The TMA Top Ten Festival Essential Items

As the excitement mounts for Bloodstock Festival next week, it is time for The Modern Alternative’s alternative must-have items.  We don’t say a lot here, but we think this is worthy of your attention. This list will not be comprised of the absolute essentials like ticket, getting there and something to sleep in (as not all of these are essential before setting off too), but instead we list a few key things and personal recommendations for items that will make a difference to the seasoned Festival-goer.

Before we get on to the recommendations, there are a number of things we can all do to make the lives of both others and ourselves better:

Be sure to look into car shares with people travelling to and from the Festival from our general area; it is a great way to help people, reduce costs and meet new mates. The GoCarShare site Bloodstock page.

Instead of taking a car, The Big Green Coach Company are an official partner of the Bloodstock Festival, they provide return travel from key locations the length and breadth of the Country.

One major recent improvement is the pairing of Festivals with Fat Frank’s Camping Shop. It is now possible to actually travel with little more than your clothes and wallet and still enjoy your festival without having to bring everything with you. You can pre-order or buy pretty much everything you will need and collect it at the campsite. From tents to toiletries, including some package deals, it is all there to conveniently pick up.

In addition to this, Fat Frank’s are part of the Bloodstock Goes Green initiative so, if you bring your camping goods back to Fat Franks before 12 on Monday, they will donate them to charity.  This is a really small change from the abandonment of all sorts of Festivals over the years when people thought their tents were going to charity but may have ended up being thrown away. If you cannot be bothered taking it with you and it is in good condition, take it and donate it… you could really help some people in need.

So now to the list, in no specific order…

Item 1
This is one that many people already will swear by. The humble power bank. If you take your smartphone, tablet or other electronic devices, then you are likely to need a boost at some point.  Most Festivals have provision for charging at some of the stalls, but I have never quite been comfortable with handing over several hundred quidsworth of stuff to a complete stranger; less still paying them a fiver to take my phone for a couple of hours and hand it back (on a number of occasions) with a partial charge.  I have tried a number of chargers and power packs over the years, but this one is by far the best.

It has a hefty 20,000mAh capacity; more than enough to recharge the biggest iPhone available three times and most lower-spec phones more times. This could easily pay for itself just at one Festival but can be used year on year, also to help your mates out. It can charge, and be charged by, both Apple Lightning cables, as well as the widely used MiniUSB connections.

Item 2
One thing that I have never yet seen at a Festival, but wish I had discovered many years ago myself.  Getting back to your tent can be something of a marathon effort after a day of music, mead and merriment… but this is something that can make your pissed homing pigeon’s quest a little easier. I know several people (me, never…) that have struggled to find their tent in the dark after drinking all the booze.  It would have been so much easier had I know that glow in the dark tent pegs existed!

This is such a welcome innovation that, even if everyone gets them, you can get a few packs and customise a pattern you will recognise.  It will also help prevent the inevitable revellers from tripping over your guy ropes.  I will never forget one festival where a person (that shall remain nameless) leapt from his tent, clad only in his boxers, tattoos and impressive beard, shouting obscenities at the string of people tripping over his tent.

Item 3
First of the more “Eco” entries on the list goes to this great value set of portable utensils, complete with its own case.  Bloodstock Festival is championing a greener approach, with all Traders using 100% recyclable packaging, but… what better way to take it to the next step than have your own eating utensils that will not end up in the bin?

This set includes one full set of cutlery, a pair of chopsticks, two types of straw and cleaning brushes for the strays. All of this is housed in its own case to keep it together and handy at all times.

Outside of Festival season, this is the perfect addition to your car’s glove box, your desk drawer at work, or your handbag, for those impulse purchases. There are so many good reasons for NOT using disposable plastic cutlery and straws, but even those wooden more acceptable ones are still unnecessary waste. The less that is thrown away, the best for everyone.

Item 4
Speaking of waste, this is another of those products that I could have made great use of over the years. Despite the relatively warm Summer temperatures at night, we have all felt the comparative cold nights following the blazing hot daytime sun (well, at most festivals!). The thought of having to get out of the cosy sleeping bag to trudge through the overnight rain to use the less-than-homely toilet facilities is the bane of many Festival-goer. If you need a piss at night, there are better things than that walk, pissing on your own doorstep or indeed someone else’s tent.

This unisex portable urinal may have been designed for the healthcare industry but is an inventive addition to your Festival arsenal. It holds a massive 1.2 litres (I dare you, try and fill it in one go… you will get nowhere near!) will see you through the night, without even leaving your tent.

Again, away from festival season, it is an ideal emergency aid for people with young kids that could get caught short, etc. They are cheap, spillproof and suitable for both men and women.

Item 5
Those people that serve as a welcome feast for mosquitos, bugs and (worst of all) the infamous Scottish midgie, the great outdoors can be an irritating and itchy experience… particularly if your mates are the ones that will cheerily announce that they never get bitten. You may well swear by your antihistamine creams and soothing ointments, but there is one random product famous for keeping the airborne biting beasties away.

I am reliably informed that Avon’s Skin So Soft Original Dry Oil Spray is the go-to insect repellent of our elite armed forces. Apparently, it is essential kit for many of the servicemen on operations, particularly in the jungle.

I guess the only way to be convinced is to try it for yourself, but I guess at worst you would end up with soft skin…

Item 6
Now this is a dual purpose win for your Festival gear. Your ears are going to be tested more than most times of the year; the PA packs a punch, but if you want to drown out the bin jousting of Bloodstock Festival‘s legendary Midgard campsite, then a decent and comfortable pair of earplugs will keep the night time din at bay but not stop you sleeping.

These EarDial HiFi earplugs are soft hypoallergenic silicone, low profile, and will filter out the harmful levels of sound, without blocking the detail out. They are small and comfortable, the material is clear and they sit comfortably inside the ear, but are barely visible and will not fall out. They come with an aluminium carry case (slightly longer than a 50ppiece) that can easily be attached to you keyring or lanyard and will last you for years. There is also a companion phone app to help you understand the levels of sound you are being exposed to.

Item 7
This one is really simple. Bin Bags.  Even Festivals with the best community spirit can be blighted with an utterly disgraceful chaotic mess to clear up at the end.  The solution is blindingly simple; collect and bag up your mess.  There should be no glass on-site, but we all know there will be plenty of empty beer cans at the end of the weekend.  Bag up all your cans, plastic bottles and general rubbish separately and dispose of them appropriately, there will be collection points.

You all know where you can get bin bags from.  Each group of mates should bring a roll of supermarket bin liners with them to help simplify the mammoth clean-up operation that tirelessly goes on when you have returned to your clean showers, warm beds and cherished toilets.  The maths is simple; if your favourite festival needs to spend a load of time clearing up the shit that you leave behind, the more your ticket costs. Just do what is right and play your part; I have a feeling that the current focus on keeping festival sites tidy is going to become central over the coming few years.

For those prepared to take a step further still, there are ranges of more eco-friendly bin bags available. Unfortunately, they tend to be significantly more expensive, but if you are committed, you can have a clear conscience knowing that even your refuse bags are degradable and will not add to the growing plastic plague that is coming increasingly under the world spotlight.

Also, Bloodstock has partnered with the Coca-Cola Company to deal with the collection and recycling of plastic bottles. This will massively help with the clear-up operation, but will also ensure that the bottles will not add to the growing pollution problem.

Item 8
An inexpensive accessory for those with the best of phones, but worst of luck with the weather (some Festivals are famous for their reliable downpours and mudbaths) will keep your prized smartphone safe in the most severe of downpours and if your tent floods.

I have had one similar to this for a few years and have only needed it a few times, but it the touchscreen of the phone works through it. This may be the wildcard for some, but I wouldn’t go to a wet Festival for a £1,000+ phone (if only I had one!) without something like this.

Item 9
In the interests of travelling light, plus having one item that serves more than one purpose, the next entry is an option for your festival torch. Getting about is much easier if you can light your way, but why not have one that you can make better use of when searching for that elusive item in your tent.

This torch easily converts into a lantern to hang up in your tent. You could also effortless attach to a carabiner on your keyring to ensure you don’t misplace this too. It is similar to the one I have had for a few years but is an obvious bargain (the one I have has shot up in price).

Item 10
At the risk of preaching, awareness is rising on the need for everyone to ensure the Festival site is kept cleaner and easier to return to the uncluttered and unlettered open space that it was before you and your rabble of cohorts descended on the site.

These handy litter pickers are another creation that is used in the healthcare world that is also perfectly designed to help keep your beer can mountain under control; they have a magnetised grabber. This is one effective way to avoid unnecessarily close contact with the inevitable wasps that swarm around the carelessly discarded cider cans that the people in the surrounding tents chuck a safe distance away from them… towards you.

See you all in a field in Derbyshire again next week… \m/