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20 Must-Have EDC Essentials For College

Best College EDC Essentials 0 Hero

For millions of people around the world, the impending end of summer also means that the school year is kicking back into high gear. Thankfully, however, there is still plenty of time to prepare and ensure that you’re fully geared up for success in all your academic pursuits. And while that starts, perhaps obviously, with your schoolwork and textbooks (and the like), there’s a lot more ground to cover if you really want to stack the deck in your favor.

What should Be in your college EDC loadout?

The concept of everyday carry can really help in this regard. And while most EDC loadouts are comprised of gear you can fit in your pockets, your own everyday carry is only limited by what you need on a day-to-day basis. A college-focused EDC loadout might include everything you bring with you to class to get you through the day. And while each and everyone is going to be unique to the individual that builds it out, the following collection of items can all make your experience in academia simpler, more convenient, more organized, etc. Pick and choose or buy it all — either way, you’ll be better off for it.

Our Selection

We’ve had a voice in the EDC space for over a decade now, with a passionate team of gearheads, outdoors fans, and tech experts backing every pick in our guides. For this one, we’ve collected a variety of EDC picks that will make life on campus more comfortable and streamlined, with a variety of tech, apparel, and gear to get the job done.


Why It Made the Cut
  • There’s nothing like a classic planner, and this one is made durably in the States.

Best Planner: Organization can be the difference between success and failure in college, and the Field Notes 56-Week Planner can help you keep your schedule in check from day one. It’s also made in the USA with sturdy wire binding, pre-formatted pages, and heavy-duty covers.

Cover Material: Paper
Sheet Size: 4.75-x-7.5-inch Inches


Why It Made the Cut
  • Keep all your gear safe and organized in this nifty pouch, with 8 liters of storage and a variety of closures.

Best Organizer: As mentioned, organization is one of the biggest keys to success in academia — and that goes for your tech and accessories, too. Keep them all in order with the handy Cocoon GRIT-IT! Accessory Organizer, which can be stashed in just about any backpack and offers a tremendous amount of personalized storage and organization, courtesy of a host of elastic stash bands.

Form: Bag
Shell: PVC
Capacity: 8 liters
Size: ‎10.2 x 12.2 x 13.78 inches


Why It Made the Cut
  • Sure, this is a sleek and stylish pen, but you can also write in zero gravity with it (or underwater).

Best Pen: Studies show that people retain information better when they take notes by hand, even when compared to typing notes. As such — and for any occasion where you might not have your tech handy — we suggest everyone carry an EDC pen at all times. And you can do no wrong with the Fisher Space Pen Bullet, which is compact and can write upside-down, underwater, and/or in zero gravity.

Material: Brass
Ink: Fisher Pressurized Cartridge
Deployment: Click-On Cap


Why It Made the Cut
  • Staying hydrated is important, especially if you’re walking around campus a lot, and this water bottle from CamelBak is a no-nonsense solution.

Best Water Bottle: Did you know that being properly hydrated can actually increase your brain functions and have a positive impact on your mental acuity and critical thinking skills? Well, it can. As such, everyone should bring a water bottle with them pretty much everywhere they go, especially at school. This leakproof option will keep your water contained, cold, and portable.

Size: 32oz
Top: Leak-proof magnet top
Insulation: Double-wall vacuum insulated


Why It Made the Cut
  • Portable chargers are great, but this one is small enough to fit on a keychain, and works with any Lightning-compatible iPhone.

Best Keychain Attachment: There’s a fairly good chance that, at some point, one of your pieces of tech (likely your smartphone) will run out of battery when you’re not near your charging cable. But that’s a small worry if you have the Native Union Key Cable attached to your keychain, which can charge up anything with a Lightning connector super quickly and takes up virtually no room at all.

Connection: USB-A to Apple Lightning
Cable: Lightning
Compatible Devices: Every iPhone up to the 14


Why It Made the Cut
  • Penny boards has been staple on college campuses for decades thanks to their small form factor and classic design.

Best Skateboard: We’ve all been the victim of poor planning at one time or another — which, in college, might mean planning classes at every corner of campus with very little time to get from place to place. Well, you can manage that seemingly impossible scheduling issue by hopping on a Penny cruiser to get from place to place. Just make sure you avoid campus security, as they probably won’t take a liking to your skateboarding, even though it’s definitely not a crime.

Deck Length: 56 Centimeters
Weight: 4.3 Pounds
Material: Plastic
Wheel Size: 59 Millimeters


Why It Made the Cut
  • Your devices will need a pick-me-up at some point, and this portable charger is perfect because it’s small, yet offers 18W of fast charging.

Best Portable Power: The above is handy if you have an outlet. If you don’t, however, there’s the mophie Powerstation Plus XL you see here with its whopping 12,000 mAh battery, built-in USB-A, USB-C, and Lightning connectors, and Qi-enabled wireless charge capabilities. For those who utilize tech on a daily basis on the go, this can be a lifesaver.

Connection: USB-A, USB-C, Lightning, Wireless
Capacity: 12,000 mAh
Fast Charging: 18W USB-C


Why It Made the Cut
  • There’s no denying the limited amount of ports Apple’s USB-C laptops have, so this adapter is a great solution for that.

Best Adapter: For whatever reason, computer manufacturers appeared to all collectively decide that a pair of USB hookups was plenty. If you, like us, have found that to be untrue, you can expand your options with the Satechi Aluminum Type-C Pro Hub Adapter, which increases the USB ports and adds on a few others — like a pair of card readers.

Ports: USB-C PD charging port (up to 87W), 4K HDMI (60Hz) video, USB-C data port (up to 40 Gbps), 2 USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gbps), and Micro/SD card reader (UHS-I).
Compatible Devices: Every USB-C Apple laptop


Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Why It Made the Cut
  • Few e-readers have had as much staying power as the Kindle, and it’s because the device is still one of the best you can get, with a paper-like display that’s easy on the eyes.

Best E-Reader: You can save a lot on your daily load, at least regarding weight, if you pick up some of your required reading in a digital format and stash it on the Kindle Paperwhite. This handy e-reader can hold literally thousands of books and, as an added bonus, it is waterproof. That means you could study by the pool without worry if you’re so inclined.

Capacity: 8GB or 16GB
Battery: 28 hours
Screen Size: 6.8″


Why It Made the Cut
  • While the jury is still out on whether blue light is harmful, it certainly disrupts your sleep, so having a sleek pair of protective glasses from Warby Parkers is a nice solution.

Best Blue Light Glasses: Though the verdict is still out on the true impact of blue light on your focus, it can’t hurt to consider the possible benefits of blue-light-blocking glasses and their impact on your eye strain and sleep. That’s especially true if you get a pair that is as stylish as Warby Parker’s glasses — which can be made with your prescription or as sunglasses for just $50 over the $95 intro price.

Material: Cellulose acetate
Lens Material: Polycarbonate
Protection: Blue light, 100% UV, anti-glare


Why It Made the Cut
  • Leatherman makes some of the best multi-tools you can get, and this one is perfect for quick fixes in your dorm or apartment.

Best Multi-Tool: Regardless of your status as a student, you should have a multi-tool at your disposal. Truly, they are wildly useful, especially when you need to make a DIY fix on the go. And they just don’t get better than Leatherman’s offerings, including the tech-focused Charge+ you see here. It’s made from solid steel and boasts a whopping 19+ functions in a format that can be stashed in your pocket between uses — and that’s not half bad.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 19
Closed Length: 4.0”
Blade Steel: 420HC Stainless Steel


Why It Made the Cut
  • This handy hard drive is nearly indestructible, and perfect for storing important school work and projects on.

Best Hard Drive: Long gone are the days of physical media, at least for the most part. And that means that modern college students need different ways to haul along all their assignments and whatever else they might need to truck from place to place. Keep all your files safe and secure anywhere and everywhere you go with the rugged LaCie external hard drive you see here — which can be bought with anywhere from 1-5TB of storage space.

Available Storage Options: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Connectivity: USB 3.0
Resistance: Shock, dust, and water-resistant (4ft of drop protection)


Aer Tech Pack 2
Why It Made the Cut
  • Aer is an SF-based bag company making futuristic and dependable backpacks like the Tech Pack 2.

Best Backpack: If you’re going to haul all this gear with you every single day, especially along with your textbooks, you’re going to need a bag that can handle all of it. Well, the technology-focused Aer Tech Pack is exactly what you need with its sturdy weatherproof construction, outstanding organizational scheme, 18.5L capacity, and drop-dead-gorgeous minimalist appearance.

Capacity: 17L
Exterior Material: 840D nylon with DWR finish
Laptop Sleeve: 16″

adidas Ultraboost Light Gore-TEx Running Shoes

adidas Ultraboost Light GORE TEX Running Shoes 0 Hero
Why It Made the Cut
  • adidas is here to make your long campus commutes more comfortable (and dry) with these GORE-TEX Ultraboost runners.

Best Runners: Though you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting down, it can be a bit exhausting to walk from one side of campus to the other (and possibly back again). But you can do it in comfort and, perhaps more importantly, style with the adidas Ultraboost Light GORE-TEX Running sneakers you see here. They look great in every colorway, but they’re also extremely comfortable, thanks to the BOOST midsole found inside, and waterproof, thanks to the GORE-TEX.

Upper: Textile
Midsole: BOOST
Oustole: Stretchweb outsole with Continental™ WinterGrip™ Rubber


Why It Made the Cut
  • Patagonia’s outdoor gear speaks for itself, and this warm puffy jacket is an ideal winter choice as it’s easy to pack down and carry around campus.

Best Jacket: Even in the middle of summer, it can be a good idea to bring a jacket with you to class, as some college classrooms are downright frigid. Well, Patagonia’s Nano Puff Jacket will keep you toasty warm even in the chilliest of rooms. And it packs down super small for when you don’t need it — or if you want to just use it as a pillow to catch some Zs until your next class.

Shell: 1.4-oz 20-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop
Lining: 1.3-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop
Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation
Fit: Regular


Sony WH 1000XM5
Why It Made the Cut
  • These are some of the best (if not the best) over-ear noise-cancelling headphones out right now, with around 30 hours of battery life and AI-powered noise reduction.

Best Headphones: Staying focused can be quite a task in a crowded college quad, cafeteria, or even your dorm. As such, you should absolutely have a pair of noise-canceling headphones as a part of your everyday carry. And they just don’t get better — especially from a noise-canceling perspective — than Sony’s current-gen tech, which can be found in the WH-1000XM5 wireless over-ear headphones you see here, featuring AI-powered noise reduction and a whopping 30 hours of listening time.

Battery: ~30 hours
Drivers: 30mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: Alexa compatibility, AI-powered noise reduction, touch controls, multipoint connection


Why It Made the Cut
  • The latest and greatest Apple Watch, built with the new and powerful S9 chip, and featuring tap gestures for added functionality.

Best Smartwatch: No existing smartwatch comes close to the popularity and functionality of the Apple Watch. Truly, it’s the most user-friendly option on the market, and it just keeps getting better. Well, the Series 9 (the current generation) can now sports the latest S9 chip, added convenient tap gestures, and it still has tons of other spectacular features that have carried over and been improved from previous versions.

Features: S9 chip, double-tap gestures, wrist gestures, Siri + Health, Namedrop
Case Sizes: 45mm or 41mm
Resistances: 50M water-resistant
Chip: S9
Battery: 18 hours


Why It Made the Cut
  • Other than the Nintendo Switch, this is easily the best handheld console released in the last decade, offering full access to your Steam library (and other PC games) in the palm of your hand.

Best Handheld Gaming Device: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right? Well, that goes for college, too. For the moments when your brain needs a breather, you can’t find a better distraction than the upcoming Steam Deck, which is pretty much a fully functional gaming PC pared down into a portable format, not unlike the Nintendo Switch but with a lot more functionality.

Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
Battery: 40Whr battery (2-8 hours of gameplay)
Display: 1280 x 800 optically bonded LCD display

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

Apple iPhone 15 Pro
Why It Made the Cut
  • Clad in titanium, the lates iPhone Pro is rocking Apple’s insanely fast A17 Pro chip, and very high-quality triple camera sysyem.

Best Smartphone: Pretty much since the first iteration, Apple’s iPhone has set the standard for smartphones around a fairly large chunk of the world. If you don’t already have one, it might be a good idea to update to the 15 Pro or even the Pro Max with its exceptional camera array, beautiful display, and so much more. You really don’t need us to tell you how great the iPhone is.

Features: A17 pro chip, titanium body, Pro zoom, customizable action button, USB-C port
Chip: A17 Pro
Cameras: 48MP main camera, 3x or 5x telephoto camera, Ultra Wide camera
Video Playback Time: 23 hours
Dimensions: 6.1″
Available Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB


Apple MacBook Pro M3
Why It Made the Cut
  • Much like the new A17 chip, the new M3 chip is setting the bar for laptops to come, offering blazingly fast performance and now even the ability to run AAA games without breaking a sweat.

Best Laptop: Especially now that it comes equipped with the revolutionary M3 chipset, Apple’s MacBook Pro is one of the hands-down best folding computers around. That goes double if your college experience includes any measure of design — graphic or otherwise — or visual arts. For college, we’re fans of the easily packable 14″ version, but both size options are phenomenal and stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Inside: Apple M3 chip with 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
Memory: 8GB unified memory
Storage: 1TB SSD storage
Display: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Battery Life: ~18 hours

The Best Backpacks For College Students

The Best College Backpacks 00 Hero
Photo: Aer Tech Pack 2

With all of this new gear, you’re going to need something in which to haul it. Lucky for you, we’ve already rounded up 20 of the best college backpacks currently available — so you can ace your higher education pursuits from day one.