Little Luxuries


Part camping trip, part survival exercise, Burning Man requires a lot of utilitarian gear. Water cubes, tents, duct tape, rebar… these are the things of our desert lives. Practical items are necessities but what of the little things that make life grand? We’re out there to have fun not just survive. I’m a tent camper so things are pretty streamlined for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sleep in fancy PJs.

A quick quiz of friends turned up these personal luxury must-haves:

copper mug for cocktails
calligraphy set
solar charger for iPod
chef’s knife
fancy boots
throw pillows
one bottle of nice Pinot Noir
red lipstick, kept in the cooler to avoid melting
separate tent just for costumes
high thread-count sheets and feather duvet
spray bottle with a fan
full-length mirror*
small photo album

I save my luxury item for Burn Night. By then I’m living on soups, jerky and boil-in-a-bag Indian curry. A can of duck legs confit is fancy, fortifying and delicious — especially when served on instant mashed potatoes. Add wine and a playa sunset and it’s the height of fine dining.

What’s your luxury item? Tell us. We might need it.

*As always, only bring things that will leave no trace and secure your property at all times. Shattered mirrors will definitely leave a trace. And if you love something, leave it at home. The playa eats irreplaceable treasures for breakfast.

About the author: Molly Ditmore

Molly Ditmore

The night Molly Ditmore arrived at Burning Man 1998, she told everyone that she had come home. She didn't pack a flashlight or get any sleep. She volunteered at Media Mecca for six years, where she handled press inquiries from the music community and hosted an art tour. Costuming for Burning Man inspired her to sew again, a skill she learned in middle school home economics class. She is now a couture pattern-maker, custom clothier and rain hat maker. Molly got dusty from 1998-2009 and 2012-2015. She reads the comments.

28 Comments on “Little Luxuries

  • Sparks says:

    On the mirror front e6000 a cheap mirror to 1/2 wood and then use mirror screws even if it gets broken the parts are all glued down to avoid mooping cutty bits! My lady likes her mirror, I like solving problems!

    My luxury item is a good bottle of tequila to share with my old and new camp mates on sat night and a feather comforter for sleepy time.

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  • SalsaCat says:

    Good. Frothy. Beer.
    High quality waterless shower wipes… I have some amazing tea tree and eucalyptus ones. One will clean your whole body & can be rinsed/reused to wipe down/unplayafy surfaces etc.

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  • Lexann says:

    Champagne for the night of the burn. Along with glasses. Nothing worse than drinking wine from a plastic cup … Except not drinking wine.

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  • mzfit says:

    This past weekend I took two large petite sirloins, got out a vaccuum seal bag and put them in there with marinade. After sealing it up, I threw them in the freezer. Around Wednesday or Thursday on playa they will be thawed but cold in the cooler I bring. My wife and I will grill them up for dinner before going out for the night!

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  • Zacky T rex says:

    I have a website just for affordable solar chargers. If you enter the coupon code burner, you’ll get a 30% discount.

    I always needed something to charge up USB devices and these will power USB Elwire!

    And plenty of baby wipes. one of these things.

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  • Osha says:

    My best tip is PRE-PACKAGED COSTUMING!! I used to drag my entire wardrobe to the playa and sit for hours trying to decide what to wear. Now, I get as many 2.5 gallon ziplocks as days I will spend on the playa and fill the bags with costumes, jewelry, socks, eyelashes, sunglasses, bras – everything. Dressing now takes me 10 minutes and I’m ready to hit the playa dressed to the nines!!

    I also bring an upgrades mirror (like Sparks suggested), but in addition to adding the plywood, I also add pipe insulation to the sides and glue-gun fur onto the insulation making it look “playafied”!

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  • Merlot says:

    A small “in and out” cooler. This year I cooked and seal a meal’d everything but we want it to stay as cold as possible for as long as possible so I added a smaller cooler to add ice to every day that I can put my snacks and drinks in! Hmmm… I can taste that cold Milky Way!

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  • G says:

    In the middle of a barren desolate dry desert lakebed, everything is a luxury.
    Special mentions . . . .

    my dust proof tent





    a certain brand of chocolate bars sealed in their wrappers. When the heat of the day melts them, I tear a little corner off the wrapper and squeeze out the molten delight like toothpaste out of its tube.

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  • Trilla Vanilla says:

    Have you seen the thick, clear, plastic packages that bed linens, blankets, etc. come in when you purchase them? Well I save those dust-proof, zippered ‘containers’ just for Burning Man! I separate my cute, little panties, bras, costumes, socks, etc. then store them in the plastic containers while on the playa. They keep the dust out and you can see exactly what’s in each bag!!! Genius, I know!!! Oh, my other lux item is my camp oven. I bake up ‘pizza rounds’ for my campmates!

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  • Dr Phil says:

    The best is to have those mini weiners in a can. Leave them in the car all days and whammo what a meal as the sun goes down.

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  • dirt wheel says:

    I love the very simple fact of making sure the dam phone is powered down and packed away. Not giving the thing a single thought for 10 day’s. As well as throwing a couple bags of gummy bears on the top of the trailer in the so very hot sun for a day. When the gummies have fused their pretty little selves together into a colorful psychedelic liquified mass, I’ll throw them into a cooler of ice water to make them one solid mass. Then gnaw on them late one nite, washing them down with an ice cold bottle of water, as I drift off into a coma. Delicioso! – Hey, what up Dr. Phil? Stop by Blackies again this year, if you are that Dr. Phil. And if your not that Dr. Phil, stop by anyway. (9:15 & J) It’s possible we could have dueling Dr. Phil’s.

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  • Amica the Instigator says:

    My special love is ice cold whipped cream on brownie bites out in the middle of the street offering up bites to passerbys. A spray bottle for water is a must and once again I’m in the street spraying anyone who dares to come near, often to do a u-turn and come back for seconds. The best personal indulgence is a wet-wipe dipped in icewater for a bit and then dragged deliciously along my arm or my husband’s back. Instantly you feel like you are in air conditioning. If you really want to treat someone do their whole body and watch the goose bumps come up. Shivers!

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  • Minerva says:

    My little espresso machine run with the big solar panel is my favorite luxury. Espresso for breakfast…add a little ice and vodka to make what I call a ‘Hairy Latte'”, for later.

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  • Janet Planet says:

    Figjam’s legendary swamp cooler made from a 5 gallon bucket.
    Here’s how to build your own:

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  • Anna the Gnome says:

    A brand-new bag of socks: comes in its own bag, and my daily ritual ritual is to babywipe my feet, slather them with lotion, and pull on a new pair of socks. It’s the only real feeling of “clean” I get out there.

    As far as treats: Oreos, ice cold pickles, gummy peach rings.

    And Minerva- Where are you camping? We should be friends.

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  • Evil Pippi says:

    Another great post, Molls. And the commenters are leaving such amazing tips! More, please!

    – Beater ice bucket to take on an art car packed with ice and champers
    – Thrift store champagne flutes, cuz, as Lexann says, drinking fine booze out of plastic bites
    – MAC makeup wipes, to get all the klown off. Nicely scented and leaves face feeling smooth
    – Lots of pearls. Makes anyone look super fancy!
    – Packs of prosciutto and also smoked oysters with fresh lemon squeezed over. Instant protein hit!
    – Chimay. Sucking from that bulbous bottle top is fun and the stuff is delish and easy to pass and share.

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  • Vita says:

    Fixins for an ice cold salade nicoise!
    Many years ago, we hunkered down in a dome to sit out a whiteout. A friend (dressed in pearls, no less (and that’s all)) brought out a big platter of salade nicoise.

    Tuna, ice cold butter lettuce, pickled green beans, kalamata olives, DIVINE.
    Now every year I bring the ingredients, and at the right time, bust them out. Always a hit!
    Drizzle with balsamic and really good olive oil to increase the OMG factor.

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  • chrissyp says:

    bedside tables to hold my lamp, a ‘floor’ for our extra large tent made from a patchwork of fabrics, pee bucket in the corner, 18 x 20′ carport around the tent, carpeted, tapestried, and bedecked in pillows, evap cooler, champagne in flutes, crisp delicious cold pink wine in wine glasses, good tequila, costume bins filled with outfits in ziplock bags, a 6′ closet pole hanging from the rafters of our structure to hold the hang up stuff, and covered over with a sheet to minimize the pre-wear dustiness, extra pieces of 1″ x 10′ emt conduit to strengthen the windward walls, but, fixed first with the little solar chargers for the string lights that provide ambiance………. oh yeah, and a chef. This year, I’m bringing a chef…… but since he’s a virgin, we are all bringing our own food, plus to share, because, I just don’t believe he’ll really want to spend his first burn cooking constantly… oh yeah, and good salty olives. I love olives!

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  • chrissyp says:

    maybe silly, but it’s beautiful… lots of colored vases to put the solar lights in at night… the light shines down and out through the colored glass or plastic and is just so pretty.. if the vase is light weight, add those little glass pebbles for balance…… or, put those battery operated tea lights into the colored vases…. I love pretty things…. that’s why I bring my own herd of sparkle ponies too!

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  • Trigger says:

    My go to luxury item is lavender mist spray stored in the ice chest. Total bliss.

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  • Hozo says:

    A BBQ, charcoal, and a couple pork shoulders. Astroturf and solar lights for my shade structure.

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  • Triple Bunnee says:

    Popsicles. We take several bags of popsicles and break them out on Friday or Saturday when everyone is frazzled and hot. The best thing is that not one person walks away to eat the popsicle, they sit down and visit while they’re eating. We’ve met lots of new friends that way.

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  • Minerva says:

    Anna, I am with the Bonehead Beach Club. Usually we are live around 6:30 and H. Come on over and have a latte’… We will have margaritas, too. I will be in the Center Camp Cafe making espresso on Friday Saturday and Sunday 3am to 7 am. I can’t wait to watch the sun come up behind the coffee bar.

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  • alaska glacier says:

    I like to bring a tupperwear container large enough to hold a few bags of chocolate peppermint patties, other assorted chocolate treats and dry ice. Put the bags right on the dry ice and put said container into your cooler. They usually stay good and cold cold until day three or four on the playa and are a wonderful treat to gift out. Triple Bunnee I may have been a recipient of one of your popsicles, and if so it was sheer bliss on another hot, dusty, beautiful day in BRC.

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  • allie says:

    chocolate milk (everything is so alkaline… something basic can turn your whole day around!)

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  • gabriel says:

    I do believe so. I do believe your write-up will give those people a good showing. And they will show thanks to you later

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  • Lauren says:

    Thanks for your tips. a couple of mine:
    -crispy tostados/salsa/dry mexican cheese/cilantro/hot sauce
    -bloody marys (virgin or otherwise) full of salad (I pickle ahead of time): crispy pickled carrots, green beans, okra.
    -Marshmallows and skewers for a toasted one at any time………

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