What to Bring to an Ultimate Tournament: a Beginner's Guide

Posted on: on Oct 3, 2016, 11:11:50 AM



The first tournament of the year is often the make-or-break experience for your rookies. While you and the other returners are easing back into the season, your new players are trying to decide whether or not they want to stick around and become a permanent part of your team.


As captain, it's your responsibility to get your new players through their first tournament weekend intact, and psyched to keep coming to practice.


That's where we come in! Below you'll find an exhaustive tournament packing list, written for new players who've never been to a tournament.


Successful leadership teams delegate! Crack the code to a well-organized leadership team with how's, why's, and real team examples!


Send this post on to your freshmen, or click here to download the simple excel checklist. And next, be sure to check out What to expect at your first ultimate tournament AND The captain tournament checklist!



The Absolute Essentials for your first ultimate tournament

Here's what you can't live without.


Cleats. Don't be the rookie who forgets her cleats. Without them, you'll be sad and cold and not playing ultimate on the sideline for an entire weekend.


Both a white AND a dark jersey! No, grey is not a white. If you don't have a white/dark jersey, then a cotton t-shirt will work okay, but cotton kinda sucks to play in. If you want to buy a jersey, we can help with that.


The only time you wouldn't need a white/dark is if you're going to a costume tournament. In that case, a costume is completely essential, and you can forget most of the other stuff on this list.


Socks. Lots and lots and lots of socks. Trust us: bring more than you think you need.


Food. Many tournaments provide some field food, but very few provide food that is more nourishing than green bananas and Costco sized peanut butter. Consider reading a couple of articles about what to eat at an ultimate tournament. Here's one from Ultiworld, and one from Skyd.


Contact lenses & solution. If applicable.

Water bottle(s).

Orthotics, ankle/knee brace, or other gear you must have in order to play!


The Still Pretty Essentials for your first ultimate tournament

You'll be uncomfortable without these things, but you'll probably survive your first tournament if you forget a couple of them.


Warm ups & top layers. Getting warm in the morning and staying warm all day is a major challenge at college tournaments. Do yourself a favor and pack separate warm layers: one set that you can wear while you play and another, heavier option for when you're on the sideline or between games.


If you live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, you'll probably want a rain jacket and rain pants too.


Base layers. That's Pacific Northwest speak for whatever you wear under your jersey and shorts: underwear, compression shorts, and tights are common for both men and women. If you're a lady, bring some sports bras.


Sun protection. I know, I know. I just told you how cold it would be at your first tournament, but if I'm wrong and the weather is amazing, you don't want to get sunburned. Sunscreen is an easy fallback in this department, but you could also consider a wide-brimmed hat, or (my favorite Five product) a Daywalker Hoodie.


Towel. This is possibly the most-forgotten item in this section. If you have the opportunity to shower after Day 1 of your tournament, you're going to want a dry towel afterward, but rookies rarely get dibs on motel towels. If you forget your travel towel, you might have to settle for a second- or third-round use of somebody else's laundry.


Discs. (Have you tried out a new ARIA Ultimate disc yet?)

Sleeping bag.

Cell phone.




The Nice-To-Haves for your first ultimate tournament

Two plastic garbage bags.

One for your disgusting post-tournament cleats/laundry, and one to toss all your gear in if it starts to rain.



You really want me to list them? Fine: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant ... floss, I guess? I'll throw contact lenses and solution on here again for good measure, too.


Sleeping pad. 



Phone Charger.

Headlamp. If applicable.



The Completely Frivolous for your first ultimate tournament

You really don't need this stuff.


Homework. Some people think they can bang out some h-dubs on the road trip to the event, or at the hotel Friday night.


More often than not, those people end up conked out in the back of the van like the rest of us plebeians. If you ask me, tournaments just aren't the place for doing anything other than playing ultimate and hanging out with your team.


Normal Clothes. Chances are good that you won't need to interact with the rest of society for most of this weekend, so it's really not that important to have clothes that fit in with social norms. Just make sure you have warm, dry clothes for the road trip back home and you'll be fine.


Anything expensive, delicate, or valuable that wasn't listed in earlier categories:

  • Laptops.
  • Textbooks.
  • eReader.
  • Vintage Pikachu Tamagotchi.
  • Handmade lace doilie.
  • Ming vase.
  • Etc.

new to ultimate store cta




What's next?

  • Freshmen: check out What to expect at your first ultimate tournament
  • Captains: click here to subscribe to the blog to never miss a post, and click here  for an inside look at how the pro's structure their leadership teams!
  • Let us know in the comments if you have more to add to our list!