Basic Training is your first chance to impress military leadership and get a feel for what it’s like to serve in the Army. Treat your packing list for Army Basic Training as a set of orders and let it become a practice round for taking direction and following those orders properly.
These weeks of training will be challenging to say the least and you’ll want to be as prepared as possible but your packing list should be short and sweet.
What to Bring to Army Basic Training
When speaking to recruiters about packing for boot camp, most of them will tell you to pack lightly. You won’t want to seem high maintenance when you enter Basic Training and it’s a big deal to make a good first impression.
Luggage should be limited to one small suitcase, a gym bag, backpack, or duffle bag. Plus, you won’t need all that much anyway. The short list of what the Army recommends you bring to boot camp includes:
- One change of clothes
- Direct deposit form
- Personal hygiene kit
- Picture ID
- Two combination locks
- Important documents
Here, we’ll go into a little more detail about what’s appropriate to bring to Army Basic Training based on this list as well as what not to bring.
You’ll receive a uniform while in Basic Training and this is what you’ll wear most of the time. The reason the Army suggests bringing one change of clothes is that if your uniform fitting runs into some delays, you’ll have something to wear.
- One casual, comfortable outfit (no tank tops or ripped jeans, etc.)
- Three pairs of underwear (white)
- One pair of white, calf-length athletic socks (no branding or colors)
- One pair of comfortable shoes
- Eyeglasses (only if you require eyeglasses, nothing stylish)
During Basic Training, you won’t be going out or have a need for anything other than the necessities. Remember, this is not a vacation. Plan to train, eat, and sleep. You really don’t need more clothing than what’s suggested here.
Combination Locks or Padlocks
Every day of Basic Training you’ll be required to secure your belongings in a locker. Locks are not provided so it’s essential that you protect your stuff by bringing at least one lock. It might be a good idea to bring two just in case but you will be able to purchase another lock while at Basic Training at the Post Exchange (PX).
The military has a high standard of personal hygiene and it’s imperative that you’re prepared for this during Basic Training.
The key to packing toiletries for Basic Training is that you’ll really only need to focus on getting through the first few weeks. Travel-sized toiletries will work fine since you will have the opportunity to purchase more at the PX if you’re running low. Still, it’s best to make sure you have the essentials.
- Disposable/Safety razor with extra blades
- Shaving cream if you need it to shave
- Toothbrush and toothbrush case
- Dental floss
- Hairbrush or a six-inch black comb (no picks)
- One washcloth
- One towel
- Shower shoes
- Shampoo and/or Conditioner
- Soap and soap case
You’ll be paid during Basic Training and in the Army, you’ll receive what’s called an Eagle Cash Card where your money gets sent. You can also be paid directly to your bank account. Yet, depending on when you enter Basic Training, it may take a week or two to have access to your funds. That’s why it’s important to have some extra money available to hold you over and in case of emergencies.
- $10 to $50 in cash
- Traveler’s checks or money orders
- Bank account information in order to set up Direct Deposit
Before you leave, double check that there is not a maximum amount of money you can bring to Army Basic Training as the rules vary from one branch to another. In general, any small sum of money will be fine to bring with you.
Of all the things on your Army Basic Training packing list, your important documents are the most crucial. It’s suggested that before you do anything else, you gather and pack these documents into a protected folder so they’re all in one place and safe from becoming damaged.
You’ll need all of the following documents at reception. In order to start your training on time without delay, you must bring:
- Your social security card
- A valid driver’s license or current state ID card
- A direct deposit form from your bank account signed by a bank official OR the name, address, account number, and routing number of the bank in which you’d like to receive direct deposits (if applicable)
- You’ll need original or certified copies of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or separation order (if applicable)
- If you have children, you’ll need original or certified copies of birth certificates of any children under the age of 18; an affidavit of support from parents; court documents and direct deposit forms if ordered to pay spousal and/or child support
- If you were not born in the United States, you’ll need proof of citizenship
- If you are married to a service member in the military, you’ll need the name, social security number, and military address of your military spouse
- Copies of your lease agreement or rental contracts for any dependents residing outside of government quarters (if applicable)
- Original or certified ROTC documents (if applicable)
- Original college transcripts (if applicable); GED or high school diploma
The most important of these documents to make sure you have is your picture ID and your bank account information. Still, it’s best to bring every bit of documentation that applies to your situation to ensure a smooth transition into Basic Training.
Copies of Your Orders
Going along with important documentation, another item you’ll definitely need to pack is a copy of your orders. These orders would’ve been issued by your recruiter or the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). It’s necessary that your orders are delivered to the Army by you and by hand.
Your orders will come complete with travel and meal tickets which are also important to make sure you have with you. Keep your orders in a safe place since they hold sensitive information and are required to enter Army Basic Training.
What Not to Bring to Army Basic Training
Now that you have a better understanding of what you need on your Army Basic Training packing list, it’s also smart to be aware of what is prohibited in boot camp.
Even though it may seem obvious not to bring these things or like it won’t be a big deal if you have them, the following is a list of what you should definitely not bring to Basic Training:
- Expensive personal effects like cameras, jewelry, and electronics (Wedding bands are allowed and cell phones can be brought with you but will be locked away after your arrival)
- Non-prescription drugs or drug paraphernalia including foot powders, rubbing alcohol, motion sickness pills, commercial sleeping aids, decongestants, acne medication, antihistamines, vitamins, sex-related materials like condoms, etc. (If you need a prescription, your medication must be prescribed by the military)
- Steel hair picks
- Razor blades
- Weapons of any kind including knives, brass knuckles, clubs, batons, fireworks, etc.
- Lighters and lighter fluid
- Magazines, books, or newspapers
- Large, bulky items
- Obscene or pornographic material
- Alcohol and alcohol-based products including health products
- Playing cards, dice, dominos, or other gambling items
- Cigarettes or other tobacco products like cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, smoking pens, etc.
- Batteries (Size D are allowed)
Although it’s hopefully common sense, family, friends, and pets are also not allowed to travel with you to Basic Training. Basic Training is all about breaking down who you are as a civilian and building you up into who you are as a soldier. You’ll see those you care about most in a few weeks after training is complete. For now, say goodbye to them at home.
If you still have concerns about what you should bring and what’s not allowed at Army Basic Training, talk to your recruiter. Learning to pack lightly will serve you well in the military. Plus, make sure to do a quick double-check before you head out the door. Good luck and thank you for your service.