Back-to-School College Essentials to Keep in Your Backpack

Back-to-School College Essentials to Keep in Your Backpack

With back to school around the corner, here's how we pack to prepare! These are our everyday essentials you actually need! Don't forget to pack these college essentials in your school bag.

Laptop Backpack


The best backpack for college is one that you can use for all the occasions: from carrying multiple textbooks and a laptop without falling apart, to going on a weekend getaway with your pals. You want it to be durable, comfortable to wear, and have a large capacity for all your school essentials. Our pick is the Dolores Commuter & Weekender Backpack as it has a padded laptop sleeve to fit a 13” laptop, and compartments to organize everything you’ll need once you step out of the dorm. Two elastic loops can hold water-bottles and thermoses upright so you can stay hydrated and caffeinated without spilling your drink everywhere. 

Laptop or iPad with keyboard

To work on all your papers in between classes or take digital notes, you’ll want something portable and easy to use. For college life, we recommend a 13” or 11” laptop or an iPad with a keyboard case. Unless you need a lot of processing power for software related to your major, we recommend prioritizing portability, lightweight, and comfortable keyboard.

Chargers & cables / portable charger

Nothing’s worse than your laptop dying in the middle of your assignment! Avoid this by making sure you pack your charger (there are great small multiport ones like this anker one), and a portable charger (with cables) for your phone so you can work and stay in touch with your friends all day. 

Reusable water bottle / Thermos 

If you’re walking and biking around campus all day, you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated! Keep a reusable water bottle to refill on campus throughout the day so you don’t need to spend money on plastic water bottles or soda. A thermos is a great idea if you’re always sipping on tea or coffee so you can refill in the dining hall before you hunker down for a study sesh. 

Noise canceling headphones or earbuds

Not only will these be handy for listening to music, it’s also a great tool to tune out all the ambient noise while working in the library or student lounge. 

Small notebook 

Even if you prefer taking digital notes, some professors don’t like laptops out during lectures so you’ll want to have one just in case. Personally I also like physical notetaking as I can quickly doodle charts and images to help illustrate notes to make them more memorable. 

Pen, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener

Don't forget these essentials for notetaking and test taking! Personally I also like to study with colorful pens, highlighters, index cards, and sticky notes. Depending on your classes, you may want to pack a calculator, ruler, etc. 

Folder / Binder

Don’t turn in a scrunched up wrinkled paper that got beat up in the bottom of your backpack. A folder or slim binder is a great way to keep papers organized and neat. 

Mini stapler 

Far too many times have I gone straight from the computer lab to print out my paper to class, only to realize I don’t have a way to keep pages together to turn in. A mini stapler is great to avoid having to do some weird folding at the corner and appearing unprepared to your professor and TA. 

Handsanitizer & Mask 

In the age of Covid, this needs no further explanation. 

Card Holder

You’ll need to use your student ID for so many things on campus so you need to keep it safe and in an easy to reach place. We like the Kelso Card Pouch for this, as it will fit your student ID, CCs, keys, cash, driver’s license, and even coins for laundry. Grab it each time you head out so you don’t get locked out again. 


Compact Umbrella 

Depending on the season or where you go to school, a compact umbrella may come in clutch during the rainy season. A small one that folds up is great as you can tuck it into the elastic holder of the Dolores Backpack (there’s two, so the other one can hold your water bottle up right), and you won’t forget it below your chair when you leave class. 

Mini first aid kit 

Keep a few commonly needed meds and bandages in your bag so if you or a friend gets hurt, you’ll be ready to help. 


If you’re trying to cut down on buying junk food on campus while studying or waiting for your next class, bring your own healthy / cheaper options so you can stay satiated. 


Did we miss anything you love to carry to campus? Let us know in a comment below!

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