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.
If you have a new Second Lieutenant en route to The Basic School, check out our TBS gift guide.
- 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:
- 1 pair of broken-in go-fasters (running shoes) (if summer session, consider 2 pairs)
- 1 pair of shower shoes, aka flip flops
- 3/4 pair of extra PT shorts (and shirts)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 2 packs extra blades
- 1 hygiene bag
- 1 small towel to use for showering before your gear issue
- 1 nail clippers (essential for inspection)
- 1 tube deodorant
- 1 bottle antibacterial body wash and scrubber
- 1 small mirror such as this for field hygiene and camo paint application
- 2 small travel bottles of mouthwash (essential for inspection)
- 1 tube Lotrimin Ultra
- 1 can shaving cream (medium size)
- 1 bottle of shampoo+body wash combo
- 1 tube of Body Glide
- 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.
- 3 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
- 82% of our fans recommend the Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports 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).
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.