If you’ve decided to go to Standing Rock to join the Water Protectors, you need to be prepared. Remember, you are responsible for you. If you turn up unprepared, you may be a liability instead of a support. Although the camps are being supported by donations and there is a communal and collaborative ethos at the heart of the Sioux Tribe’s project, you should not turn up relying on the people already at camp to provide you with everything you need. Their pre-existing facilities are presumably not designed to cope with the number of people on-site at the moment.
For that reason, I’ve made the following packing list to help you plan your kit. I’m reporting their story for Byline. Because of that, I don’t want people who read my reports to get the idea that they can just head to North Dakota without taking responsibility for how their being there will contribute positively or negatively to that story. So this is one little piece of info to help make sure you’re making the right decision.
Note: The items listed herein are my personal recommendations, and have not come from anyone who is at or has been to Standing Rock. My experience for compiling this is: my partner is an experienced pharmacist, we are both trained in First Aid, and we camp regularly (in milder climates than a North Dakota winter). This list covers some things that I’d consider packing were I heading out to Standing Rock. These are merely our suggestions. You are responsible for you.
When compiling your packing list, cross-reference the guides provided by the camp elders to make sure everything you’ve chosen meets their requirements. I won’t be constantly monitoring their protocols to make sure everything I’ve listed here meets their standards. Their word is law where you’re going – listen to them above anyone else.
If any of the Native Americans, Medics, Army Veterans, or main Media Teams (in that order) who are at Standing Rock want to contact me to make edits/additions, post a comment below and/or DM me on Twitter, and I’ll act accordingly. Thanks.
Some links go to products listed on the Medics’ Amazon wishlist. If you want to donate supplies to the Medics, you need to use the full list, which can be found here. Browse that for recommend thermal underwear, and other supplies you may wish to buy for yourself as well. I’d suggest that if you’re prepared to spend time and money travelling to Standing Rock, you should probably arrive with some presents. Just like you’d take a bottle of wine to a dinner party, either get some supplies shipped to camp for the people who are leading this, or take some with you for those people.
Expect cold weather, freezing temperatures, and snow coming in soon. Additionally, treat it as likely that you’ll be sprayed with water by law enforcement during freezing weather.
Do Not Bring:
Don’t bring any recreational drugs or alcohol. Don’t bring any weapons, or anything that could be easily construed as a weapon. This includes no knives, saws, axes, fireworks, flares, or other items that could be considered as antagonistic towards law enforcement. Even if you’ve seen videos of people using axes to chop wood, don’t bring one yourself – I’m sure the leaders of this can take care of those items, while you can bring something less threatening with you instead. Do not bring your ego either. Actually, the don’t bring you ego bit may be the most crucial bit in all of this.
Clothing & Toiletries
Avoid cotton (or denim)- this will be very cold when wet. And it is highly likely that you’ll be wet at times. It is better to wear merino wool (which will stay warm when wet and won’t pong if you can’t get it washed as regularly as you’d like) or synthetic fibres (these will pong quickly, but will generally dry quicker than merino). Natural fibre wool can be very warm and retains warmth when wet, but can get heavy when wet and may take a long time to dry out properly. Your call.
- Do no bring camouflage or military clothing. US veterans will be at Standing Rock alongside Water Protectors. Respect their service and the fact that they are putting their reputations on the line to be there. They do not need anyone else wearing camo or military clothing being mistakenly identified as a veteran. The easiest way to ensure that your behaviour does not reflect badly on them is to ensure that you can’t be mistaken for one of them. Unless you serve or have served in the military, leave anything with those patterns and designs at home.
- Do not bring clothing that has antagonistic messages on it. We can debate your rights to wear that clothing some other time, and you’ll find me highly libertarian about it. But Standing Rock is not about you. If you are there to be helpful, you’re not doing that if you wear controversial clothing such as e.g. a t-shirt saying Fuck The Police, or something like that. Think about whether the slogans/patterns on your clothing might offend the other people around you. Don’t just think about whether you’re offended by it or not.
- Do bring:
- Plenty of underwear (medics are reporting the camp faces difficulties providing laundry services for everyone)
- Warm socks – the link goes to the type the Medics have listed (pack extra pairs of these)
- Thermal underwear (again, pack extra)
- Cold weather clothing – thick coats, fleeces, adopt a layering system.
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Suitable footwear for snow
- Hat, gloves, and scarves. Take several pairs of gloves if you can, because they be slow to dry out and no one wants to wear cold and damp gloves.
- A poncho and woobie – specifically this poncho and this woobie I’m breaking my own rule about no military gear here, but that’s why I’ve linked to plain green items rather than camo patterns. In this case, the items are far too useful not to include. They will provide additional warmth for your sleeping bag, while the woobie can be used as a ground blanket for meals or downtime, and a quick layer of warmth if you begin to experience hypothermia. The poncho is a fast form of waterproofing. Both pack up very small, making them easy to carry on you at all times, if needed. The poncho can also be used as a tarp. Youtube guides for each of these uses. But pick a plain colour for each item when purchasing. Do not buy the camo patterns for either your poncho or your woobie.
- Basic toiletries and Muc Off Dry Shower
- A towel or two
- Tent – check with people currently on-site to find out if this is needed.
- Sleeping bag – I’ve linked to the type on the Amazon wishlist by the medics who are requesting supplies. Whichever sleeping bag you bring, make sure it is suited for freezing and below-freezing temperatures. Your regular summer sleeping bag will likely be too thin. If that is all you can bring though, bring that. Better to have something than to turn up with nothing.
- Sleeping mat
- Paracord – multi-purpose, robust, can be used for basic camp construction (e.g. erecting tarps, making a washing line) and for lashing bits of gear onto your bag. Combine with your poncho and woobie, to make tarp shelters and other ad hoc constructions, like a makeshift rain cover for expensive equipment.
- Gaffers Tape – because, well, Gaffers Tape.
- Metal whistle – in case you need to signal for help
- Compact shovel – as winter sets in, this will be useful for various camp activities. If you bring one of these, keep it stored away at all times unless it is being used for camp management activities sanctioned by the elders. Do not take it anywhere near law enforcement. Do not be silly with it. You are responsible for you. But what you do will reflect on everyone.
- Goggles – to better withstand law enforcement tactics such as use of chemical weapons and water hoses.
- Knee pads – the camp is currently winterizing. This means work is being done to construct shelters that will better withstand the freezing winter. You’ll find the knee pads useful for when you help with this. Additionally, they can keep your knees dry if kneeling in wet/damp conditions, and they can be used as a simple pillow.
- Stuff sack pillow – if you insist on a bit more luxury, get one of these. Stuff some clothes into it and use that as a pillow. Far better than bringing an actual pillow with you.
- Solar panel phone charger – I’m assuming that other forms of charging station will be in high demand at camp, and that you intend to document your time there to help increase awareness about the situation. So you’re doing everyone a favour if you pick up a solar panel phone charger, instead of either hogging the other power sources or losing the ability to document.
- Recording equipment – if you have a camera, camcorder, or GoPro, you may want to bring those. Remember to bring spare memory cards, batteries, and a battery charger. But remember that you may not be able to charge your batteries easily, so schedule when you’ll charge your batteries so you don’t lose power in the field. If you can’t charge often enough, take a deep breath and just accept it.
- Wood – bring as much wood as you can manage. They’re asking for oak, and ash. Logs for building fires to keep warm.
- Heavy duty bin liners – multi-purpose. Can be used as an emergency blanket (but will have limited use given how cold it is at the moment), for transport or collection of materials around camp, and a waterproof groundsheet if needed. Geek out on youtube if you want more reasons to pack these, but they’re so light and small there’s no reason not to.
- Genuine Emergency Blanket – the reflective ones are great, and you should carry this on you at all times because if you need it the situation will be an emergency and you’ll have no time to go off to get your bag and root around for it. The medics have requested donations of these, so bringing your own makes life easier for them. I’ve linked to the 100-pack listed on the Medics’ wishlist page, and you won’t need that many for yourself but if you brought enough to share, they would appreciate it.
- Wind-up or solar panel torch. It’s more sustainable, and you’ll appreciate it when your mate’s battery powered torch loses power and they realise they’ve got no spare batteries. If you can get one that’s both wind-up and solar panel, cool.
- Headlamp – super useful for night work, to keep your hands free.
- A mini torch that you can hook onto your belt loops. This is in case you lose/break either of your other torches. It is intended for emergency use only, as the batteries will only last for an hour or two. So it’s your “how to get back to camp when I’ve broken my main torch” emergency tool.
Food & Food Equipment
I’m not listing cooking stoves because I don’t know what protocol the camp has about these. But consider bringing:
- Food bowl, and a cup if you wish
- Spork/cutlery for yourself
- Metal water bottle (least likely material to get damaged)
- Fold up sink (secondary use for medical treatment, if needed) The link is to a 10L sink, but a 5L sink may be better. These only really function when nearly or completely full, so there’s no point getting a huge one.
- Bring food. Again, I’d go with general camping food, like risotto/pasta in packets, quick cooking oatmeal, and things like that. Dried meat would also keep reasonably well. And pack tons of garlic – it’ll help the food taste good, but it also has anti-bacterial, which you’ll find useful if you pick up a cold.
First Aid Kit
There are Medics on site, but you shouldn’t be troubling them with minor ailments you can deal with yourself. And you should carry some first aid supplies on you at all times, just in case. Keep First Aid Supplies in a separate & clearly marked pouch – a bright colour like red, so it is easy to find when you need it. Carry tampons on you at all times. Here’s some of my go-to gear for that:
- A First Aid Guide – there’s no point having the supplies if you have no clue how to use them. Get a pocket First Aid book and keep it on you.
- Tampons – not just for women! These are awesome first aid supplies. Individually sealed so they remain hygienic, they’re basically tightly wrapped cotton strips that make excellent dressings if you are bleeding. They’re also great if someone is having a period. Just saying. They’re also useful for kindling, and a whole bunch of other stuff besides. Youtube “tampon first aid” or “tampon camping” or “tampon survival kit” or something like that and you’ll find a guide to the various uses.
- Israeli Bandage – I thought this might be too extreme until I saw some of the injury photographs from Sunday night.
- Saline solution – main purpose would be to irrigate your eyes and/or wounds.
- Dioralyte sachets – in case you’re sick and need to increase your electrolytes. Vomiting was listed as one of the ailments from the weapons used by law enforcement
- Imodium – to stop loose bowel movements (another listed ailment from law enforcement’s weapons)
- Cough medicine (because winter is coming). If you are able to get a flu jab before heading to Standing Rock, do that too.
- Any medication you regularly take – and bring about a week’s extra supplies, just in case.
- Neti pot and saline sachets (you don’t want to use the pre-prepared saline solution for this, because that should be reserved for emergency irrigation work). Youtube for a video to show you how to use your Neti pot if you need to. It’ll help clear your airways.
- Anti-histamine tablets/cream/both – you know the area better than I do, so your call as to which of these is best. I’d take at least one.
- Lavender Essential Oil – Do Not Use this on broken skin. Do Not Ingest this. But you can use it to help treat headache/migraine by applying it to your temples. You can use it to help soothe irritated skin (in place of anti-histamine ointment if you’ve run out), and to just help you to relax at night.
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil – Do Not apply this to your skin, and Do Not ingest this. But you can inhale it to help clear a blocked nose, and you can dab some on your top to keep that effect working as you go about your day. Don’t stand in front of law enforcement sniffing away at the bottle like you’re using drugs, though. Thanks.
- Washi Tape in a pale colour – this is actually awesome stuff for making ad hoc plasters when combined with some tissue paper. And you can write on it and it’s low tack, so it will double for marking things up around camp in situations where heavier duty tape won’t work (which is why a pale colour is best).
If you’re going to Standing Rock to ‘find yourself’, to ‘grow as a person’, or any other self-interested reason, bring some or all of these books. Read them for your spiritual journey. This isn’t about you. And if you’re going for more honourable reasons, you might want to take some of these books anyway, because they may help to remind you why you travelled there in the first place – even with the best of intentions, it is far too easy to lose sight of our goals in the heat of tense moments.
- Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
- Martin Luther King Jr biography
- Dylan Thomas poem, The Hand That Signed The Paper
- Phil Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect (to help you to understand why law enforcement acts the way they do)
- Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience & other essays
- Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, The Mask of Anarchy
- Gandhi biography
- Thoreau, Walden
- Dylan Thomas poem, In My Craft Or Sullen Art
- If you are religious, your Holy Book
- The Chimp Paradox