Your First Weeks

Get ready for your adventure.

Join the Army and find your potential on day one. Congratulations, you’re about to become the best version of yourself.

A Soldier climbing a wooden obstacle outside

Pack up for Basic Training.

The Army has certain guidelines around what you’re able to bring when you ship out to Basic Training, so use this checklist as a guide to ensure you’ll have what you need. Keep in mind that you’ll have access to the Post Exchange (PX) every two weeks, an on-base store that covers various personal essentials.


  • One-day supply of casual, comfortable clothing
  • Three sets of white cotton underwear
  • One pair of black or white, calf-length athletic socks (no color bands, designs or logos)
  • One pair of comfortable shoes
  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses, if needed
  • One small suitcase or gym bag

For women

  • Three neutral shade bras, including at least two sports bras
  • Neutral shade nylons or tights
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair elastics that match your hair color


  • A disposable or safety razor with blades and shaving cream (optional for women)
  • Toothbrush with case, toothpaste, and dental floss
  • Hairbrush or black comb up to six inches
  • One washcloth and towel
  • Deodorant
  • Shower shoes
  • Shampoo, soap, and soap case


  • Valid driver's license or current state identification card
  • Your orders: Be sure to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit recruiter and/or Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS); these orders must be delivered by you and by hand
  • Travel and meal tickets: These will be supplied to you the day you ship to Basic Training

Additional items

  • Money (at least $10, but no more than $50 in cash)
  • Checkbook or ATM card
  • Prescription medication
  • One combination lock or padlock with two keys (an additional lock can be purchased at the PX)
  • Standard wristwatch (no smartwatches)

What's not allowed

  • Privately-owned vehicles
  • Expensive personal items
  • Steel hair picks
  • Razor blades
  • Weapons of any type, including pocket knives
  • Obscene or pornographic material
  • Alcoholic beverages, nonprescription drugs, or drug paraphernalia
  • Playing cards, dice, or dominoes
  • Cigarettes, tobacco products, or vaping paraphernalia
  • Gum, candy, or chips


Find out more about becoming a Soldier and if a career in the Army is right for you.

Common questions about your first weeks.

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Chat with us any time.

Are there options to delay my ship date?

Yes. The Future Soldier Program, also called the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), lets Soldiers join the Army now and ship out at a later date. The program is popular among high schoolers and other candidates who need some time to finish their current commitments. As part of the program, participants attend weekly meetings and complete Future Soldier training while they wait for their ship date to arrive.

How often should I check in with my recruiter while I wait for my ship date?

You should check in with your recruiter once every two weeks while you wait for your ship date to arrive. It’s also important to be responsive when your recruiter reaches out to you so they know you’re still committed to joining the Army.

What should I do if something happens that may impact my eligibility?

Let your recruiter know right away if something happens that may jeopardize your eligibility. While it’s possible you could be disqualified, it’s also possible that you may qualify for a waiver for this issue. It’s important to be honest and upfront with your recruiter so they can tell you what your options are.

What happens after I join the Army as an Officer, or on a path to become a commissioned Officer?

What to expect after you join the Army as an Officer, or on a path to become a commissioned Officer, varies depending on the way you become an Officer. Learn more on our Army Officers page.

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