The Top 10 Items Every Candidate Should Bring To OCS

1.) Broken-in boots

Bates lights boots
If you’re serious about becoming an officer, work out with Bates Lites before OCS!

Lightweight and comfy combat boots to wear on the everyday.

Not your O-course/endurance/stamina course boots.

Not your inspection boots.

Just good, comfortable, broken in boots (Bates Lites are a common choice). You should be able to walk, run, and drill in these, as you will wear them for a majority of your time during OCS. Make sure they are a bit roomy, as your feet will swell-sometimes immensely-throughout the day. Besides, wearing two pairs of socks is a good way to manage comfort and prevent blisters, so having your boots be slightly larger is beneficial.

Break them in on the stairmaster at the gym, during practice hikes, and even in the shower!]

Check out Bates Lites for yourself here.

Read more about our advice on boots in these posts.

2.)  Kendall Covidien Waterproof Tape

Covidien Medical Tape for 2017 OCS
Click to see the 1″ Kendall Covidien Waterproof tape on Amazon

A lifesaver. Do NOT fool yourself and think that the issued tape will be good enough to make labels. Or even any tape you buy on libo from Target, Walmart, etc. Those labels will turn brown, dirty, and fall off in a matter of seconds.

The only tape that will stay adhesive and keep your name looking sharp is Kendall Covidien Waterproof Tape.

If there is one piece of advice to take from this list- this is it. Writing your labels on Kendall Covidien Waterproof Tape will save you so much time and effort at OCS.

3.) Socks: both kinds (Boot and PT)

Fox River Military Wick Dry Maximum Mid Calf Boot Sock
Click to see the Fox River socks on Amazon

Bring plenty of extras, as these will get stolen easily in the laundry. Remember: coyote brown for boot socks and white for PT socks.

The Fox River Military Dry Wick Mid Calf Boot Socks are a perennial favorite, especially for summer OCS.

Headed to fall or winter OCS or TBS? You might consider the popular warm over-the-calf Thorlo boot sock. Read up on the Thorlo vs Fox River debate here. (Although when polled, over 350 out of 500 candidates recommended Fox River socks).

4.) Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook, pens, and notebook cover

These notebooks will come in handy for everything: notes in class, studying, writing chits and drafting essays, taking field notes, 5 Paragraph Orders, mini calendars to track your days at OCS, etc. The material will allow you to write in any weather, and won’t run or bleed when wet (which will happen). The paper will only work with Rite in the Rain pens, so buying one or two packages is necessary. The notebook cover is also a must, and allows you to keep everything you need for class and the field in one easily accessible place that you can just grab in the morning and go. You can hold not only notebooks in it to keep them organized and neat, but also pens and pencils, index cards, cough drops, photos of family, etc. My notebook cover was the closest thing I had to a personal item. I kept notes, bible verses, prayer cards- it felt like the only thing at OCS that was absolutely under my control and I cherished that sentiment wholeheartedly.

Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook, 3" x 5", Green Cover, Universal Pattern, 3 Pack (No. 935-3)
The Rite-in-the-Rain notebook will be your constant companion throughout your entire career

Rite in the Rain All-Weather Belt Holster RevMark Pen, Black 2-Pack, Black 0.9mm Ink (No. BK91)
These Rite-in-the-Rain pens will work in pouring rain (AKA “good training environment”)
A waterproof cover is highly recommended, and will fit into your cargo pants pocket

5.) Boot Bands

Boot bands are used to blouse your trousers at the bottom cuff. You’ll lose or break bands all the time.

These will also get lost. They’re cheap in bulk, so it’s recommended to bring extras. By the time you make the rank of Captain in four years, it’s estimated you will use up 277 individual boot bands.

6.) Index Cards

The key to studying at OCS. You may be too tired to focus during lectures, so simply reviewing your material at the end of the day may not be enough. Writing index cards forces you to review the material completely, and also creates an interactive way to study. I didn’t start passing tests until I made index cards, and I know a lot of girls in my platoon felt the same

7.) Plastic Baggies

Organizing your gear! Keeping accountability of gear is a huge part of OCS. You will frequently dump your gear, have inspections, and switch racks/lockers. This means you need to constantly have full accountability of your belongings, especially the tiny stuff. Putting it all in plastic baggies with your name on it helps makes accountability a lot easier, and keeping plenty of extras will make you a platoon favorite

8.) Office supplies (bring extras!)

Pens and pencils: black ink only

Sharpie: labeling. Bring both regular size and extra large sharpie for different types of labeling

Highlighter: easier/quicker to highlight in class than write notes the whole time, and makes going back to study a lot easier

Tape: for laminating papers to make them multipurpose or more durable (use this to laminate a 5 paragraph order!)

6 inch ruler: wrap tape around this and use it to make labels. You can keep dozens of labels at the ready this way

Manila folders: use these to cut out stencils for labeling

9.) Waterproof wrist watch

Durable, yet not expensive or valuable, wrist watch (or Timepiece as it will be called at OCS). You will only be able to use it as a billet holder and on libo, but it is something you will want to have. This one is under $10 on Amazon, and has lasted me over a year already:

Cheap and durable waterproof watch

10.) Family photos, notes, letters, religious sentiments, etc

These small tokens just make you feel at home and make OCS a bit more tolerable. Don’t overdo it, but keeping something small to keep home close will help with your morale. These little pieces of reality are what will keep you sane on some of the hardest days, and their value cannot be underestimated! One recommendation is to write a letter to yourself and have your family send it to you halfway through OCS. This will help you remember your why and keep your motivation up when things are getting really tough. Hearing your own voice encouraging you is different than hearing it from someone else, even a loved one.

Bonus necessities:

Set of dress clothes: comfortable and modest. Include belt. Should/will probably be approved by your OSO.

Pair of running shoes: Go-Fasters as they will often be called at OCS. Shop around for good quality shoes, try to purchase ones made for long distance running, like for Cross-Country. Make sure you buy new shoes before OCS, as you do not want to use the same ones you are putting lots of miles on while training before ship. However, make sure to break them in a few weeks beforehand so they are not uncomfortable

Hygiene items: shower soap (travel sized), toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel, nail clippers, mouthwash, chapstick

Map pens: not only writing on maps, but also for writing on laminated papers such as 5 Paragraph Order

Moleskin: will also be provided, but extra is never a bad idea

Undergarments: ladies- sports bras only, no regular bras

Plain PT gear for sleeping in before gear-issue

One thought on “The Top 10 Items Every Candidate Should Bring To OCS

  1. I was in Army Signal Corps OCS in 1967. I think the number one things to bring to OCS is desire. I went in at 187 lb. and graduated at 146 lb. It was the best experience I have ever had. I came out with such a love for our country and flag. That is why my Grandson and I have so much fun making quality rustic wooden flags.

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