I’d like to start off with a disclaimer, though I feel I’m a seasoned veteran of Electric Forest having attended 2012,2014 and now going to 2015; I am far from an expert. All tips and suggestions here are also based on my learning experiences and adventures so please don’t feel like all of this will pertain to you exactly.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan is in my opinion the best music festival in the Midwest. The difference maker is its Sherwood Forest which is transformed into a magical place anyone could get lost in for hours exploring all it has to offer. That being said if you DON’T believe me check out my review of Electric Forest from 2012 HERE and some pictures HERE, and the review from 2014 HERE and the photo gallery HERE.
Check out the original guide posted after the events and experiences of my first Electric Forest (2012) HERE
Protection from the sun: Sunscreen, hat, bandana, sunglasses, canopy/tapestry. It sounds obvious but you will be in the middle of a field with no protection from the sun outside of the festival grounds. Be sure to bring whatever you need in order to make life comfortable especially where you sleep/drink/eat and recharge your batteries for the next day. Without a canopy you will be rudely awoken by the heat in your tent at roughly 7am each morning.
Hydration: Water, Beer, Energy Drinks, Camelback. The walk from your tent to the festival grounds alone could be 30 minutes in the sun. If you walk from Sherwood Court (the furthest stage) back to your tent it could take up to an hour if not longer. YOU WILL NEED TO DRINK WATER. Add to that the fact that you will be partying and most likely drinking alcohol most of this weekend you will need to hydrate. Food will not be as important as a cold liquid to drink all weekend long.
Food: Power Bars, Trail Mix, PBJ, Beef Jerky. Fruit I’ve experienced Electric Forest with and without a grill and both have their upsides. With a grill you can make a lot of food that tastes good and does not get redundant (bacon, sausage, hotdogs, chicken, steak and burgers to name a few) the problem with this is storage and cleanup. Last year trucks drove around the campgrounds selling ice for $5 a bag. Our campground usually picked up at least $10-$20 of ice a day to keep drinks cold and food refrigerated. There will also be stations set up around the campgrounds where you can buy ice without waiting for it to get to you. The reason why I would say NOT TO bring a grill is the absolute fact that you will be less inclined to cook food the longer you stay. Even though you have energy to grill all 3 meals day 1, by day 3 you’re half asleep chugging red bulls to wake yourself up and to make it in time for your favorite artist. Most people will NOT eat a meal in the evening back in camp unless it’s a late night snack/craving. It’s too far of a walk and the food is too good inside the festival; (last year a stir fry bowl which was I believe $5-$8 dollars fed 2 people very well). Fruit is a great way to get some water, sugar, and some vitamins in you that you will so desperately need. A watermelon is great but it needs to be finished same day unless you have some Tupperware containers. Bananas, oranges, grapes, plums peaches and apples seem to be a safe choice that could last a few days in the coolers.
Hygiene: Baby Wipes, Baby Powder, deodorant, toilet paper. There’s nothing worse than going to a port-a-potty and NOT having any toilet paper in it. This is where baby wipes will be your savior. Plus you’ll have that clean feeling which most people can’t live without. Baby wipes will also help you freshen up throughout the day when showers are just too far or too packed to wait in line. Baby powder is suggested for people who have a problem with chaffing. I have that problem and I’ve lived through the worst of it. Bring baby powder you’ll thank me later.
Pack in Groups: What I mean is if you have a group of people all going together on this trip; make sure everyone brings something that’s a common necessity. You don’t want everyone to bring forks spoons and knives but to have NO plates or paper towels. This will also help minimize the clutter in everyone’s car. Remember if you have more of one thing but need something else don’t be afraid to befriend and trade with neighbors.
Miscellaneous: Here are a few things most people might forget to bring but could make or break your electric forest experience. 1) An extra pair of shoes. If it rains once and your only pair of shoes gets soaked chances are they will not dry in time for you to wear them the next day. An extra pair of comfortable shoes you can walk in ALL day is a necessity. With rain in the forecast 3 of the 4 days this year you might need 2 extra pairs of shoes. 2) Duct tape and a pocket knife. You never know when something might come crashing down on your tent and you’ll need to quickly duct tape the hole. It’s good for keeping broke shoes together too, or ripped backpack straps. Pocket knives are good tools when those plastic knives don’t cut it. 3) Clothes for all occasions: unlike the festivals we enjoy here in Chicago, we don’t get to just go home after each night at Electric Forest. Having clothes all possible weather conditions is key. That includes a hoodie and some sweat pants for the chilly evenings and nights. This is also where I started to understand why so many people walk around is swimwear. It covers you up, minimizes the chance of you dirtying up other clothes and it dries quickly. 4) Extra Tarps, Chairs tables. As much as people think they have everything they need to party hard at the forest they seem almost always forget a table; Which helps to keep your stuff off the ground especially when it rains. It’s hard to play beer pong without a table too. The extra tarps come in handy to expand the reach of your canopy and to create more dry space to live in if it were to rain. If you have several canopies next to each other a good idea is to put a tarp over the side where the two canopies meet. Chairs are a convenience but its better than sitting on the ground for 4 days especially when relaxing in the campsite. Some people bring inflatable chairs or bean bags. 5) “TOYS” you heard me toys. Why? Because why the hell not were miles away from our normal lives and it’s time to get weird/fun. Bring body paint if that’s what you want to do, maybe a few water guns to fill with liquor. A kiddie pool can be a fun makeshift open cooler you could fill with ice each day. Buy a cheap slip and slide that you can entertain people with or make one with soap water and a tarp (that extra tarp you said you didn’t need)
I hope that you found this guide helpful. I purposely left out the very obvious list of things to bring because there are dozens of posts about that. Reddit has an extensive guide and the Electric Forest website does so as well. The forest is a great place and whether it your first time or your 5th I know you will have a blast. See you guys in the forest. Keep an eye out for the WhySoChi crew.
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