Before deciding what to bring to Army basic training, it is essential to not over-pack.
There are some items you absolutely must have with you.
However, there are also items you should plan to leave at home.
Less is best when heading off to Army basic training, and we put together a list of essentials and advice on what to leave behind to make the process a little easier to manage.
Note: Click Here for a free downloadable and printable version of the Army Basic Training packing list.
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Things You Need to Bring
Before you decide what to bring to Army basic training, there are items you need to not only pack, but have very handy.
- Identification – you will want to ensure you have vital documents such as your social security card, bank card, and your state identification. Also, you might consider bringing a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Military Orders – whenever you travel for the military, you are issued orders that command you to follow through with where you are to report for duty.
- Direct deposit form – to receive pay, the Army needs a filled out direct deposit form so they can deposit your paycheck into your private bank account. You can talk to your recruiter about a general form or speak to your bank. Bring a blank check, so you have access to your account and routing number as well as your bank’s name and address. Otherwise, your bank will have a printable form with your banking info already noted. Often you can find these online when you log into your bank account.
- Prescriptions – This includes medical and eyeglasses. Also, bring your eyeglasses with you to boot camp. You are likely to receive a new pair, but you need to see in the meantime.
- Other essential documents – Documents include transcripts for college, and information regarding your spouse and dependents. Furthermore, if you have additional documents related to citizenship, bring those, as well.
- Comfortable and conservative clothing is essential the day you travel. Plan on wearing comfortable shoes, as well. Pay attention to the climate where you are traveling and decide if a jacket or coat is a good idea.
- Female recruits need to bring three pairs of bras and underwear in neutral colors, a full slip, flesh-colored pantyhose, and necessary feminine hygiene products.
- Male recruits should bring three pairs of white underwear and an athletic supporter.
- Change of clothing – plan on bringing two changes of clothes. Sometimes it takes a couple of days for all the recruits to arrive, so the issuing of battle dress uniforms (BDUs) might be delayed.
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Things You Should Bring
Less is best when it comes to deciding what to bring to Army basic training.
Toiletries are necessary, but all the items you will need are available for purchase when you arrive.
The Army values uniformity, so consider picking these items up when you get there and only bringing enough to get by.
Also, when you arrive for boot camp, everything you bring along is inspected. You get through this process faster if there is less to look through.
However, since there is a gap of a day or two before every recruit arrives, you may find some of these items you cannot live without even for a day or two.
- Toothbrush/paste and toothbrush holder – you will need a toothbrush, but if you find you need to replace yours, you will have that opportunity on base. A toothbrush is one of those items you may want to bring with you.
- Shower shoes – there is no way around group showers and sharing facilities. It would be best if you kept your feet healthy, so wearing flip flops in the shower is vital. Consider bringing shower shoes with you so you can avoid showering in your travel shoes.
- Combination locks – locks are necessary to secure your items during boot camp.
- Wipes – wipes are handy for a quick wipe down.
- Nail clippers – you will find nail clippers are a multi-functional tool. Clippers keep your nails tidy, but they also serve to trim loose threads before the uniform inspection.
- Bootkit – you will need a bootkit to keep your issued boots ready for inspection.
- Toiletries tote bag – a tote bag allows you to avoid wasting time juggling all your items while cleaning up. You do not have time for luxurious self-care, so every moment counts.
- Shaving kit – for men, shaving is a part of passing inspection.
- Soap- you might find liquid soap the best choice. Your personal belongings are subject to inspection regularly, and it is hard to keep a bar of soap in pristine condition.
- Running shoes – you will have an allowance for the purchase of running shoes. However, if you have your own, you may bring them if they meet the expectations of the Army.
- Hairbrush/comb – you must keep hair inspection-ready, so a comb is vital.
- Shampoo – consider bringing a combo with shampoo and conditioner because then you have fewer bottles to juggle and keep clean for inspection.
- Laundry detergent – you will have an opportunity to buy laundry detergent, which is useful if you prefer a specific brand.
- Calling cards – making calls home is something recruits in boot camp look forward to. Unless you are local, bring calling cards, so your friends and relatives do not have to accept charges.
- Stamps and writing material – Recruits love receiving mail. Your friends and family will want to hear from you, as well.
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Things You Should NOT Bring
Traveling light is your best option, but there are items you do not want on your list when deciding what to bring to Army basic training
Remember, arrival at boot camp is your first chance to show you can follow orders, so plan on having a good start by leaving these items at home.
- Friends, family, and pets – if they did not receive orders to report to boot camp, leave them at home.
- Nonprescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco – Give yourself enough time to reduce your dependency on tobacco and other substances because you do not want to have these with you when you arrive.
- Weapons – you will have an opportunity to turn in any questionable items without worrying about repercussions, but it is ideal to leave weapons off your pack list.
- Personal electronics – you will find you do not need cellphones, smartwatches, or other electronics. If you bring these items with you, you will receive them back after graduation. However, it is best to leave them at home and arrange to receive them after completion of training. Consider packing a disposable cell phone with enough minutes for emergencies. If something happens to the cell phone, it is not as much of an issue compared to an expensive cell phone.
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As you prepare and decide what to bring to Army basic training, it helps to understand what is considered essential.
The best decision is to only bring yourself, the necessary paperwork, and enough items to get you through the first two days.
The intake process goes faster because you have less to inspect.
Also, the Army provides you with everything you need to become a soldier.
Packing Lists for each Military Branch