The Outsider: Surviving the Pemberton Music Festival

The 2015 Pemberton Music Festival was a scorcher. Temperatures soared into the mid 30s, shade was considered prime real estate and water stations were crowded at most times of the day. Once you set foot in the grounds, it was nearly impossible to escape the heat.

But people adapted. They wore oversized novelty hats to keep their heads cool. They lathered sunscreen over their near-naked bodies. They drank water.

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At the time of writing this column, the long-term forecast is calling for the most ideal music festival weather: below-average temperatures and the occasional cloud in the sky and a spot of rain. But surviving a four-day marathon of live music still requires adequate preparation.

The single most important item to bring to a music festival is a reusable water container. If you ride mountain bikes, you probably have a hydration pack with a two-litre bladder. This is the most ideal solution because you can sip water from a hose throughout the day, it has enough capacity so you’re not constantly refilling it at the crowded water stations and you can carry extra items like food and clothing for when the sun goes down. If you’re a regular festival-goer, it’s a worthwhile investment. If you don’t want to spend that much, grab a wide-mouthed one-litre Nalgene water bottle from an outdoor store. It’s the best $15 you’ll ever spend and you can clip it to your belt with a carabiner.

Mosh pits and dance floors involve a lot of sweat, so replenish your body’s salt reserves with electrolytes. The most convenient package is hydration tablets that drop into your water container and dissolve. A good substitute is diluting exercise recovery drinks.

Every year people come home from Pemby Fest with horror stories of food poisoning. Hopefully it doesn’t originate with the onsite food vendors, but keep an eye out for undercooked meat. If packing in your own food, watch that your cooler with perishable foods (milk, meats, fruits etc.) in it doesn’t get left in the sun all day. Festival ice isn’t cheap, but it’s necessary if you’re camping for the long haul. Don’t forget snacks, look for packable items with high caloric content.

Showers will probably have excruciatingly long line ups, so pack some baby wipes and hand sanitizer to keep your chances of contamination to a minimum. A quarter roll of toilet paper is also worth stowing inside a Ziploc bag in your pack, especially for the ladies.

Even if the long range forecast is looking good, remember we’re in the Pacific Northwest here and weather can change quickly. Check the weather report before packing the car and always throw in some rain gear and a sturdy pair of shoes — or boots if it’s calling for a monsoon.

One of the biggest struggles of festival-goers these days is maintaining smartphone battery charge. Charging stations are usually overrun at these events, so consider buying your own portable charger. Or meet up with your friends the old fashion way — by arranging a specific meeting time and place and sticking to it.

Enjoy the 2016 Pemberton Music Festival and drop it like it’s hot.

Vince Shuley likes old school hip hop. For questions, comments or suggestions to The Outsider email or Twitter

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