Critical packing list items for Ranger School, plus the things you'll want to have.
The challenges of Ranger School are many, with the initial packing list layout being just one of the first to get through successfully. When I went to Ranger in 2017, we had an upwards of 10 students get dropped during the layout for missing a critical item (or too many non-criticals). No excuses were entertained, no second chances, just an RI telling you to pack up your shit, and go home. They take the packing list VERY seriously and for good reason. Going without some items could result in the inability to perform certain tasks (like having your red-lens flashlight during night patrols, or your E-tool for digging a fighting position). Some items protect you from cold-weather injury (cold-weather boots and wet weather gear), especially for winter-Rangers.
The moment you realize that you are going to Ranger School you need to start getting your gear together. You’ll need EVERYTHING that is on the MOST CURRENT ARTB packing list. The list is quite extensive, but it will tell you every item you will need to have when it comes time for the layout, and in complete detail. If an item says “must be in accordance with” or “NSN: 09786,” then that is what they will be looking for, and anything less than the item described will not be acceptable. So get it right and don’t be lazy.
- Go through ALL of your issued gear and see what you already have. Compare the NSNs against the Ranger School Packing list. If they don’t match up, you’ll need to acquire the ones that do… either borrow from a buddy or fork up the cash at a military surplus shop.
- Look into getting a commercial “pre-packed” Ranger School packing list. Ready Packs LLC makes a top-notch “Ranger Pack” (<<<got you guys a discount code from the CEO. Code “grittysoldier” will take $15 off your Ranger Pack!) that boasts to be a 90% complete solution to the gear needed for your Ranger School Layout (plus it comes with many other useful items that you’ll want to have as well). According to the company, the Ranger Pack saves Rangers $300 in packing list cost and 25 hours of time scrounging around town trying to figure out where to find items. (I actually got one of these when I went to Ranger and I LOVED it).
- Once you think you have everything you need to check it 5-10 times. Have a buddy or your spouse read off the checklist item by item, while you find each one as they do. ENSURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING. Do it multiple times until you are absolutely, 110% sure you have EVERYTHING.
Other Items You’ll Definitely Want:
- Gum, gum, more gum. You will be so hungry that just chewing the shit out of gum will make you feel better. And, it will help you stay awake on patrol and while pulling security. Plus, Rangers that always have gum to hand out to their buddies earn massive brownie points when it comes time for peers.
- Full-size industrial (thick) black trash bags. You will use these to store items not used during FTXs, use them to water-proof your ruck, and even use them to stay warm (shit you not, I cuddled up in 2x trash bags in a patrol base once during school just to try to stay warm and dry… its these kind of things that make winter-Rangers proud to be winter-Rangers…).
- Plenty of GOOD SOCKS. Do not bring Army issue socks, I don’t care what anyone tells you. Bring good (overpriced) socks like Fox Rivers or Darn Toughs. Trust me that the amount of damage done to your feet during your time in Ranger School will be exponential. You won’t even fully recover until months after you graduate (or you don’t…). Having good socks will save you from extra pain on patrol, will limit your chances of getting foot disease, and will allow you to dry them out more quickly than regular cotton socks. Invest in your feet, man.
To sum it all up, take the packing list seriously, your chances of getting your Tab depend on it. Don’t be the one that doesn’t have a critical item and gets dumped outside Camp Rogers for being an irresponsible slacker who failed to pay attention to detail. Be better than that, be successful.
Author: CPT Dan Fahey
~Exceed the Standard