Every year we venture deep into the desert surrounding Las Vegas to come together under our electric sky. We come in peace, to party and decked out for a night of dancing, running, and fun with over a hundred thousand of our closest friends. As we’re dancing all night long, water is often a distant memory. With 24 hour drinking on the strip all day before and the countless pool parties and activities between nights, it’s no surprise that dehydration is a major safety concern for festival attendees. Hopefully things don’t get to that point, but if you ever feel dehydrated, don’t hesitate to visit any of the medical and information tents located at various points throughout the festival grounds.
Here’s the low down on the pros and cons of the hydration options that are all within EDC guidelines:
Option 1) Buying bottled water on site (approximately $4-5 per 16 oz. bottle)
Now I want to take a moment to talk about your free options for water inside EDC. Yes that’s right, for those of you who may be new to EDC and most insomniac events you may not have realized that free water is an option, or you may have concerns if the free tap water will be safe. So here’s the low down on the freebie water provided at EDC. The hardest part about this option is making sure you are fully hydrated in a desert environment through a night of dancing and possibly heavy drinking. You’re already in Vegas, spending money on souvenirs both in and out of the event, food, drinks, and extra shows or attractions on the strip. The last thing you need to do is make a judgement call of your hydration health based on what your bank roll can afford. Bottle waters still server a huge purpose at events in my opinion however. They make great containers to use for a little vitamin C or energy boost by adding a packet of Emergen-C without staining or ruining the taste of your water in your regular water bottle or bladder. Also as a culture we do take care of any other ravers or festival attendees around us. It’s often much safer to buy an extra water bottle or two to hand out to new friends who may be in need of some water without the risk of catching a cold or worse.
Option 2) Using the Free Water Refill Stations
Insomniac has covered you covered by providing free water refill stations that are located throughout the festival grounds (look for the water droplet symbol on a festival map). You can use any water bottle bought inside the event at the stations as well as the Insomniac aluminum water bottle or a CamelBak. The thirst is real in the desert, so stop by the free water refill stations as often as you need (remember you’ll need a lot of H2O to stay hydrated).
Event Water Solutions, the creators of the water refill stations insomniac events uses, states on their website:
“…The stations are connected to the municipal water supply by our (Event Water Solutions) trained professionals… The water passes through a three stage filtration system including carbon and sediment filters and then through an ultra violet sterilization chamber.”
“The stations are set up and sanitized by our (Event Water Solutions) trained staff. A strict sanitization schedule is also adhered to through the event.”
So as you can see the free water that they’re giving you is ran through a similar process as any bottled water you’ll buy on site as well. The true difference you’re paying for is really the idea that your bottled water has been held on ice and is cold. Knowing that the free water is really just un-bottled, bottled water the obvious answer is to have a refillable source to carry this water with you, as well it will help us all reduce waste and our carbon footprint of our event. So now let’s take a look at some of the options available to help you find what will work best for you.
CamelBaks or Similar Hydration Systems
CamelBak is a name brand backpack with a built-in water bladder attached to a long flexible tube that works as a straw that can easily be attached to the shoulder straps of the backpack. In recent years EDC has allowed these with a few restrictions.
YES CamelBaks with no more than two main compartments and one smaller compartment—must be empty upon entry
Now when they say must be empty, they are referring to the bladder must not contain any liquid upon entry, you are more than welcome to fill the CamelBak with anything else that is allowed you would normally put in a bag or hip pack. Now with that being said another option in this is to create your own hydration pack by purchasing a CamelBak (or generic) bladder and adding it to a festival approved small backpack.
With a CamelBak system you can easily combine your hydration solution with a method to carry all your phone, money, and rave supplies. With the options of up to a 3 liter bladder this also means far fewer trips to the refill station. As well as the hands free tube means you don’t need to find your water bottle and hold it in your hands as your dancing or pick it up from the ground. The bite tube ends also allow you to easily drink while dancing without missing a beat and without splashing water all over yourself. With most of these systems designed for outdoor activity use they also, depending on the style you pick, hold tight to your body and often come with a waist strap that is perfect for holstering your extra kandi and keeping the bag from hitting you in the back over and over as you dance and jump.
So as good as it sounds, there are always some negatives to think through. First of them is 3 liter of water is not a light feat to have on your back for an all-night festival. They do have 1 and 2 liter options that can be purchased separately to change out or if you find a bag that you like it may already have the smaller bladders, but usually the smaller bladders come with smaller bags and less room for gear for the day. If money isn’t an issue then you can always purchase the hydration system bag that you want then purchase a smaller bladder separately to replace the larger bladder.
Also the straw tube cause some frustration. If can turn into a whip while dancing if not attached securely. The bite tips that work as a shut off valve until you are ready to drink also are prone to dripping which can cause wet spots. This is more a problem with the cheaper off brand models or older used CamelBak systems.
A final consideration is the chance of accidents with these systems. We all know that after a long night of rave activities we may not be operating with all of our motor skills. This increases the chances of not securing the screw caps on the bladders and can lead to major leaks into your bag which may be carrying your phone, money, tickets or map and set schedule which may be damaged or destroyed by a flood. These items may be saved by simply storing them inside a Ziploc baggie inside your bag, however you will still be left with a wet bag right against your back for the rest of the night still. Even if you don’t have a leak, these bags against your back during the entire night in the desert will definitely soak up your sweat against your back. You will also need to be cautious on where and how you place your bag on the ground to try to ensure that the bite tip of the tube doesn’t end up resting on the asphalt, dirt or under people’s shoes.
Recently Insomniac posted a photo of an Insomniac Camelbak. It’s not offered on their online store yet, so no product details or pricing is available at this time.
Refillable Water Bottles
Another option is bringing or purchasing your own refillable water bottle. Although you may not bring in outside food or drinks, you may bring in outside drink containers as long as they are empty upon entry. These bottles are normally made of food grade hard plastic or aluminum. They’re light weight and often will come with a small clip or clasp so they can be added to a belt or bag strap for easy transportation. Best of all insomniac sells they’re own logo carrying bottles that make great souvenirs of your trip in a variety of colors.
These bottles vary in size, however most seem to loom right around that 1 liter size. This can be both a blessing and a curse. I tend to drink a lot of water and this smaller size means that can normally only make it a set and a half before needing to go refill. On the plus size they’re only about 1 liter meaning their weight isn’t overwhelming when they’re full.
Another drawback to keep in mind is these bottles are often attached to a clip at the top of them. This top is also the cap to your bottle and can come unscrewed if not tightened correctly. You will also want to inspect the clasp or clip, if any, that you are using to attach it to yourself as they often are “value” made and they may not hold up well over time as well as the metal rings that look like key rings are often a softer metal and can easily bend or break allowing your clasp or clip and bottle to become separated. If this happens when walking from one stage to another or while you’re dancing, then you very well may have to get in line for another ten dollar or more bottle. However, you could always just use a hand to hold it through the night, leave it inside a bag and just deal with getting it out whenever you need a drink. Or if you’re with a group big enough and far enough back you may be able to just have your group circle around your bags on the floor and leave the bottles there too.
From my experience with Insomniac bottles, keep in mind that they are aluminum and will dent and the outside paint will chip relatively easily when bumped dropped or hit against solid surfaces throughout the night. If you want a perfect looking one at the end of EDC buy it and keep it inside your bag or wait till the end and buy one on your way out Monday morning, but remember colors will sell out so you may be left with whatever they have left. This also can be a much cheaper option as basic CamelBak hydration packs can start at $60. You can even buy a single bottled water at EDC and keep refilling the plastic bottle which would only cost you around $5. Or you could even stop at Walgreens or 7-11 and bring an empty water sports bottle into the event and you could get this done for under a dollar with a sports cap.
Whether you decide to save money or buy top of the line, the bottom line here is to stay safe, stay hydrated. Remember that even soda will dehydrate you and alcohol will even more. We will be out in a dry desert, most of us don’t regularly live in such a dry environment and it can suck moisture from your skin without you even realizing it till it’s too late. You have three full nights of amazing memories to make it through. Let’s make sure you don’t waste some of those in a medical tent feeling like your dying. Keep an eye out for one another out there. A sure sign you need to get water immediately is when you feel hot and have stopped sweating. Headaches can also be a side effect of dehydration. If you’re taking care of yourself or others who may be dehydrated always remember to get them to a cool safe location, have them drink slowly and keep them awake and talking. If you want to join the PLUR movement then think about keeping an extra bottle of water in your bag to offer to fellow ravers if they look like they could use some. It’s our electric sky and we are the best line of protection to keeping our scene safe.