EMF Camp get in list

Posted: 4th September 2014

I'm back from EMF Camp. For those of you not in the know EMF is a camping festival for those of an inquisitive mind (or "hackers", or "makers", or "tinkers", or "geeks" depending who we're talking to). It's three days of camping, talks, workshops, installations and bizarre stuff in a field. We had talks on using an Enigma Machine, workshops on blacksmithing and a badge that ran Tetris.

As well as the three days of festival there were a total of six days of get in and tear down time. The first people arrived on the Monday evening (it started on Friday morning) and the last people left the following Wednesday afternoon (punters were off-site midday Monday). There are already plenty of guides on what you need to bring for a festival, even one with power and internet to a tent (mostly check our wiki) I'm going to make some notes on what I did bring and should have bought for the set up, so here it is.


Boots Seems obvious but good walking boots (if not toe-capped safety boots) are essential, lifting and walking around on a rough field is exhausting so make sure your feet and ankles are well protected. Related: make sure they're broken in before the event; I bought mine on the Wednesday and my feet were killing me by the end of the weekend.

Heavy duty workman gloves most of the set up consists of moving heavy things from A to B. These are often heavy, awkward objects, with sharp edges and you're outside in the mud so you often end up with dry hands so protect them. Fingerless gloves can be handy as you don't loose as much of your fine control but obviously you're not as protected.

Hi-vis We had a load of custom EMF ones but these sometimes ran low and having something so the 3-tonne telehandler with 1-tonne of fencing on the front can see you clearly is a lifesaver (literally).

A good belt to hang things from.

A light rucksack to store the stuff that won't fit on your belt and isn't instantly needed. I ended up using my coat's numerous pockets but a bag would have been more useful.


Multi-tool and keep it with you at all times. Most of the time you won't use it but for the rare occasions it made life so much easier than trying to find someone else with the appropriate tool. Obviously if you're doing a task that requires continued use of a tool get that tool but these are excellent for one-offs.

Carabiners these don't have to be climbing grade or anything but a few carabiners or similar thing that you can use to (de)attach stuff quickly to your belt is immensely handy. I had a single carabiner with a load of steel cable screw ties which I used to hang my mug, a bottle opener, keys, a sharpie and LX tape from. All were on me at all times, all were used.

Head-torch they keep your hands free and make walking at night that much easier, they're cheap: get one. Also: keep it with you at all times, it's likely to be dark by the time you go back to your tent at which point it's too late if your torch is in your tent. I had a cycling one which could be switched to red which was nice when I didn't want to lose my night sight.

2-way radio check with what ever you're helping set up but having my own radio would have made a lot of EMF a lot easier for me. We had a load but these were in short supply so if you weren't using it then it went to someone else which resulted in times when I suddenly needed one and had to go and find one (recommended by other people: baofeng uvr5 or wouxun uvd1p with CHIRP to program).

Phone charger battery these odd little brick things can be vital for keeping phone charge up (which you may need to receive calls about deliveries or incase radios aren't working over a large site).


Water you will get thirsty, keep a bottle of water with you at all times (a mug is also handy for impromptu tea/coffee/whisky).

Snacks keep a pack of snack bars or similar about your person, you will get hungry and it won't be a meal time. If you're anything like me (read: a programmer) this may be the most exercise you've done in ages so be careful about eating well.

Sharpies label everything, keep this with you to label as you go. Pro-tip: only give people the pen, not the lid.

Biros for when you (inevitably) end up writing on paper.

Electrical tape (or LX tape, or insulating tape) a plastic tape, it's not as strong as duct tape but better suited for smaller jobs (like taping down cables or adding labels to things, make sure you get a colour that your sharpies show up on)!

Duct tape fix boots, tie down trousers, make a wallet, and stick things to other things; you'll need this. I didn't have any and had to spend the weekend borrowing other people's which was a pain. Pro-tip: wrap a good amount around a pen as a cache.

Rubber bands useful for quickly grouping things and making chains.

Cables ties tie things to other things.

Useful things to have shared on site

3G hotspot (at least one on site) if you have invoices etc. on your email account make sure you can access them

Printer & laminator (at least one on site) make impromptu signs and print out important info (e.g. call lists, delivery statements and maps).