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Rental Trucks

Note: Updated versions of these directions can be found on This page is no longer updated.

A properly altered truck
Remember to decorate your rental truck!

One of the problems with Burning Man is that you may not be able to get your tent, camping gear, costumes, food and water and a effigy into your new VW Beetle. You might fund yourself needing a trailer, a car, or even a 24' rental truck. If you take it, you can easily fill it. Since most people don't have a 24' truck laying around, chances are you will have to rent something. We have a few pointers for you, the eager explorer ready to set across the heartland to visit Gerlach, NV.

Renting a truck

First off, if we can impart any advice at all, for heavens sake, DO NOT TELL THE RENTAL AGENCY YOU ARE GOING TO BURNING MAN! Just don't do it. They will want to know a destination and I would strongly suggest using any town name besides Reno or Gerlach. Some rental agencies refuse to rent to people heading to Burning Man. Some for good reason like a previous customer forgot to hose out the dust, others because they simply do not like the event. You don't have to lie, just don't volunteer every scrap of information you need to. Heck, you didn't tell them about the time you went rafting down the Snake river and left the can opener back in the car did you? No sense in telling them information that could come back and haunt you.

For instance, lets say you live in Seattle and you want to drive to Burning Man using a 15' van. There is no harm in mentioning you are actually on your way to Elko, Nevada to move some stuff to Aunt Jeannean, or Salt Lake City, Utah. Heck, tell them you need to move your sister to Carson City, Las Vegas, Mustang, Tahoe, the Chicken Ranch, someplace besides Reno or Gerlach. Nobody is going to question why you only put 1400 miles on the vehicle instead of 1800.

Where to rent

When renting a vehicle, please remember these words. Avoid U-HAUL. The $19.95 a day rate seems very attractive, but that doesn't include mileage which is 49 cents a mile. That could run you $750.00 in extra charges.

If that isn't a good enough reason, another good one is that U-HAUL employees are usually rude, pushy and some of the vehiclesI have rented in the past have been in bad shape. In fact, the last one I rented in July, 2000 had defective brakes, was out of tune, was out of alignment and had bad gas mileage. Some people love U-HAUL, but I have never been satisfied with the way they treat customers. I would suggest finding a nationally known company that has a truck that a late model (last few years), well maintained and in good condition. Companies like Thrifty, Penske or Enterprise seem to maintain their fleet better than U-HAUL does. Don't you deserve a well-maintained rental vehicle?

I used to recommend Ryder, but the company was purchased by U-HAUL and their quality really went downhill. The last truck we rented from them in August, 2000 for a trip from Seattle to Edmonton had a defective fan clutch. In fact, the clutch was not even factory issue. It was a package that Ryder had installed along with other adjustments they made to the truck. The truck had terrible fuel mileage and we couldn't do better than 15 MPH heading over any hill and even at that speed the truck would overheat. Ryder did not make another truck available to us, so we lost a day in Kamloops having the truck repaired. Luckily when we got to Edmonton we didn't need the truck for 3 days, otherwise we would have been stranded.

Roadside assistance and insurance

You might get a fantastic deal from a smaller company or a mom & pop outfit, but be sure no matter who you rent from that they have some sort of roadside assistance plan. You do not want to be the one changing a blown tire in the middle of nowhere or worse, a burned up transmission. Ask what kind of service they have if you break down in a remote area.

Every company that rents trucks wants to get you to sign up for their optional liability insurance. It is a big profit center for the companies and they like to use fear to intimidate you into taking the insurance, which can easily run an extra $10.00 - $20.00 a day. Do you really need it? Chances are you don't and chances are you may be stuck paying for loss of use if you have an accident. The rental guy will always tell you everything is covered, but if you are going to take the insurance, make sure they show you that loss of use is covered in full. Also, what happens in heaven forbid, you hit an overpass or worse, another car? Does the rental insurance cover that? If not, you might be better off with your own coverage.

If you have questions about coverage, call your insurance agent. A good agent will be happy to up their commission and help extend your coverage for a short time to adequately cover the rental vehicle.

Another important consideration is can you drive the truck? Face it, a 15' panel truck handles differently than a smaller family car. make sure you or your driver can handle such tasks as taking a corner, backing up and driving down a steep pass without burning up your brakes.

Decorating the truck

Burning Man has a very strict policy about vending. Nothing is for sale. They don't want any corporate logos and that includes rental truck logos. Besides, do you know how hard it is to find your camp among all of the Penske trucks? Hard I tell you. So you should think about ways you can decorate your truck and make it really stand out. The more fun, the better. Maybe you will cover it with a huge logo for your camp you painted on cardboard, maybe you'll cover the truck with fabric to obscure the ugly logo.

Another idea that is not hard to do is alter the logo. It doesn't take much effort to change U-HAUL to U-HELL or Penske to SPANKME and people attending Burning Man will appreciate your clever play on words. Heck, it would take an hour or so to do something fun, but the rewards are worth it. All it takes is a ladder and a few rolls of colored tape. On the photo above, we were able to change Ryder to Dyper in about 10 minutes. It's fast, it's easy and it's lots of fun.

Here are just a few names to get you started:

  • U-HAUL = U-FO


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