Heading off to Air Force Basic Training can be stressful and when you’re about to leave for 2 months, not knowing what you need just adds to it. I’ve put together the ultimate Air Force Basic Training Packing List based on my experience at basic training so you’ve one less thing to worry about.
To start, the number of items that you actually need to bring should all fit in a single backpack. Don’t be the person that brings a house on wheels! Everything you think you need and didn’t know you needed will be provided upon arrival. So we will only be going over the essentials for your Air Force Basic Training Packing List.
Essentials for Air Force Basic Training
The most important thing to bring is your banking information! If you don’t have this, you won’t get paid! There are a number of financial institutions that offer benefits to military members which you should check out before selecting one. The information you need from whatever bank account you have includes:
- Name of bank
- Bank Routing number
- Account number
- ATM card
Be sure to call and/or step into your local branch to get this all confirmed and double checked. I knew a couple of recruits who were not being paid and they spent weeks contacting home and getting all of their numbers right to start getting paid.
Second most important is your paperwork. Yes, you spent all that time with the recruiter proving you were who you said you were, but people are human and somewhere along the way the information could have been lost or input wrongly. So if you don’t have the original, at least bring copies of the following:
- Social Security Card (Memorize this number! You will need to know this for multiple documents)
- Birth Certificate
- Enlistment Contract
- College Transcripts/Civil Air Patrol Certificates/ JROTC Certificates (Honestly, your recruiter should have been working on this and making sure you enlisted at the rank you deserve. But if they dropped the ball, I wouldn’t worry about it; this is something you can get rectified retroactively and receive back pay for once you hit your training base and have a good, long talk with Military Personal Finance (MPF).
- Driver’s License/ State ID (and color copy of spouse’s if applicable)
- Marriage License and birth certificates of children (if applicable)
- Alien Card / Naturalization Certificate (if applicable)
Separately, you should bring a sheet of paper with contact information. This would be anyone who is important to you or expected to attend your graduation.
Include their full legal name, address, and contact phone number. This piece of paper will be worth gold to you if you ever have to fill out this information, make a phone call, or whenever you need to mail home!
I know I regretted not having this and spent a good amount of extra time trying to gather all of this information through snail mail. This information is also necessary for the paperwork that allows your loved ones to attend your graduation.
And bring it all in a folder; you’ll be happy you did.
What to wear to Air Force Basic Training?
The clothing you bring should be tasteful and appropriate. Do not wear anything revealing or has holes in it. Although fashionable, these things are frowned upon. My recommendation would be business casual. If you absolutely have to wear that graphic t-shirt, make sure it does not contain any offensive words, images, or gestures; otherwise you will be flipping it inside-out and landing yourself on the Military Training Instructor’s (MTI) radar. You will want to have the following:
- Two pairs of pants (One set being long pants ie. slacks)
- Three shirts (At least one being a collared shirt)
- Closed-toed shoes (I recommend these being your running shoes to minimize packing)
- Civilian Eyeglasses (If needed – You will be issued standard glasses later)
- Three pairs of boxers or briefs (male)
- Six pairs of black or white non-thong-style underpants (female)
- Six black or white sports bras (female)
- Hair bands and bobby pins same color as hair (female)
- Watch (Not mandatory, but I recommend this. If you choose to bring one, be sure it is a plain, sports-type watch with a black band – no bling!)
You will be issued with your uniform once basic training begins so this is just to get you through until your start date.
As you will be running just about every day, I recommend that you take the time to get a good pair of running shoes approximately a month before basic training. Make sure to wear them so that they are broken in before you head to basic. This is to ensure that you have a pair of shoes that are comfortable and fit you well. Otherwise, if you are using old shoes the MTI will most likely tell you to get issued new shoes. The brand new shoes they ‘issue’ you (The shoe cost comes out of your paycheck) won’t be perfect and there may be some foot pain or blistering that will occur.
What hygiene/cosmetic items can you bring?
As for hygiene, You won’t need to bring much:
- Shampoo (travel size)
- Shaving equipment (Disposables encouraged)
- Brushes or combs (female – since your heads will be shaved, gentlemen)
- Sanitary napkins or tampons (two-week supply)
For the shampoo, I’d really just consider taking the product from the hotel the night before shipping and then buying a larger bottle upon your first Base Exchange (BX) visit. Be sure that any products you buy are easy to clean! You’ll learn this later, but all of these items are inspectable which means that if they are not pristine, you’ve brought misfortune upon yourself.
For those who wear make-up, it will be held in a locker until Family day so you will not have access to it. I’d recommend having your parents bring it for graduation if you’d like to wear it then and the same goes for other beauty equipment like hair stylers.
One little golden nugget to know is that you will have two drawers – your inspection drawer and your personal drawer. This does not mean that the MTI’s won’t look at your personal drawer (so don’t try to hide things in it), but for inspection purposes, this drawer is not counted. If you can pick up what I’m putting down, you’ll pass this portion of inspection without any demerits.
Other Items you may bring to Air Force Basic Training
The following are situational items that you might be interested in bringing.
- Debit Card/ Cash: A debit card or cash will only be useful when your flight has earned base liberty and are able to visit the BX. The only other time is if your flight decides to purchase morale shirts. But these are both things only considered towards the end of your training; don’t think it will happen very soon or often.
- Stationary: Things like stamps, envelopes, a pen and notebook are really useful if you have to write home first and you will get some Sandboxx return envelopes once you start getting letters!
- Prepaid Phone Card: To pay for use of the landline, if you understand what that means – a privilege that must be earned to use.
- Active Cell Phone with charger: Used for your first phone call home and to let your family know you are safe in the event of a disaster in the area.
- Contacts for vision: Not really recommended. Keep in mind that you will be issued glasses but if these are your only option until then, don’t be slow about it.
Things not to bring to Air Force Basic Training:
Air Force Basic Training is designed to test you to your limits, taking you outside of your comfort zone. You will be in the care of the Air Force and they will provide you with anything you need. With that in mind, they will not allow anything that’s unnecessary at basic training. These items will be confiscated and either sent home (at your expense) or destroyed. Below are some of the common things that recruits bring that will not be permitted at basic training:
- Cigarettes or tobacco of any kind
- Over-the-counter medications
- Expensive jewelry
- Food, candy, beverages, supplements
- Smart watches, electronic devices, high-value items
- Aerosol products (ie. shaving cream)
- Items containing alcohol (ie. mouthwash)
- Acrylic/fake nails
Don’t worry! Any doctor-prescribed medication can be brought with you. Just be sure that it is in its pharmacy issued, labeled container with original prescription documentation. Once this is all verified, a military doctor will then prescribe and re-issue the necessary medication from the on-base pharmacy. If you are a female recruit already taking birth control, it is recommended that you continue doing so throughout BMT.
That just about sums up what you need to bring and not to bring to Air Force Basic Training. If you have other questions regarding what to bring, your recruiter is a great point of contact and there to answer these types of questions. And don’t worry if you forget anything, you will have an opportunity to purchase anything you need or you will be provided with it.
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