At some point after you attend enough festivals, you establish a kind of routine in getting ready. You have a recurring list of all the things you need to pack, a good idea of what to expect at the festival, and you don’t do things like buy a new pair of shoes the day before the festival, or forget to pack sunscreen, or fail to drink enough water. At least on a basic level, you’re self-sufficient and prepared. So now what? Do you just lay back and coast  through Electric Forest this year? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Why stop there, though? Why not do better?

So, how do you do better, you might ask? I’m going to assume you’re a good sport and willing to humor me and play along. But I can’t tell you how to do you, man, I’m not your mom. What I can tell you, though, is how I’m going to do better.

It’s safe to say that my camp is hammock-obsessed. One of our crew runs the Hammock Living Instagram account, documenting her life adventures, and we all regularly trade hanging pics. Even at the State Fair. At last year’s Electric Forest, our 12-person camp was limited to two hammock spots at our site. Not because we had any restrictions, but because we didn’t prioritize hammocking (it’s a word) outside of the festival grounds.

We could bring more stands, but if you factor in how much campsite real estate you’d have to sacrifice with that many stands, you’d have to start making sacrifices. But what do you pony up in exchange? Common area space? Bring less coolers?

In our festival off-season, we happened upon a fairly simple and if I may say so, elegant solution for that problem. We can use a geodesic dome. It allows us to hang up to eight hammocks, arranged in a socializing-friendly way and in a smaller area. It also reduces the amount of shit we have to pack. Speaking of packing…

You can easily go overboard with packing for a music festival. You have your camping gear, day- and night-time clothes, electronics, food, road trip gear…it adds up quickly. Somehow, year after year, I wind up with my backpack between my legs and something on my lap for the twelve hour drive. So it was important that our hammock problem didn’t exacerbate our limited-space/excessive shit issue.

We opted to go with a pre-made dome from Edgedomes, manufactured by a fellow Forester, Ralph Edge. His 17-foot diameter model supports up to eight hammocks and will function as a common area and a tent replacement. If hammock sleeping isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of floor space to set up a sleeping pad or air mattress. Throw a tarp on it, and you’re protected from rain as well as the somehow brighter-than-usual morning sun. Plus, with hammock usage in the Forest this year limited to specific zones, the dome is a must.

As if the countdown to the Forest couldn’t get any more agonizing, tack on some Christmas-morning level anticipation and the clock practically stops. Ralph will be bringing our new toy along with his rental fleet to the Forest, where we will no doubt rip off all the wrapping like a bunch of little kids. Yes, you read that correctly, you don’t have to buy a dome to enjoy it. For a drastically reduced price, you can also rent a dome (also in 10’ and 23’ diameters) for use at Electric Forest, Wakarusa, Solstice, and now Counterpoint. I’ll be reporting back once we get everything set up and sorted.

Keep in mind that you’re not alone in this journey of betterment. Electric Forest hosts their annual Monarch program, inviting attendees to submit their ideas for how to improve the festival, to provide a piece of the puzzle they missed. This year it’s King Jason, also known as the Water King, who pushed to increase the number of water stations throughout the festival grounds. Were there sufficient spigots in enough locations last year? You could certainly make that argument, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but in my experience, the more water the better. As somebody who pushed out a kidney stone the day after Electric Forest 2013, I highly suggest making hydration a priority. You do not want to be that guy.

The festival’s organizers also strive to do better year over year. It’s why Tripolee moved, and why we have the beautiful Observatory, and it’s also why the festival sold out so quickly. This year, that push to improve produced two additional stages, copious extra-curricular activities before and during the festival, and the push to utilize the robust and supportive reddit community.

Last year, my suggestion was to “Be Excellent,” and I am by no means suggesting you stop doing that. Like excellence, better is a path as well as a journey, and not a destination. You’re not going to be better than excellent, but you can be excellent better.

This year, let “better” be your mantra, to push you, to steer you, and to help those around you. I’ll leave you with the poignant words of the late author Douglas Adams:

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”

(Keep an eye on Electrojams in the next couple weeks for additional Electric Forest coverage and for an in-depth look at our shiny new Edgedome.)