Guide to Buying Festival Footwear

Festival Footwear Guide (Amongst other things)

There is no hiding from it festival season is fast approaching and with it the perennial questions of what to take and what to wear. So trying not to be coming across all ‘overprotective parent’ on you, these hints and tips come from a lot of people with a lot of festival experience. Oh except those ones who have managed to get by with nothing but the clothes they are stood up in, a tenner and a winning smile. They do seem to make it through, just, but I would not recommend you try it especially if you are a first timer.

What to do and what not to do:

If you can’t live without something if it gets lost, broken or stolen then the rule of thumb is don’t take it. Leave the iPod at home you are at a MUSIC festival. Take a disposable camera or a cheap digital, not your whizzy new expensive digital one. Remember someone else may like your stuff just as much as you and take the whole free and easy festival vibe that bit too far and ‘make off like a bandit’ with it.

Camping… It’s part of the fun and an integral part of festival life however there are certain unwritten rules. Creating your own private enclosure is frowned upon. So don’t put up windbreaks around yours and your friend’s area or rope things off. Talk to your neighbours, share stuff. You’ll find that they will challenge people trying to nick your boots when you are not about and you can do the same for them. Clean up your rubbish. I’m assuming you don’t enjoy living in a rubbish tip so other people will not enjoy living in yours. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

Food is tricky. Inside the festival it will be expensive taking stuff in is bulky and heavy so it’s up to you and your budget.  Most sites allow camping stoves but many do not like disposable BBQs so check with the organisers before you go.  Plan what you are going to eat and pack accordingly then you won’t run out or end up carrying too much. As for what to take tins and non perishables are best stodgy carbs like biscuits & crisps also slow up your …erm… movements so you won’t have to visit the toilet cubicle areas too often. Don’t take any kind of meat it will go off. Cheese will turn to mush and Bananas similar. Go for robust stuff like apples Pringles in tubes and tins of things forget a tin opener so you can get in to them. Alternatively food that is still edible when it gets a bit squashed like fruit loaf.  Water is a must take a big fold down  water container for the tent, which you will be able to fill up at various pints around the site then a ½ litre water bottle you can then top up to take with you round the site. You will feel better as booze and tents in the summer equal dehydration. Drink some before you go to bed and you will feel the benefit in the morning.

Now on to the important bit, what to wear?  First thing to remember is be practical. Girls forget heels yes you may meet that special someone while you are stood in the noodle van queue but for your own sake dress to impress with your best/most flattering T shirt rather than spend the weekend traversing mud and grass in your favourite killer clippy cloppy heels. A night in hospital with a broken ankle, despite the clean bedding and hot showers, will spoil your festival.  For the boys consider carefully if you should take your coolest trainers with you Y3s don’t like the mud and they also fall in to the desirable ‘nick it if it’s not nailed down’ category in some people’s eyes. For both genders footwear choices are decidedly unisex and fall in to these categories.

Boots: walking or hiking boots, preferably waterproof and breathable, are brilliant as they will tackle all but the most extreme of conditions your average UK summer festival can throw at you take enough socks to change at least once a day especially if rain is forecast and try and wash your feet at least once and put a bit of talc on your tootsies. Follow this with your clean, dry socks and you have a little bit of festival heaven.

Wellies: Over the last few years this particular piece of footwear has undergone, especially for women, a complete renaissance from dowdy ‘back of the cupboard’ utility footwear to flamboyant fashion favourite. New styles, patterns and funky colourways abound and there is nothing that will be better at keeping you dry in the mud and wet. However, remember it will be summer so get out of your wellies when you can to keep your feet non sweaty and pong free (ish). Wear long socks especially if you are planning to rock the shorts/wellies combo as welly leg (pseudo medical term I made up to describe chafing of the mid calf by the top of your welly) is painful and unsightly so avoid it. Wellies are a bit bulky but remember you can always tie them on to your rucksack rather than put them in and take up space, this can also add a bit of much needed festival veteran cool to your arrival.

If you are wearing wellies, or boots for that matter, for any length of time at the festival then pack a pair of sandals or flip flops so you can let your feel breathe a bit when you are back at camp. Also very handy for those who venture to the shower area and brave the sometimes rather ‘communal’ nature at some festivals. Personally I’d recommend a pack of baby wipes to keep all your important bits clean and fresh. That leads me on to the other festival must haves, bin bags and loo roll. Bin bags for your rubbish, to keep stuff dry (Including you) and an impromptu toilet if you really, really can’t face the portaloos for a No2 but once you have finished tie it up and dispose of it RESPONSIBLY in the facilities provided. Now… loo roll is festival gold it can be traded for pretty much everything else and is the one thing you do not want to forget to pack as there will not be enough anywhere. Finally a ball of string to repair your guy ropes if they get broken by drunk people; repair your laces in an emergency; tie things to things or tie up things that have come apart.       

Trainers: Good comfortable and cool choice if the weather is going to be 100% dry, even then don’t go uber expensive remember take nothing you cannot afford to loose. Also even if it’s been dry there will still be mud.  You could for instance trade down slightly on your favourite brands.  Adidas do Essentials with similar styles to the main ranges but at a lower price point. Or shop for the same styles but go discount for example carry a lot of sports brands like Puma, Nike Reebok and Adidas at below high St prices so are well worth a look.

Clothes… Be practical & put fashion towards the back of your list of criteria. You need to think of this as a camping trip and pack to protect not necessarily impress. Shower proof light weight jacket so you can keep all but the worst rain at bay and not be too big, bulky and sweaty to carry round (use one of your bin bags under your jacket for the torrential downpours, effective and far less tempting to steal than 3 layer stop everything Goretex). Take a couple of long sleeved tops to carry with you  put one in your other essential a small day rucksack along with your bottle of water.

Other things to consider you will be attending a summer festival and even in the UK there is likely to be some sun at some point in the weekend and if you don’t take a hat and sun cream you will burn and sunburn in a warm sweaty tent knocks waterboarding in to the proverbial cocked hat when it comes to torture and will ruin your weekend. Also make sure to spread any money you have around your person so that if you do get your pocket picked you won’t loose the whole flaming lot. Also for any valuables you do decide you can’t do without put them down to the bottom of your sleeping bag when you get in it at night to keep it as far away as possible from sticky fingers.

Above all remember the vast majority of people going to a festival are going to enjoy the experience and if you go with the right attitude and take things in your stride you will make new friends and have a fantastic festival experience… Oh and I’d better mention this too avoid anyone who has decided to paint themselves blue or is naked or both, it’s for the best.