Outside Lands Music Festival is a true California favorite. This beloved music festival takes place at none other than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
In addition to the Bay Area locals that attend this 3-day festival, folks from Southern California, out of state, and even out of the country flock to San Francisco too.
In fact, this is the largest music festival in Northern California! This late summer attraction has been an annual showcase of music, art, and sustainability since 2008. Commendably, this festival often focuses on promoting environmental awareness and sustainability through educational initiatives and eco-friendly practices.
If you’ve got tickets to Outside Lands this year, get excited! You’re in for three full days of the best kind of mayhem and music there is.
Now that you’ve started planning your music-filled weekend experience, it’s time to get serious about what to pack into the festival. Before you can begin having fun, it’s important to think through the logistics of attending a music festival.
If you’re looking for guidance on what to pack for OSL, this post is most definitely for you.
Continue reading for your essential Outside Lands festival packing list to grant you the most fun and comfort from your 3-day experience!
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Table of Contents
What Is Outside Lands Music Festival?
Outside Lands is a multi-genre music and arts festival hosted in lovely San Francisco, CA. The festival typically features performances by well-known artists and emerging artists across various music genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, electronic, indie, and more.
In terms of musical talent, Outside Lands draws a diverse mix of artists with previous headliners including Kaskade, Odesza, DJ Snake, The Weeknd, Lizzo, Tame Impala, and Tyler The Creator. The eclectic mix of music genres featured each year is what brings in the diverse mix of festival-goers from all over the country.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Dates: Typically held every August
Music Genres: Various. It’s a total mixed bag of genres every year, which is why it’s such a good music festival!
In addition to top-notch music, Outside Lands has expanded to include dedicated food and wine areas, a tent specifically made for comedy and food demonstrations, and a lot more fun! Non-music fun includes:
- Comedy Shows
- Food and Drink
- Art Installations
- Local Artists and Crafts
- Activities and Games
- Environmental and Sustainability Initiatives
- Silent Disco
- Wine and Beer Tastings
- Other Random Demonstrations
What To Expect At Outside Lands Festival
At Outside Lands, you can expect a mixed-bag experience beyond just music. The festival features multiple stages showcasing a wide range of musical genres, from rock and pop to hip-hop and electronic, ensuring there’s something for everyone’s musical taste.
In addition to music, Outside Lands boasts a dedicated stage for comedy performances, where renowned comedians tickle your funny bone with hilarious stand-up acts, adding laughter to the mix of entertainment.
Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the array of dining options available, as the festival is known for its ACTUALLY good food options. Where else can you try bites from more than 95 of the Bay Area’s tastiest restaurants all in one place? Only at Outside Lands!
Thirst-quenching is taken to the next level with creative and refreshing drink stands offering unique and innovative cocktail beverages, making it a treat for your taste buds. You’ll find wine tasting stands, cocktail tasting demonstrations, and more. There’s even boba at this festival!
As you explore the festival grounds, it’ll be hard to ignore all the whimsical and creative decor that adorns every nook and cranny, adding to the festival’s unique ambiance and making it a feast for the eyes. And wait until night falls — the colorful lanterns glowing among the trees is a sight you need to see for yourself!
Needless to say, Outside Lands does an amazing job catering to all your senses!
Outside Lands Music Festival: Essential Packing List
1. Hydration Pack
Staying hydrated during a music festival where you’ll be dancing and walking tons is crucial. A dedicated hydration pack can actually save you a ton of money inside the festival!
There will be water stations all throughout the festival, meaning you can refill your water for free all day long. CamelBak backpacks are our favorite–these backpacks usually will have secure zippered pockets too, perfect for keys, phone, or other essentials.
Alternatively, you can also buy water at many food and alcohol stands. The drawback of this: not only will you have to wait in line, but you’ll also have to spend money on water, of all things!
This is a great investment because CamelBaks aren’t just great for OSL, they’re great for other festivals, outdoor events, traveling, and even hiking adventures.
Note: Outside Lands bag policy as of 2023 – Empty dedicated hydration packs with a bladder capacity of under 2.5L / 150 in. and no more than one additional pocket. Standard size backpacks with hydration bladders will not be permitted.
August in California = sunny. But you’re in SF, and while there could be sun, there could also be clouds. Either way, sunburns are most definitely calling your name. That’s right, sunburns are possible even with overcast skies!
Protect your skin with both body sunscreen and face sunscreen.
For the face, I am absolutely obsessed with the magical Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen. It’s all I use these days because it leaves no white-cast AND no greasy film (better for cute photos)! Seriously, it goes on matte!
And after every night of the festival (or every shower), please replenish your skin and show it some love! Bring along something travel-friendly like B.TAN’s after-sun lotion, the perfect way to maintain that summer glow while also repairing dry sunburned skin.
I like this brand over others as it’s sustainably created in Australia, 100% vegan, free of nasties like parabens, and 100% cruelty-free!
3. Fanny Packs
I love using fanny packs at music festivals because of how hands-free they are. They won’t weigh you down at all and because you wear them in the front, it’s a lot harder for thieves to get to.
These fanny packs by Clearworld were literally made for music festivals–they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but because they are all clear, you should have no issues bringing them into Outside Lands and other music festivals!
If fanny packs are not your thing, good alternatives to the fanny pack are:
Note: Per the Outside Lands bag policy, bags will be restricted to small purses, totes, drawstring bags, and bags made up of clear plastic, vinyl, or pvc, and hydration packs.
- Backpacks and bags made of clear plastic, clear vinyl, or clear PVC (no size limit)
- Small bags, fanny-packs, purses up to 6” x 8” x 3” (do not have to be clear)
- Empty dedicated hydration packs with a bladder capacity of under 2.5L. and no more than one additional pocket.
4. Neck pouch / wallet
If you’re a savvy festival goer, then you already know that music festivals are a pickpocketer’s wonderland. Hundreds if not thousands of people get their stuff stolen all the time at festivals. You don’t want to be that person.
If you think any of the above bags are too risky to keep your important possessions in (money, ID, credit cards), get yourself a neck pouch. These can be easily tucked and concealed under your shirt so even if your main bag gets stolen for any reason, you’ll still have your most important items with you.
We recommend Zero Grid’s Travel Neck Wallet because it also has RFID blocking which is crucial to protect against unwanted credit card scans and personal information theft.
5. Portable phone charger
Lots of people’s phones fighting for cellular service means your phone will inevitably be drained out of battery at some point during the night.
You don’t want to get lost and/or deal with a dead phone while trying to find your friends, so consider a portable phone charger an absolute essential and bring one along with you!
Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many campers, festival-goers, and travelers alike!
6. Sunhat / Sun Visor
Sun protection is absolutely key for OSL. If sunglasses are more your thing, bring those too, but we still recommend wearing a hat! Sunglasses won’t protect your skin from UV rays, but hats will.
7. Blanket or tapestries for sitting on
Bringing tapestries or light blankets are nice to have if you plan on doing any ground sitting. Scarves, bedsheets, and blankets from home will be your most affordable option, while colorful tapestries can be an affordable and really fun way to spice up the aesthetic of your little sitting area! Especially if you or your group plan to sit for the majority of the festival.
Consider some of these unique patterns/designs, or explore the expansive tapestry options here:
For something more compact, go with this extremely packable pocket outdoor blanket.
Earplugs are good to bring to music festivals because the music can be LOUD. Muffling out some of the abrasive sounds with earplugs means less damage to your ears.
These earplugs by Mack’s are my absolute favorite.
9. Reusable Water Bottle
There will be lots of water refill stations inside the festival. Take advantage of them!
For something more durable that keeps your water cold for hours upon hours, Hydroflasks are my favorite for everyday use. These will probably be your best option because you will most definitely crave ice-cold water!
10. Baby wipes / body wipes
Baby wipes will come in handy for a lot of reasons. First, they are great for wiping excess dust/grime off your body at the end of each festival night.
Secondly, they can be used during the festival itself to clean your hands before touching your food, mouth, or face.
11. Hand sanitizer + tissues
At music festivals, it’s nearly impossible to find a sink with real soap and clean running water. Even at the portapotties, there can be bottles of hand sanitizers in place of portable sinks.
And have you been to a porta-potty late in the night? Those things start looking real scary.
Bring some of your own so you can sanitize even when you’re not by a toilet. Since you’ll be using hand sanitizer so much, it’s best to get a non-drying natural hand sanitizer to prevent flaky, dried-up hands. We love the following:
Pro Tip: At some point, you may run into the porta-potty with no toilet paper dilemma. You may want to consider bringing some form of backup with you. Tissue or napkins will do just fine.
12. Electrolyte Packets
Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets are a must for music festival recovery. These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health before, during, and after a festival. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!
Adding Pedialyte or Liquid I.V. powder packets to a water bottle will keep you hydrated and replace your body with electrolytes. Especially if you plan on drinking a lot.
If you don’t plan to bring this to the festival, be sure to at least have some on hand to drink after every festival day ends.
13. Other Personal Care Things
Think lip balm, Tums, Pepto, Imodium, spare contacts lenses, contacts case, eyeglasses, any meds that you think you may need (inhaler, allergy, pain, etc), feminine hygiene products, extra hairties, etc.
14. Festival tickets / wristbands / ID
Photo ID. Credit / Debit card. Wristbands. Phone.
DO NOT forget these before you leave the house for OSL!
15. Sunglasses with straps
Because it can get really bright during summer afternoons.
For sunglasses, go with one of your cheaper pairs. The last thing you want is to lose your $300 pair of sunglasses at a crowded music festival!
While you’re at it, why not accessorize your accessories?
Pairing your sunglasses with a strap means less likelihood of your sunglasses falling off your head, getting stolen from your pocket, and whatnot. It’s also convenient for putting them on/taking them off in a jiffy.
16. Face mask or Buff
For the inevitable dust, dirt, and other gross particles in the air. There will be tens of thousands of people walking back and forth all weekend long.
A face mask can help protect your nose/mouth from breathing it all in. We like bringing our Buffs because they can be used for so many things other than as a face mask. Definitely a good investment.
17. Jacket / sweater for nights
You’re going to be outdoors at night at San Francisco, home of wind and fog! You should definitely bring along a thick long sleeve, sweater, or jacket that can easily be tied around your waist.
Outside Lands may be nice and sunny during the day, but it can cool down quite a bit at night. It just depends on the year.
I will almost always bring an extra layer to festivals with me just in case.
18. Hat / Beanie
If it happens to be an especially cold August in SF this year, you want to bring along a hat or beanie to keep your head warm, in addition to your trusty jacket!
I would suggest that you check the weather right before the festival dates and assess the nighttime temperatures. If it’s significantly colder than in the daytime, chances are that a beanie would really come in handy.
Do NOT underestimate the wind factor in SF. It gets COLD if there’s a breeze.
19. Thigh Society bike shorts
For anyone that wants to sport a skirt or dress at the festival, let me be the first to tell you about my newest discovery on how to keep my legs from becoming a huge sweaty mess… I love Thigh Society’s shorties for hot weather!
There are two different options I like depending on what look I’m going for. If I want to wear an above-the-knee dress on a hot day, I go with The Cooling 5″ option. It’s so thin, meaning “sweaty butt” won’t be an issue.
And it’s especially useful if it happens to be a windy day (common in SF). These lil’ shorties make me feel so much more comfortable knowing that I have an extra layer of protection and coverage should the wind decide to do me dirty and lift my dress in one swoop. Or if I’m walking by a ton of people that are sitting down — can’t look up MY skirt!
The other pair that I have is The Original, which has become a staple in my hot weather arsenal too. They’re super-versatile because these guys are very opaque, meaning they can be worn alone or layered under clothes. I wear them while grocery shopping, working out, on airplanes, on road trips, and to music festivals when it calls for bike short vibes. Love ’em!
20. Comfortable walking shoes
I cannot stress enough the importance of having comfortable shoes for Outside Lands. You can expect to be on your feet all day, walking miles upon miles getting between stages. There is even some slight uphill/downhill along the paths.
Because of this, you’ll want to do it all in comfortable shoes.
And because there is a solid chance your shoes will come back dusty/in rough shape after the festival, be sure to wear shoes that you don’t really care about or can be easily washed.
A few weeks before the festival, you should start going on long walks, or at the very least, do some cardio to get used to standing/walking for prolonged periods of time. This helps your legs get used to movement, so they don’t get completely fatigued after the first day of the festival!
While pretty much every vendor takes card at Outside Lands Music Festival, I think it’s still good to carry some cash with you–for those just-in-case emergency moments.
Cash is a quicker form of payment than card, which can be clutch when you are trying to get back to your friends or to a stage for a show that’s starting soon. I recommend bringing $20-60 per day for small purchases here and there.
What NOT To Bring To Outside Lands
- Do NOT bring: Non-clear backpacks and bags larger than 6″x8″x3″
- Do NOT bring: Drawstring backpacks
- Weapons of any kinds (including pocket knives)
- Illegal substances
- Glow-sticks (glow bracelets and necklaces are permitted)
- Alcohol (will be sold at the festival)
- Glass or cans of ANY kind
- Video or audio recording equipment (including GoPros – no video recording will be allowed)
- Professional still camera equipment with a detachable lens longer than 2 inches, tripods, big zooms, or commercial use rigs
- Skateboards, scooters or personal motorized vehicles
- Bicycles (not allowed inside festival grounds)
- Strollers, wagons or carts of any kind
- Hammocks or slack lines
- Fireworks and explosives
- Instruments and laser pointers
- Selfie sticks of ANY kind, including GoPro sticks
- Spray paint, large markers or Aerosol cans
- Picnic baskets
- Liquids (excluding personal sized hand sanitizers, which will be permitted)
- Lawn furniture or any chairs with legs
- Large inflatables
- Pets (except service animals)
- Totems or flags
- Threatening signs or apparel
- American Indian Headdresses
- No illegal vending is permitted (no unauthorized or unlicensed vendors are allowed)
Outside Lands: Essential Tips For Your Festival Experience
- Since the festival is outdoors, preparing for the weather is one of the most important things to consider. Summer in SF could mean sun, heat, wind, fog, and even a chill from the marine layer… all in one day. You’ll need to be prepared for the cold. Be sure to check the weather ahead of time and come prepared for all types of conditions.
- Daytime temps can range from low 70s to high 80s, depending on the year. The evenings are usually freezing. It’s jacket weather, 100%. Bring a light packable jacket.
- There will most definitely be crowds at Outside Lands. If you like seeing the artists up close, you may want to make your way to the stages early in order to get a good spot.
- Because of how many people attend the festival, you might have a hard time finding cell service. Download the festival schedule ahead of time and discuss your game plan with friends–where and when to meet if anyone gets lost or wants to separate from the group for a bit.
- If you plan to bring a larger bag to the festival, get yourself a clear bag with minimal pockets. CamelBaks (and other hydration packs) are allowed into the festival, but they must be empty upon entry, and they must allow for the bladder to be removed from the bag for a visual inspection by security.
- Bring a refillable water bottle to take advantage of the complimentary water refill stations. Not only will this save you money, but not needing to buy plastic bottles means it’s better for the environment too!
- You can pack in small amounts of snacks and smaller food items. Think Clif bars, bananas, trail mix, etc. Just don’t go overboard, because “outside food” is technically not allowed.
- If you like standing within the crowds during the show, use the restrooms before the headliners come on. Otherwise, it can be really hard to squeeze out of the packed-in crowds in the middle of a headliner’s performance.
- Arrive early at least one day during the festival. Even if you’re not interested in any of the performances that take place earlier in the day, there are still things you could busy yourself with! You could walk around collecting some of the freebies offered throughout the festival, try the food vendors, and more!
- Outside Lands has some really delicious food options worthy of your time. Take some time to try a few Bay Area food vendors out during the day! If you love yourself a smash burger, you HAVE to try Smish Smash!
- If you plan on sitting on the ground, bring a blanket or sheet to sit on. The grounds can be dirty and covered in trash or food, so with a blanket, you can keep your clothes clean. Simply throw the blanket in the wash after the festival!
- To avoid the crazy BART/Muni crowds, plan to leave the festival 30 min before it officially ends. The trains become a total zoo, as tens of thousands of people aim to get home for the night.
- Planning to rideshare your way back to your hotel? I’d recommend walking several blocks away from the park before calling an Uber/Lyft. Otherwise, you’ll be either 1) waiting forever for a car to get to you, or 2) stuck in traffic for a very long time.
What is the bag policy at Outside Lands?
Below is the 2023 Bag Policy per the OSL site. Only the following are ALLOWED:
- Backpacks and bags made of clear plastic, clear vinyl, or clear PVC
- Small bags, fanny-packs, purses up to 6” x 8” x 3” (do not have to be clear)
- Empty dedicated hydration packs with a bladder capacity of under 2.5L/150 in. and no more than one additional pocket.
- Standard-size backpacks with hydration bladders will NOT be permitted.
How many stages are at Outside Lands?
There are 5 stages in total at Outside Lands. The stages at Outside Lands music festival are Lands End, Twin Peaks, Sutro, Panhandle, and the Soma Tent.
How long does it take to walk from one end of the festival to the other?
Depending on the person, it can take anywhere between 10-15 minutes to get from Land’s End Stage to Twin Peaks Stage / Soma Tent. A few factors include how fast you walk and how far in the crowds you are at the stage you’re leaving from.
While many festival-goers advise not to bother trying to see 2 competing sets playing at opposite ends of the park at the same time, it is doable. You’ll just need to stand near the back for the first set and leave early to catch the latter half of the second set.
Can you camp at Outside Lands?
Camping at Outside Lands is not allowed and also not offered. Unlike camping festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella, and EDC, there is no camping at OSL.
Outside Lands takes place in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and with so many nearby housing/accommodation options in a compact city, it’ll actually be pretty easy to find lodging.
A hotel, hostel, Airbnb, or VRBO rental are all great options.
What time does Outside Lands end?
OSL ends each night around 10 pm, which means the night is still young! If you’re not ready to call it a night, you’re in luck because you have the rest of the evening to experience San Francisco at night.
For more ideas on all the fun you could have after dark, check out my post dedicated to all the fun things to do in SF at night.
And that wraps up our Outside Lands packing list! We hope this has better prepared you for your ultimate music festival experience!
Stay cool during the day (and warm at night), drink lots of water, make memories, and have an experience of a lifetime. Oh yeah, and don’t forget your wristbands!!!
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