Book Worm: 35 Back To School Essentials

For as much as popular culture likes to play up the melancholy surrounding the end of the summer season, it can actually be a pretty exciting time of year if you’re a student. Sure, in some ways undergrads may feel like they’re losing a lot of free time, but really they’re just exchanging it for a whole set of new opportunities and experiences.

Traditionally, the best part of this whole process of gearing up. Whether it be splurging on a new, better-equipped laptop for writing those term papers (and watching all those shows) or getting things as simple as a cool backpack or new set of bed sheets – the act of prepping for the school year is only rivaled by its actual start. Until then, though, all we can offer you is a roundup of what we think are the best back to school essentials out there.

The Dorm Room

Base Of Operations

Your dorm room or apartment should serve as a place of escape. Somewhere you can recharge, freshen up, and do a bit of relaxing when your schedule allows for it. And when it doesn’t? You should be sure to have the tools you need to finish those last-minute projects that you couldn’t get done before the library closed.


If you are among the maybe five or ten people still out there who don’t have a streaming service subscription – just pull the trigger. You’ll thank yourself on those weekend mornings when all you want to do is lay in bed and just zone out for a change.

Purchase: $15/Month

Havianas Flip-Flops

Picking up a solid pair of flip-flops for that communal shower is going to cost a lot less than foot powder to deal with athlete’s foot. So do yourself a favor and head-off that issue now.

Purchase: $15


While these four assorted succulents may not look like much – they’ll actually go a long way toward making your dorm room feel more welcoming. And because they’re artificial, you don’t have to worry about killing them.

Purchase: $18

Supima Bath Towel

There are towels, and then there are Supima towels. This one from Lands End has gotten high marks thanks to its lush and super absorbent fabric.

Purchase: $24

TaoTronics Desk Lamp

All-nighters are not a foregone conclusion. If you stay on top of your responsibilities, the likelihood that you’ll have to pull one is actually kind of low (Unless you’re pre-med. Then only God can help you). But, in the off chance you act like a typical college student and procrastinate – you’ll want something like this LED desk lamp on hand to guide you through those dark, dark nights.

Purchase: $32

Mesh Shower Bag

Leaving your shampoo and soap in the shower is not really an option when you’re sharing it with a bunch undergrads. Instead, you’re going to want to bring along something like this quick-drying shower bag.

Purchase: $45

Slate LapDesk

Whether you’re looking to do some work while back in your dorm room, or just a bit of Netflix binging – this lap desk is perfect. It features a slot for your phone, an integrated mouse pad, and holes cut to keep your computer from overheating.

Purchase: $60

Parachute Percale Sheet Set

Good sleep is important when you’re in college. And one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll actually enjoy calling it a night is by setting yourself up with something like Parachute’s Egyptian cotton Percale Sheet Set. They’re soft, smooth, and incredibly comfortable.

Purchase: $90+

Bang And Olufsen Beoplay S3

There was a time at which we would have just suggested desktop speakers for your dorm room, but Bluetooth audio equipment like the S3 from B&O has gotten so darn good it is hard to suggest anything else. This one has an amazing look to match its uniquely high-fidelity sound.

Purchase: $138

LG Electronics Screen LED-Lit Monitor

If you’re in school for some sort of digital media – or you just really like gaming – this 43-inch external monitor is a must for your dorm room. It boasts UHD 4K quality, has USB-C connectivity, and 4 HDMI inputs.

Purchase: $697


Nose To The Grindstone

For as much as technology has changed over the past ten or twenty years – the basics haven’t actually shifted all too much. You need a great backpack, some solid notebooks, a word processor, and a good filing system. Thankfully for you, we’ve rounded up the best of all of those items right here.

Uni-ball KuruToga mechanical Pencil

Generally considered to be the best mechanical pencil out there, this thing uses .5mm diamond-infused #2 led, writes incredibly smoothly, and even boasts a replaceable eraser for those inevitable mistakes.

Purchase: $5

BIC Brite Liner Grip Highliter

Close reading can’t happen without a good highlighter. This set from BIC boasts super bright ink, a textured grip, and a chisel tip for both broad highlighting and underlining.

Purchase: $6

MUJI Notebooks A5

The colored bindings on these 30-page notebooks make it easy to keep your thoughts clean and organized. An ideal pick for those looking for more design-friendly note-taking solutions.

Purchase: $10

Bullet Pen

Keeping a pen on hand never hurts. This one from Fisher is not only a little piece of history (it was designed to go into space with the NASA program), but it is incredibly well designed and attractive.

Purchase: $20

Anker 20000mAh Portable Charger

This external battery from Anker can easily recharge your smartphone or tablet while you’re on the go or pulling a late night in the library. When fully charged, it carries enough power to juice up an iPhone 7 times.

Purchase: $40

SanDisk Extreme 64GB Flash Drive

Every college student should have a flash drive on hand. Not only do they work as a great emergency backup, but they make printing big projects or papers much less of a hassle.

Purchase: $44

Western Digital 4TB My Passport

Nothing sucks more than having a computer die unexpectedly when you have a project due. Save yourself the pain and embarrassment of losing papers by backing them up on something like this 4TB external hard drive from Western Digital.

Purchase: $110

Defy Bags Bucktown Backpack

Made from a Martexin waxed canvas exterior, boasting a padded pouch for a 17” computer, and a super tough 1000D Cordura interior – this American made backpack will last you all four years of your undergrad and then probably another ten or twenty after that.

Purchase: $290

Bose QuietComfort 35

Having some noise canceling headphones on hand for studying in sometimes noisy libraries or cafes is key. This pair from Bose features a 20-hour battery life and boasts great audio quality to top it off.

Purchase: $350

Macbook Air

If you aren’t exactly focused on film or photography in college – the MacBook Air will serve you well. The simple, well-designed computer benefits from Apple’s famous attention to detail, and has a battery that lasts for 12 full hours.

Purchase: $1,000+


All Work And No Play...

Whether you go just to blow off some steam from all that studying, or you’re dedicated to staying in shape for your sport of choice – going to the gym can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your weekly routine.

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller

It is important to take care of your body after beating it up in the gym. One of the best ways to do that is by keeping something like a foam roller around. This one from Triggerpoint features a gridded foam exterior and a tough plastic body for loosening-up tight muscles.

Purchase: $38

Tracksmith Grayboy Amateur

Based off of the classic grayboys handed out to collegiate runners back in the day, this cotton t-shirt from Tracksmith oozes old-school New England cool.

Purchase: $55

Ten Thousand Interval Short

These have to be our favorite athletic shorts out there. Made from a stretchy, quick drying fabric they’re ideal for either training in the gym or heading out for trail runs.

Purchase: $58+

Nike Metcon 3

Most likely one of the best training shoes on the market today, these kicks from Nike boast a tough, lightweight upper, a 4mm offset, and Flywire cables for locking down your feet.

Purchase: $130

Garmin Vivosmart HR+

Anyone who is serious about fitness knows how important tracking your progress is. This awesome wearable from Garmin makes that whole process all the more intuitive and easy.

Purchase: $150

Aer Duffel Pack

This bag can head to class with you just as easily as it can go to the gym. It features a special compartment for holding your shoes, and a pouch for storing your laptop, books, and more.

Purchase: $150

Apple AirPods

Nothing keeps you motivated at the gym like the right tunes. This pair of headphones from Apple will not only help you push through that final rep – but they’ll stay out of your way thanks to their wireless build.

Purchase: $160

Around Campus

Looks To Match The Books

So now that you’ve got all of the basic items out of the way – work supplies, sheets, books, – you can splurge a bit on some new threads. Whether it be something as humble as a solid set of t-shirts or some new denim jeans – we arranged some our favorite picks here.

Buck Mason Resin Crew Slub Tee

Made right here in the U.S. from a lightweight slub-cotton fabric, this t-shirt from Buck Mason is a perfect addition to any basic outfit.

Purchase: $28

MiiR Wide Mouth Bottle

Whether you throw coffee, water, or beer in this water bottle from MiiR, it is engineered to keep it at temperature for hours thanks to its Thermo 3D Double Wall Vacuum Technology.

Purchase: $30

PMK Paracord Quick Release Keychain

This awesome keychain from Arktype is engineered to keep your keys secure and accessible. It features a durable Paracord construction and a magnetic neodymium clasp for simple removal of your keys.

Purchase: $36

Warby Parker Downing Sunglasses

These smart shades from Warby Parker are ideal for rocking on sunny days in the quad. And despite looking like a million bucks, they’re more than affordable.

Purchase: $95

Taylor Stitch Slim Jean in Cone Mills Standard

A pair of truly American denim jeans. Made with fabric woven at the famous Cone Mills, they have a tough construction that’ll take on a unique pattern after just a few semesters of consistent use.

Purchase: $98

Jack Mason Aviator Watch

This sharp watch from Jack Mason might not guarantee that you’ll show up to class on time, but it will most definitely look good on your wrist.

Purchase: $185

Golden Bear Raglan Varsity Jacket

A varsity jacket like this one from San Francisco’s own Golden Bear is an ideal addition to any fall outfit. Made with an Italian nylon outer and featuring cow leather trim along the welted slant pockets – it is an elevated pick built for any college campus.

Purchase: $195

State Bicycle Co. Elliston Bike

One of the best ways to get around any campus is with a pair of wheels. This particular bike from State Bicycle Co features a simple design with fenders, coaster brakes, and super comfortable mustache bars.

Purchase: $389

50 Best Men's Wardrobe Essentials

So you’ve got the gear to get the grades. How about the threads to look the part? Take a look through our rundown of the best men’s wardrobe essentials and see for yourself.