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Your essential festival survival kit

Festival season is upon us. Here are the things you won’t want to forget

Whether you drive the latest Range Rover Sport or a last-generation Fiesta, if you’re heading to a festival this summer – assuming the sun does eventually come back out – you’ll need to pack a shortlist of essentials, some of which are much more essential than others. We’ll assume you’ve remembered your ticket, house keys, wallet with ID and plenty of cash (this saves queuing at cashpoints for hours) and, of course, your phone. And this year, don’t forget to check any entry requirements regarding negative Covid-19 tests or proof of vaccination status. It’s a bit of a faff, but let’s all look after each other!  

It should go without saying that you’ll need a tent if you’re spending a long weekend at a music festival. That said, a surprising number of people forget one! And that can mean less that idyllic nights cramped up sleeping in your car. If you’ve got plenty of space with the seats folded down, this might not seem like a bad idea, until you remember the car park is a good walk away and those feet have danced you proud all day.  

It’s always worth buying a tent that’s bigger than you need because you’ll be thankful for the extra space when it comes to storing gear or if you make new friends along the way. Take a roll of duct tape as well, as any surprise rips and tears in your tent can be easily sorted with this forever-useful roll of problem solving. And when your neighbour’s tent suffers the same, you’ll be the hero of the campsite. 

Once you’ve got the tent sorted, you’ll also need a high-quality sleeping bag. This is one item we’d suggest you spend at the top of your budget on. Even at the height of the UK summer, it will definitely get chilly at night. And if sleep is on your festival weekend agenda, a travel pillow beats a rolled-up towel hands down. If you can’t give up on all your creature comforts for a weekend out in the relative wild, an inflatable mattress is definitely a consideration if a sore back might get in the way of you throwing an unusual amount of enthusiastic shapes to your new favourite act. A pair of earplugs is always a good shout to dim whatever might go bump in the night, and a torch will help if you need a trip to the facilities during the night (and takes the pressure off your phone’s battery as a go-to to light your way). A folding chair with a drink holder always makes for a relaxing morning with a coffee or, whatever beverage gets your body ready for another day getting your groove on. 

The most essential item is, no doubt, toilet roll. You do not want to be shouting ‘can you spare a square?’ to one hundred loo-line friends over the mainstage act. Take more than enough and you’ll need not worry about being caught short.  This might just be the best tip we can offer.   

If you phone app says rain, then wellies and a lightweight mac are your new wardrobe must haves. We know lots of people worry about looking a bit silly all geared up for an apocalypse, but everyone will be doing their own take on exactly the same look. Practical over fabulous is our strong recommendation here. A downpour at a festival can indeed be your friend. Let’s call it a surprise shower! 

If you’d like to rely less on the heavens for your daily freshen up, take some dry shampoo to get your locks back in selfie order and stock up on the refreshing body and face wipes to stay suitably fresh for the fields. And don’t forget your toothbrush. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses and fetching or suitably outlandish hat and be sun smart, because burnt skin is a surefire way to be uncomfortable all day and night long (and super not good for you).

We’re also fans of those fizzy little vitamin pills you can perk up a bottle of water with. They’ll provide a hit of the good stuff on a weekend where your carefully managed diet might just go out the window. It might sound like quite the laundry list, but this little kit will mean you get the best out of your festival experience. Don’t forget to check any entry requirements relating to the size and types of objects you’re allowed to take through the gates, and any bag limitations for main areas if you plan to carry some of these items with you as you roam all the action. 

Portable chargers are now a readily-available must have. They’ll allow you to stay connected for the whole weekend, both with ‘Where are you?!’ as well as all the social media coverage you’ll need.  

Rather importantly, please leave your site as you found it. Take home what you can’t dispose of properly onsite. Bin bags come in very handy for dirty clothes that (when washed and smelling sweet) will forever be full of memories of a brilliant weekend. 

All that’s left now is to decide which car to take. If you’re buying a new car before the festival season kicks off, we at cinch recommend the Dacia Duster and Fiat Panda 4x4 at the budget end of the scale, the Jeep Renegade or Suzuki Jimny for something a bit different and quirky, a mid-budget Land Rover Discovery Sport or Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid for a bit of extra class. All will carry your festival must-haves with relative ease – and have no trouble escaping any boggy car park fields. See also the brilliant – but more expensive – Volkswagen California camper van. When it comes to camping, it’s like a five-star hotel on wheels. 

Rock on! 

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