The World’s Best Hackathon Survival Guide

It’s that time again everybody…. Hackathon season is in the air. That friendly feeling of anxiety while Red Bull courses through your veins, you scramble to enter the last few values into your line of code, driving you through the finish line. You did it, and that feeling is all too real. That feeling is going to push you to tackle hackathon on top of hackathon, earning you the title of seasoned veteran.

But for some of you, the not-so-lieutenants of hackathons. You’re probably wondering what to expect before you attend your first event. I’m here to tell you, you need not worry. We’re all beginners of something at some point in life.

We thought you could benefit from a little Napa-know-how but for hackathons. So, Hacka-know-how I guess, and we’ve put together a Hackathon Survival Guide for your… you guessed it… survival.

I’ll (AngelHack Intern @giovannaye) be your tour guide on this journey of endless perils and empty coffee cups. Our checklist ranges from basic hackathon physical needs & requirements to our pro-tips for mental & physical survival. Grab your reading glasses and a cup of Mio water and let’s get started.

  • Charger, Laptop and Phone   — Now, this one should be obvious and probably the most important. But hey, I can’t judge. I’ve forgotten at least one of these on a daily basis.


  • Warm Clothes  — Hackathon venues do sometimes get cold. When your brain is drained and exhausted from coding all night (if you choose), your sweater can be a soothing companion.


  • Water Bottle  — Most hackathon organizers do provide water. But it’s important to stay hydrated. You also save time not walking to the cooler four times every hour. More time to code.


  • Business Cards (pro-tip) — Hackathons are a great way to network and distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. So why not take advantage of the great opportunity and hand out a couple of those flashy business cards every now and then?


  • Pillow and Blanket (optional) ️  — A feeling of home makes the whole event more comfortable. Everyone likes to be comfortable. I’ve yet to meet a person who prefers to sleep on a rock vs. a blanketed and pillowed couch.


  • Notepad/Pen (pro-tip)  — In the event that you find yourself scrambling to look for a team, or are actively seeking to find a member for your team, simply write on your notepad who/what you’re looking for. If you need a designer, write it down, put your notepad up and they will come. If you are a designer, do the same and someone should approach you asking about your sign. Also works well for sketches in case of whiteboard shortage.


  • Adequate Sleep  (pro-tip) — I can’t stress this enough. You need your brain to function at it’s highest capacity, to produce work of the highest caliber. I know that playing Destiny, Overwatch and League are all fun, but your 4am session with the boys/girls online can wait. You’re going to appreciate this in the long run.


  • Positive Attitude + Winning Mentality   — Together this combination can’t be stopped. Not only are you ready to conquer your first hackathon but you are going to have fun doing it. Not many people can excel in day-to-day operations without doing this first. So clear your mind, get ready to code hard, and have fun.


So there you have it. Following this checklist will lead to your survival and more. You’ll make new friends, learn new things, demo your own brainchild-idea that you created, and possibly win your first hackathon. Do this enough and you may just be the next grand-wizard of hackathons.

We hope to see you around and make sure to look over the checklist before your next hackathon (looking for your next hackathon?)!

If not, you can always wing it and see what happens. +1 to you for being a badass….

Are we missing anything? Let us know in the comments!