How to Make the Most Out of Attending Comic Con, Part 1
As 2015 is starting to wind down, there are only a few comic conventions left to attend. For myself, there is Salt Lake Comic Con and Stan Lee’s Comikaze with maybe one more after that. One of the most recurring questions that I get from first time goers or friends going to their first con is “What should I bring or do to really make the most out of my first comic con?” So I decided to make a survival guide for those who may be going to a convention for their first time. To keep it simple, I’ll be breaking this post into three parts covering these categories: Gear, Strategy, and Etiquette.
You will live or die based on the gear you bring and use at the convention. Backpacks, water bottles, battery packs, shoes, etc… all these items help you last through the day.
Invest in a good backpack, for you are your own sherpa
I find that a two shoulder strap is better than a single strap messenger bag but both have their advantages and disadvantages. A two shoulder pack will allow for you to carry a bit more gear and weight without allowing the weight to become too much of a strain. Look for one that has expandable options to allow for more space to store items. Water bottle pouches are a good addition as well. Some bags have electronic and camera pouches that allow for cable feeds to your devices or make it easier access to have them on hand quickly. The best thing to do is evaluate what items you want to take with you daily and do a little research on what bag works best for you.
The backpack that I currently use is the Osprey Radial 34. It has a ton of space, expandable options, water bottle pouches, ventilated mesh backing, and tech pockets for my devices.
Water bottles are your elixirs of survival
This is really simple. STAY HYDRATED. There are over a dozen times at conventions that I’ve seen people just drop from heat exhaustion and trust me, you don’t want to deal with the on-staff EMS teams. They are good but very strict once you enter their care.
I typically have two 25oz water bottles on me throughout the day and they get refilled at least once unless you are in a convention in Nevada or Arizona and then its twice. Water treatment tends to vary from city to city and if you are not local to that area, you may find that the water taste is off or different. For that reason, I like to use filters on the water.
Easy tip: fill your water bottles half way at night and place it in your fridge. In the morning, fill your bottles with ice and you’ll have cold water throughout the day.
My personal choice for water bottles is the Camelbak Groove .75L. It comes with a built-in filter that lasts for quite a few uses.
Charge packs or cases are your device’s best friend
For a few years, I used a charge case until it became a bit of a hassle and costly to continuously replace due to phones changing shape and size over the years. A downside I noticed is that a typical charge case only charges your phone about one and a half times, plus the disadvantage is it only takes care of your phone.
About two years ago, moved from charge case to charge pack and it was one of the smartest moves that I have made for my devices. Not only can the phone be charged but due to getting a larger charge case, the tablet and GoPro can be charged as well. One of the recent add-ons to my setup has been a solar charge panel kit. Mainly this came about due to Hall H at San Diego Comic Con. I found that even with my charge packs, due to camping out with friends, the packs could become very easily drained. Adding a small solar panel kit not only helped keep my charge packs going all day but all night and throughout the day in Hall H without needing to go find an outlet to recharge it.
This again is an area where you should evaluate your gear that you will be using and finding the right charge option for you. For my needs, the big number chargers of at least 10,000 mAh was required so that my items could be charged fully and multiple times.
My personal choice for charge packs that I currently use is the UNU Superpak and an Anker Powercore 20100. For solar panel kit, I went with the Anker 14w Dual-port charger. The solar panel kit does add a little weight to your pack. That’s something to keep in mind should you want to carry it around with you when not camping out.
Take care of your feet since you are not one of The Proclaimers
Get really, really, really comfortable shoes that are also functional. The only reason you should be need fashionable shoes is if you are a cosplayer and it requires it. You may want to invest in good hiking shoes that are light weight but have good cushioning. Another option is to get insoles that are extra bouncy. As well as, compression socks to insure that blood flow and heat are being properly managed.
I have no real personal choice to put here for you. This is something where you have to find what works best for your needs. One small tip is to do some pre-con training by walking at least 5 miles a day and practicing standing in one spot for at least a hour but we’ll cover this more in the strategy part of this series. This year at San Diego Comic Con, I averaged around walking 10 miles daily.
If you think others smell, trust that you do too
You hear it all the time from different sites about the bringing deodorant and bathing at comic conventions. So we won’t go into detail. Use deodorant. Brush your teeth and/or chew lots of gum. Try to shower at least once a day. But if you can’t, there are things that you can do to make sure you are covered. Carry gum, mints, or breathe strips on you at all time. This helps you and you can always offer someone that needs it (but remember to take a piece for yourself first so it looks like you are sharing instead of suggesting). When I camp out for Hall H or if I’ve walked the floor all day, I recommend going to an off-site night event but can’t get back to hotel in time, shower wipes and dry deodorant spray become my best friends.
Some personal recommendations that I recommend for you, gentlemen attendees that are reading this: Nivea 50ml For Men Invisible Spray and Nathan Power Shower Refreshing Body Wipes. This last one, Dry Goods is just so “all of you” can be extra comfortable when you are walking around plus the menthol gives you a little pep in your walk.
Think of a convention like an Iron Man workout session
A little while back decided to change up how I dress for conventions because I wanted to be more comfortable no matter what city I was in or what the weather was like. So after researching a lot about workouts, marathons, and camping, I decided that I needed to find clothing that did better with wicking moisture away to do better about managing sweat and body temperature. The first first thing I did was I started wearing compression shirts under whatever geek shirt I was wearing to deal with sweating and heat regulation. After the first day, I noticed that my clothing wasn’t smelling and that I did not feel covered in sweat as I normally did. The second thing came after discovering Marmot’s DriClime fabric and finding a pair of shorts that had it in them. Between those two processes, I found that I was sweating less and able to be more active throughout the whole day.
Again, no direct personal recommendations for you. Find things that work well for you. For me, its been Under Armour and DriClime shorts. For you, it may be something else.
So thats a start and a few recommendations on what type of gear you may need or evaluate before attending your first comic convention. Next up in this series is how to prepare a strategy and mental awareness for attending your convention.