10 Back-to-School Products to Add to Your Shopping List

Back-to-school season is the busiest, most exhausting, and—with these products—most enjoyable time of year.

Start the new school year off right with these useful essentials.
Start the new school year off right with these useful essentials. / Yulia Naumenko, Moment Collection, Getty Images
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Before you know it, your long days (and often longer nights) will be booked with group projects, research papers, and probably some social events, too. It can be difficult to adjust to the sudden onslaught of new responsibilities that come during back-to-school season, but it can help if you feel prepared. Take a look at our list of the best school supplies to grab now, to ensure that you’re well-equipped for whatever the new semester throws at you.

1. Echo Pop Smart Speaker; $40

Best back to school supplies: Echo Pop Smart Speaker
Echo Pop Smart Speaker / Amazon

Whether you’re looking to vibe to some music or just check the weather so you know what to wear to class, this all-new smart speaker from Amazon is up for the task. The Echo Pop can deliver full, robust audio quality but is still sleek and compact enough to fit into a small corner in an office room. This Alexa-enabled gadget can also answer questions you might have, play podcasts, and even be used to control compatible smart home devices (like lights) via voice control or the Alexa app. As it’s available in four colors (including a cute lavender hue), you can also find one that best suits your home’s interior design.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Rocketbook Everlast Fusion; From $22

Best back to school products: Rocketbook Everlast Fusion
Rocketbook Everlast Fusion / Amazon

Do yourself and the environment a favor and check out the Rocketbook Everlast Fusion, a notebook with 42 reusable pages that will prevent you from ever having to buy another sheet of paper. With seven different page templates for planning, listing, goal-setting, note-taking, sketching, scheduling, and sharing big ideas, the Rocketbook is perfect for students of all ages and disciplines.

It comes with one erasable Pilot FriXion pen, and you can also use any other Pilot FriXion utensils on it, markers and highlighters included. What happens when you’ve written on all 42 pages and you’d like to save your work? Simply scan your pages with the free Rocketbook app and upload them to the cloud service of your choice—Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, iCloud, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Neo Chair Adjustable Mesh Office Chair; From $45

Best back to school supplies: Neo Chair Adjustable Mesh Office Chair
Neo Chair Adjustable Mesh Office Chair / Neo Chair / Amazon

As the overall no. 1 bestseller on Amazon for office chairs, this adjustable swivel one from Neo Chair is definitely worth grabbing ahead of the new school year, especially if your current chair has seen better days. Beyond its budget-friendly price (it’s priced starting at under $50) and ample glowing reviews (more than 17,000 shoppers have given it a whirl), this mesh-backed number can hold up to 250 pounds and is highly ventilated, meaning you’re less likely to work up a sweat while sitting—unless the project you’re working on happens to be a real pain. You can also choose from four shades and opt to lock it in a tilted or upright position, for maximum comfort while you study.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bob Ross 16-Month 2024 Planner Calendar; $18

Best back to school products: Bob Ross 16-Month 2024 Planner Calendar
Bob Ross 16-Month 2024 Planner Calendar / Universe Publishing / Amazon

Because Bob Ross understands the importance of going with the flow, this calendar goes by weekly spreads. It kicks off for September 2023 and covers 16 months, through to December 2024, and features picturesque, tranquil Bob Ross paintings (and quotes) throughout. You can also personalize your calendar entries with Bob Ross-themed stickers, featuring catchphrases like “Be a gentle whisper,” “Just relax and watch it happen,” and “Let’s get crazy!”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Plugable Bluetooth Portable Keyboard; $50

Best back to school supplies: Plugable Bluetooth Portable Keyboard
Plugable Bluetooth Portable Keyboard / Plugable / Amazon

Unburden yourself (and your possibly overstuffed tote bag) from the need to carry around both your tablet and laptop by investing in this portable Bluetooth keyboard that folds into a package smaller than a paperback book and has separate compatibility modes for Android, iOS, and Windows.

You only have to charge it once every few weeks, but don’t worry about forgetting—you can always plug it right into your device with the included USB cord. The handy gadget also comes with a case, which doubles as a stand for your electronic device.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler with Lid and Straw; From $20

Best back to school products: Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler with Lid and Straw
Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler with Lid and Straw / Stanley / Amazon

These hip water bottles from Stanley are one of the internet’s latest obsessions—over on TikTok and Instagram, millions have been joining in to hype up these stainless steel tumblers. Available in five sizes (from 14- to 64-ounce varieties) and 18 different shades, they come with a special rotating lid and offer double-walled, vacuum insulation that will not only keep your beverage hot for up to seven hours, but also ice cold for up to two days, depending on the size. Even better, the durable construction will help prevent condensation from forming on the bottle and soaking whatever school assignments you’ve got tucked inside your backpack.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack; From $57

Best back-to-school products: Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack
Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack / Amazon

Herschel backpacks have become a standard for students, professionals, and practically all other people, in part because there’s a color or pattern to match every unique personality. In addition to representing your individuality, they’ll also last you many years, keep your shoulders comfortable with padded straps, and provide you with the perfect amount of space to store your laptop, schoolbooks, case files, overnight toiletries, and snacks.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Wireless Earbuds; $225

Best back to school products: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation), is pictured.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) / Apple / Amazon

Music-streaming services like Spotify make it possible for you to create an epic soundtrack for your life virtually everywhere you go, whether it’s a simple walk between classes or a backyard barbecue with your roommates and 50 of your closest friends.

Apple’s much-loved AirPods Pro offer a way to enjoy more immersive sound and active noise cancellation, so you can toggle seamlessly between personal listening and enjoying the scenery. Thanks to personalized spatial audio, you can also get the sounds tuned just for you, and when you use the charging case, you can get up to 30 hours of total listening time, even with active noise cancellation enabled—which gives this set an edge over earlier AirPods Pro models.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Taotree Fineliner Color Pens, Pack of 24; $7 with the on-page coupon

Best back to school products: Taotree Fineliner Color Pens, Pack of 24
Taotree Fineliner Color Pens, Pack of 24 / Taotree / Amazon

Taotree’s Fineliner pens are a bullet journaler’s best friend, but you don’t have to be a master of organization to take advantage of these 24 brightly colored, versatile utensils. You could use them to color-code your class notes, pair them with a coloring book for the ultimate de-stressing session, or design your own fine-ink drawings. They dry quickly, won’t bleed through your paper, and have a soft-edged triangular shape for easy gripping. With an average 4.6-star review on Amazon, these popular pens will add color and character to all of your written projects.

Buy it: Amazon

9. PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag; $20

Best back to school supplies: PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag
PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag / PackIt / Amazon

With PackIt’s freezable lunch bag, you’ll never again have to jam ice packs around your meal-prepped containers—as long as you remember to pop the bag in the freezer the night before you’re planning to use it. The walls are insulated with a freezing gel that will refrigerate your food until you’re ready for lunch. It zips closed to keep the cold in, collapses for easy storage, and includes a plastic buckle on the top so you can easily clip it to your backpack or bag. It also comes in a lively assortment of designs like cartoon cats, unicorns, mermaids, and cherries (and, of course, many more traditional patterns like polka dots, stripes, and camouflage).

Buy it: Amazon

10. Yuc Magnetic Dry-Erase Board; From $10

Best back to school supplies: Yuc Magnetic Dry-Erase Board
Yuc Magnetic Dry-Erase Board / Amazon

Whether you need to leave chore-related messages on the fridge for your roommates or homework-related messages for yourself in your locker, Yuc has a magnetic dry-erase board in every size for every situation. The smallest is 12 inches by 8 inches, the largest is 29 inches by 21 inches, and there are even weekly and monthly options so you can see your schedule at eye level. The boards are stain- and wrinkle-resistant, and each comes with a rectangular magnetic eraser, plus five different-colored fine-tipped markers whose caps also double as magnetic erasers.

Buy it: Amazon

A version of this article was originally published in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.