The Marine Corps seems to embrace difficulties in an extreme way, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with working harder rather than smarter. Here are the best tips from our fans for equipment and mindset approaches to help you succeed at OCS and TBS.
Avoid blisters and chafing with vaseline
“Using vaseline during night was a lifesaver. I had candidates from across my squad bay using it. It worked good on your elbows, knees, and traps too.”
Hiking and running in dry and wet conditions will put your skin through its paces. Especially when you consider the heavy and awkward gear straps, packs, and rifle slings you’ll have on your body. All this is compounded by the little recovery time you have and the intense and varied physical obstacles that you’ll be surmounting. Both vaseline and bodyglide were highly recommended by our fans for avoiding blisters, chafing, dryness and skin friction.
Honorable mention: your own pocket-sized foot powder canister.
Bring a no-quit mindset
When polled, many of our fans said that their intense motivation, desire to succeed, or “I’ll never quit” mindset made the difference for their success at OCS. Having your between-the-ears game locked on ahead of time will go a long way at OCS.
Bring a boot dryer to TBS
Not necessarily an option at OCS in the squad bay (but you could use it during weekend Liberty periods), you’re going to get yourself a boot dryer sooner or later in your Marine Corps career if you want to extend the lifespan of your boots, reduce mold/mildew growth, and either reduce blisters or give yourself quicker access to your boots after getting them wet. Flight contracts–you future aviators really should consider these as you’ll spend extra time in the pool in boots throughout your training!
Clipboard with a pocket/Rite in the Rain kit
This setup will help you keep your stuff together, minimize loss and water damage of your papers, and enable you to easily store and utilize your reporting and planning documents even in your rack. Recommended for both OCS and TBS. Clipboards help you write your essays faster, saving precious hours of sleep and increasing your chances of staying healthy and graduating successfully. Maybe both, but definitely at least the Rite in the Rain kit, should be on your list.
Get clean faster
Face paint wipes save you a lot of time that you could be using on something else when others are struggling to remove their camouflage face paint by washing and rewashing their skin. Solid perfume and mouthwash help you pass inspections by cleaning and removing stink. Bring a fingernail brush to quickly clean up gunk out of your fingernails and pass inspections reliably.
Honorable mention: clean your rifle WAY faster with a 5.56 bore snake. It’s like 100 patches at once!
Get a printer and laminator for TBS
You’ll use them weekly!
Bring 10 one dollar bills to OCS
Each hair cut is $10.50. Split with your rackmate, comes to $21. Be a good friend
Practice rope climbing and the fireman’s carry ahead of time
It will make your life a little easier, but it’s not mandatory
Break in boots and prep your feet
There’s really four steps to making your feet as blister-proof as possible, and many failed candidates have missed some:
- Buy boots that fit
- Buy high quality boot socks
- Break in your feet
- Break in your boots
- I.e., practice hiking and running in your boots
- Keep your nails healthy and trimmed
- Nails that are long or at risk for infection can cause serious pain and trouble
- Do lower-body stretching and massage to avoid shin splits and strains