Air Force Journey

Sharing my journey through Air Force Officer Training School (OTS) and beyond.

OTS Packing

Packing a Duffle Bag

I have been going back and reorganizing my posts and I found a link which was no longer accessible to the majority of you all.  I went ahead and downloaded the info and made a dedicated post for it.   If this is your info and you want credit, please let me know and I’ll add your name.  For now, I removed the last names for their protection.

Here is how a OTS 17-05 graduate packed his duffle bag.

Great how-to info for packing a duffle!

Hey everyone!  I’m not sure how many (if any of you) are members of the class currently in session (17-04) but this was a really cool post Ryan H. shared and thought it would be good knowledge to share as we get closer to our big day!!  The only downside to sharing this info this way is you don’t get the clarifications made in the comments.  Nevertheless, hope it helps 👍🏻

Good Day future OTS warriors.  I’ve been hit up by a few of you asking about packing the duffle bag so I’m doing this in the hopes we all learn.  I had an interesting deployment we can talk about later where this was huge but I first learned it at BMT in ’03.  Here’s my attempt to clear the mud.  The big point here… what do you want to haul and what’s your individual strategy.  I would love to store in someone’s car but what are the odds I can get to it if we’re in different groups.  It’s a bold move cotton.  Lol.  Let’s begin.

1.  Shower shoes on bottom because who cares about them.

2.  Shoes and boots first but you’ll roll the duffle inside out and roll up as you pack.  There’s a square sewn to bottom.  Be sure you line up the bottom of the shoes and boots so they are flat against your back in relation to the straps for shoulders.  Like Lincoln Logs as a kid stack on side and around over and over.  Build a foundation so it stands on its own.  Not sure how much we will be putting down and picking up.  Use the middle for random stuff if you want but it’ll get squished so be careful or pack in tupperware.

3.  Roll and fold your stuff according to the dorm manual.  That’s the “law” for us period.  If I’m wrong all apologies and hey at least you got some practice.  I’m bringing what’s in the Reporting Instructions and for the optional items or items prior grads advise I’m making my own decision.  If wrong I’ll buy once there or trade to borrow.  Bugspray is an example of something that can wait IMO.

4.  Stow it all in freezer bags.  Get good at packing things together.  Rain could happen so if you have an APECS as a prior, pack that last seeing you now have shoes wet on bottom jacket catching the bulk of the rain on top.  It’s not perfect but it works and shoes can dry.  My personal luggage will have the extra civies.  Plus we will be rocking civies the first couple of days due to not everybody having the uniforms.  Dress comfortable.  It’s not a fashion show but it ain’t Walmart either.  For the low quarters I wrapped mine in the fleece so they hopefully don’t get scratched up.

5.  Get a garment bag with a hook so you can get your uniforms pressed before class begins to save time.  Minor wrinkles will happen.  I’m packing that on the order of the closet per the dorm manual if it’s logical.  Most likely will have the blues lightweight jacket first seeing that’ll be the outside of the folded garment bag for a layer of protection. 

6.  Inside the tupperware is all the chrome awesomeness like mess dress/blue accouterments seeing some may wonder where that’s at.

I still gotta fold/bag my underwear plus the ever famous APECS is last.  What you see is the end that I’m still debating seeing I won’t have a car for storage.  I’m also bringing as much as possible in including mess dress up to the room.  For the gas mask inserts I’m bringing just because I’m unsure if we will need for M9 qual, it’s small in the event not needed and I’m blind without glasses so I’d rather be safe than shooting the dirt.

Game day plans could change, all of this easily fits in my blue rolling luggage as well seeing I’ll just literally throw it in.

Hope this helps and you all learned.  If this is over kill trust me I agree with you, I just like to be prepared as much as possible.  Never go full H.  I’m smuggling my two year old in as well so I never have to clean the room or do laundry.  Any questions fire away, 6 days left!


  1. RPASelect

    Do you think this is as relevant for people who are driving? I’ll have my car to store a ton of the excess, and I won’t need to worry about packing for everything to fit for flying.

    • airforceotsguy

      From my perspective it is a matter of getting your stuff from your car to your dorm. I drove and had lots of extra room but packed my duffle like this.

  2. Ryan

    I’m non-prior and I prefer buying my service and mess dress at Maxwell. Buying these online just seems like a bad idea for me. I plan on bringing ABUs, boots, undershirts, running shoes, and PT uniforms. Is it ok to arrive at OTS without some of the uniforms? Also, do I have to roll my clothes like that? Won’t they teach us first at OTS?

    • airforceotsguy

      As a non prior I think it is wise to wait until OTS for blues, especially if you don’t have base access. The employees are usually fairly helpful if they are not too busy so it is a matter of carving out the time to pick them out, make sure they fit, then dropping them off at alterations. If you purchase there I think the alterations are included in the price as well, at least for the jacket. For blues they will probably give you time to get them on one of your weekends, ABUs much earlier in training (I think day 1 or 2 now).

      You do not have to arrive with clothes rolled like this. I was a prior and I arrived with zero knowledge about dorm setup. When you get there latch on to a prior and have them help you learn how to do the things, it will probably be more efficient if someone showed you anyway. Yes the construct of OTS IS they teach you first then They expect you to perform, in most cases.

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