Everything You Need to Pack for Sundance 2015

By  · Published on January 16th, 2015


Back in January of 2012, I put together a little Sundance packing list that was, at the time, billed as the “Essential Packing List of a Cold Intolerant Workaholic.” If you’re a fan of things like “evolution” and “not using hyperbole,” you might be pleased to learn that I’ve managed to kick at least the “cold intolerant” portion of my Sundance style and, even better, if you happen to be attending the festival for yourself this year, you’re about to directly benefit from my own learning curve. (If you’re wondering why I am suddenly not such a giant, huge baby when it comes to cold weather, please note that the 2012 list was created when I lived in Los Angeles, I am currently freezing my buns off in my second year of New York City residency.)

Over the years, a surprising number of people have thanked me for putting together that first list, one that even I return to year after year (last year, I forgot to include a puffy vest because I only skimmed the list, and as the weather was often bright and sunny, I suffered in my winter coat; don’t be like me), and it seemed like a fine time for an update. This is not a definitive list by any means – what list is? – but it’s a fine start and one that’s served me well (and, if you’ve got your own ideas, toss them into the comments section). What do you need to bring to Sundance? Lots of stuff, but mainly common sense and a good pair of boots.

Clothing – Layering

Park City, Utah is a ski town. It is cold. There is snow. You know what’s a good way to combat cold? Layers. As ever, if you happen to be from a colder climate and your skin is a bit thicker than those who live in warmer areas, you might be able to get away with less layers. I used to be utterly beholden to my long underwear, and while I didn’t wear a pair of them at all last year, I still took a set with me just in case. Know yourself. Know your body temperature. And if you’ve got a spare pair of long undies, why not pack them?

Some of the best layers I’ve used in the past include: thermals, flannel shirts, sweaters or fleece pullovers, and long underwear pants. (Now may also be a good time to remind you to also pack pants like jeans and cords, because who knows how much direction you require when it comes to packing lists?)

Clothing – Cold Weather Gear

There are two things that no Sundance attendee should skimp on: a winter coat and winter boots. Plenty of people try to dress for fashion at Sundance – hit Main St. on any given night, and delight in the underdressed people slipping and sliding and freezing their way around the party circuit – but if you’re there to work (or at least really get into movie-going, if you’re going for fun), that’s not going to cut it. Don’t look like an idiot. Don’t fall on your ass. Bring a warm coat. Invest in comfy and sensible snow boots. I’ve worn the same pair of North Face boots for six years now, and they’ve not only held up extremely well, they’re also absurdly comfortable to wear. Bonus: I’ve never fallen on my ass. I may look like an idiot, but I am a comfortable idiot.

Socks. Double however many you think you’ll need.

And how about a cold weather vest? Park City might be typically cold, but there are often lovely days of bright sunshine and no snow, and that’s when you can get away with sporting just a vest over all your layers. The freedom of a vest after a coat is profound. Your arms, they can move.

Technology That Gets the Job Done

My last packing list included a hilarious amount of gear – I dedicated an entire section to a “tech toolkit” – but if you’re at the festival to work, you already know how to slim down your technological bits. Honestly, you can get away with almost anything with just an iPhone or similar smart phone (photos! recordings! maps!), but it’s always good to be prepared, so why not bring along an extra recorder? Also, and I really mean this, how about not forgetting your computer (surely, this has happened to people before)?

The only real piece of technology you might not automatically think to bring and that you very much should is a surge protector. You’ll most likely not be spending a whole lot of time in your hotel room, condo, AirBNB, or whatever, and when you’re there, you’ll have a lot to charge up. Surge protector.

The Medicine Chest (And More)

A solid multi-vitamin, paired with as much rest as you can get, water, and a decent meal or two a day will keep you from illness, but you might also want to throw some cold medication, Chapstick, and lozenges into your bag, just in case. Beef it up with extra contacts (if you wear them), a sewing kit, lotion, Band-Aids, and lots of tissues, and you’ll be ready for whatever the festival throws at you. Preparation is not about fatalism, but if you’re anywhere long enough, they’ll be at least one day where you don’t feel so hot. Lack of sleep, high altitude, and bad food don’t help, and getting rundown is inevitable. Take care of yourself, and bring along the stuff that helps you do that.


Despite what other people may have told you, Park City is a real town with real restaurants and mini-marts and a real grocery store. Don’t waste space on stuff that will just get smushed and forgotten. Pack only what will save your ass in a pinch, something tasty, caloric (for energy), portable, and delicious. Granola bars, trail mix, cookies, and crackers are easy.

Water. Don’t forget the water.

Or the boots. Please, seriously, don’t forget the boots.

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