Photo by Phil Clarkin – After attending the same music festival for 10 events in a row (soon to be 11), there are a few items that I recommend every Wakarusa attendee pack for a weekend trip to Mulberry Mountain. The list below is in no particular order- I think these are all very important & practical items to bring with you. Everything on this list can be acquired for about $125 and most will last you many years.

What things are on your “Must  Bring” list? Leave a comment below!

Rain Gear

Let’s just get this one out of the way. Since the fest’s first year back in 2004 @ Clinton Lake State Park in Lawrence, Kansas, the weather has proven to be unpredictable. I always bring a simple rain jacket & small umbrella but packing a full suit and rainboots is not a bad idea. If you have any extra room in your vehicle I highly suggest filling it with gear to keep you dry! Sure it might not rain- but if it does (and it probably will) you’ll be all set.

Baby Wipes

This is a low priced multi-purpose item that everyone needs in their bag at Waka! From simple hand cleaning (something that not enough people do at festivals!) to a fully acceptable shower replacement, baby wipes provide plenty of relief beyond the confines of a grubby port-o-potty. Wether you choose the dispenser with a cute teddybear on it or the plain white box is up to you… but I suggest the teddybear design.

Hydration Pack

Water, water, water! Catching a variety of shows at Wakarusa takes quite a bit of walking around in the sun and water is what keeps me going from stage to stage all day long. Lugging around a big bottle and all of that extra junk you need (cash, lighter, festy guide, etc) just isn’t practical. Invest in a CamelBak & enjoy the convenience of always having a cold drink on you plus storage space for all of the extra goodies you might want to have handy.

Bacon & Eggs

When I suggest bringing bacon & eggs I’m not merely saying that you need to bring food- I’m saying that you need to bring bacon & eggs (and fruit and booze and smiles) to the fine folks running Chompdown. Chompdown is a community powered potluck style breakfast gathering that takes place in the Reserved Campground on Saturday morning each year at Wakarusa. As a great way to meet your fellow festival goers & help feed each other (and see some live music in the campground), Chompdown is something uniquely Wakarusa that everyone must do!


Flashlights are soooo 1999! Get yourself a head-mounted-lamp (headlamp, get it?), throw it around your dome, your neck or hang it off of your bag because you’re going to need it once the sun goes down at Mulberry Mountain. Take my advice here – bring a headlamp and that 3am adventure to the port-o-potty will be just a little more bearable.


The most common cause of deafness is noise-induced hearing loss. Your risk is related to how loud the noise is, how close you are to it and how long you’re exposed to it. Music festivals are a prime spot for all of those risks to make an appearance so do what I do and bring a pair of earplugs. It’s not dorky & it’s not uncool- wearing earplugs is a simple way preserve your hearing. If you’re a hardcore live music attendee like myself, you’ll want to ensure a long life of audible enjoyment! They are also super handy when you’re trying to get some sleep and your campmates have decided that 5am is the perfect time to bump some gangster rap.


Taking a tip from my days as a Boy Scout I always bring a bandana with me to Wakarusa. Just as this festival is known for it’s rain, Waka is equally known for the blistering hot sun and high humidity- and a basic bandana works well to wipe away the sweat and block the sun. In recent year’s I’ve taken to using a ‘Buff’ style convertible bandana that can be worn 10 different ways. Give it a try.


Shade from the sun can be tough to come by if you’re camping in Wakarusa’s Mainstage campground so a tarp (or a series of tarps connected together) is a great way to find sweet relief on those scorching hot days. A large flat 8?10 tarp hardly takes up any room in your car so spend a few bucks and bring one this year. Oh yeah, and if it rains you’ll find about 3 more uses for that little blue piece of amazingness!

First Aide Kit

Not enough people bring first aide kits to festivals. Be that guy- toss a kit in your bag before you leave for Wakarusa and it might just come in handy. Chances are someone in your crew is going to forget a headlamp (see above) and stub/break/scrape something & with your help they’ll be back up and groovin’ real quick all because you read this list.

Socks & Shoes

Now, if you know me at all; you know that I rarely wear socks and shoes. (I’m the kind of guy who wears flip flops when it’s snowing.) But when it comes to a festival like Wakarusa I think bringing a pair is the smart thing to do. Sandals don’t always do the trick if it’s a muddy mess (note: last year) or if you sustain a foot injury. And heck, you might just lose them in the mainstage lawn while playing frisbee (guilty!) so toss a sturdy pair of kicks in the trunk and a freshie pair of socks in the bag!

BONUS TIP: Don’t Forget Your Ticket!

For real, triple check that everyone in your car has their ticket before you pull out of the driveway. Can you imagine forgetting your ticket?! Ugh… not cool!

Well folks, there you have it- 10 Waka tips from a Waka vet. Get yourself geared up and I’ll see you on the mountain!