Many new recruits think they need to bring the creature comforts of home when planning what to bring to boot camp. After all, if you’re going to be away from home for 3-4 months, why not bring everything possible to make the transition to boot camp that much easier? As you’ll see below, however, it’s better to act like you’re roughing it in the woods than to think you’ll be able to bring the feel of home life to boot camp.
- The basics. If there’s one guideline that sums up all the rules for what to bring to boot camp, it’s bring only the basics. Imagine you have to camp out in the woods for months with no electricity. This underscores the need to leave powered devices such as electric razors and toothbrushes at home. Besides a watch, if you have anything powered that you want to bring, leave it behind.
- Blend in. Imagine again that you’re camping. Your job is to blend into your surroundings as much as possible. Forgoing loud or colorful products and clothes will give you a leg up on accomplishing this. The more you blend in, the less the drill sergeants will single you out.
- ID. This is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to learn how many recruits fail to bring identification to boot camp. Double-check your pockets or wallet for your driver’s license or state ID before leaving home. Don’t bring your passport if you can avoid it as losing it at boot camp will give you infinitely more stress than losing a driver’s license or state ID.
- Papers. Short and sweet: Bring ALL your military papers with you to boot camp. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need a certain paper, better to be safe than sorry. Pack every single one of your papers. More to the point, however, be prepare to present them to your superiors at a moment’s notice.
- Addresses. Boot camp is a lonely place for every new recruit. You’ll want to keep in touch with friends and family back home. To do this effectively, pack a small address book with everyone’s address and phone number who you’ll want to keep in touch with. This will allow you to more easily distribute your mailing address while at boot camp so you can receive mail, too.
- Running shoes. You will be running at boot camp, no doubt about it. If you want to avoid having to purchase them in the orientation commissary, bring a good pair of running shoes. Also, your drill sergeants will make you throw them away if they’re too flashy or colorful. To avoid this, buy a nice pair of white or gray shoes. No loud colors or fancy designs.
- Razors. You know that electric razor you love to use at home? Leave it at home. It won’t fly at boot camp. You will be forced to use a standard bladed razor. Whether a single blade razor or a multi-blade one, they are the only types accepted at boot camp.
- Civilian clothes. At some point during orientation or while being processed into your unit, you will be forced to dump all your belongings in front of your drill sergeants. You cannot be guaranteed that your drill sergeants won’t throw them in the trash, never to be seen again. Take only generic T-shirts and pants that you won’t mind possibly losing.
- Limit the clothes. Because you’ll be wearing military issue your entire time at boot camp, limiting the clothes you bring will allow you to travel lighter. Don’t pack more than two or three shirts, two pairs of pants, a few pairs of underwear and socks. For shoes, it’s a good idea to wear your running shoes when you leave home. This avoids having to pack more than one pair.
- Toiletries. You’ll need a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, cotton swabs for your ears, shaving cream, shampoo, soap, etc. Again, follow the rule of going back to the basics: No electric toothbrushes and no flashy containers. You shouldn’t have a problem finding generic replacements for the brand names you typically use. Buying generic and taking them to boot camp will save you headaches with the drill sergeants later.
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