Most of what you need to succeed at Officer Candidates School will be issued to you. Key word-"most." Some of the issued gear is woefully inadequate, while other essentials are simply not provided. Below is an annotated gear list with brief descriptions of items that will allow you to thrive, not just survive, at OCS.
Civilian clothing will be worn upon arrival to OCS, administrative in-processing, and on liberty. Don't fail the pre-liberty inspections. Buy non-wrinkle.
1. Two NON-WRINKLE polo shirts.
2. Two NON-WRINKLE pants.
3. Two white undershirts.
4. Two pairs dress socks.
5. One belt.
6. One pair of dress shoes. Brown or Black.
7. Six pairs athletic underwear.
8. Two pairs of running shoes. Shoes get wet. One pair to survive. Two pairs to thrive. Not sure which running shoe to get? Check out our review here.
1. Two or three pairs of boots.
One pair of PT boots (to be worn during O-Course, E course, and Boots and Utes PT). Danner Reckonings are the way to go for comfort and quality. Alternatively, Bates Lites work as a cheaper option.
One pair of heavier boots for hiking. I wore Danner Reckonings for all the hikes and never had a problem, however some people prefer a heavier duty boot.
Optional third pair for inspections. I had a third pair of boots that I never wore outside of uniform inspections. Buy a cheap pair if you intend to do this. Because I never wore them, my inspection boots were always pristine, and I never had to clean them.
Personally, I would buy two pairs of Reckonings (instead of one pair of Reckonings and one heavier duty boot), Not cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Boots are expensive but are the single most important piece of gear you will use at Officer Candidates School. Not something to skimp on.
2. Six pairs (minimum) HIGH QUALITY BOOT SOCKS. You will lose a few pairs of these in the laundry, and if there is any gear you are going to splurge on, socks (and boots) are the things to do it on. Taking care of your feet is paramount.
3. Four pairs of white ankle socks. These will be worn for PT when you are not in Boots and Utes. No logos.
4. Four sets of skivvy shirts and skivvy shorts. You will be issued more pairs but you can never have too many of these and laundry at Officer Candidates School is not very reliable or effective.
5. Six sports bras (female candidates).
6. One pair of black shower shoes.
Officer Candidates School is not known for its cleanliness or hygiene. Take care of yourself.
4. Shampoo/Bodywash combination.
5. Travel mouthwash (Used for inspections. Bad breath will count against you. Seriously.)
6. Razor and Razor Blades.
7. Shaving Cream. You will be shaving everyday, maybe twice a day. The brand I linked is a bit more expensive than typical brands, but I found that it reduced razor burn was much easier on my skin than a typical drugstore brand.
8. Aftershave. Same brand as shaving cream, same results.
9. One pack baby wipes. You will really appreciate having these in the field. Also helpful for removing camouflage paint from your face.
10. Nail clippers. During inspection your hands will be checked for cleanliness. Don't be gross.
11. One bottle travel sized hand sanitizer. Will be used for "erasing" writing on laminated surfaces (such as map pen markings on maps.)
12. Field mirror (for shaving and applying camouflage paint in the field).
13. Bodyglide. Very helpful during hikes to prevent chafing, specifically when applied on hips to prevent chafing from hip belt of ILBE pack.
14. Female Candidates
1. Red Lens Headlamp. This will be used at night in while in the squad bays or in the field. You will be using this often, and acquiring a quality headlamp will make your life at OCS significantly easier.
2. Durable, waterproof, digital watch (black). From my experience most Marines and officer candidates have a G-shock. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and reliable. No need to spend hundreds of dollars on this. Don't overthink it. This is the one I use and I recommend it.
3. Bore-snake (.556). Used to clean your rifle, this will make your life significantly easier after running the E-course and your rifle is filled with mud.
4. Six rolls of 1 inch WATERPROOF athletic tape. Every piece of gear at OCS will be marked with tape. Marking name tapes takes a long time and cuts into precious sleep time. Waterproof tape lasts significantly longer. This will save your life (or at least your sleep).
5. One roll of clear packing tape. This is extremely helpful for two reasons. You can use it to laminate paper (waterproofs it and ink can be erased and re-written) and to laminate white athletic name tapes, which means they last longer which means you don't have to remark as often.
6. Two rolls of black electrical tape. This will be used to tape up loose straps after they have been adjusted on your day pack and ILBE pack.
7. One roll of duct tape. When is duct tape not helpful?
8. Two wide tip sharpie markers (for general marking).
9. Two ultra fine tip sharpie markers (for stencil marking).
10. Two sharpie clothing markers (you will be stenciling your PT shirts).
11. One pack of map pens (for land navigation).
12. Erasable pens (red and black) This will save you a ridiculous amount of time (and sleep) when writing essays. Instead of having to rewrite the entire page every time you make a mistake, you can just erase it! How about that?!
13. Highlighters (for studying).
14. Mechanical pencils for multiple choice bubble tests. Extremely important. Tests are timed and sharpening your pencil in the middle of the test is the last thing you want to do.
15. One six inch ruler. This will be used for making 6 inch name tapes.
16. Ten pairs boot blousers. You will lose these. Ten pairs will get you through.
17. Rite in the rain protective cover, three notebooks .
18. Ziploc bags large and small. These will be a lifesaver when packing for FEX. Put small stuff like socks and underwear in ziploc bags before arriving so when they dump your bag things don't get lost. Mark the bags with sharpies.
19. Q-tips. Very important for rifle cleaning, these will help you clean hard to reach spots.
20. A book on a relevant military related topic. During your final week at OCS you will have plenty of time spent sitting around. You will be allowed to read your book. I read Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink during the final week and highly recommend it (full review here)
Check out our book reviews here.
Gear you should have on person when you arrive to Officer Candidates School
1. Cell phone and charger (You will have these until you have to turn them in to the contraband locker. You will get them back on liberty).
2. Two hard copies of your orders.
3. Medical and dental records.
4. $500. Either cash or credit/debit.
5. Wallet with drivers license.
6. Copy of dependent's documents (if you have any).
The staff at Officer Candidates School evaluates and screens candidates for a very specific leadership style that is not necessarily representative of good officership. Is this a good thing?
1) What are some common reasons that candidates get sent home from Officer Candidates School?
In this post we will be answering a few more questions we received about OCS. Knowledge is power.
Missed part 1? Click here.
1) What is liberty like at Officer Candidates School?