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The GO Outdoors Guide Of What Not To Take To Festivals

When you are packing up your gear for a festival, you want to take all your essentials. But having packed carefully with your waterproof jacket, suncream, shorts wellies, sleeping bags and more, you don’t want to have any problems at security with banned items being confiscated. 

Most festival website or forums make it clear what you can an cannot take, so checking before you go should be easy.

Check The Rules

  • Many festival rules vary on what you are and are not allowed to take, so know your enemy and have a look online, or on the ticket info as to what is banned on site. 
  • The number one rule is not to take weapons to the festival. This is classed as anything offensive and potentially able to harm, even if used for camping purposes. This includes a pen knife or swiss army knife. With the alternatives below we have tried to generalise across festivals, for example:
  • Mallets are allowed on most festival sites for tent pitching, but are cumbersome and unnecessary, so we have added in a festival alternative below as well. 
  • Some festivals, such as Hyde Park based festivals do not allow other items such as camping furniture, so below are details of what to take as an alternative to these

 Items to Avoid- And Alternatives To Try:

  • Mallets – Use a (sturdy) shoe to hammer in tent pegs
  • A Camping Knife- Use plastic cutlery to eat with such as a spork (that's a spoon and a fork) and try not to take anything that needs excessive hacking (Or eat with your hands. Promise we won't tell. ) 
  • A Pen Knife- Take scissors/tweezers if necessary instead
  • Glass Bottles- Avoid bottles, take cans to the festival instead or Plastic bottles instead which can be filled up before you get on site. 
  • Prams/Pushchairs- Take a harness, baby reins or a baby carrier instead.
  • Gas cylinders- Use a solid fuel or gel fuelled stoves, or portable barbeques. 
  • Laser Pens- Choose crowd friendly glow sticks instead
  • BBQs- Take packed lunches that don’t need heating/chilling and snacks instead or buy on site
  • Camping Chairs/Furniture- Try a picnic rug for sitting down, and add a bin liner if it’s particularly muddy. 
  • Cool Boxes- try a small lightweight coolbag instead or take non perishable items of food. 
  • Expensive phones: These are a thief magnet! Use a cheap old phone and a PAYG sim card instead, or at least make sure it's insured.
  • Flags- Try a home made banner instead or print up some t-shirts instead

Cut Out Excess Weight

Don't carry to much excess with you at a festival. Items will be left whilst you are seeing bands either in your tent, or in a locker. Anything else should be kept with you. If you can't lift it, you've probably overpacked. 

Here as some common ways to cut out the weight: 

  • Suitcases- Take a rucksack for all your kit, you can use straps on the back to attach gear to it such as pans and roll mats
  • Inflatable airbeds- Try a roll up mat instead which is just as comfy for laying on and won't deflate by day 1
  • Inflatable furniture- Can be bulky and can get in the way- take a picnic blanket instead or a large grounsheet
  • Guitars- Take a small cheap radio or stereo instead, or let someone else take their instruments
  • Heavy torches- Try a small maglite torch instead that can fit in your pocket. You could even try out a headlamp for midnight toilet trips..
  • Cans of food- Go for packets to cut down on weight. (If you do take cans, two words: Can Opener.) 
  • Lots of changes of clothing - Only take as much as you need to be fresh
  • Full bottles of shampoo/deodorant- Take miniature bottles instead or share with friends
  • Tents with heavy tent poles- Try a pop up style tent instead
  • Heavy sweaters and hoodies- Try a midweight or lightweight fleece instead
  • Metal tent pegs- Try sturdy plastic tent pegs in good weather conditions
  • Padlocks - Heavy and indicative that you have something worth taking, padlocks can easily be ripped off your tent. Keep valuables with you instead of leaving them onsite, or simply, leave them at home. 


  • To leave valuables at home- anything uninsured or with sentimental value should be out
  • To keep all your tickets safe as well as your car keys
  • To keep cash to a safe minimum
  • Not to take anything that is banned or prohibited
  • To collect things from the lockers before you leave
  • To check your tent thoroughly if you intend on leaving it behind after the festival for left items.