Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

‘The Dust Is Very Toxic’: Everything Our SF Standard Editor Packed for a Week at Burning Man

Written by Sophie BearmanVideo by Anna Tong and Morgan EllisPublished Aug. 30, 2022 • 3:52pm
Various items The Standard data editor Anna Tong is packing for Burning Man, as photographed on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. | Anna Tong/The Standard

The conditions at Burning Man, which takes place in the Nevada desert, are famously taxing: it’s extremely cold at night, over 100 degrees during the day, and there can be dust storms, rain and even snow.

The Standard’s data editor Anna Tong headed to Burning Man for vacation, but before she left she was kind enough to walk us through everything she and her husband packed. 

It’s a lot.


Packing for any normal trip can be stressful, but what about one without access to the store if you need food or a phone charger? Our colleague Anna Tong is at Burning Man this week, and this is how she prepared for anything that could come her way on the dusty playa. #burningman #blackrockcity #burningman2022 #theburn #sf #sanfrancisco #musicfestival #festival #sfnews #sfstandard #artsandculture #community #tiktok #fyp

♬ Sunny Day - Ramol

“We have a spreadsheet with over 100 lines of things we’re bringing,” Tong wrote.

A thorough packing list is important for Burning Man for a number of reasons. 

First, the conditions are harsh, and planning to stay both warm, cool and avoid sunburns takes effort. But more importantly, Burning Man’s principles don’t allow for anything to be bought or sold on its premises.

So planning ahead is essential.

“There’s literally nothing you can buy at Burning Man, so wish us luck that we didn’t forget anything!” Tong wrote.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things she packed.

Staying Fed and Hydrated

All the food that attendees consume, including water, needs to be carried in (and out) of Burning Man.

Tong and her husband brought canned meat, beef jerky, nuts, chips, and lots of other salty vittles “to replenish electrolytes,” she said, “because you get so hot and sweat a lot there.”

Various food items The Standard data editor Anna Tong is packing for Burning Man, as photographed on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. | Anna Tong/The Standard

They packed enough food and water to last them nine days.

Keeping the Dust at Bay

The desert where Burning Man takes place is called the playa, and the alkaline dust there is actually quite toxic. 

Tong and her husband each packed snow goggles for the day and clear goggles for night so they can keep the dust out of their eyes. They also packed numerous N-95 masks so they don’t breathe in the dusty air. Many attendees refer to “playa lung” when talking about a sore throat, loss of voice or wheezing issues that can come with attending the event.

The dust, which is extremely fine, also gets all over your clothes and skin and is notoriously hard to wash off at night. Tong packed a spray bottle with white vinegar, which can help in removing dust from one’s skin. She also packed many different types of wipes, from sanitizing to makeup removal to baby wipes.

Costumes for a Fun Time

A big element of Burning Man revolves around lights.

Various costumes The Standard data editor Anna Tong is packing for Burning Man, as photographed on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. | Anna Tong/The Standard

“Lights are very important because otherwise you’re known as a ‘darkwad’ and you might get run over by a roving art car, which are vehicles that roam the desert at night,” Tong explained.

Tong packed a jacket for the evenings that she outfitted with EL wire patterns.

Another big theme of Burning Man is self-expression, so attendees get very into their costumes. 

Tong’s camp is New Orleans-themed and is hosting a Mardi Gras parade. There’s also “Tutu Tuesday” and Tong will also be attending a Burning Man wedding, so she packed a variety of outfits for each event.

Burning Man can be a non-stop party, and Tong’s camp is located nearby one of the biggest soundcamps, where DJs like Diplo are performing. But resting up is equally important; Tong packed earplugs to make resting easier.

Sophie Bearman can be reached at

Couples dance while clad in Victorian era clothing at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

Great Dickens Christmas Fair Returns to Cow Palace After Boycott

A man in a tan jacket and brown fedora stands beside a woman with a scarf draped over her shoulders.

San Francisco Jazz Club Owner Leaves Storied Legacy Behind in the Fillmore

A person with a top hat and red sweater stands with a "No Dancing" sign in the back.

San Francisco’s Roller Disco Godfather Furious With Giant ‘No Dancing’ Sign

A woman in white pants and a striped short sleeve top sits on a wooden bench in an art gallery looking at a painting.

‘Better Than the Louvre’: See Botticelli Like Never Before in New San Francisco Exhibition

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI looks offscreen with a blue background.

Here’s How You Can Win Money Betting on the OpenAI Drama