OCS Packing List

This is a recommended, unofficial packing list for Officer Candidates School.  This list started as what I was glad I had, or what I wish I had. Over the years, many OCS graduates have helped refine it to its current comprehensive update.

If you’re looking for gifts to get for your candidate who is successfully completing OCS, look at our Commissioning/OCS Graduation Gift Guide

2nd Lt Coin
Second Lieutenant Coin

If you have a new Second Lieutenant en route to The Basic School, check out our TBS gift guide.


Boot bands are used to blouse your trousers at the bottom cuff. You’ll lose or break bands all the time.
  • 1 wrinkle free polo or collared shirt
  • 2 white undershirts
  • 1 pair dress shoes and belt
  • 2 pair dress socks
  • 2 pair white wash cloths
  • 5 pairs underwear or compression shorts
  • 4-6 pair coyote brown boot socks (Thorlo or Fox River) Please get yourself good boot socks. Issued socks are underweight, aren’t modern material, and don’t protect your feet nearly as well. Also you’ll go through dozens of pairs throughout your career, so you’ll use many. If you can’t decide which to go for, think Thorlos for winter and Fox River for summer.
  • One Lieutenant told us “Candidates should bring 5-6 pairs of thorlos. The brown socks you get issued are horrible.”

See our review of Fox River Socks vs Thorlo:

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


I didn’t have body glide at OCS, and my pack rubbed my hips raw til they bled
  • 1 bottle of 4 oz hand sanitizer
  • Small field hygiene mirror (we recommend featherweight camping mirrors)
  • 2 quick drying towels (small for travel)
  • 1 pack of 40 count moist/baby wipes
  • 25 black hair ties (females)
  • 2 travel size hair spray (females)
  • 2 travel size hair gel (females)
  • 2-3 cycles worth feminine hygiene (females)
  • Female candidates, I recommend adding a travel size hairspray to put in your cargo pockets in case you’re told your hair is busted and you don’t have the ability to get your hygiene gear from your locker.
  • Misc

    • At least $500.00 of cash or credit/debit ($400 in 100’s, $100 in 1’s and 5’s)
    • 1 pair of eyeglasses as required
    • 1 Bore snake (a life saver! this will save you many hours cleaning your weapon at OCS, TBS and throughout your career)
    • 1 six inch ruler
    • 2 Mechanical or #2 pencils
    • 2 Highlighters
    • 1 Pack of 4 fine point map pens
    • Personal name stamp kit (1/2 in. capital letters with tape)
    • 1 Roll of electrical tape
    • 1 Pair of small scissors
    • 10 Ziploc bags – Quart
    • 10 Ziploc bags – Gallon
    • 1 Roll of duct tape
    • 2 Erasable red pens
    • 4 Cheap dish rags
    • 1 Box of 375 count cotton swabs (short handle)
    • 1 Pack of 100 count cotton swabs (long handle)
    • Shipping packet from your OSO (including copies of your orders to OCS)
    • Copies of all dependent’s papers (marriage certificate, divorce decree, birth certificates, and
    • adoption papers)
    • Health, dental, or shot records
    • Drivers license
    • Cell phone and charger (will be turned in to the staff and given back at liberty)
    • Photos of your family (or have them send you full-color photos via Sandboxx)
    • Sharpie Rub-A-Dub marker
    • 1 roll of clear packing tape to “laminate” things such as the covers of your candidate regs, your liberty buddy card, etc.
    • small notebooks (Rite in the rain 3×5 tactical). Don’t worry about having too many. You’ll use dozens across TBS and deployments!
    • 1 box erasable black pens. Recommended: frixion
    • 1 red LED headlamp (some candidates recommend having a backup pair)
    • 1 rugged waterproof watch
    • This is the #1 most recommended item to bring with you by former candidates:
      At least four rolls of 1” (preferably waterproof) white athletic tape (hockey tape).
    Covidien Medical Tape for 2017 OCS
    Click for Kendall Wet-pruf Waterproof Tape Amazon Prime listing

    Something for your packing list is one inch wide Kendall Covidien Waterproof tape. They’ve changed how sleeping works, which puts an absolute premium on night time time management and subsequently, gear markings. That tape, coupled with a waterproof map pen, will save candidates at least an hour of sleep during the first several weeks when sleep deprivation injuries are at their highest. -2ndLt Will

    Lastly, it can’t be reiterated enough, mark your trash before you show up. You’d be surprised at how much stuff will get stolen or lost anyway, but if your name isn’t on it, chances are you will never see it again after pickup.

    77 thoughts on “OCS Packing List

      1. When I went to OCS in 1998, military style glasses were issued. I’m sure over the years that has not changed.

    1. Most of this information is outdated. Don’t be the candidate who shows up with silkies or green/black socks

    2. I went during summer and brought a lot of supplies from packing lists from this sight as well as a book about OCS. This caused a real problem for me as I honestly had so much stuff that it was tough to stay organized, much of my stuff went unused. Honestly just about everything you need you will get at gear issue. Do bring at least 2 red lens headlamps though, that is crucial.

      1. I would bring a red headlamp and a regular red lens flashlight. It all depends on who your platoon staff is; my platoon staff didn’t care if you used a red headlamp, but in another platoon, their staff would yell at them to, “get that damn thing off your head.”

      2. I would disagree. I recently attended first increment summer 2016 and a lot of the items listed were quite useful. There’s nothing more annoying than mooching off other candidates for gear or staying up all night as a result. However, the list isn’t entirely comprehensive. I recently searched around and found the following to be even better:


        The first is obviously a little old (2013) better has great info. The second looks up to date for 2017 candidates with similar gear as here but enhanced. Moral of the story is don’t skimp out on bringing gear that will help you excel at OCS. Don’t make your life harder than it needs to be.

      1. Most essential items are issued. But it helps to have spares, What item in particular were you asking about?

    3. Do you have a link for a 1/2 inch name stamp kit that uses an acceptable font? I can only imagine they would want everyone’s name tapes to look the same.

    4. Everything on this list is all well and good…but I would not recommend Bates Lights. They are poorly crafted and have what is called “boot bite.” ( an impingement on the top of the boot, that hurts like a mother). They also will do you know good (unless you have already good technique) on the many rope climbs during OCS ( both wet and dry) Highly recommend the Danner Reconings, better build and better grip for the rope climbs. I did all ten weeks in these suckers and they were awesome. A few guys didn’t like the hikes in them, they preferred RAT boots, but hikes are a different animal.

      Either way you go, invest in GOOD insoles. Do you research, I used cheap ones on the beginning and got wicked shin splints. I switched to SweetFeet Orange insoles and my life changed.

    5. is the Kendall Wet-pruf Waterproof Tape allowed? A kid who went through said his SI didn’t allow it because it was a different material. Has anyone went through without any problems recently?

      Thank you.

    6. Just a note, the link you left to the 1 inch athletic tape is actually a link to 2 inch tape

      1. If your glasses have to feature of tinting when in sunlight is that ok? Or, do they require clear glass lenses? Sun screen? Mole skins? Are supplements allowed (Vitamin D etc.,) life straw for clean water filtering on the trail? Electrolight tables for water bottles?

    7. Do we need to buy all these things or are they provided at PLC/OCS? There seems to be a lot of things that we have to buy ourselves.

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