Game Day Prep - What to Pack to Spectate in FRC

This is a quick thread for anyone who will be going into their first ever event this year as a spectator. The following items will make your viewing experience MUCH nicer.

  1. BLEACHER SEATS! - I own these guys and they have been fantastic. For anyone who likes to watch matches for fun or for scouting. They are a bit pricey but if you’re on them for extensive periods of time, it is absolutely worth it.
    Bleacher Seats

  2. Reusable Water Bottle or Camel Back - Let’s face it, most of us do not drink enough water during the day, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when teams leave a TON of half full plastic water bottles in the stands, and then either don’t clean them up or throw out bottles full of water. This is not good for the environment or for the staff who have to clean up after your irresponsible self. Get a reusable bottle or a camel back. I’m a fan of Contigo as they’re easy to pop into the top rack of your dishwasher. The hydration backpack I have is sold out but this is a decent one as well.

  3. Safety Goggles - this is more for going into the pits. I hate borrowing glasses. They’re often scuffed up or don’t fit well over my regular glasses. Side shields are okay but it is preferred you get clear non tinted glasses if you plan to visit the pits (which you really should, even if you’re a non tech person). Definitely try to spring for something that isn’t bottom dollar. Your comfort is important because putting these on is not something that should annoy you. The more comfortable they are, the more likely you are to wear them.

  4. Hearing protection - some events can get LOUD. Although UL folks really should be monitoring this type of safety hazard, I’m not sure how many events actually do. It is a good idea to pack reusable ear plugs. I suggest these because they can be cleaned and reused. Please avoid the little foam ones unless they can biodegrade and not take 400 years to do so. If you don’t want to stick things in your ears, you can always get over ear protection.

  5. Cash/Credit - many events will have concessions run by the team, and may not always have Square or other services to accept cards. Bring a bit of cash.

  6. Bagged lunch - on the flip side, event food is notoriously unhealthy. Pack yourself a decent snack or lunch that isn’t greasy pizza. Sounds preachy, but a healthy snack is critical to keep you going the full day without feeling lethargic. Plus you won’t hate yourself (or maybe a little less). Note - someone reminded me to mention that some venues do not permit outside food or beverages. If you decide to sneak that sandwich in using a power cube from 2018, that’s on you, not me.

  7. Ibuprofen - if you didn’t listen to my advice about hearing protection, didn’t eat properly, and didn’t hydrate, you’re in for a bad time. All of this can cause severe headaches. Bring some Advil, you may need it by the end of the day.

  8. Comfortable closed toed shoes - don’t be the person who wears flip flops or sandals to an event. A. nobody wants to see your stinky toes B. closed toes are just safer. Go full Dad/Mom mode with some nice comfy Pumas or New Balance sneakers. Just look at these bad boys. Argue with refs in style because your kid deserves to be embarrassed by fashionable people.

  9. Download FRC related apps - The Blue Alliance is a must. Keep track of your favorite teams and get alerts when their matches are up.

  10. Deodorant - seriously, this should go for everyone attending events. Good hygiene is a form of practicing safety. Your odor is going to distract someone who might fall off the bleachers. If you’re a student reading this thread - no, that can of Axe is not what I’m referring to. Get some of that Old Spice good stuff.

  11. Rechargable battery pack - bring a battery pack for your phone. Try not to use outlets to charge your things, nobody wants to leave a phone behind or sit near an outlet like a loser while your favorite team’s match is going on. I highly recommend this Anker charging pack.

If you can think of more items someone who is spectating should bring, list them below!

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Can I give triple likes

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This is a great list Akash, I just purchased one of the bleacher seats for myself for the competitions!

Whoa, look at Akash being all bougie with his $9 over-ear protection. Pandamaniacs own at least a half-dozen $4 Harbor Freight specials, and they have been effective at increasing hearing protection usage this season. If you’re a cheapskate or outfitting a bunch of people (or have a 20% off coupon), it’s a look.

(Similarly, the $2 Harbor Freight glasses are my go-to as they fit my head well without digging in.)

This is an excellent list, though–and I absolutely co-sign the Anker battery chargers. Their products have never done me wrong.

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Do those bleacher seats work with the plastic indoor bleachers?

I’ve used them with plastic bleacher seats before, just don’t put that locking latch down.

  • the smallest possible bag to hold your things. Bleachers are notoriously packed, don’t bring a huge backpack full of unnecessary stuff… Especially on the final day. I love me a good fanny pack for this purpose.
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I use High Fidelity hearing protection - the likes you’d wear to concerts. The idea is the filter in the earplugs maintains sound quality and frequency but lowers the volume. I’ve worn them to 6 events now, and I’ve loved them! As a field-side volunteer it’s important for me to still be able to hear teams and other volunteers without too much interference. Not ending every day with a headache or ringing ears has been great!

I got my pair from Amazon for around 35 bucks. They come with a carrying case that clips to my key chain - I bring them with me everywhere!

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Love me some etymotic ear plugs
I use these all the time at work

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These are cheap, and because they are cheap they become disposable. Bought those from amazon for my team a few years back because I am big on hearing conservation. The strings would fall off the plugs and then ear plugs would get lost. They also didn’t have the best comfort in the world.

I much prefer these. Despite the extra $20 more per 100 plugs

Bleacher seats take up too much space in a crowded event. Instead, use inflatable seat pads. They can be easily wrapped up and put in a backpack and are easily carried around the venue to sit with others. You can order these online from REI and other places.

For us old farts, they sell bifocal safety glasses at local hardware stores. I get mine for $8 at Ace. Great for when my eyes get tired over the long days.

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We also have a pile of foam kneeling pads sold at Home Depot for gardening (https://www.homedepot.com/p/Fiskars-Kneeling-Cushion-94216974J/100534790) that the team brings to every event. A team parent bought stacks of them when we got to 2018 Worlds in Detroit and everyone was so miserable in those convention center bleachers. They work remarkably well.

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Bring a telescope. Oh wait, Houston Einstein isn’t in MMP anymore.

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The $2 safety glasses are clutch with how many pairs I lose during the season. One of the few quality Horrible Fright products.

This is a great list, and very similar to what I pack for events. Some additions

Obviously water is the best option, but if you want an alternative with a bit of flavour, some nutrients, but lower in sugar than sports drinks Coconut Water is a great option. I usually bring 1-2L per day.

If you’re one of those people who constantly misplaces things and gets very attached to certain objects, a set of Chums are perfect for retaining your safety glasses and making sure you don’t lose them mid-event. You can even get them in your team colour.

A tip I got years ago from a veteran of the trade show circuit was to always bring an extra pair of shoes to events, and to switch pairs about halfway through the day. Once you switch, your feet will thank you as it suddenly feels like you’re walking on a firm pillow. It’s definitely been a game changer for me.

And make sure you have every type of cable you’ll need, including enough to make sure you can charge all your devices (including) when you’re back at the hotel at the end of the day.

Yes! I bought this bag this summer and its been a game changer for me. I can fit sunglasses, safety glasses, a battery pack, assorted cables, Advil, a Tide Stick, lip balm, headphones, and other random things all in one of these bags. It’s perfect.

Other items include:

  1. If you’re like me and always alternating between hot and cold at events, it’s nice to have a hoodie/cardigan/vest that allows you to layer up or down as necessary. It’s especially useful during elims when teams start loading out, and the open doors turn the venue into an icebox.

  2. Tide Stick - These are so useful in case you spill something on yourself and end up with an annoying stain. Can be used to clean your sneakers in a pinch as well.

  3. Throat Coat Tea - This stuff will save your voice after a long day of trying to talk over the AV and crowd.

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My employer pays for a set of safety glasses (including prescription and bifocals) each year so I use an old set for my FRC activities.

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Right flavor but wrong type of water. 12 pack of Coconut La Croix per event has been my go to to a few years now.

Healthy-ish snacks (granola bars, apple sauce…) are also a good idea especially if events close concessions mid-afternoon. Bringing enough to share is also a good way to improve scouts’ morale.

Harbor Freight may carry some* subpar tools, but if something’s safety rated and you’re buying it from somewhere legitimate, you can bet it’s going to stand up.

*

The only Harbor Freight tool my team regularly uses is a horizontal bandsaw with 7 years of service and actual milage put on it as it used to be in a space where it had to be dragged down a hallway every meeting. Still working great!

On the topic of things to bring to competition, can anyone recommend good insoles for standing around?

Find a store near you that specializes in serving serious runners, bring in your shoes and ask them to fit insoles for you. The store I use has me walk and they study how I move my feet. They then looked at my feet to determine how much arch support I needed. They then remove the existing insole and have me try the new one in it’s place. Once they match the insole to the shoe AND your feet, the results are remarkable. The exact brand of insole is not as critical as the store doing the fitting correctly. If they just point you at a rack of insoles, leave the store. The store I use knows how much support each make and model of shoe provides.

They used to sell Superfeet. I cannot recall the brand they sell now. They are a few $ less than the Superfeet insoles. Typically, I am paying around $40 for a pair. I purchase a new pair of insoles for the new pair of steel-toes that my employer provides each year.

A lot of great things in here, I just bought fancy ear plugs because of this. I am hoping that they can work for me, because I would love something reusable. As someone who hates loud noises, I used to be a big fan of over the ear protection but it can be quite cumbersome.

I take a lot of notes and usually just write it on the back of scrap papers that I can find lying around. This can get confusing quickly. I am adding a small notepad that I can write on during events this year. Something I can keep in my back pocket so I can write down things we can work on during practice, thoughts on other teams, and notes for how things go in the pits.

This is also great if someone were to run your Jordans over with a Segway and scuff them.

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