Our Ultimate College Packing List—30+ Essentials You Won't Want to Forget
When you're going through your college packing list, checking and double-checking (and triple-checking) each item off the list, the sheer amount of stuff you'll need for the year ahead can be overwhelming. We get it. So to make packing as easy as possible, we've rounded up exactly what to bring to college. From a cozy cotton comforter to the best desk organizers, we've covered all of the bases. And once you check every item off the list, you can rest assured your college essentials are covered. College packing done in record time? Great, get out there and enjoy those last days of summer.
1 A Sleek Laptop With Impressive Battery Life
No matter if you're heading back to the lecture hall or attending virtual classes, this laptop will help you stay on track. Not only is the Dell XPS 13 laptop shockingly lightweight (it weighs less than 3 pounds!), but it also offers 14 hours of battery life, so you can tote it to class, the cafe, the library—and still have enough juice left to stream a movie at night. Even though the 13-inch screen is small enough to carry around all day, it has InfinityEdge display to maximize the screen for the most cinematic experience possible.
Choose between a silver exterior with black interior or frost exterior with white interior to customize the XPS 13 to match your style. From study sessions to TV time, you're going to live on this laptop for the next four years.
2 A Backpack That Reflects Your Personality
When you're starting at a new school, the backpack you bring to every single class says a lot about you. So choose one that reflects your style. Luckily, Society6 makes it easy, offering one-of-a-kind designs by hundreds of thousands of artists. No matter if your style is modern, sophisticated, or subdued, you'll find the perfect design. For those who don't want to look like everyone else in the class, this is the perfect site to order some creative statement pieces. Beyond backpacks, Society6 also offers wall art, throw pillows, and rugs to spruce up your dorm room.
3 Protective (and Patterned) Laptop Sleeve
No matter if you're dorming, commuting, or studying remotely this year, you will need a reliable laptop. And to protect that all-important tech device, you'll want a laptop sleeve. While you can always order the same boring laptop sleeve as everyone else in your class, why not stand out with a stylish patterned one instead? We love this cheery orange grove design.
Whether you're calling into a virtual class or listening to music on a run, you'll reach for these convenient, wireless earbuds every single day. Each charge provides four hours of playtime, and the Qi charging case is included. Reviewers confirm that these earbuds are comfortable and have excellent sound quality.
5 A Durable Suitcase
No matter if you're moving into a dorm room across the country or across town, a reliable suitcase will serve a dual purpose. It will help transport your clothes to your new home, and then can be used for any future trips and even a semester abroad.
If you see lots of weekend excursions and quick trips home in your future, opt for the Bigger Carry-On. To be ready for study abroad, the Medium is a spacious checked bag that's built to last. Invest in both for a complete set that will see you through everything.
6 An Ultra-Cozy, Reversible Comforter
For a dorm bed, skip the cumbersome duvet cover you'll always put off washing and opt for an easy-to-clean comforter instead. That way, when you accidentally spill coffee on it during a late-night study session, you can simply toss it in the washer and dryer.
This option is the perfect combination of an unbeatable price, twin XL sizing, and solid colors that work in any space. Plus, it's reversible, so when you get bored of one shade, flip it over for a refresh. We see many Netflix nights and movie marathons spent snuggled up in this comforter.
Mark your calendars, Target shoppers: From August 15 to August 21, 2021, college students are eligible for $15 off every $50 spent on household essentials.
7 Comfortable Bed Sheets
Our advice: Pack at least two sets of bed sheets to bring along to college. That way, when one set is in the wash, you'll have a spare set to put on your bed. To make laundry day a little more fun, buy one set of sheets in white or a solid color you love and a second in an on-trend pattern, like this black-and-white grid. Even if you opt for a solid-color comforter you won't get tired of, a pop of pattern underneath will add interest to your dorm design.
8 Pillows (and Don't Forget the Pillowcases!)
If you're moving into a dorm, you'll likely have to bring your own pillows. Think about how many pillows you normally use, and whether you prefer a fluffier or flatter pillow. Then double-check that you have enough pillowcases for every pillow you pack.
Calling all side- and back-sleepers who prefer a pillow that offers sufficient support, this firm density pillow was made for you.
9 Mattress Protector
In truth, a mattress protector isn't the most glamorous thing you'll bring to college, but it's definitely one of the most essential. This zippered mattress protector is waterproof, creating a barrier against bed bugs and allergens. Even in a strange new dorm, you'll be able to breathe a little easier knowing you're guarded against dust mites and bed bugs. Tip: Be sure to check what size mattress your dorm provides so you can get the right fit.
10 A Durable Shower Caddy
If you're living in a dorm with a communal bathroom, you'll likely need a shower caddy to carry your soap and shampoo back and forth to the bathroom. This option comes with a convenient handle, drain holes, and a divider to keep toiletries tidy. Reviewers agree: this flexible tote is extremely sturdy.
11 Fluffy Bath Towels
Most dorm showers generally wouldn't be described as "spa-like," but if anything can help them approach that status, it's Parachute's soft and absorbent bath towels. Designed to dry quickly, they won't get musty. We recommend packing at least two towels so you always have a spare on-hand for laundry day.
Pro tip: White bath towels can be bleached when needed, helping them look fresh for years to come, while a charcoal washcloth is ideal for makeup removal.
12 Laundry Bag
For stashing dirty laundry and transporting it to the laundry room or laundromat, you're going to need a sturdy laundry bag. This mesh option is inexpensive and lightweight, yet reviewers assure us it's very durable. Consider ordering two different color bags so you can pre-sort your laundry ahead of time.
Even better: From now through August 15, 2021, receive 15 percent off of The Container Store's college essentials by texting "STUDENT" to 22922.
13 Extra-Sticky Lint Rollers
Even if you plan to live in T-shirts and sweatpants for the next year, a lint roller will still come in handy when you want to defuzz the pants you accidentally washed alongside your towels. This lint roller is extra-sticky and designed to pick up pet fur—so you know it really works.
Besides de-linting your clothing, try a cleaning tip our home editors swear by and glide the sticky roller over the surface of your desk or counter to pick up crumbs (psst...it also works if you've been eating on your bed and got crumbs on your comforter).
14 A Cohesive Desk Set
Since you'll presumably be spending a lot of time at your desk (right?), jazz it up with a color-coordinated desk set. Poppin makes it incredibly easy to match any color palette and decor style, with hues ranging from minimalist white to blush pink and slate blue.
Really want to keep your desk tidy? Add on some trays to wrangle the erasers and keep papers in their place. Working at your desk will feel much more enjoyable when you're surrounded by supplies in your favorite color.
15 Pens + Pencil Cup
Even if you take most of your notes on your laptop or phone, there will still be times when you'll need to jot down important reminders the old-school way by putting pen to paper. Plus, some classes may have a no-laptops policy—and studies have shown that writing things down by hand may actually help you remember them.
Keep all those pens tidy in a color-coordinated desk organizer.
16 Plenty of Notebooks
To start out, it's a good idea to stock up on more notebooks than you think you'll need, and opt for multi-subject notebooks so you can avoid the inevitable situation of grabbing the wrong notebook before heading to class.
To make sure you're set for the semester, pack several TRU RED premium five-subject notebooks. Each one has 150 sheets, and the removable pocket dividers provide a safe spot to store print-outs. The spiral design keeps the footprint of the notebook to just 8.5-by-11 inches when closed or flipped open—a great space-saver when you're in a lecture hall with limited desk space.
After some small, yet innovative design improvements, the perfect highlighter does exist. The TRU RED Tank Highlighter ditched the rounded design that all too easily rolls off the edge of a desk and opted for a curved square barrel that's both comfortable to grip and won't roll away. The chisel tip means you can make thin or thick lines, while the fluorescent ink is fade-resistant. Each pack comes with five colors: yellow, blue, green, pink, and orange, so you can color-code your notes for each class.
18 Post-it Notes
For jotting down reminders, leaving messages for your roommate, and marking notes in your reading, you're going to need a pack or two (or three) of Post-it Notes. The Marrakech Collection's vivid colors are sure to get your thoughts noticed, no matter if you leave a note in the fridge or tuck one into your textbook.
19 The Best Scissors
If these familiar orange-handled scissors are making you feel nostalgic, there's a good reason for it—they've been around for more than 50 years. This dorm room must-have will help with everything from opening delivery boxes to wrapping birthday presents for your new friends. These trusty scissors have earned themselves a permanent spot on our desks.
20 A Small-Yet-Mighty Fan
The summer heat will most likely continue into the first few weeks of school, so order a tiny fan that's perfectly sized to perch on your desk as you work, and is lightweight enough to bring with you to a friend's dorm or even the library. This Honeywell Turbo on the Go Fan can stand upright on your desk or a shelf, and also has a handle so you can hang it from a wall hook or on a bedpost.
21 Stylish Storage Bins
Tiny dorm rooms are notoriously difficult to keep tidy, but stocking up on multi-purpose organizers can help. This patterned storage bin can stash everything from spare cords and chargers to socks and underwear. They'll help hide unattractive essentials out of sight, whether placed underneath a lofted bed, on a shelf, or in the closet.
22 A Reusable Water Bottle
To stay hydrated as you run between classes, invest in a reusable water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 10 hours, or for up to 30 hours with ice. Dishwasher-safe, this water bottle is also easy to clean and comes with a built-in straw, so you don't have to worry about keeping tabs on (and washing) a separate reusable straw.
Choose from five can't-go-wrong colors, including this sunny saffron hue, aloe green, and lagoon blue.
23 A Reusable Bowl and Cutlery
Even if you plan to eat most of your meals at the dining hall, there will likely be times when you want to make some ramen or order some pizza to eat in your dorm. This reusable option can be used as both a plate or a shallow bowl, and is more environmentally friendly than reaching for the paper plates.
And don't forget the reusable forks and spoons, too!
To fuel study sessions and video game marathons alike, you'll need snacks—and lots of them! Stock up on protein-packed options, like RXBARs, so you'll be less likely to reach for the junk food.
25 An Electric Kettle
Always check the regulations for your specific school, but most dorms allow electric kettles. Use it to make not only tea and coffee, but also late-night snacks of ramen and oatmeal.
26 Reusable Food Containers
Even if you eat in the dining hall most days, you may have snacks or leftovers you'll want to stash in the dorm mini fridge. These food containers with snap-and-lock lids prevent leaks, while the glass is oven-safe, so reheating is easy.
27 Eco-Friendly Sandwich Bags
Skip the single-use plastic bags for storing sandwiches and snacks, and invest instead in a set of endlessly reusable Stasher bags. They're dishwasher- and microwave-safe, so they're easy to clean and make warming up food a cinch.
To label leftovers or claim your lunch, you can write on Stasher bags with permanent marker—don't worry, it will erase with simple soap and water.
28 A Sturdy Tote Bag
From transporting belongings into the dorm, to lugging laundry down to the washing machine, you'll reach for this spacious, durable bag again and again. When not in use, it crunches up small, so it won't take up much space in a drawer or on a closet shelf.
29 Disinfecting Wipes
To keep doorknobs, desks, and nightstands germ-free, keep a pack of Clorox disinfecting wipes on hand. They're now EPA-registered to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Simply wipe them on the surface to clean and let air-dry completely.
If you already have a skincare routine that works for you, remember to order a couple extra bottles now so you know you won't run out before the semester is over. And if you don't already have a routine? Consider starting a basic three-step system: cleanse, tone, moisturize.
Luckily, Thayers facial toner helps on all three fronts, as is cleanses, tones, and moisturizers skin. Made with aloe vera and witch hazel grown on a family farm in Fairfield County, Connecticut, this toner will help your skin feel clean, balanced, and refreshed.
Sure, there will be places to buy shampoo and shower gel on campus, but arriving stocked with your favorites will help ease the transition. This creamy body wash scented with coriander, rosemary, and bergamot will help wake you up in the morning.
Whether it's a difficult exam or basketball practice that's making you sweat, Dove's antiperspirant deodorant has you covered. Plus, the formula is alcohol-free and actually helps moisturize your skin.
33 Hand Sanitizer
To keep your hands germ-free on the go, toss this mini hand sanitizer into your backpack or purse. The spritz top makes it easy to apply and share with friends. Plus, the eucalyptus mint scent is light and refreshing.