Long Distance Burning Logistics

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike

Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:26 pm

People who come from the east coast or overseas face special challenges to get everything they need together for the burn. Questions abound. Should I rent--a car? a box truck? an rv? From whom--U-haul? Enterprise? Budget? Should I--drive across country? Fly? What airport is best--Reno? Los Vegas? San Francisco? Salt Lake City? Should I--pay for an extra bag? Send things ahead? Buy everything in Reno? Maybe I should just join a camp...

Well, as someone in a theme camp, it is not my purpose to provide a service for people coming from far away, I'm providing the service to the people in Black Rock City. If you are interested in helping me with that, and you are a person who works hard and wants to be in Apokliptika because the theme excites you, then we can talk...

But having settled that, there are still questions. Question best answered by people who don't live less than a day's drive from the Black Rock Desert. I'm launching this, and I'll nudge it if it seems to be sinking, but Junglesmacks, and Shambala, and Misa, and MyDearFriend, and Graidawg, and Tamarakay, to scratch the surface, will be the lifeblood of this thread.

So, ask your questions and toss out your experiences and opinions. Links are always good. (Well, officially bacon is always better than sausage, but I'm going to be Burnish Incorrect for a moment.)
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:34 pm

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Trishntek » Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:58 pm

Something that strikes me is the misguidance of various GPS and map programs which lead burners from Santa Barbara and locations South to travel through Sacramento and Reno to Gerlach. They claim, even though the route through Mojave and Bishop is shorter, it takes longer.

It is at least twenty miles shorter, much flatter and definitely less traffic to go up the East Side of the Sierra. These software programs seem to discount the fact of major metropolitan traffic areas and a major mountain pass. These areas not only cost time but are a great strain on heavily-loaded vehicles.

Bishop is a great half-way spot to spend the night so you're not driving the 11+/- hours all in one shot. Unless it's just gotta be Reno on your itinerary, the wiser logistic is 395N to 6E to 360(NV) to 95N through Fallon.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby gaminwench » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:05 am

seconded...
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby dangerous » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:18 am

this will be my 2013 challenge.

coming from Toronto, my first decision will be drive or fly.

i would only consider driving the 40 hours if there were four in the group driving non-stop. the last trip took two of us 3&1/2 days driving 12-16 hours a day and it sucked!

flying would be cheapest into Vegas, but obviously Reno would be an easier last leg in; no?

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:29 am

dangerous wrote:flying would be cheapest into Vegas, but obviously Reno would be an easier last leg in; no?


Yes, Reno all the way. The slightly higher airfare will save you even more expenditures in gas $$ and time. Reno, Reno, Reno.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Sail Man » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:33 am

Our drive from near Detroit takes approx 33 hrs to cover the 2100 miles towing an RV. The first year we towed it, we filled it up with everything needed, and only picked up misc stuff in Fernley before heading out. Gas mileage was about 8.5 mpg by a truck that usually got 13-14 mpg. The next year, with a new truck that averaged 16 mpg, we waited until Fernley for most shopping and filling the water tank. We still averaged 8.5 mpg. I next added side panels to the bed sides to try and deflect wind away from the front of the "large gas hogging bucket" to improve the mileage. Did not work. Cost us about 2500$ in gas for 2011, and a big reason we decided to sit out 2012. Still up in the air about going in 2013, though I do have a hankering to do it solo and take my little army truck that gets 20 mpg. Still not chump change though...
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:27 am

$2500 in JUST GAS??!?

Plane ticket to RNO - $350
Box truck rental for 10 days - $600
Gas - $100

Not having to drive 21 hours in either direction or worry about wear and tear on a personal vehicle or dealing with anything after the burn except partying my ass off at the Grand Sierra for 3 days straight after - Priceless
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:27 am

dangerous wrote:i would only consider driving the 40 hours if there were four in the group driving non-stop.

I wonder how you'd get supplies and infrastructure in!
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby MyDearFriend » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:49 am

theCryptofishist wrote:
dangerous wrote:i would only consider driving the 40 hours if there were four in the group driving non-stop.

I wonder how you'd get supplies and infrastructure in!


School Bus!

I don't have one, but, that seems the best way to do it. 8)
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:12 pm

The main BM website under participation would benefit from a fly in to Reno (+Advantage Air) special section referencing or summarizing ePlaya knowledge. Hope that the ORG, which benefits financially from fly in participants, can devote resources to them. Hey, maybe the ORG could pay some of our most knowledgeable Burners to write that material!
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:18 pm

It's nice to see you have a rich fantasy life...
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Savannah » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:28 pm

some seeing eye wrote:The main BM website under participation would benefit from a fly in to Reno (+Advantage Air) special section referencing or summarizing ePlaya knowledge. Hope that the ORG, which benefits financially from fly in participants, can devote resources to them. Hey, maybe the ORG could pay some of our most knowledgeable Burners to write that material!


When we are willing to geek so @#$% hard for FREE?

Never gonna happen. :lol:
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby trilobyte » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:29 pm

You guys make it seem like resources aren't available for those traveling from great distance to figure things out. This entire message board is a resource for burners coming from all distances. Mind you, it's not all in one generic multi-purpose thread, but plenty of info is here and there's plenty of room for people to post tips and ask questions on the topics they have relating to the event.

Burning Man already has travel info on the main site, and then publishes even more information through the JRS each year. This year it was published in July, and was cross-posted on ePlaya same day (I made it a sticky-thread through the event).
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:38 pm

JRS is a great but hidden secret resource.

Think of the user experience design for national and international fly-ins. It is not we did what we think, but what do our customers need and evaluate as valuable. The ORG should have some rough numbers from the airport desk, every single one should be given a survey on the info they had and the info they would find useful.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby dangerous » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:50 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
dangerous wrote:i would only consider driving the 40 hours if there were four in the group driving non-stop.

I wonder how you'd get supplies and infrastructure in!


we had a 13 ft Trillium trailer- my civic could tow it, but the Ram deisel got nearly 20mpg.

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby dangerous » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:52 pm

MyDearFriend wrote:
theCryptofishist wrote:
dangerous wrote:i would only consider driving the 40 hours if there were four in the group driving non-stop.

I wonder how you'd get supplies and infrastructure in!


School Bus!

I don't have one, but, that seems the best way to do it. 8)


i would love to have a short bus all gutted with 4 captains chairs and an observation deck on the roof and a slide or a fireman's pole :D

The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby andy » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:25 pm

[quote="dangerous"]
flying would be cheapest into Vegas, but obviously Reno would be an easier last leg in; no?[/quote]

Yes, and Southwest airlines flies fairly cheaply from Las Vegas to Reno, so Air Canada YYZ-LAS, then SWA (or others) to Reno.
The thing to remember, my fellow Canadian, is that Reno is not a little town - you have lots of large stores, and of course UPS.
So you can ship stuff ahead to be held at a UPS Store (usually closed Sunday, though) and buy anything heavy you need easily in Reno.
Be aware though that you pretty much need a rental car in Reno, as distances are long and things are spread out. It's not much of a public-transit place.

However some hotels in Reno hace free airport shuttles.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby peyote2004 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:05 pm

What a terrific thread .... I'm going to be coming from Ottawa, Ontario.

I can't get enough time off to drive out in 2013, so I'm trying to figure out the logistics of flying and either box truck camping, or shipping my gear out.

In 2014, I plan to take 4 or 5 weeks off work, and visit family on the way there. Lots of logistics to work out there too.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby graidawg » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:38 pm

i personally have never been near Reno airport in my life, 2011 i flew into Vegas, then chatteed to Mdf as she drove, this worked very well for me. this year I drove from DC with mdf chatting to me, 4 days from Maryland (we got our stuff there) to vegas (again!) stopped of to recharge andget booze etc, then up to BRC. We had EA passes so no queues to get in.

as for advice to long distance burners, well .... ymmv may vary but personally i would reccomend the MDF route. READ EVERY SINGLE PAGE OF EVERY SINGLE THREAD then if your brain hasn't melted decide what you want, tent (monkey hut) or rv (box truck). theme camp (if you can get in) or solo. cooking food or precooked. how much bacon is enough?

overseas travelers have a different problem. where can i buy the stuff i need,like a tent and shade a monkey hut could be a nightmare, but mel (international incedent) managed it. Oh and she had a great idea, use a good cooler for your luggage instead of a suitcase. I'll put other stuff up as i think of it, but honestly i made it because of assistance from the wonderful people on here moral and practical support

Oh one more thing.
MyDearFriend wrote:
School Bus!

I don't have one, but, that seems the best way to do it. 8)
give it time MDF give it time
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby jcliff » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:27 pm

I've come from Illinois for 4 Burns and don't have the time to drive out (wish I did!)

First 3 Burns: I brought all my clothes and camping gear with me on Southwest Airlines. They allow 2 free checked baggage, with a 50 lb allowance. A Sterlite trunk fits (barely) with their dimension limitations. In the trunk I packed my small tent, sleeping bag, air mattress and all my other camping gear. I traveled with a cooler packed with all my misc. things as my 2nd free checked bag. I also paid $25 for a 3rd checked bag (my big camping backpack) stuffed to the gills with my clothes and personal items. I took a smaller backpack as my carry-on with clothes I needed for the 1st day in Reno and the playa and my toiletries. The space I had didn't allow for a bunch of costumes. I supplemented my playa gear by getting art t-shirts and small accessories. I still do this. I'm not a big costume wearer.

I fly Southwest because of the baggage allowance, but also because they have the most flight times available from Chicago to Reno. Obviously this will be different depending on when you travel from. I have checked flights religously on all airlines during each year I've traveled. I always want to see if I missed a better deal. I only fly into Reno, but without exception....all airlines only go up as time goes on. I book my Southwest flight a day or two within the time that flights are offered (normally 6 months out.) My advice is to book air travel early. If Southwest does advertise a sale price after you book, they do not charge a fee for flight changes.

I booked a car rental through Priceline (name your own bid) for my first 3 Burns. When you arrive in Reno there will be signs saying "our vehicles may not be taken to Burning Man." Ignore that. However, any rental needs to be cleaned like it just pulled off the factory floor. Leave enough time, energy, and resources to get it done well. The first year I pulled into Reno and I was absolutely exhausted. At that moment I chose to blow off the cleaning because I was too tired to care. When I was back home and rested, and I got the $250 cleaning charge on my credit card I wished I would have done it differently. Year 2 and 3 I spent 2 hours and did a stellar cleaning job...no charge. I took the car through the car wash twice. You have to go through a car wash that opens the hood and sprays down the engine and under-carriage. They will look underneath, and they will open the hood. I wiped down every inch, inside and out. Plan ahead on playa....every time you open the car door you get more dust inside. Don't plan on using a rental car as a storage place. Ideally, you want to open it up to get your shit out and then leave it closed until you leave.

An option for returning home with a lighter load. Year 2 & 3 I pulled over at an Indian Taco Stand and asked them if they would like to have my tent, sleeping bag, cooler, etc. Both years they really appreciated the gifts, and it lightened things for the return trip when I was tired. Yes, I had to buy some new gear the following year....but I was happy to have my stuff go to good people.

For Year 4: I purchased a used RV ('71 Chevy Sportscoach) off of Reno Craigslist in the Fall after year 3. I bought it from Burners outside of Reno that were upgrading on their RV. I got the RV for $1900 and put $1500 into it to make sure she was ready to go for 2012. The Burners I bought her from are storing it for me on their property. I pay them $500 per year and they go out once a month and run her for a couple hours. They have become good friends of mine, and the woman end of things came to the Burn this year and shared the RV with me! We got along perfectly and it was Beautiful! The long of the short: To rent an RV it will cost you at minimum $8,000 for the week. If Burning Man is a long-standing thing....you might look into buying a rig and having it stored near Reno.

Sorry for the long post, but hope it helps someone!
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby BBadger » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:11 pm

If you're towing stuff, make sure you cut down on wind resistance by ensuring there are no flapping tarps, etc. Though we didn't travel as far as many burners, we put some tarps on the bed of the truck and it killed our gas mileage from an already poor 18 mpg to 13 mpg. It'll add up!
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby ranger magnum » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:57 pm

I dont know where you looked jcliff, but 8k is not the norm. 2500 is closer to reality, at least in so cal.

Buying an rv just for a week in the desert isnt as cost effective as you might think. Rv's need lots of off season care, and an rv left sitting is not wise.

For some reason, things that worked one day often fail the next. Tires need replacing every 5-7 years. The playa leeches the oil out of them quickly. Thats that what the black patches are under your tires when you leave.

If you leave it in areas that freeze, you need to winterize the water systems. The batteries need a trickle charge, otherwise they will be dead when you come back. And a battery that goes dead, often will not return. Deep cycle coach batteries are expensive.

Really think twice about this idea.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby jcliff » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:12 pm

ranger magnum wrote:I dont know where you looked jcliff, but 8k is not the norm. 2500 is closer to reality, at least in so cal.

Buying an rv just for a week in the desert isnt as cost effective as you might think. Rv's need lots of off season care, and an rv left sitting is not wise.

For some reason, things that worked one day often fail the next. Tires need replacing every 5-7 years. The playa leeches the oil out of them quickly. Thats that what the black patches are under your tires when you leave.

If you leave it in areas that freeze, you need to winterize the water systems. The batteries need a trickle charge, otherwise they will be dead when you come back. And a battery that goes dead, often will not return. Deep cycle coach batteries are expensive.

Really think twice about this idea.


Ranger, I'm not a dipshit who ponied up a few thousand for an RV without doing my due dilligence. I'm very aware of the long term needs of this awesome old rig. I'd like to believe that any Burner who read my post would not leap into an RV purchase without taking the time to research what is involved. It's worked out for me, but I've committed myself to a long term situation. "Really think twice about this idea." Ya think?
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby dangerous » Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:27 pm

has anyone used the "share resources" list with any success? any epic fails to entertain us with?

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby engineer2012 » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:56 am

Hi
I am from the Netherlands and we flew to Vegas. Arrived on Thursday August 23. Had a nice afternoon and evening in Vegas. Next day RV pick-up in Henderson (Cruise America) and drove 400 miles to Fallon. Spend the weekend getting supplies, and Monday morning 8 am we drove off the concrete in to the dessert.
We left on Tuesday September 4, drove back to Vegas in one day. RV park for one day (great swimming pool!). Wednesday RV return and one night hotel. Flew back on Thursday, arriving Friday in Amsterdam. Great roadtrip, one of the best weeks in my life at BM. Spend $525,- on gas regular.
Specially the Fallon part, besides BM naturally, was great. really relaxing, all the time we needed to get supplies.
Next time we will do it again like this.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby graidawg » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:11 am

I should add REALLY REALLY try and conserve gas, on the drive from DC we spent $585 (i think) and i was not careful with the mileage but the laden car did about 23 to the gallon - i bet if we had more time and i drove sensibly, loaded the car more carefully and did all the due diligence i could get better mileage and a cheaper drive
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Drawingablank » Thu Oct 11, 2012 10:49 am

We have done it both ways and here are some thoughts on driving vs. flying from the east coast (New York City area).

Flying
1. Less time missing work or school. Or less vacation time used depending how you want to look at it.
2. Approximate round trip airfare cost to Reno 500.00 per person.
3. Truck rental expenses (12 days) 1,100.00 including gas and cleaning fee.
4. Shipping gear round trip 300.00
4. Total travel cost for two people - 2,400.00

Driving
1. Added 4 days travel time each way (more missed work / school days).
2. Cost - a minimum of 2,700.00 just in vehicle costs - higher if in a vehicle getting poor mileage. This is based on a distance of 2,700 miles each way and the none too generous base cost of approximately .50 per mile the IRS has established as a valid mileage cost, which is based on fuel, vehicle maintenance, depreciation, etc... In many ways it is probably cheaper to rent a vehicle if you plan to drive.
4. Lodging or campground fees, plus the additional cost of eating while on the road. Roughly 100.00 per day
5. It is a pretty boring drive. If you plan to make it more interesting by doing some sightseeing or visiting it is less boring but takes more time.
6. I found the four days sitting in the car unbearable after the burn - your mileage may vary.
7 Total cost for us for 2 people was approximately 3,500.00 (not including the extra time missed from work).

These are just my observations since we drove in 2011 and flew in 2012. Obviously if you are bringing an RV or trucking out a lot of stuff most of this doesn't apply and your costs will be higher. If you enjoy road trips, have time to spare, and enjoy seeing the sights then driving may make more sense for you even if it is more expensive.
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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Rice » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:23 am

Drawingablank wrote:We have done it both ways and here are some thoughts on driving vs. flying from the east coast (New York City area).

Flying
1. Less time missing work or school. Or less vacation time used depending how you want to look at it.
2. Approximate round trip airfare cost to Reno 500.00 per person.
3. Truck rental expenses (12 days) 1,100.00 including gas and cleaning fee.
4. Shipping gear round trip 300.00
4. Total travel cost for two people - 2,400.00

Driving
1. Added 4 days travel time each way (more missed work / school days).
2. Cost - a minimum of 2,700.00 just in vehicle costs - higher if in a vehicle getting poor mileage. This is based on a distance of 2,700 miles each way and the none too generous base cost of approximately .50 per mile the IRS has established as a valid mileage cost, which is based on fuel, vehicle maintenance, depreciation, etc... In many ways it is probably cheaper to rent a vehicle if you plan to drive.
4. Lodging or campground fees, plus the additional cost of eating while on the road. Roughly 100.00 per day
5. It is a pretty boring drive. If you plan to make it more interesting by doing some sightseeing or visiting it is less boring but takes more time.
6. I found the four days sitting in the car unbearable after the burn - your mileage may vary.
7 Total cost for us for 2 people was approximately 3,500.00 (not including the extra time missed from work).

These are just my observations since we drove in 2011 and flew in 2012. Obviously if you are bringing an RV or trucking out a lot of stuff most of this doesn't apply and your costs will be higher. If you enjoy road trips, have time to spare, and enjoy seeing the sights then driving may make more sense for you even if it is more expensive.

I too have driven and flown to the burn. My drive is slightly shorter though (only 3000Km to BRC from here).

Flying is quicker. Driving allows me to bring more gear.

I also found the drive home to be very harsh. Especially when I was the only driver. Nothing like 24 hours on the highway to stress your sanity. It is amazing how tired I actually felt. At least with flying, I was able to recoup at home!

I have a friend in the Bay Area who I camp with. She is storing the heavy gear for us (Tent, Shade, tables, lawn chairs, etc..) I fly down with two hockey bags full of clothing and optional gear (back packs, camel bags, water bottles, etc). She also has a vehicle! If I had to camp by myself, I would need to buy and discard gear (and rent a car/van, etc.). Thankfully I have a functioning plan ;)

Flying decreases my sense of Self-Reliance. Even though we have a plan, I still feel uneasy until I have been on the playa for a few days. Without our shared lists and responsibilities, I would not be able to do my burns this way. I was on-playa for three weeks this year, and only had to leave the playa once (for extra smokes & beer)...
Love Rice

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Re: Long Distance Burning Logistics

Postby Apprentice Dreamer » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:24 pm

This'll be my 1st time at BM and I'm going to be flying in from the UK, probably to San Francisco & hiring a car from there. As the amount of stuff I can bring over's going to be severely limited I'll need to buy stuff in USA.

I was wondering if someone could give me a pointer as to what I should expect to pay to pick up gear & places to pick it up, then I'll have a beter idea of what I'll need to/be able to bring over & what I can get in USA. Obviously not wanting to spend too much as I'll probably be donating most of it once BM's over.

Key things are:
cooking stove
tent, 12" pegs & shade thing
glow stuff - where can I get this in SF?
bike - I figure walmart but how much'll it set me back?
bodypaint
camelbak
cooler

Cheers, useful thread
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