flowtoys burning man

spontaneous flowjam at Burning Man

Flowtoys love the playa! We've been bringing them to Burning Man since before flowtoys officially existed. Sean created our first production-ready prototypes just before the burn in 2004 and after they survived the week of heavy use on the playa, we determined they were ready for the world. That said nothing is truly playa-proof, so here're a few tips and some pre-playa prep to be sure your flowtoys can keep up with your flow!

- updated in 2023 to include vision props, trikons, triads and other new releases :)

General care:

  • Test your rigs before you leave! Make sure everything is in working order. Charge up your vision, capsules and batteries, test your lights to make sure everything works, and add a little lubrication to tubes if they're feeling stiff or sticky. We recommend vaseline/petroleum jelly or other greasy substance like lip-balm - the tiniest bit helps.
  • Minimize sunlight. UV radiation breaks down plastics and generates heat that shortens battery-life. It's fine to use your flowtoys in the sun, but try not to leave them laying out in direct sunlight all day.
  • Clean them! The playa will find its way into everything, but it doesn't have to stay there! If you find the amount of dust in your poi is making them dimmer than you'd like, take a moment to blow/wipe them clean(-er). When you're off playa, it's worth at least using a clean damp rag to wipe down your toys. Many non-electronic parts (crystal cases, mass, pod shells and flowcaps) can be cleaned with mild soap and water, or tossed in the laundry! If your electronics are super dusty, you can use some compressed air to clean them out. We do this after a dusty festival.

Vision clubs and other vision props:

  • Vision clubs: Club caps can get very difficult to put on if they get dusty. IF you're finding it hard to put your club caps on, clean and lubricate with a tiny bit of vaseline as needed.
  • Dust and grit can get inside your caps and connectors making them challenging to put on/take off. Blow out or clean your caps and connectors of any dust BEFORE attaching them to your tubing. If anything feels stuck or gritty, wipe clean and apply a bit of vaseline or other greasy substance (lip-balm is great) for lubrication. A tiny bit goes a long way!

Podpoi & other capsule-light props:

  • If the button feels sticky or it's not working right, clean it out! Dust can get into the bottom of your pod shell and affect button behavior. Remove your capsule light, blow out the dust and clean the pod shell, then reinsert your capsule. If you are using podpoi or a pod shell staff, make sure the c-ring is properly installed on your capsule before reinserting - this is important!
  • Don't expose your podpoi or props to water. If it rains, put them in your bag. If they get wet and won't turn on, check out our instructions for saving water-damaged capsule lights.
  • Podpoi make bike lights, mood lights and personal lighting! Keep the carabiner that came with your poi and clip them inside your tent as a lantern, hang them from your bike for visibility, use one to make a giant anglerfish costume - the sky's the limit!

Optimize your battery life:

  • Your vision and capsules have a charge level indicator: From off, hold the button down until your light blinks - the color indicates charge level. If it's low (red/orange), plug them in to charge during the day so you'll be ready to glow at night.
  • Before plugging your lights in to charge, inspect the USB jack and make sure it's clear of dust and debris. If it's dusty, blow it out before charging.
  • Some modes last significantly longer than others. If you're low on battery and don't have easy access or time to charge, try a mode/pattern like spirit, petals, microdots, rainbow drops or solar flare - each of these modes lasts 20 hours or more. Some last over 60 hours! 
  • Adjust global brightness to level 2 - this is bright enough for play, and will greatly extend the life of your battery.
  • Get a mobile power pack pack to charge your podpoi, pixelwhips and other USB-chargeable devices - each pack holds enough juice to charge a pair of podpoi twice.
  • If you have questions about battery charging specs for capsules and vision props, how many charges you can expect from a portable usb power bank - check out this resource in our knowledge base.

Flowlights, crystal system and modular system:

  • Flowlights make awesome personal lighting. If you have flowlights that aren't being used in a prop, you can attach them to your hipsack, backpack, bicycle, or use them in costumes or at camp for decoration. We use flowlights to find each other at festivals :)
  • Have twice as many AAA batteries as you need, so you can always have one set in your toys and another charged and ready to go. Three sets is even better: one in your toys, a back-up in your bag, and a third set to keep charging at camp and as spares for other things like headlamps and friends.
  • We keep our batteries in 2 bags - charged and discharged - so we never get them confused.
  • If you have tubing-based flowtoys, do NOT use glowsticks in your tubes! Chemical glowsticks emit esters, which break down polycarbonate and can cause your tubes to crack or shatter.
  • Dust and grit can get inside your caps and connectors and in flowlight battery doors and make them challenging to put on/take off. Blow out or clean your caps and connectors of any dust BEFORE attaching them to your tubing. If anything feels stuck or gritty, wipe clean and apply a bit of vaseline or other greasy substance (lip-balm is great) for lubrication. A tiny bit goes a long way!

Trikons, triads & 3D-printed parts:

  • 3D-printed parts can get loose or warped in the heat. Do not leave your trikon dragontaffs and triads baking in the sun, or in containers/ car in direct sun. 
  • Triads: Remove your spokes when not in use to prevent your hub connections from loosening in the heat.
  • 3D-printed caps: Friction fit 3D-printed caps like Full Vision dance wand caps and flowcap air may get slippery with dust. Clean with damp cloth as needed - do NOT lubricate. 

Contact staff, lumina twirl batons, contact wand, flower sticks and other grippy props:

  • Basic maintenance: Grip can wear out with use, and is affected by oils from our skin. To prolong the life of your grip, clean it *after* heavy use and *before* long periods of storage. This will also make sure it’s grippy, not slippy, when you are ready to flow.
  • To clean: Use some rubbing alcohol and a cloth, OR a cloth with warm soapy water to remove any oils from the grip. Be sure to wipe away any soap residue with clean water.

Your flowtoys got run over by an art car? Dropped into a pool of glitter? If the worst should happen and your flowtoys don't survive their trip to the playa, our warranty has you covered. Even customer-damaged toys can be replaced for half price. Check out warranty details here.

Most importantly - burn bright, share the flow and have fun!

Thomas G Prisna - sunrise at the onion Burning Man

Another epic sunrise with good friends at Burning Man