Life·13 min read

Back-to-School Supplies You’ll Want Even if You’re Not in School

back-to-school supplies for the upcoming year
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Free Period Press, Amazon, Loftie
Aug 8, 2022

This post was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated.

Products you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

Back-to-school season always makes us feel excited — if just for nostalgia’s sake and the thrill of new supplies. Fresh planners, new pens, and desk gadgets that’ll keep your setup clean and tidy? Our inner child who loves gel pens and Lisa Frank is jumping for joy.

If you’re heading back to school, we rounded up the items to get you ready for the busy year ahead. And TBH, even if you’re not in school, these products will be just as useful for your everyday commute or WFH sitch. If only we could hit up a Scholastic Book Fair. Sigh, those were the days.

A collapsible silicone coffee cup that’ll make your morning commute easier…

With this on-the-go mug, you’ll be able to drink your cup of java while heading to class (or work). Once you’re done, you can collapse it down and toss it in your backpack. It’s incredibly compact and won’t hog space or create waste (and that’s pretty cool). ($15+, Amazon)

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A vegan leather pencil case…

Your Lisa Frank one from middle school just got an upgrade. This little bag comes in 11 colors and can even be personalized with initials or your fave phrase. Plus, it has a secure handle and zippered top so you don’t have to worry about its contents spilling out into your bag. Being organized has never been so cute. ($16.70+, BomaPatches via Etsy)

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A eucalyptus sheet set that feels like silk and can fit dorm beds…

Made from sustainable materials, these sheets will be the perfect end to a long day of studying at the library. They’re antimicrobial, cooling, and hypoallergenic. If you’re skeptical, you can test 'em out for up to 30 nights and then return if needed, no questions asked. ($145+, Sijo)

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A laptop case that’ll have everyone saying, ‘Where’d ya get that?’...

This puffy case for both 13- and 14-inch laptops provides added protection so you can have peace of mind when it comes time to transport your most valuable companion. Oh, and it’s machine washable and comes in a number of fun prints too. So cute that you’ll wanna hold it instead of keeping it in your bag. ($32, Baggu)

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Comfy Allbirds sneakers to wear on your commute…

…And then cute enough to keep on all day. They’re machine washable and ultra lightweight. And the knit is breathable, so steamy temps won’t be a bother. Did we mention the midsole is made from sugarcane? It’s bouncy, contoured, and carbon-neutral. Whether you’re walking to class or running some errands, you deserve to get your steps in in comfort and style. ($105, Allbirds)

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An adorable art print any book lover will want on their wall…

Looking to zhuzh up your space for the school year ahead? Artist Jane Mount has a wide array of prints, tote bags, and mugs covered in stacks of iconic books. This one features famous coming-of-age ones, like “Lord of the Flies,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It’ll make for great WFH inspiration and is a solid conversation starter. Your virtual meeting background just got a whole lot cooler. ($34+, Jane Mount via Etsy)

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A lightweight notepad to help with your crazy schedule…

This one’s great for everyone in your life (kiddos included). Sometimes you just want to be able to visualize your daily tasks and schedule with good ol’-fashioned pen and paper. Because there’s nothing like crossing off a task once it’s completed. Each page = a new day broken down by the hour. Get her done. ($18, Amazon)

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An unscented hand sanitizer that keeps your skin hydrated…

Back to school = back to touching a million different surfaces from textbooks to cafeteria cups. Yeah, you’ll wanna carry a sanitizer on you at all times. Touchland’s power mist is fragrance-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and made with aloe vera and essential oils. Psst: If you do happen to prefer a fragranced option — they’ve got plenty of delicious scents too. Germs, be gone. ($9, Touchland)

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A personalized lunch box you can put in the shared fridge… 

This bamboo box gives you the option to have your name laser-engraved on the lid. It’s the perfect size for a quick salad or sandwich and comes with a band to secure the lid in place. We love its pastel color options and eco-friendly bamboo materials. For more of our fave adult lunch boxes, click here. ($25.34, KeepThingsPersonal via Etsy)

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An over-the-door shoe organizer that’ll allow for more closet space…

Keeping all your sneakers, boots, and heels stacked on the ground? Not very ideal when you’ve got minimal closet space. This hanger lifts everything off the floor so you can see all your pairs at once. No more fumbling to find that second sneaker when you’re just trying to head to the gym. ($9.97+, Amazon)

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Noise-canceling, wireless earbuds you can keep in your pocket…

From listening to music while studying to following a lecture, these earbuds will come in handy more times than you can count. If you need to hear what’s going on around you, hop into transparency mode so you can chat quickly with a friend. To control the buds, all you’ve gotta do is tap 'em. They’ll connect with your phone and laptop via Bluetooth, and can play up to 10 hours on a single charge. ($59.99, Amazon)

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A digital detox workbook since you’ll be spending a ton of time looking at a screen…

For those who are attending classes via Zoom — or who just wanna cut back on time spent endlessly scrolling — taking a break from screens is crucial. This workbook can help you press pause on the constant need to be online. From checking emails to scrolling through Instagram, sometimes you (and your eyes) just need a break. ($12, Free Period Press)

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An Amazon Prime Student membership that has a ton of perks…

You’ll get access to Prime Delivery, Prime Video, Prime Reading, and Prime Music, early access to deals, and so much more. It’ll come in handy when you’re looking for dorm essentials or just wanna watch a movie after a long week of work. All you’ve gotta do is explore the offers (including food delivery perks) and sign up. Psst...the first six months are free. (Sign up here, Amazon)

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A portable charger so your phone never dies…

Better safe than sorry. When you’re running around campus or working all day on a project, the last thing you wanna see is a low-battery warning. This is one of those staples that’s great to keep in a backpack for emergencies. You’ll truly never regret having it on hand. Psst..Skimm HQ loves this magnetic, splurge-worthy option too. ($21.99+, Amazon)

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A laptop cleaner for all those fingerprints and crumbs your computer collects…

The microfiber pad removes icky prints and smudges from the screen, while the soft brush sweeps away any dirt and leftover crumbs from your most recent snack. When not in use, you can pop the cover over the pad and retract the brush so both stay clean and protected in your desk drawer. Midnight munch while you’re writing a paper? No one will ever know. ($11.95, Amazon)

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A brand-new backpack to hold all your valuable items…

Ah, possibly the most important school item there is. This backpack is your home base. It’s stylish and functional: It has a padded laptop pocket, a spill-resistant water bottle pocket, a top pocket for glasses and small items, and a hidden side pocket for a phone or keys. It’s also made with waxed canvas from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, 100% recycled polyester lining and trim, algae-based foam, and water-repellant neoprene. Aka it’s great for you and even better for planet Earth. ($109, Day Owl)

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An undated planner that’ll help you keep track of all your upcoming assignments…

Looking to stay on top of your game? Say hello to your new best friend. This planner will help you stay on top of your routine, meetings with professors, and an ever-growing to-do list. It’s got daily spreads, with room to jot down shopping lists and reminders. You = booked and busy. ($12.99, Ban.do)

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Clips that will organize all the charging cables hanging from your desk…

Instead of having a jungle of cables rest on the floor, these clips will hold them in place. Each one has a sticky back, so you can place it wherever you need a wire available. When you’re running low on battery, you’ll have a clip waiting at the ready. ($5.88+/6 pack, Amazon)

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A car visor extender for anyone who drives to and from class…

Morning and evening commutes can be tiring, and getting a glare on your windshield can be a huge driving hazard. One thing is for certain: Good visibility is a must. This extender attaches to the driver’s seat built-in visor and can dim the brightness of oncoming headlights. Safety first. ($22.88, Amazon)

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An alarm clock that's also a Bluetooth speaker, night light, and noise machine...

Loftie does it all. And with a two-phase alarm, you won't dread waking up in the morning. The first alarm gently stirs you, while the second is designed to get you out of bed. Plus, the tones are meant to be soothing. You can schedule different alarms for separate days of the week. To explore what your clock can do, you can download the compatible phone app. Sweet dreams. PS: Use the code ​​SKIMMFALL for 15% off at checkout. ($149, Loftie)

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An RBG-inspired pen you can refill…

Think about how often you write during the school year. To help reduce the amount of pens you toss in the trash, this long-lasting ballpoint pen has a large ink supply. Once you do run out, you can refill it and get going. And if you’re craving some old-school writing supplies, we highly suggest these gel pens. Your planner is just begging to be decorated with colorful doodles. ($8.95, Seltzer Goods)

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A white noise machine with 20 sounds to choose from…

You can go from a babbling brook to a bonfire to bird chirps. Everything is adjustable to help you find your perfect options, with 32 volume levels and five timer settings to choose from. This way you can stop focusing on street noise or the sounds of a roommate still awake. Rest is always essential, and especially when you’ve got an early morning class. ($23.99, Amazon)

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