There is going to be a ton of stuff that you want to bring, but wile you are in basic training there only a few things that you will need. A lot of the things that you need will be available for purchase at the PX however some of them will not be and you will want to bring them. Also it is nice to have a few familiar things with you when you are in an unfamiliar (and extremely stressful) place.
What to bring with you
Your ID and Bank card: Now obviously you can not buy this at the PX and if you are trying to have your family send it to you, it might be a pain in the ass. Just bring your ID card with you along with an ATM card or credit card. Your ID you will need when you are doing all your in processing paperwork. Your bank card you will need when you go to the PX to purchase the things you need that you didn’t bring with you.
Cell Phone: Expect to not be able to use your cell phone for the majority of basic training. But you will most likely be able to use it occasionally for a little bit of time. Some people have not been able to use their cell phones till the last 3 weeks of basic training, but cell phone allowance varies dependent on the post. Don’t forget your charger!
Family Photos: These are good to bring with you to help keep the homesickness at bay. Basic training is going to be tough, especially if you are married with kids. Family photos can remind you to keep your mind on the task and focus on the goal of graduating. For a lot of people they join the Army, at least partially, because they want to support their families. Do not lose sight of that. Also, don’t be that guy that brings nude photos of their girlfriend or wife. First of all pornography is contraband, but also if you lose possession of those photos you will never get it back.
Toiletries: BRING DEODORANT! There is always one stinky Soldier in the bay that smells like ass. Do you want people to think “that dude smells like crotch, I don’t think he takes a shower!” Other good ones to bring but its really up to you: soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss (you only keep the ones you floss!). If you forget to bring something you can get it at the PX, but you never know when you will get to go.
Shower Shoes (flip flops): Basic training is GROOOOOOOSS. You will probably get sick, catch something, or get an infection. Almost everyone does. It comes from living with 50 other dudes in one room, and no one washing their hands. Try to keep yourself as hygienic as you can. Part of this is wearing your shower shoes in the shower. The showers are gross and catching athletes foot or flesh eating fungus (no joke, this happens) can ruin your day.
Civilian Cloths: Obviously you are going to be wearing cloths going to basic training. I believe showing up naked would not be a good thing. Wear something conservative. Collared shirt, blank t-shirt, button up shirt, jeans, slacks, and sensible shoes (or your running shoes). These are all acceptable choices. Try to stay away from anything gang affiliated, or sagging, sandals, tank tops or sleeveless shirts. That t-shirt with the marijuana leaf on it is probably not good to wear.
Running Shoes: Hopefully by the time you ship to basic training you have been running for a while and have a good pair of running shoes. They do sell running shoes at the PX, but the selection is very limited. You do not want to go through basic training in a pair of running shoes that you hate. You will run a lot, and a crappy pair of running shoes can get you injured if you aren’t careful. If you can, find a pair that are comfortable to you before you go to basic and bring them with you.
Padlock/Combo Lock: These are available to you at the PX, but as said before you never know when you will get to go to the PX. To keep your gear safe, you will want to bring a padlock/combo lock with you (preferably two of each, you won’t know which one is allowed). People steal, it’s human nature. Plus drill sergeants love tossing lockers, and the easiest way to keep this from happening is to keep your locker locked.
What to leave home
Excess Cash: You will be living with a bunch of complete strangers. Some of them may have a colorful past and may not have any hang ups about stealing from other people. That said you will want to keep any excess cash at home. You won’t need it. If you have a bank card, that is more than sufficient to have your monetary needs met.
Tobacco and Alcohol: Neither of these are allowed for Soldiers going through basic training. Not only that but alcohol based toiletries, like mouthwash, are not allowed either and is contraband. Expect to go through the entire 9 weeks of basic training without a drop of alcohol or a cigarette. To make matters worse, your drill sergeants will probably dip or smoke in front of you, so just get used to it. You should probably quit anyway. All it does is jack up your run time.
Pornography: The majority of Soldiers going through basic training are 18 years old and straight out of high school. Hormones going crazy. Still, pornography is contraband and if it is found in your possession you will probably get an article 15. Everyone does it, but still. You do not want to be known as that perverted guy always jerkin his gerkin. Its gross.
Knives and other weapons: All weapons or sharp objects of any kind are contraband while in basic training. Yes, you can keep those nail clippers but that 1 inch pocket knife you should leave at home. Anything with a blade on it like pocket knives, box cutters, straight razors, and utility knives are not allowed. If you bring it, be prepared to throw it out so just leave it at home.