Put your phone in a ziplock bag and never wear jeans: six tips for surviving wet summer festivals

Desperate to dance in a field before La Niña ends? Never fear – our intrepid team has endured fishing phones out of puddles and frankly frightening blisters to share this wisdom

With at least nine major Australian festivals cancelled or postponed due to extreme weather this year, two consecutive years of negative Indian Ocean dipole events, and three years of La Niña, heading to a festival requires a bit more planning than past summers. But never fear: our team of writers has been trampling through muddy fields, suffering in wet jeans and dealing with “aggravated fat pads” (you’ll understand later) to provide you with their best hard-won tips that might help you have a nicer time. And there’s some sunshine on the horizon: the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts that the La Niña will end by February.

1. Put your phone and cables in a ziplock bag

Perhaps this tip is too basic to even list, but it’s gotten me out of trouble so many times: save the festival schedule and map as your home screen, and keep your phone in a ziplock bag. Not only will your phone be protected from the weather and from whatever it may fall in (I have been felled by puddles, mud and even a portaloo; I will be taking no further questions, it was horrifying), but you’ll save crucial battery life if you don’t have to continually open apps to find out where to be when. Want to make more friends? Chuck a charging pack and cable in there too. – Steph Harmon

2. Bring a battery for your kettle (or cocktail maker)

For a few iterations of Meredith music festival, a friend of mine who we’ll call Liam Gilmour hooked up an old boat battery to an espresso machine and a blender. Now, don’t mess with car and boat batteries unless you know what you’re doing (duh). But this meant no lining up at the coffee cart and lots of strawberry daiquiri-fuelled campsite parties. With unpredictable weather looming, it’s time for Liam’s invention to go from Livin’ La Vida Loca to Livin’ La Vida Niña. Suggested appliances include a kettle for hot water bottles and packet mee goreng, or a heated foot bath. Sadly for our group, Liam has forsaken us and won’t be attending Meredith this year, leaving us to brave the rain unpowered. He is no longer considered a friend. – Nick Buckley

‘All festivals require hiking; choose ankle-support that is up to the task’
‘All festivals require hiking; choose ankle-support that is up to the task.’ Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

3. There is no circumstance under which you should wear Birkenstocks

Avoiding sandals at a festival might be obvious when the grounds are muddy or the crowd is rowdy. This advice is not for those times. This advice is for if La Niña eases and you find yourself going to a civilised, grown-up festival where people picnic on sun-hardened soil and no one accuses you of being old if you sit down (because they are also old). I speak from bitter experience, having spent three blissful days in August 2019 wandering the Cotswolds’ rolling hills in pristine white Birks, at the almost unbearably bougie Wilderness festival. The shoes made it out unscathed; my knees did not. I ended up being carried from our campsite on day three, unable to walk from the pain in my knees. A physiotherapist would later tell me I’d acquired “aggravated fat pads”. The injury still haunts me when I make a shoe choice that’s anything short of sensible. All festivals require hiking; choose ankle-support that is up to the task. – Alyx Gorman

4. Never wear jeans

Jeans. They have a reputation as a casual trouser: easygoing, relaxed, not trying too hard. But much like feeding Gremlins after midnight, get them wet – especially at a festival, where there’s nowhere to hide – and they turn into vicious, unsparing tormentors. They will never dry, they chafe like Satan himself were rubbing your inner thighs with sandpaper: pure misery-inflictors. If there’s any chance of warmth, go for shorts or a dress; add tights, looser trousers or waterproofs if it’s hardcore out there. – Laura Snapes

Festival goers in raincoats at Splendour this year
‘I can safely say that the raincoat my mother always implored me to leave the house in is now the only festival gear you really need.’ Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

5. Invest in a lightweight raincoat

When I was a teenager, the idea of dressing appropriately for a festival was tantamount to treason. It was, however, also a time in which summer usually meant clear skies and baking sun, not relentless rain. Having spent two years navigating everything from music festivals to Notting Hill carnival during British high summer AKA The Eternal Downpour, I can safely say that the raincoat my mother always implored me to leave the house in is now the only festival gear you really need. A lightweight number, preferably with proper water-blocking technology that tends to be invented in wet-weather capitals like Amsterdam, is what you’re looking for. Getting properly soaked at a camping or day festival sucked when I was 15 and it’s no better 20 years later. In good news, quite a few companies have popped up since the days of daggy yellow ponchos, offering easy-to-store and even relatively fashionable protection that you’ll want to wear the other 364 days of the year in which – let’s be honest – it is also likely to rain. My pick? Rains. – Jonno Seidler

6. Pack blister plasters – and lots of them

After my BIG JUNE, spending three out of four weekends at music festivals in the UK while effectively hobbled by blisters, I speak with authority: make sure you take all measures necessary. That means not just packing plasters and thick socks, but tape and padding to cover “hot spots” before they bloom. If you can pack two pairs of shoes, alternating is another effective preventative measure. But if a little bubble (or three) does form, resist the temptation to “speed up the process” by popping it. This will not work. Instead cover it with a bespoke blister plaster and wait for it to recede. Buy enough to spare and you’ll make yourself the most popular person on the campsite. – Elle Hunt


Nick Buckley, Steph Harmon, Elle Hunt, Jonno Seidler, Laura Snapes and Alyx Gorman

The GuardianTramp

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