacks also boast all the protein, antioxidants and fiber you need to keep you jamming hard. From dried fruit and almonds to peanut butter crackers, the bottom line is that they all work. Kind is where it’s at, with a great mission behind their brand, and the best ingredients you can put in your system (because you know festie food is not mother approved!).

Sandwich Bag Wallet


So you don’t want to tote your wallet to the Farm. It’s neither cool nor useful. A ziploc bag is great for holding your credit card, license, money, hair ties, chapstick, token bandaid and other little essentials that may be necessary while in Centeroo. No one wants to trek back to camp once they’re out for the day. Even with a lift from a festie cab, who wants to break away from such a tightly packed schedule? Also, keep an extra bag handy for potential downpours. Ziploc is the new waterproof case.


Erogdyne® Chill-Its® 6700CT Cooling Bandana with Cooling Towel advanced PVA material
Erogdyne® Chill-Its® 6700CT Cooling Bandana with Cooling Towel advanced PVA material

A bandana is a must at all times during a festival. Bonnaroo has gifted ticket buyers a fun-rag for the last few years after having picked up on its many uses. Tie it around your ankle or wrist to keep it handy. Dip it in water and lay it across your neck for an instant cool down. Wrap it around your head for sweat absorbing. And most importantly, mask yourself like Billy the Kid for those late-day pee breaks in the Porta-Johns.



Your back paws are going to be catching a lot of mileage over the next few days. Busting a move, carrying you from This Tent to That Stage, long hauls back to camp after the Festie Cabs stop running. Be good to your feet, you’re going to need them all weekend. Fashion statements are great but so are bragging rights for most shows seen at a festival. Chuck Taylors, ankle boots, and gladiator sandals all have their place, but The Farm is not it. Think hiking sandal. Merrell, Teva, Chaco, and Sanuk all make fly footwear for stomping around The Roo. Oh, and don’t forget your galoshes in case of mudaroo.



Covering your noggin is key for sun-protection and temperature control. When sunscreen fails, a Charlotte Hornets flat bill or sampan save the day. Remember not to be that guy, just leave the oversized sombrero at home; there are other people who want to see the show. Fedora hats are also practical to block the sun, although, to site Workaholics, only one fedora per crew unless your crew is of Cuban descent.



Is it essential? If you don’t think so you’ve never swung in the breeze at the back of What Stage while listening to Galactic. Eno makes a clutch single and double-nest hammock with accessories to boot. There are many hammocks but this one is the go-to for festivals as you can hang it anywhere, plus it’s light and portable! The bag it’s packed in even has handy clips so you can attach it to your Camelbak. At night bring your Eno back to camp and sleep in comfort and style. Dual purpose festie essentials are the best!

Battery Pack


For that epic Flume vid, Mushroom fountain pic and Roo family moments a battery pack will keep you up and running. Try staying off of instagram at a music festival; we dare you. There are portable battery packs, Mophie cases, and solar battery chargers to keep you in the phone game all weekend. Also you’ll need your cell for the Bonnaroo app to stay up-to-date on the schedule.

Meeting Place


This is not a tangible item, but still a must for your festival experience. If your phone does die and you are separated from your pals, a designated meeting place is important. People carry big sticks with GoPros and stuffed animals or celeb heads attached to them, but that’s not for everyone. Designate a spot to meet up in case you’re broken up by the madness of Roo. Don’t be like everyone else and make it the ever busy Beer Tent. You’ll never find your personal pack in that mob. Think Post Office, Ferris Wheel ticket tent, Hamageddon, bobble heads, or wherever is memorable enough for all of your group members to remember.

Positive Vibes


Also not tangible, but perhaps the most important asset to bring to Bonnaroo. There are people from all walks of life on The Farm. It’s a hot, primitive and uncomfortable setting for creatures accustomed to comforts of the modern age. Keep a positive attitude while on the Farm and look out for your fellow Bonnaroovian. See someone in need of some sunscreen? Offer a spray to your neighboring music lover. Perhaps someone decides to take it to the paint on Thursday. Pass on a sip of water and a reminder that Bonnaroo is a marathon, not a sprint; we are all in it together. Bonnaroo is a culture of fun-loving kids at heart, and most importantly, a community. For four to five days a year thousands of people flood the small town of Manchester to sing, dance, and be with fellow weirdos. These are the essentials to get you through the best week of the summer. Pack accordingly and see you on The Farm.

CLTure will be joining the 2015 Bonnaroo digital media team producing videos for social media.

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