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Setting up a Carport Shade Structure for Burning Man

You need to shade your camp from the powerful sun of the Black Rock desert.  Otherwise you’ll start each day with a wake-and bake at sunrise. Nobody wants that, especially not after a night of partying.

Carport Frame
10 x 20 ft. Carport Frame

There are several options for shade structures, but the one I’m going to recommend here is Carports, because they’re reliable against strong winds and easy to setup.

Caravan Canopy Side-Wall Kit
Carport Side Wall Kit

Amazon separately sells a 10×20 ft. Carport Frame and matching Carport Side Wall Kit that are known to work on the Playa.  The Side Wall Kit comes with Bungee Balls that attach it to the frame, but it never hurts to get more for backup and other uses.

Securing Your Carport

Securing your shade structure against the desert winds (which can go as high as 75mph) is essential.  If you don’t do this, your shade structure will shake noisily in the wind, or even fly off entirely like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

Rebar is the established way of securing shade structures (0r anything else) to the Playa.  Tent-stakes aren’t strong enough, so don’t rely on them.

You can buy Rebar from any home improvement store on your way to Burning Man. It’s one of the few items you can’t get last minute from Amazon. Get 18″ rebar that’s bent at the top so people don’t injure themselves by falling on it.

Rebar
18″ J Hook Rebar
Gorilla Tape
Gorilla Tape
Ratchetable Nylon Straps
Ratcheting Nylon Straps

To secure your Carport, Saran Wrap its legs around adjacent Rebar stakes. Then, wrap Gorilla Tape around the Saran Wrap.  When it comes time to teardown your camp, you can simply cut the wrap/tape off.Attaching the Carport legs to Rebar is not enough, though.  You should “guy-line” each corner of your Carport for extra stability.  Use Ratcheting Nylon Straps for extra stability, and easier setup/teardown compared to rope.

 

Rain-Proof Floors

Tarp
Tarp

Aside from the Sun and the Wind and the Dust, you also have to be concerned with the possibility of Rain.  That’s why you should get Tarps to create floors and protect your camp from mud that might form during a storm.

Tools for the Job

Open Finger Work Gloves
Open Finger Work Gloves

None of this is possible without the right tools for the job.  A Mallet and a Crowbar will be your main tools for installing and removing Rebar.  Also get some Open Finger Work Gloves to protect your hands while still keeping your fingers free.

Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knife

Lastly, no Desert badass should go without a Swiss Army Knife.

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