Top 5 Items for Basic Training

Air Force class in basic training
The U.S. Air Force Academy basic training Class of 2018 marches back from Jacks Valley at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., Aug. 1, 2014. (Mike Kaplan/U.S. Air Force)

As you get ready to leave for boot camp, you may be confused about what to bring with you and what to leave behind. In fact, recruits email me asking this question more than any other. Therefore, I have assembled a list of the top five items you won't want to be without when you leave for basic training.

Top 5 Secret Items to Bring with You to Basic Training:

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of "The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp."

  1. Foot powder
    Your feet will spend a lot of time in combat boots. During that time, they will be very susceptible to fungus, blisters and other uncomfortable foot problems. Using foot powder will reduce your chances of getting these symptoms. However, no matter how much foot powder you use, if you make it through basic training without getting a blister, I would be very surprised.
  2. Cheap watch
    I have heard that some recruits aren't allowed to wear watches and some are. I suppose the choice is up to your drill sergeant. In either case, be sure to bring an inexpensive plain black digital watch. A digital watch is always nice to have when you are running, and they also make great personal alarm clocks. I find that waking up at 4 a.m. on your own is a bit difficult. Of course you should also bring a watch that tells military time.
  3. Combo locks
    In boot camp, you are going to get a wall or foot locker. You need to make sure that locker is always secure, because you are responsible for each item inside. Get a combo lock because having a lock with a key is just another thing to have to keep track of. Remember if you're not getting an item out of your locker, it always should be locked.
  4. Phone cards
    Of course, bringing phone cards to basic training is a necessity, but here is a little tip: test out the phone cards before you leave. The card where the operator talks the least is the one you need to buy (regardless of the cost). You will get a limited amount of time to talk on the phone; you don't want to waste that time with an operator giving you instructions on how to dial a phone number.
  5. Black marker
    If you could bring only one item to boot camp, this would be it. No, you don't need a marker to draw mustaches on your fellow recruits when they sleep. You need a marker to initial and label everything you own. Having a marker with you will ensure that nothing you own accidentally turns up missing. You also will make a few friends because recruits who did not bring a marker with them will want to borrow yours. As I mention in my book several times, you never can have too many friends at basic training.

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