When preparing for basic training as an enlisted service member, your recruiter will provide you a checklist of what to bring and what not to bring with you to training. These lists are very prescriptive and exceptions to the list are very rare.
What to bring to basic training
While each service may have different requirements for what to bring with you when you start basic training, all generally include:
- Clothing. You will generally need a supply of casual, comfortable clothing; white underwear; white, calf-length athletic socks; a pair of comfortable shoes or running shoes and your eyeglasses. In addition to the above items, women recruits will need sports bras, regular bras, hair restraints of your hair color, a white slip and any feminine hygiene items.
- Combination lock or padlock. You will be required to bring one lock, either a combination lock or a padlock with two keys. Any additional locks you need can be purchased at the exchange.
- Toiletries. Required toiletries include a disposable/safety razor with blades, shaving cream (optional for women), a toothbrush with case, hairbrush or comb, one washcloth and towel, antiperspirant, shower shoes, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, soap and a soap case.
- Money. Generally, you will be required to bring a small sum of money — cash, travelers checks or money orders. Your service may also have a maximum amount of money that you can bring with you as well.
- Required documents. You will be required to bring certain documents with you including your Social Security card; a valid driver's license or current state identification card; a direct deposit form from your checking account; original or certified copies of your marriage certificate, divorce decree or separation order, if applicable; immunization records; original or certified copies of birth certificates of children under 18; proof of citizenship if you were not born in the United States; copies of your lease agreement or rental contract for any dependents residing outside of government quarters, if applicable; original or certified ROTC documentation, if applicable; original college transcripts and GED or high school diploma.
- Your orders. In addition to the above, you will be required to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit recruiter and/or the Military Entrance Processing Station. These orders must be delivered by you and by hand.
What not to bring to basic training
Specifically prohibited items should be listed in the recruit packet that was provided to you by your recruiter. Generally, all services prohibit the following:
- Weapons of any type. This includes pocketknives, firearms, ammunition, fireworks, clubs, batons, brass knuckles, straight razors, ice picks, etc.
- Tobacco products and lighters. Tobacco products are not allowed in basic training. These include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, tobacco, chewing tobacco, etc. Disposable lighters and lighter fluid will be confiscated upon arrival at basic training. If you have a "Zippo" lighter, the fluid cartridge will be confiscated.
- Alcohol-based products. Alcohol-based products, to include alcoholic beverages and health and comfort items containing alcohol are not allowed in basic training.
- Obscene or pornographic materials. Obscene or pornographic materials are prohibited from basic training.
- Nonprescription drugs. Generally, medications not prescribed to you by the military are not allowed while in basic training. This may include, but is not limited to: foot powders, rubbing alcohol, motion sickness medication, commercial sleeping aides, decongestants, acne medications, antihistamines, analgesics, sex-related materials (diaphragms, condoms, etc.) and vitamins.
- Narcotics/illegal drugs or any paraphernalia. Narcotics, illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia are prohibited from basic training — and military service.
- Expensive personal items. Items such as cameras; portable electronics like cell phones, pagers, radios, MP3 players or hand-held video games; jewelry and costly watches are hard to safeguard during training. You are allowed to bring your wedding ring.
- Gambling paraphernalia and external reading materials. Gambling paraphernalia, to include playing cards, dice and dominoes, and magazines, newspapers and books not issued by your service will be confiscated.
- Food items. Unnecessary food items such as gum, candy and chips are prohibited from basic training.