While you’re primarily headed up the Sea-to-Sky Highway for a weekend of sun, music, and dancing at the Squamish Valley Music Festival (August 8 to 10), you’re also probably going to be camping. As a veteran of a decade of music festivals, I’ve a few tips to pass along for those new to the experience.
The key thing to remember about festival camping is it isn’t real camping. There’s no hiking up mountain trails through verdant forests—the longest walk you’ll make is from your vehicle to your campsite—so the weight of your essentials is irrelevant. Your only goal is to get as cozy as possible. Forget the inflatable camping pillows; bring the softest ones you own. And don’t bother sleeping on the ground; this is the time to haul out your most comfortable air mattress, blankets, and floor pads for maximum luxury.
Make sure your camp stands out: hippie scarves, pirate flags, brightly coloured signs, and other attention-getters will help you locate your tent more easily in the sea of nylon dwellings.
Gas barbecues are permitted on the campground at Squamish (no fires and no charcoal monsters, though), so bring it with you. Ditto the really big cooler. Ditto the comfy folding chairs.
When setting up your campsite, make friends with your neighbours; after all, these are the people you are living with for the weekend. Chat about general loudness expectations before you stake your spot. Usually, there’s a self-selected quieter corner of festivalgoers who aren’t interested in partying quite all night.
Make sure you establish pathways between tents so no one breaks their neck tripping over an errant tent string late at night. Bring a roll of flagging tape to tie around guy lines and mark paths.
Don’t take up more space than you need. Don’t be that guy. Everyone hates that guy.
Earplugs are always needed when festival camping, as the people in the next tent over are going to be having noisy sex. Trust me on this.
If you cannot bear the thought of being without your electronics for three days, a solar charger is essential equipment. The Power Traveller PowerMonkey Extreme Solar Charger ($150 at Mountain Equipment Co-op [various locations]) will recharge its battery pack in 15 hours, and has eight adapters to work with virtually any mobile device, iPad, tablet, or GPS.
While you’ll have access to a shower trailer as well as the showers at the Brennan Rec Centre hockey rink during the weekend, the line-ups are guaranteed to be long. The easiest workaround is a tub of baby wipes, which will save your dirt-smeared body. And if you can’t stand the inevitable grease buildup in your hair, dry shampoo is your best friend. My go-to brand is TRESemmé’s Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo (available at most major drugstores), which doesn’t leave a sticky residue like some others.
Or skip the spray altogether and invest in a bottle of unscented baby powder, which is also handy for deodorizing your shoes and reducing the sweaty under-boob situation.
As far as footwear goes, flip-flops are great for your campsite, although not ideal for dancing. You’ll be glad you have them, though, when navigating the puddle of puke someone’s thoughtfully left outside your tent flap.
Finally, toilet paper: never be without it.