SDCC “What to Bring” Hacks

This list was created with a casual attendee in mind, or a first-timer who wants to have a lookie-loo out and about inside and outside the con. If you plan to buy a lot of art, comics, or prints – you are probably already familiar with bringing portfolios, tubes, and bag/board. If you plan to camp out for Hall H, here is a nice blog post.

Now, your mileage may vary, but these are the items I’ve found indisputably useful during my past 5 years at SDCC to survive the long days and crowds. 150k fans packed in San Diego’s downtown doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

#1 Day Pack (Hiking Backpack)

You are on your feet all day, and sometimes enough happens that you dont want to return to your room for several hours. A daypack helps distribute the weight you are carrying. Also, you can deck it out with buttons and pins. 🙂 It IS a splurge [Mine was $45 at Ross (normally $80)], but it has lasted well over 20 shows with minimal wear and tear, because they’re build to endure people having a hike.

  • Warning: The free bag SDCC gives you WILL tear. Leave it in your hotel room unless you wanna wear it to trade it.
  • Additionally: Some places do not allow daypacks. If you’re hitting party after con, you can leave the daypack at your hotel room.

#2 Tri-Fold Stool

There are more affordable ones – these were an emergency purchase from Amazon to our hotel one year when we were aching and they’ve continued to save our butts.

If you plan to wait in a single line, a compact tri-fold stool is a lifesaver. Get jealous looks in line from the suckers who are standing! 🙂 (We forgot them one year, so I ended up Amazon Prime-ing them to the hotel). They are a LITTLE annoying to sling over your shoulder, so we actually hook it up to the daypack to distribute the weight.

For Hall H, you will need a different strategy to stay comfortable. I don’t do Hall H, but I’ve seen people there all day with some intense set-ups. A quick search pulled up this guide. If you need extra suggestions, you can try the SDCC FB group or the subreddit.

  • Note: If we don’t plan to be in lines, we leave it in the room. But, every time we’re like “we don’t need it today,” we’ve regret it. :X
  • Updated: This is the stool I got for Non-Hall-H line waiting. (AKA outdoor event lines, inside the lounge when the food court chairs are all taken, outside in general when we need emergency seating for a snack/water break). YMMV, it depends on your weight and how heavy of a stool you wanna carry. But Allen and I do just fine with these!

#3 Business Cards

Even if you’re just a fan – have a little card with your contact info. You’re in geektopia and you WILL make random friends. Having a card is handy, in case your phone dies. And just for general networking.

And having a card makes you feel cooler.

#4 Water Bottle / Snacks

It feels like a no brainer, but it deserves a spot on this list. You’ll get dehydrated faster than you realize. And tired if you don’t get any fuel. Take care of yourself. Check in every hour and have something to drink. Every 2 hours, have a little snack. I prefer turkey sticks, baggies of cereal, and protein bars. YMMV.

  • Emergency drink/snackage: Too exhausted to walk another step and you need food NOW? There are two lounges inside the con itself to get food/drink at. Is it overpriced? Yes. but you need to take care of yourself. If you can find the will to escape the con (I’ve been there, with the wrong boots and crying from pain of walking), the Hilton also tends to set up a spot directly in front of the hotel with burgers, hot dogs, and drinks. If you can get to the Gaslamp (right outside the con), you can hobble to the Tin Fish or a nearby restaurant.
  • Bonus: My friends at Geeks Who Eat have a great guide on not getting hangry at con!

#5 Ibuprofen / Pain Reliever

Depending on what you do, you will find surprise aches and pains. I’ve gotten sore from the walking, waiting in line, etc. Allen needed some after doing a bungee chord thing with the Square Enix adventure area, haha.

#6 Spray-On Sunblock

You don’t think you’ll be outside long.. But you may be. Just, trust me. I prefer the spray on, and it’s super quick and easy to do before you head out and about. I have seen waaaaay too many victims of the sun.

#7 Cell Phone

For the following reasons:

  • Track your schedule (with the official app, or your own calendar or spreadsheet)
  • Save contact info
  • Navigate to events and parties
  • Lyft/Uber for rides (including FREE rides if you’re lucky!)
  • Following the #SDCC hashtag on your favorite social platform
  • Pics/selfies of cool stuff!

#7.5 Battery Pack for Phone

Your phone’s gonna die. Don’t rely on finding a spare outlet. Yes, they can be a little heavy. This is why I have my daypack. 🙂

#8 Camera

For the love of God, take pics of cool stuff so your friends can live vicariously through you. 😉 Spend a day scouting if you’re not sure you want to bring a camera. Some folks like to dedicate a “take all the cool pics” day so they’re not lugging their DSLR around all weekend.

#9 Hygiene Products

SDCC will funk you up. Take care of your hygiene with your favorite products, even if you just snag sample sizes. Absolutely bring: deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothpaste, feminine care products (if you need them), etc. Feel too tired to shower? Just do it. I take a shower every morning and do a little pamper routine. It really helps me feel better to endure the day. Also, people will appreciate that you’re not wielding the con-funk.

  • Note: Okay, okay–you can hit a grocery store during the con. There is a Ralph’s nearby, and you can even access it from a stop near the free SDCC shuttle. But I’m a planner. I’d rather hit a Target before con, rather than worry about finding tooth paste and deodorant once we touch down in San Diego. But if you do forget some stuff, you can have your errand before you go out and about for con that day.

#10 Comfortable Shoes

DONT WORRY ABOUT YOUR FEET LOOKING CUTE. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. PLEASE. Sorry for the all caps, but I am an idiot who, in 2012, wore cute boots for my cosplay. I was in tears by the afternoon and was walking so painfully that a waiter from a local restaurant brought me inside because he thought I looked like I was gonna die.

#11  Rubber Bands (Suggested by Lisa)

Great suggestion! There are a ton of street teams and posters are a popular item. I’ve unfortunately damaged posters in the past by not having something to wrap them up in. I’ve even given up my own hair tie to a fellow fan who was stressing on ruining a really gorgeous X-Men Apocalypse poster we got from a street team marketing rep.

#12 Honorable Mentions

  • Your SDCC Badge (if you have one)
  • Power Strip: if you have multiple people in your hotel room
  • Extra Towel and Pillow
  • Triple Count all your Cosplay Stuff

Need extra help? Reddit’s /r/comiccon board has a GREAT survival guide!

And if you have further suggestions, let me know so I may add them!