The Van Mag Guide to Doing Festivals in Your 20s

25 isn't too old for a weekend of partying, right?

June 29, 2016

By Jenni Elliott

We sent three generation-spanning teams (20s, 30s, and 40s) up to Squamish last year to see if music festivals really are for everyone. In other words, it’s worth a read before you book you Burning Man tickets.

Within five minutes of erecting my tent on the Squamish campsite, a boozy teen had thrown up on the threshold.

To her credit, it was her first beer bong, so she was pretty pleased with herself. As my friend and I rubbed her back and gave her some carbohydrates, we were delighted to find out that kids today were so concerned about sexual health that they were carrying condoms in their fanny packs—but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

About one kilometre into the three kilometre hike from my car parking space to the shuttle—the more-seasoned attendees had brought wheelbarrows to carry all their gear—I realized that this might not be as easy as I originally thought. Carrying a tent, a sleeping bag, clothes, food, and (lots of) beer all strapped to you as you struggle through the dust at the foot of the Chief is a sweaty experience akin to The Amazing Race—except you don’t win a million dollars at the end.

car-packed
It might look neatly packed, but that’s a lot of stuff to carry 3km to a tent

Fortunately, gear is also an area where being in your twenties gives you an edge over those naive, supple, poorly-financed teens. Those of us in our mid-twenties have hard-earned cash (well, unless we already bought real estate with it), which means we could go to MEC and kit ourselves out with the best gear around. That’s what I did: inflatable air mattresses, chairs that fold down small enough to fit in to a backpack, a personal-sized Stanley cooler, and a beautiful two-person sky-blue tent, which was extremely light to carry, and easy enough to pop up and down that it only took us seven minutes to escape the campsite when all was said and done.

We were unlucky enough to have been allotted a camping spot in the middle of some sort of Lord of the Flies-style teenage weekend. “We are taking over the guard tower at midnight tonight!” one young man excitedly informed us as we sat outside drinking our Parallel 49 Tricycle grapefruit beer (an easy starter for a long day’s drinking). “Great, see you then!” we heartily responded, before donning our backpacks and getting the hell out of there and heading to the festival. Our campsite was about a fifteen-minute walk to the festival ground—a nice amount of time for finishing your can before the full-body search as you enter grounds.

Tricycle

The perfect day-drinking beer

On the final day of our eye-opening campsite experience (it was just so dirty…) we found the key to happiness: walk around until you find a group of people your own age and take up camp with them. A group of late-twenty-somethings and early-thirty-somethings had cornered off a portion of the campsite, and there we spent a blissful sunny day playing beer pong and re-living our college days—a nostalgic flashback that also served as a reminder of how glad we are not to be 19 any more. The ensuing hangover also served as a great reminder that we were too old for this nonsense— but damn it, what a last hurrah it was.
slipnslide
Slide ‘n’ slide with the adults

Accommodation
Invest in your tent. Just do it. You’ll use it again on grown-up trips once you’ve washed the stink of unseasoned teenage spew off it. The MEC Camper 2 tent was literally the dream, it even had a sneaky side pod to hide our beer cooler away from thieving under-agers, and was only $200. Also, go on and treat yourself with the Reactor Sleeping Pad 3.8 ($85). It folds up in to a teeny-tiny little bag, and will save you lower back pain (good God, are mid-twenties the beginning of the end?).

MECtent

A winning festival tent, MEC’s Camper 2 (also available in a four man)

Food
As it turns out, partying hard for three days in your 20s requires some serious carb-loading, something that’s hard to achieve when the lineup for each food truck on the festival ground was 30-minutes long or more, so make sure to fortify beforehand. We brought a camping grill with a little gas attachment. It was great for breakfast one morning, but then we also could have simply walked a few hundred yards to the nearest McDonald’s and saved ourselves the hassle (and pain) of carrying a camper stove on the pilgrimage from the car to the camp site. Ditch the stove and bring your cash. You don’t have a mortgage to pay yet anyway, right?

Fashion and Regret
You’re not old enough to be truly practical yet, so go ahead and wear those jean shorts. But make sure you pack a sweater, because that wind can be a bit chilly.

Read about doing a music festival in your 30s here >>>

Read about doing a music festival in your 40s here >>>

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