20 Things All NS Enlistees Must Get Before Going Tekong To Be The Ultimate “Thinking Soldier”

NS things to bring

There comes a time in every Singaporean boy’s life where he becomes a man. It involves 2 years of commitment and a “wife”… in the form of a rifle. Jack Neo even immortalised it on-screen in his series of films. We’re of course talking about National Service.

But before the book-ins and buzzcuts, there comes the all-important question: “what to bring ah?”. We got you fam. If you’re at a loss of what to stuff into your backpacks on Day 1 of your army journey, here’s a cheat sheet of all the NS things to bring for enlistment you should get beforehand. Thank us later.

What to expect on enlistment day?

Depending on your assigned PES (Physical Employment Standard) status, you’ll be reporting to different locations on enlistment day. Combat fit recruits will be headed for Pulau Tekong, while non-combat fit recruits will go to Kranji Camp.

Most recruits will be Tekong-bound though. You’ll be given a time to report to Pasir Ris Bus Interchange to board a bus that brings you and your accompanying guests to the SAF Ferry Terminal. Once you’re in Tekong, you’ll then have to trade in your NRIC for an 11B, and then be brought to the auditorium to take your oath of allegiance.

Afterwards, you get to have lunch at the cookhouse with your invited guests. After having your meals, you’ll form up at the parade square and march off to your respective company lines. Just follow the instructions your commanders have for you for the rest of the day and you’ll be fine.

What happens if I fall sick on enlistment day?

Should you fall sick on enlistment day, you’ll have to consult a doctor immediately and contact CMPB (Central Manpower Base) at 6373 3127 afterwards. Do note that this number is only manned on enlistment day. You will need to email your MC, along with the reason for your medical leave to by 12pm on the same day as well.

For those whose prior MC extends past enlistment day, do not turn up to your reporting location and give CMPB a call instead at 1800 367 6767. Your enlistment date will most likely be pushed back and you’ll be promptly contacted and given another day to enlist.

1. Cap

To hide your botak head when booking out

The increasingly popular bucket hat also can.

You might be heading into Pulau Tekong with a full head of hair. But by the day’s end, you’ll be grazing your hands over your newly minted botak head. Truth is, not everyone looks good without a fringe, and to look decent for the outside world upon your first book-out, you can take comfort in hats or caps.

No matter which piece of headgear you go for, the last thing you’d want is to have to deal with judgmental looks that scream “chao recruit!” when you’re out and about.

2. Snake brand powder

To soothe your itchy armpits

adapted from: @adiantum.thaicraftkt via Instagram

The first war you should declare in Basic Military Training (BMT) is one against body odour. Combat smelly armpits with Snake Brand Prickly Heat powder. No stranger to a soldier’s arsenal of must-haves, these help reduce your perspiration level while leaving you smelling fresh. Plus, they also come in hella useful when you can’t shower.

P.S. it even comes in shower gel form if you want extra protection.

Get Snake Brand Prickly Heat powder and Snake Brand Prickly Heat shower gel.

3. Spectacle hooks

So you won’t be “blur”, literally

Image credit: D&G Soldier Talk

One of the most infamous army sayings: “act blur, live longera.k.a. what you don’t know won’t kill you a.k.a. just pretend you don’t know anything to avoid doing work.

But what you can’t afford to have blur is your eyesight. Secure your specs firmly to your head with spectacle hooks to ensure you can run, march, and even shoot your rifle with 20/20 vision.

Get a pair of spectacle hooks.

4. Electric razor

Because you won’t look as cool as Walter White

Rethink keeping that moustache. You probably won’t look as cool as Breaking Bad’s Walter White.

Image credit: TV Style Guide

You might be botak up there, but your facial hair is going nowhere if you don’t maintain your grooming. Not everyone can pull off the Heisenberg look, so you’ll want a quick and fuss-free way to get a clean shaven look every day.

Disposable razors? Where got time. Invest in an electric razor that will save you the need for shaving cream while getting the job done first thing in the morning.

5. Wet wipes & face wash

To clean off your handsome face

After a few weeks into your staycation on Tekong, you’ll be well-acquainted with the ins-and-outs of the much-dreaded outfield exercises. This means you’ll get plenty of opportunities to mess around with camo cream as part of your training.

But those gooey green and black streaks across your face won’t do it any favours. A pimple outbreak will NOT sit well with your partner when you meet them on your book-out dates.

Wet wipes work best when getting off the gunk on your face while you’re in the middle of the jungle. Double up with a solid face wash when you’re back in the bunk to make sure your skin is squeaky clean and silky smooth. Icy cool facial wipes are a hit with recruits, so pack a couple for your mates back in camp.

Get GATSBY Facial Wipes.

6. Febreze

To save time on washing clothes

Chances are, you’ll be reusing the same uniform and set of T-shirt and shorts a few days in a row while in camp. No judgement there – I did it too. Aiyah, it’s just easier since there’s barely time to do proper laundry.

To make everything from your uniform to even your helmet smell good in a err, breeze, make sure to pack along a bottle of Febreze with you. Just remember not to spritz on the good stuff while your clothes are still damp with sweat; the sterilised stench afterwards is something your bunkmates will not appreciate.

Get Febreze Ambi Pur Fabric Refresher Spray.

7. Shower necessities like small baskets & 3-in-1 shower gel

For quick & fuss-free showers

Image credit: via Shopee

With everyone clamouring for the toilet to bathe before lights out, you’ll do yourself and everyone else a favour by making your showers quick. As such, carry your body wash and shampoo in a small basket with hooks to hang on the stall’s door, rather than leaving them at the mercy of the nasty toilet floor.

You won’t need a huge basket if you’re also equipped with 3-in-1 shower gels. The one by Adidas is the weapon of choice for NSFs nationwide; just slather on a generous amount and you’ll be out of the shower within minutes.

Get the Adidas 3-in-1 shower gel.

8. Power bank

So you can text bb “goodnight”

In case you didn’t know, wall plugs are not allowed into Tekong.

10 years ago, camera phones weren’t even allowed into Tekong – which meant your Nokia brick would have to survive a week without a single charge. But since smartphones are now permitted, you’ll need to add one more item to your packing list: a power bank.

From quick calls to your partner at night to indulging in the occasional Mobile Legends gaming sesh with your bunkmates, your smartphone will rely on a portable charger to make sure it’s all charged up.

You might want to consider bringing a couple of them when you book in, especially if you’re a fresh enlistee who’s headed to Tekong for confinement week. A pair of 20,000mAh power banks should power you through those 2 weeks, and If you want to be a true bro, bring extras to share with your new bunkmates.

Get a 20,000mAh power bank.

9. Clothes hangers & pegs

So your bunkmates don’t anyhow steal your t-shirt

Image credit:
@xiangcollection via Carousell

Sharing a living space with 13 other guys is no joke, especially when you’re all required to wear identical clothes even when you’re not donning your uniform. If you decide to do laundry after all, then make sure to distinguish your clothes with your own hangers and clothes pegs. Imagine wearing someone else’s sweat-stained tee by mistake…

Pro tip: Use a pen or marker to write your initials on the size tags of your garments, so you can be extra sure you’re going to sleep with your own set of admin shirt and shorts.

Get hangers.

10. Throat lozenges

To sing “Purple Light” without getting a sore throat

Image credit: The Singapore Army via Facebook

“Training to be soldiers, fight for our laAaaN- *cough cough cough*”. Between the all-time army hits you’ll learn to be forced to love over time like Purple Light and When The Cold Wind Blows, BMT is practically a music school too.

Plus, with all the shouting of commands during marches and drills, your throat will definitely need a lozenge or 2 to soothe that scratchy feeling.

Get Strepsils lozenges.

11. Salonpas / Pocari Sweat

So you can still run 2.4km without wanting to die

You’ll be doing a lot of running in BMT. But you’re no Quicksilver or The Flash, which means aches, sores, and dehydration are bound to happen.

To speed up your recovery process, Salonpas and Pocari Sweat will be your best friends. The former is great for treating sore muscles as a result of inevitable tekan sessions, while the latter is a tasty drink that replenishes lost fluids, especially during outfield.

Bring these along your book-in and who knows, you just might inch closer to IPPT gold. Otherwise, our IPPT running tips should do the trick.

Get Salonpas Pain Relief Patches and Pocari Sweat sachets.

12. Waterproof watch

To count down the seconds until book out

Image credit:
u/sushicat97 via Reddit

Leave your Rolex and TAG Heuers at home fellas. Don’t rough it out with your expensive timepieces and opt for a simple Casio waterproof watch instead – these cost around $17 online or from the Beach Road Army Market.

Simple yet sturdy, they’ll go through every high and low with you – from providing your IPPT timing to counting the seconds until “book out loh.

Get the Casio F-91W watch.

13. Triangle underwear

To protect your family jewels

Boxers or briefs? Just kidding, you don’t have a choice. Triangle briefs are the only kind of underwear you’ll be allowed to wear in camp, so as to give your “lil’ bro” better security. Unlike boxers, they don’t trap heat in your nethers which helps prevent heat-related illnesses during training, and won’t cause abrasions or skin chafing too.

Time to stock up on cheap ones from Isetan, or wait for a Calvin Klein sale.

Get 5-pack men’s briefs.

14. A pen with actual ink

To be a true “thinking soldier”

You might be relieved to know that NS is not all blood, sweat and tears. On occasion, you’ll also get to relax in an air-conditioned theatre for lectures, taking down notes or signing off documents.

Don’t be that guy who’s always looking to borrow stuff from his buddy. Just bring your own pen.

Get a box of 12 pens.

15. Panadol

In case NS really damn headache

Tekong is a new environment that will take time to get accustomed to. And in that process, your physical and mental state will inevitably go through fluctuations. If you want to be an A+ soldier and aim to go OCS eventually, pack some ever-trusty Panadol to counter the first sign of sickness or a headache.

Get Panadol caplets.

16. A book

To maintain some form of sanity

Your other option is to leaf through NSMan and Pioneer magazines over and over again.

Image credit: @jlt325 via Carousell

When you’re already living and breathing NS 24/7, chances are, you’d want to focus on anything else in your spare time. You don’t have to resort to NSMan and Pioneer magazines as leisure reads if you bring in a book instead.

Even Twilight would help take your mind off NS stuff, but if you’d rather dig into good reads instead, try your luck at Sunway Big Box the next time you’re in JB during your bookouts.

17. Religious item

In case you see hantu

Me, waking up at 4am in the bunk convincing myself that the sound I heard was *just* the wind.

Image credit: Know Your Meme

Maybe you’ve heard the story about the pontianak sitting on the Apex Ladder obstacle in BMT during the middle of the night. Or perhaps the case of a recruit’s locker creepily overturned because he brought in pork to the island and offended the spirits.

When it comes to Tekong ghost stories, there’s a reason why these tall tales get passed down from literal generations of recruits, so don’t play play. To give yourself some psychological assurance against the supernatural, bring in a religious item, whether it’s a rosary or an amulet.

Better to be safe than sorry – although these won’t work against the equally scary enciks roaming your bunks.

18. Music streaming subscription

To “emo” on public transport

Salute to all NSFs that travel from the far West or North all the way to Pasir Ris for book-ins. The bus or train rides must be a pain to deal with, which you’d probably soften by listening to sad songs as you get further and further away from loved ones and freedom.

Have all your emo songs on demand with a music subscription service, so you can listen to Joji’s melodramatic tunes on the ferry to Tekong.

19. Trash bags

To “cheat” your way through standby bunk

Image adapted from: Netflix

Hate cleaning? Me too. Rumour has it that besides being useful for the obvious reasons, trash bags are also a cheat code way to get your bunk cleaned faster. And you’ll know soon enough: “the faster area cleaning is done, the faster you can book out”.

If you lay trash bags on all your surfaces that gather dust, all you’d need to do is throw that away to save yourself the trouble of scrubbing and wiping. We can’t guarantee that this is a fool-proof method that will bypass the occifers, but hey, worth a shot.

20. Common sense & an open mind

Cannot buy, because priceless

Image credit: Basic Military Training Centre via Facebook

Whatever you pack for BMT and Tekong, they won’t matter if you don’t bring along some common sense. Your 2-journey doesn’t have to be that hard, as long as you follow the instructions properly and don’t make dumb mistakes.

Keeping an open mind to new experiences is also a healthy way to get through the motions – take whatever struggles you face as learning lessons and stepping stones for valuable character development.

Things to get for NS

Image credit: Basic Military Training Centre via Facebook

Enlistment is both an exciting and dreadful period of any Singaporean boy’s life – and knowing what things to get for NS is a whole different ball game altogether.

Hopefully this list eases your transition into Tekong a tad easier. Those two to four months of BMT life might seem like forever, but one day you’ll look back on them with more fond memories than bitter ones.

Can’t get enough of NS? More related articles:

Cover image adapted from: u/sushicat97 via Reddit
Originally published on 16th March 2021. Last updated by Khoo Yong Hao on 23rd March 2024.

Bryan Christopher Yeong

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