There’s more to back-to-school shopping than fairy lights and Scarface posters. From innovative gadgets to good old-fashioned notebooks, some products can make student life much more comfortable.
Whether you’re off to a dorm for the first time, starting grad school, or getting a degree online, the 15 items we’ve rounded up here should make life easier so you can focus more on what matters most: learning!
1. Anker Powercore II Portable Charger ($35.99; amazon.com)
A portable charger is a must-have for long days spent bouncing between classes and the library. Anker’s Powercore II will recharge your phone an average of three times yet is sleek enough to fit in your pocket. (Be sure to check out our recommendations for the best portable charger for every situation too.)
2. Amazon Prime Student Subscription ($6.49/month; amazon.com)
Whether you’re in the market for textbooks, dorm gear or just a new show to stream as a study break, it’s definitely worth getting a Prime subscription. Amazon has pretty much everything you’ll need for school these days, and two-day shipping is hard to beat. Students even get their first six months of Prime for free!
3. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones ($349; amazon.com)
Noise-canceling headphones are essential when you need to cram but your roommate has decided it’s the perfect time to work on an acoustic rendition of “Wonderwall.” Bose’s QuietComfort series headphones are some of the best around, though if you’re on a tighter budget or less serious about sound quality, Cowin’s E7 Noise-Canceling Headphones ($53.99; amazon.com) are a solid, far cheaper option.
4. DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock ($19.99; amazon.com)
Using your phone as your only alarm is setting yourself up to be distracted. Remove the temptation to scroll Instagram for three hours before bed with this small yet mighty alarm clock, which offers an easy-to-read digital display, intuitive interface, and adjustable brightness and volume controls.
5. Linenspa Shredded Foam Reading Pillow ($39.99; amazon.com)
This reading pillow from Linenspa is covered with super soft velour and packed with shredded memory foam, to help you stay comfortable when you’re studying in bed.
6. Hydro Flask Water Bottle ($44.95-$99.99; amazon.com)
Hydro Flask makes quality insulated bottles in a bunch of different sizes, all of which will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot through back-to-back lectures or long library sessions.
7. TIJN Blue Light Blocking Glasses ($16.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
Even if you have perfect vision, your eyes can get tired after staring at a computer screen all day. Glasses like these are designed to reduce glare and filter out blue light to help combat eyestrain and fatigue.
8. Mzoo Sleep Eye Mask ($14.99, originally $17.99; amazon.com)
This mask features contoured memory foam that gently blocks out light without putting pressure on your eyes — perfect for when your roommate starts getting up at 5:00 a.m. for swim practice (or you just really need an afternoon power nap). It comes with two pairs of earplugs plus a travel pouch.
9. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard ($139; amazon.com)
An ergonomic keyboard is designed to keep your hands, wrists and arms in more natural positions than a standard keyboard. Microsoft’s highly rated Sculpt keyboard is split at an angle to encourage more neutral forearm position, while its domed shape helps keep your wrists comfy as you knock out those term papers.
10. Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook ($15.42, originally $16.99; amazon.com)
Whether you’re trying to avoid internet distractions or just learn better when you write things out by hand, taking notes in an actual notebook can be a nice change of pace. This popular, high-quality pick from Moleskine is small and light, yet sturdy enough to toss in your bag without worrying about your notes getting damaged.
11. Honeywell 15-Inch Table Fan ($27.49, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
Don’t count on being able to control the temperature of your dorm room — something that can make the start and end of the school year pretty rough (and sweaty). Cool down with a compact, quiet fan like this highly rated option from Honeywell.
12. Keurig K-Mini Single-Serve Coffee Maker ($69.99, originally $89.99; target.com)
A cute mini Keurig that’s the perfect size to provide your caffeine fix in the comfort of your dorm room or small apartment.
13. Belkin 8-Outlet Surge Protector ($19.59; amazon.com)
You need a surge protector for two reasons. First, power strips aren’t always allowed in dorm rooms, but a surge protector will give you enough outlets to plug in all your gear; and second, it’ll protect your laptop from getting fried during a power surge, which is a possibility given that many dorms were built decades ago and the wiring can get overloaded with all the electronics people use nowadays. (On that note, a surge protector can also be helpful if you live an apartment building with older wiring!) There are slightly less expensive models out there, but Belkin’s is a sure investment.
14. Matein Laptop Backpack ($31.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
Carting books to and from class can take its toll on your body. Protect your shoulders and your laptop with a supportive backpack like this sturdy, water-resistant option from Matein, which features a padded sleeve that’ll fit a 15-inch laptop plus a built-in USB charging port. If you’d prefer a more mature-looking option, AmazonBasics Messenger-Style Laptop Bag ($14.99; amazon.com) is another highly rated and comfortable choice.
15. AmazonBasics Electric Kettle ($20.99; amazon.com)
This compact stainless steel kettle makes it quick and easy to prepare snacks like ramen, oatmeal or tea — perfect for when you need a study break but the dining hall is closed, or you just don’t have time to whip up a whole meal.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.