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. I am applying for PLC 10 week this summer and am having trouble with crunches, when I try and do them my lower back seems to be doing a lot of the work and am wondering if you have any tips. I can do a lot of flutter kicks and crunches with only going part of the way up but I can’t touch my thighs.

      1. Are you having someone hold your legs while you do it? It sounds like you are tensing your lower back and over working it to pull your upper body up instead of stressing your abs. When you come “set” right before doing your first crunch, consciously relax the lower back and take a deep breath. Then, use your abs to make a curling motion up off the ground, starting in your shoulders and curling the shoulders and arms towards your legs. You might need to increase ab strength through a full range of motion if you are not well developed for a USMC crunch vs a sissy gym rat crunch consisting just of little bounces. If so, I’d recommend doing hanging abdominal leg raises to build a long full range of motion into your core.

    2. Sir,

      I was planning on buying Bates Lites boots for OCS, however I recently recieved an E-Mail from my OSO that said, Bates Lites are not allowed at OCS. Do you have any suggestions on what other brand, or models of boots would be comprable to the Lites for PT?



      1. Ricky,
        Sorry those were the only Lights I am aware of. I’d recommend looking into the Belleville Jungles. Just give Quantico Boot a call and they can head you in the right direction. I recommend Jungles, which means the boots are thinner, a little lighter, and have vents under the arch.

        Time to just get boots and build stamina with the heavier ones instead of getting the benefit of the Lights.

    3. All really good info, and I had to laugh because those are India Company 2nd Platoon pics. GySgt Aguilar is that “friendly instructor”, good times…

    4. I leave this friday and am getting all of my stuff in order. My question is, in what order should a candidates name be written on the tape to mark the bags. First, last,MI? or does it really matter?


      1. You don’t do that ahead of time. Each platoon might do it a little bit differently, so wait until you get to OCS to mark all your gear with the candidate tape. I highly recommend discreetly putting your name on the inside of everything you bring with you in permanent pen somehow, like a small “SMITH” inside shirts, shoes, everything. I lost a flashlight during pickup that I never got back, for example. Stuff will get everywhere.

    5. Great info. Thanks a lot.

      I check in next Thursday for PLC combined and was wondering about immunization records/other documents. Do I have to have a copy on hand when I check in? If so do I need to get a copy of those between now and then or will my OSO give me those when I meet up with them?(I am riding to Quantico with them Thursday so I will see them)

      1. If you don’t get your records and bring them yourself, they will give you all the immunizations just in case. So, if you can do it, I highly recommend getting your personal record so that you could get out of at least some shots, unless you have some sick love of needles. That’s not on your OSO, it’s on you. Bring them and keep them with you in your documents folder, and when you go through medical in-processing in the first week, you can show it to the staff.

    6. When packing, do you recommend putting all the stuff in ziploc bags or did you keep it in a regular shower kit (dop kit, etc)?

      1. Using the OCS Shipping Guide, outside blog recommendations, and input from several LTs who recently graduated from OCS, here is a good OCS Packing List for 2013:

        – 2 collared shirts (1 worn)
        – 2 undershirts (1 worn)
        – 2 pairs of slacks, pressed, with belt (1 worn)
        – 1 pair of dress shoes (clean, worn)
        – 5 pairs of underwear
        – 5 sports bras (females)
        – 2 pairs of serviceable running shoes (purchased within 3 months)

        – 1 pair of broken-in boots
        – 2 pairs of dress socks (1 worn)
        – 1 towel (small for travel)
        – 1 pair of compression shorts
        – 4-5 pairs of Thorlo boot socks (black or coyote)
        – 1-2 pairs of good boot insoles (e.g. SuperFeet)

        Optional/Issued at OCS:
        – 1-3 pairs of white running socks
        – 1-3 Skivvie/PT shirts
        – 1-3 Skivvie/PT shorts

        1 toothbrush
        1 tube of toothpaste
        1 razor
        1 can shaving cream (travel size)
        1 stick of deodorant
        1 bar of soap or bottle of body wash

        – 2 packs of extra razor blades
        – 2 bottles of travel mouthwash
        – Chap Stick
        – Female hair supplies
        – Manicure Kit (for inspections)
        – Hygiene Bag

        Optional/Issued at OCS:
        – 1 tube Lotrimin Ultra
        – 1 tube sunscreen
        – 1 stick of BodyGlide

        – 1 rugged, water resistant watch
        – $450.00 of cash or credit/debit for initial issues
        – 1 pair of eyeglasses as required (2 recommended)

        – 1 Red Lens Headlamp
        – 2 Wide-tip Sharpie markers
        – 2 Sharpie Rub-A-Dub Laundry markers
        – 2 small all-weather notebooks (Rite in the Rain 3×5)
        – 6 inch ruler
        – 2 erasable pens – black
        – 2 mechanical pencils (or #2 pencil)
        – Personal name stamp kit (1/2 in. capital letters with tape)
        – 4 rolls of 1″ white athletic tape
        – 1 roll of electrical tape
        – 1 pair of small scissors
        – 10 Ziploc bags – Quart
        – 10 Ziploc bags – Gallon

        Optional/Issued at OCS:
        – 2 rolls of 1/2″ white athletic tape
        – 1 roll of duct tape
        – 2 erasable pens – red

        1. Hello,

          During the Summer 2017 OCC cycle (currently in), body glide was confiscated and we were told that it is contraband.

    7. I heard from my OSO that I can not wear Bates Lights. I wonder why? since I cant try on the boots before I get them in the mail is there anything you would recommend me to look for in a Good boot?

      1. The selection for Marine Corps boots is not that big, unfortunately. They have to be USMC-approved, bearing the EGA on the side of the heel. For PT boots, I highly recommend you go with the “jungles” cut, which just means they’re a bit lighter, they breathe better, and can be identified by the two round vents at the arch of the foot. Buy them very early so if they are too big/small, you can exchange them.

    8. Hi I am heading to Quantico October 7th. I am doing the OCC ten week and am incredibly excited. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on a good boot insole, if they are allowed, to go with all of the other fantastic information you have on this site.

      Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions an mentor us potential leaders of Marines.

      1. Jonathan, good questions. I’d recommend going to a running store or even podiatrist if you’ve had foot problems. Talk to a pro and see what works for your personally. There are many good options out there. You actually are issued some your first week, if nothing’s changed.

    9. I’m headed to OCC in three weeks so I was just browsing your packing list. I noticed that you said you should bring $400 in cash. I was instructed by my OSO to bring no less than $450 on a credit/debit card and and no more than $100 cash. The arrival letter says the $100 cash is for haircuts, PX trips, etc and “can total around $20 per week.” For ten weeks, that is $200. How much money do you really need [or recommend] to have with you in both cash and on a card?

      1. I completed a six week increment this past summer. After the first 3 weeks, you start making PX calls. There, you’ll find an ATM. So, the $100 cash will more than hold you until then. The only thing you REALLY need cash for is haircuts and PX. I used debit card for everything else because cash sales and uniform purchase adds up QUICKLY. Had in the area of $400 in the account I set up my pay to be direct deposited into.

    10. this is an awesome webpage about OCS. Im currently in the application process and i really hope i get accepted. I was looking at the lists and you can really bring a cell phone with you?

    11. You should take the bates lites off there, sir. They aren’t allowed. You really get plenty of time to break in boots now too. I remember one of the SIs laughing about how long we were going to take to break in boots. I didn’t get any blisters until the hikes started getting longer. and by then it was the end anyway. A lot of people did though. I recommend taking an extra minute to really make sure your boots fit. When you are at gear pick up, you will basically be set free to try on boots. Don’t piss your troop handlers off and you will get as long as necessary. Piss them off, and you’ll be rushed through. If you can get boots now, and you have like a year, seriously, Quantico boot takes forever, and odds are, you’ll get the wrong size the first time, don’t order boots in advance.

      I’d say bring like 8 pair of boot socks. Make sure they are brown though. In the beginning they will harp on uniformity. And if you have green or black boot socks, you won’t be able to wear them and you’ll have to wear the issued ones, which are awful. Also, boot socks get stolen or passed out wrong in laundry.

      Also, the watch should be black, as close to solid black as possible. Not required, but it saves you from any unwanted SI-candidate contact.

      It’s also important to note that they issue you(make you buy) everything you “NEED” to get through the first 4 weeks. After that you get to go on liberty and go to the PX.

        1. Question about boot sizes. How much toe room should one have in the boots? And if there is to much room what happens?


        2. Brian, have just enough room for a bootsock liner (just use a dress sock) and a thick, cushioned bootsock. If there is more than just a little extra room, your foot will slide forward and back while running and the edges of your foot will get very blistered eventually. On the outside of the little toe and ball of the foot, and on the outside of the big toe you can develop very painful “hot spots” then blisters.

        3. As of Summer 2012, we were permitted to wear Bates Lites. I am leaving today for Summer 2013, and as far as I am concerned, Bates Lites are still permitted. So Keep pushing the Bates.

    12. Why, exactly, would you need $400 in cash? I understand that males need haircuts and such, but would females need this much money, especially for PLC?

      1. They don’t give you most of your uniform equipment. You have to buy your “Bag issues” of gear, and you can keep all your socks, boots, uniforms, etc afterwards. There might be a small unit slush fund to get some gifts for your staff or pay for food for the field meet day.

    13. “Bates Lites and all USMC regulation boots are authorized for wear at =
      OCS. Upon arrival, candidates are issued both hot-weather and =
      cold-weather boots of various brands including but not limited to Bates, =
      Belleville, Danner, and Altama. The website is up-to-date and includes =
      tips on purchasing boots prior to arrival. It is strongly encouraged =
      that candidates begin to break-in regulation boots prior to shipping to =
      OCS to prevent blisters and other boot-related injuries during training.”

      This is A reply email i recieved from Coordinator of Student Activities OCS
      this morning, answering my question about Bates Lights.

    14. Im a prior and I already know all of the “high speed” nice thick socks… However I have some in black, green and tan… do they all have to be Tan?

      1. I really don’t think they care, maybe the first week only you’ll have to be the same as everyone else. Definitely bring your own socks–the issue ones suck!

    15. Also I see that you put compression shorts, They won’t mind if I wear those instead of the white briefs?

      1. They do not care what underwear or compression shorts are under your uniform–when PTing in shorts you will need to have green issue PT shorts on top of your compression shorts/jock strap/nothing.

        1. Can the compression shorts extend further than the issued PT shorts or do they need to be appropriately cropped to not show?

        2. In the fleet, definitely. At OCS, if they are not the same green as your PT shorts, you might have to roll them up. Much of your PT is in boots and utes, though, and that is still a comfortable and smart choice to use the compression choice in my opinion.

      1. Trey, they do reserve that right. It’s very possible if you need a molar taken out or a crown done, they will either do it right then and make you keep training, or if it’s not too bad, they will do it when you check into TBS after OCS.

    16. I am scheduled to leave for the 10 week course in October and am curious what size bag to bring. I’ve heard it is helpful to have a large pack but I just want to know how big. Do you have any reccomondations?

      1. Yes, size doesn’t matter so much but have one that is strong enough not to be damaged by getting packed with 50 other candidates. Also easily identifiable is a plus. They are just stored in a small room packed full of candidate bags.

    17. I’m leaving For OCS in 4 weeks, Are the items on the packing list things that your are REQUIRED to bring or ADVISED to bring?
      The reason I ask is because I am having a little trouble finding a few of these things such at official PT Shirts.

      1. Those are mostly recommended…some more highly recommended than others. The only mandatory items to bring will be in your paperwork you sign with your OSO. Namely, ID’s, money, civilian clothing, basics like that. For skivvy shirts, try this link: http://amzn.to/LbmXs4

    18. I had a few concerns about the packing list that I need help with please.

      I read that the lotramin ultra can be considerd a “Convienance” item and considered contraband and can have a negative consequence.

      Can I bring shaving cream?

      Can I bring more than one pair of compression shorts?


    19. They say bring a pair of Bates Lites and then you’re issued a pair of desert boots and a pair of hot weather boots. I know they say use the Bates Lites when running PT in boots and utes as well as in the quigley, but which pair (desert boots or hot weather boots) should I wear for everything else and which pair should I save for inspections?

    20. Is the link for the PT shorts up to date? I read an article that the silkies were not regulation anymore.
      Also, is it necessary or beneficial for the boot sock to extend over the calf, or will the shorter version of the sock work just as well?

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