My son just recently headed off to Ranger School—a very exciting time for him and for me too. I’m retired Army myself, so naturally I wanted to get involved with every aspect of his packing and planning. I’d totally forgotten just how much he’d need to pack for the course. It is a very extensive list. Actually, it’s hard to find the whole list anywhere.
Since we were already doing the research, I thought I’d put one together for everyone’s benefit. My goal here was to make the most comprehensive list possible. Below I have included the required items as well as a number of optional items I highly recommend.
Psychologically and physically, there is really no way to over prepare for Ranger school. If you are enrolling, you can expect the most intense 61 days of your life. You are going to be pushed to the very edge of your limits. A lot of students get pushed well over the edge. Heck, the graduation rate hovers around 50%.
Having the right supplies can make a big difference. So let’s break it down. The following supplies should tally up a bill of around $300-$400 if you are buying a lot of cheaper stuff. If you decide to spend extra money to get top-of-the-line supplies, your bill may total up to around $1,500. You can order supplies through Amazon.com or any vendors you want, but check in first with your unit’s supply section. That’s a great way to save money and speed things up.
Mandatory Items for Everyone
Here are the items that everyone must bring, along with some additional info and suggestions on each. Please note that I have broken this list down into categories. Within each category, everything is in roughly the order it is listed in on the official Ranger School supply list—but that list isn’t broken down into categories. I think this makes it easier to see what you need (it may help you to organize your shopping trips).
Paperwork and ID
- ID Card
- 5 copies of your orders
- 2 copies of the following: Signed Commanders letter, DD-93/SGLI, ERB/ORB, signed packing list, ABN Certificate (when applicable)
- Army Combat Uniform (ACU) cap with cat eyes sewn on, name tape, and cover. You can use Velcro or sew your name tape on—sew it or you’ll lose your cover. 2 each.
- ACU trousers and coat. It is wise to treat both with permethrin. Watch a video here on how to do it. Sew nametape on everything so you don’t lose it in the wash. 6 each.
- PT Uniform: Jacket, long and short sleeve shirts, pants, shorts. 1 each.
- Name-tape and cloth (sew-on only). These are needed for your FLC, assault pack and rucksack. They are backups; you should already have your name-tapes sewn on in advance. 4 each.
- Cold Weather Drawers, Military issue Poly-Pro or Gen III, level-1 bottoms. NO CIVILIAN POLY-PRO. 2 ea.
- Cold Weather Drawers, Military issue Poly-Pro or Gen III, level-2 bottoms. NO CIVILIAN POLY-PRO. 2 ea.
- Cold Weather Drawers, Military issue Poly-Pro or Gen III, level-1 tops. NO CIVILIAN POLY-PRO. 2 ea.
- Cold Weather Drawers, Military issue Poly-Pro or Gen III, level-2 tops. NO CIVILIAN POLY-PRO. 2 ea.
- Eyeglasses if you need them. You can only use military issue, and you need to bring at least 2 pairs along with retainer bands for each.
- APEL eye protection. You can only use clear lenses. You need at least two pairs, but you should consider bringing more as you are likely to lose both the required pairs. A good choice is Oakley SI Ballistic M-Frame 2.0.
- A set of civilian clothing: 1 pair of pants, 1 jacket, and 1 collared shirt.
- Brown or tan neck gator. NO BLACK.
- ID tags with breakaway chain for medical alert tags or bracelet (if you need them).
- 2 standard Army issue duffel bags. Make sure you do NOT bring any oversized duffels. Duffel bags must NOT have zippers. If you happen to be coming from an overseas unit or off TDY, you are allowed to bring one extra duffel with a lock for storage of your unauthorized items.
- Black leather work gloves. 1 pair. If it’s winter, you’ll need extra gloves.
- Cold glove inserts in foliage green. 1 pair.
- White socks (calf or above ankle). You will need these for the Ranger Physical Fitness Test (RPFT). Socks must be free of logos. Hanes Men’s Cushion Ankle Socks work well.
- Tan, non-elastic rigger-style belt. Climbing in Ranger School uses a harness, so why these are required no one knows. But you still have to bring them. 2 each.
- Short-sleeve T-shirts. These will need to be made of 100% cotton, and must be either green or ACU tan. NO UNDERARMOUR SHIRTS. Go cheap with these since they will all be destroyed in the course of training. 8 each.
- Cushion-sole wool-blend socks. Regular boot socks are fine, but you may want to consider spending extra money here for higher quality. Be sure you have socks for both hot and cold conditions. Stick with military tan, green, or black. These must be non-waterproof. 15 pairs.
- Watch cap made from green micro fleece. 2 each (consider bringing extras).
- 1 reflective belt (high-visibility yellow).
- Running shoes. It’s a good idea to use the same pair of running shoes for ranger school as you do for train-up. 1 pair.
- Boots for hot weather (All Boots IAW AR 670-1 WITH NO BUCKLES). The most popular boots for this part of ranger training are Rocky S2V Boots, Rocky C4T Boots, Nike Special Field Boots, and Belleville 390 Boots. 2 each. Note that Nike Special Field Boots are lightweight and comfortable and do a great job staying dry, but they stand up poorly in the Mountain phase. If you use them, bring Shoe Goo with you.
- Boots for cold weather (All Boots IAW AR 670-1 WITH NO BUCKLES) 1 each.
- M4 magazines. You need 7 of these. Ask your unit if they will provide them to you before you go out and buy them. If you do need to buy them, go with plain Army-issue magazines. The tan follower ones are better than the green follower ones; they feed more reliably. Avoid specialty magazines.
- Adapter, Firing (M4 yellow). NO M16 RED. This UTG Gen II Model 4 Carbine Blank Firing Adaptor is what you need.
- Weapons cleaning kit. You can go with something basic and cheap here like this UTG Model 4/AR15 Cleaning Kit. Most of what you’ll be using it for is cleaning carbon deposits from inside your M4 carbines after you shoot off blanks. You’ll need: 1 eyelet, 1 bore brush, 4 cleaning rods, 1 two-ended tooth brush, 1 small bottle of CLP, and 1 pack of chamber patches. A bore snake is incredibly important. Try Hoppe’s BoreSnake Rifle Bore Cleaner. You also need to stock up on plenty of dental picks and q-tips. While you are at it, grab a shaving brush to get rid of the dust on your guns.
- Razor, shaving (non-electric only). You can actually shave for around half the time you spend in training. 1 each.
- Razor blades. Bring as many as you need: 12 each are recommended.
- 1 can of shaving cream.
- Shower shoes. No need for OD; any color is fine. 1 pair.
- Soap. 2 bars.
- Soap dish. 1 each.
- Toothbrush. 1 each.
- Toothpaste in large tubes. 2 each.
- Large towels. These must been green or brown. Aim for a microfiber towel which drives quickly and which you can also fold up small. 2 each.
- Wash cloths. These must be green or brown. Once again, stick with microfiber. 2 each.
- Laundry soap. This is listed “as needed,” but you definitely should bring it. You obviously don’t want to lug a jug of detergent everywhere, so try bringing the travel-size packs instead. These Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets are good. You can expect to do around 6 loads of laundry.
- 1 olive-drab, military-issue whistle. NSN 8465-00-254-8803.
- Combination locks. You will be using these to secure your equipment. Consider getting the type where you can set any combination you want; that way you can use the same combo for all of them. Consider the Master Lock 643D. The last thing you want to do is struggle to get your own locks open in the field. You can also try Master Lock 1500T Combination-Alike Locks. 5 each. If you will be securing unauthorized items (because you are coming from TDY or overseas), you must bring 1 additional lock for your extra duffel.
- 1 Lensatic military-issue compass. Don’t buy this if you don’t have to; you can probably get it from your unit. If you need to buy one, the Cammenga 3H Tritium Military Compass is standard issue. While you are at it, you may want to purchase a wrist compass.
- Ear plugs with case. 1 pair.
- Extra bootlaces. 2 pairs. Try the SGT Knots® Paracord Boot Laces.
- 1 Camelback/MOLLE hydration system 70-100oz. Make sure there is no extra carrying pouch. These things break easily, so I recommend 2, even though only 1 is required. Note that in the wintertime, you can delay (but not prevent) your Camelback from freezing by blowing the water back into the reservoir after you drink. I recommend the Camelbak Thermobak Omega Hydration Backpack.
- Extra bite valve and bladder for Camelback. The bladders like to burst and the bite valves can also get messed up. If this happens and you don’t have a replacement, they’ll tell you to just deal. So definitely bring at least 1 of each. The 90512 HydroLink is a good replacement mouthpiece.
- 1 flashlight including a red lens and AA batteries. This Maglite Mini is a great flashlight. It also comes with a red lens kit.
- AA and AAA batteries for your flashlights and headlamps. Bring at least 8 packs. Consider bringing more as other people will run out of theirs.
- 1 headlamp. You will be using these things for everything, so you may want to bring a backup as well. The Energizer 7 LED is a great choice for your headlamp.
- Luminous tape, 1” x 6” strip. You should be sewing luminous tape onto your rucksack, assault pack, and patrol cap before you get to training, but you have to bring extra tape with you in order to pass the inspection. You may as well buy a large roll. Extra is very useful. Try the JVCC GLW Glow in the Dark Tape.
- 1 athletic mouth piece. Get a cheap one since you will only use it once during RAP week.
- 1 nylon cord of at least 100 feet. I suggest getting at least 200 feet. You will use it mostly to tie your equipment down, but you also may occasionally use it to mark terrain models with boundaries and roads. This 303 Cord in OD is perfect.
- Pens. The Sanford Uni-Ball is the most popular option. It’s like a space pen, but it costs a lot less. 10 each.
- Pencils. You can go with anything here, but I highly recommend mechanical pencils. 10 each.
- Notebook, pocket-sized. This Rite in the Rain green tactical notebook is the best choice. 3 each.
- Protractor. You need a standard Army-issue protractor. 2 each.
- 1 Sewing Kit.
- Wristwatch. Make sure your wristwatch is neither GPS- nor internet-capable. The Suunto Core Black Military watch is popular.
- 1 permanent marker in any color.
- 1 facemask/balaclava. There is no need for anything fancy here.
- Camouflage stick, light green and loam. 3 each.
Mandatory Items for Female Students
These items below are all required for female students only.
- Feminine wipes. You need 2 per day for a total of 124. Basic baby wipes work fine for this.
- Sports bra. 2-6. Make sure there are no underwires, hooks or clasps in your bras. They can only be white, black, tan, and brown.
- Cotton drawers. 2-6 pairs. Once again, white, black, tan, and brown only.
- Pads or tampons: Enough for two months.
- Female Urinary Diversion Device (FUDD). You may need to use urinals while you are training. The FUDD lets you do this without making a mess. 1 each.
Authorized Optional Items
The following items are all authorized to bring. You do not have to bring any of them, but you can if you wish. Most of these are actually extremely useful and you definitely won’t want to be without them.
- Alcohol markers in black, blue, green and/or red. 2 each. Staedtler is a good brand.
- Alcohol eraser. 1 each, but it is a good idea to bring more. Go with Staedtler again.
- Black tape, electrical or friction. 2 rolls. This is listed as an optional supply, but it should be in the required list. You will use a ton of this stuff. So bring 2 rolls or more.
- Large trash bags. You will go through a ton of these, so bring a full box. Go with sturdy, tough bags like Husky Contractor bags that can stand a lot of wear.
- Pocket Knife. The folding blade must measure no more than 4”. 1 each.
Hygiene and Personal Care
- Clippers for fingernails and toenails. 1 each.
- Anti-fungal foot powder. Make sure it does not contain menthol. Zeasorb is best. You can also use this stuff to deal with jock itch. 2 each.
- Lip balm. Wind and sun exposure are definitely going to chap your lips. So you will want to bring this for sure. 1 each. Banana Boat is a good choice as it offers sun protection.
- Small mirror. A metal camping mirror is ideal. Stay away from glass since it can break. 1 each.
- Waterproof Ziploc bags. 25 each. You should pack a combination of small and quart-size bags.
- Sunscreen (6-8 fluid ounces). Bullfrog works great and repels mosquitoes too. 2 each.
- Baby wipes. Why these are listed as optional for men is anyone’s guess; they are necessary. Nice ‘N Clean wipes work well.
- Cotton drawers (in green, white or brown). 6 pairs. If you’ve been wearing these in training, you will definitely want them at Ranger School. They can reduce chafing.
- Electric hair trimmer. If you have one of these, it is worth bringing as you can much more easily maintain your regulation haircut. Otherwise, I would say this is an optional device. If you want to buy one, I recommend the Wahl Chrome Pro.
- Gloves for cold weather, civilian Gore-Tex (black or any other subdued colors). You definitely need these. 1 pair.
- Gloves, Nomex or Tactical Style. DO NOT GET NEOPRENE. You must either black out the logo or get gloves with a very subdued logo. As with the above, you will definitely need these. 1 pair.
- Hand sanitizer. Alcohol is okay. 1 each.
- Index cards. Get the 5x8 variety and you can cut them in half to fit perfectly in your Ranger Handbook. 2 packs.
- Insect repellant. NO AEROSOL. 1 each.
- Insoles for your boots. 2 each.
- Lamination paper. Be sure to go with an actual roll, not sheets or self-sealing envelopes. You need at least 1 full roll.
- Laundry bag. This must be either green or mesh. 1 each.
- Leathermans Type Tool. You need a multi-tool; it is very important. The Gerber MP600 is a great choice and also includes a pocket knife which fits within regulations. 1 each.
- Letter Writing Material. Be sure to address and stamp all envelopes you’ll need in advance.
- Lighter. Be sure you get a torch lighter which can perform even in windy conditions. 1 each.
- Liner for Your Field Jacket. 1 each.
- Map case. Skip it and save money by using a Ziploc bag. 1 each.
- Moleskin. You can be sure that you’ll use plenty of Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus. Bring more than you think you’ll need.
- Pace Cord. You are definitely going to use this, especially while you’re in Florida and crossing long distances. The Elite Forces Black Skulls Counter is a good choice. 1 each.
- Chewing Gum. This stuff is great when you’re hungry—and you’ll find that bringing extra will go over well with your buddies. You may only bring 70 pieces in total. Bring watermelon if you can, or apple—these taste most like real food.
- Q-Tips. I mentioned these previously when I talked about your gun cleaning kit. Make sure you bring a huge box. I recommend 500-count.
- Skincare Lotion. 6-8 fluid ounces. Must not contain petroleum, fragrance or alcohol. Corn Huskers is the best stuff to prevent dry, cracking skin. It has the fragrance and alcohol, but it is so popular that many instructors simply choose to overlook it. If you are in any doubt, bring something else that is regulation. 1 each.
- Status Card NOTE: Status Cards Must Be BLANK. This Ranger Joe’s product is what you need. 1 each.
- Tactical Handbook, Unit Leader, Small (THULS). Here is the Basic Module. You don’t need it and probably won’t use it, but it’s cool to have and you’ll be sad if you don’t.
- Tape, 100 MPH. You will use plenty of this, so bring more than you think you need—plus an extra roll with patterns, which is handy for marking bags. 2 rolls or more.
- Terrain Model Kit. Go with a small one. 1 each.
- Waterproof Matches. You don’t need these; they should be provided to you. 2 boxes.
- Whetstone. It only takes a few days for your knife to go dull. A lot of people come unprepared for this, so the other guys will really appreciate it if you’re willing to share. 1 each.
- Wrist Compass. It’s tough to check your compass while you have your hands full, as you often will. For that, a wrist compass like the Coghlans 8652 is incredibly useful. 1 each.
- Potomac Field Gear Approved Items.
Other Useful Optional Items
The optional items above are listed on the official Ranger School packing list, but there are a few more optional items which are authorized and useful to bring. I recommend the following additional supplies:
- Sidewalk Chalk. If this doesn’t come with your terrain model kit, you’ll need it.
- Anti-Fog Wipes. You need these to keep eyewear clean and clear.
- Color Plastic Index Tabs. Use these to mark important sections of the Ranger Handbook.
- Ranger Bands. You need these to close items like foot powder and to bundle up your cords. You’ll find plenty of other uses for them as well.
Here is a list of unauthorized items. These items are contraband, and if you are caught with them, they may be used as grounds to send you home. You don’t want that. So don’t make the mistake of packing any of the following:
- GPS watch or watch with internet capabilities
- Civilian issue poly-pro textiles
- Neoprene gloves
- No extra carrying pouches on your Camelback (they think you’ll use them to sneak food)
- UnderArmour or other athletic or tight-fitting T-shirts
- Civilian long underwear
- Contact lenses
- Caffeine in any form
- Modified kidney pads or shoulder strap pads
- Civilian medications (like ibuprofen)
- Bungee cords, pouches, caribiners, etc.
- Cell phone
- Any other electronic device
- Gore-Tex socks
- Filled-in Operations Order
- Cash in excess of $100
Knowing this list is just as important as knowing what to bring; it would be incredibly stupid to get kicked out of Ranger School because you just didn’t think before packing a bottle of vitamins!
Coming from an overseas assignment or TDY? If so, the brigade may make an exception for you and store your unauthorized items for you while you are training. Obviously you cannot have them with you during the course, but you can check them in. Otherwise, don’t bring any unauthorized stuff at all!
The Ranger Creed
This isn’t a physical item you need to bring, but it is something you will need to bring fully memorized in your head. You’ll have to recite it before every meal. If you mess it up, everyone will have to do pushups. Obviously you don’t want to be the guy that makes everyone else have to do pushups before they can eat. So memorize that creed.
There is no requirement that the items you bring to ranger training need to all be brand new, but you may want to consider it. Why? If your items are sealed, it will speed up your initial inspection and check in-process. Ranger school officials are cracking down on contraband these days, and your items are easier to search if they are obviously new and sealed.
It is really important to stick to the packing list to the letter. They really do check every single minute item you bring with you. So you need to make absolutely sure you aren’t breaking any regulations or missing anything.
You may worry about bringing all the optional items. Will it be too much to carry? The answer is “no,” because most of your gear will be stored during each phase either in wall lockers or shipping containers. You won’t have to haul most of it around.
Another tip is to try to pack your stuff in a logical fashion. When you check in, you will have to dump it all out. They’ll call for all the items—yes, even the small things—and you will have to find them and hold them up. This can be very stressful if you just threw everything in your bags without thinking.
Worried about losing metal or plastic items? To keep them from getting mixed up with everyone else’s stuff, buy an engraver and mark your stuff.
That’s it. That’s the full list of mandatory and optional supplies plus plenty of useful tips from my own personal experience. If anyone reading this has any other tips for packing for Ranger School, please add them in the comments!