Back-to-school season is officially here, and that means it’s time to hunker down and actually look at the required school supplies list. Because whether schools are IRL or virtual this coming fall, you’ll still need the materials to actually complete assignments this school year. While specific items vary depending on grade and area, you can likely find most of your school supply needs at Amazon—and have it arrive at your door fast if you’re shopping last minute thanks to Prime shipping.
From top-rated lunch boxes to the ever-necessary No. 2 pencil to a whiteboard that will keep you organized, these are the 18 most popular back-to-school items you can get at Amazon.
1. Colorful gel pens for note-taking
Gel pens are better than regular pens, it’s true. They glide more smoothly and are less likely to smudge, which is essential for fast scribblers. With over 15,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, these ones from Paper Mate are a fan favorite and reviewers say they dry quickly. Plus, they come in a ton of colors for more organized note-taking.
2. Highly rated mechanical pencils
For work that you find yourself erasing a bunch—like math—pencils are essential. Reviewers love these No.2 sparkly ones from BIC, stating that the lead is sturdy and that they come with a quality eraser.
3. Spiral notebooks for every subject
This highly-rated 6-pack for notebooks from Mead is great for those who want a separate notebook for each subject. They’re affordable and reviewers say they’re strong enough to last the year.
4. A thick, durable binder
As much as thin, plastic binders are great for separating subjects, they’re often flimsy and will tear before the end of the year. A padded binder is much more secure, and the Case-it Mighty Zip Binder is great for multiple subjects, too. It has five section tabs for multiple subjects, sturdy rings and a firm backing, and pockets for pens, calculators, and other miscellaneous school items.
5. Four-pocket folders to hold miscellaneous papers
Random papers (i.e. tests, assignments, and homework) need their own designated spot so students don’t lose them. These Five Star 4 Pocket Folders have more than 900 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon. Reviewers love how durable they are (enough to last the school year) and that the four pockets allow them to organize important pages up front.
6. Wide-ruled paper for note-taking
If you have larger handwriting, wide-ruled paper is the way to go, and having some loose leaf paper is always a good idea for extra note-taking paper. Reviewers on Amazon like this pack from Mead, which has more than 1,000 positive reviews stating that it's thin enough to not take up too much space in a binder yet doesn't tear easily.
7. Highlighters for expert organization
With more than 6,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, the BIC Brite Liner Highlighter is quite popular. This pack comes in assorted colors, which is great for separating out key facts in your notes, and reviewers say they don’t streak or bleed through paper.
8. Erasers to cover up mistakes
Let’s be honest: The erasers that typically come on pencils are terrible. They’re far too dry and are so small that you use them up before you're even done with the pencil. Amazon love this 10-pack of Pentel erasers because it’s affordable and the erasers do a great job of removing mistakes.
9. Sticky notes for more note-taking
Sticky notes are great for jotting down quick assignment reminders and flagging pages of textbooks. Reviewers love the classic Post-It Notes, which have been dubbed "America's No. 1 favorite sticky note." People praise these sticky notes for sticking to almost anything, being the perfect size, and coming in a variety of bright colors.
10. Glue sticks for various craft projects
A glue stick is essential for all the various craft projects younger kids do as well as poster projects for the older ones. It’s often one of those things you don’t think about having before you need them, so be sure to have these on hand. Elmer’s glue sticks are a long-time favorite for being washable, and this 30-pack will ensure you don’t run out of glue sticks when one dries out.
11. A whiteboard that works for your schedule
Whether you’re virtually learning or heading into the classroom, it’s important to keep track of all the due dates of your big assignments. That’s why a whiteboard calendar can be a huge help. This one is dry erase, meaning you can constantly make changes to your schedule, and there’s the option to with weekly or monthly planning. Even better, it includes markers and has over 3,000 positive reviews to back up its functionality.
12. A stylish backpack to hold all your gear
Even if classrooms are still virtual this year, a new backpack can make things feel a little more normal, plus it gives students a place to store all their school supplies. When we tested backpacks for students, the Fjallraven Kanken earned our approval as our favorite casual backpack—a.k.a it looks good outside the classroom, too. It’s quite durable and can fit a decent amount of stuff, but it doesn’t have ventilation, so it may get a bit sweaty if you wear it for too long.
13. Laptops that are ideal for students
While most college students need a laptop, with more virtual learning in the cards, most students could use an upgraded laptop to get stuff done. We recommend the HP Envy X360, which is the best laptop for students we’ve ever tested. It has a battery that will last the school day, a powerful processor, and can handle occasional gaming. For a slightly more affordable option, we also recommend theAsus Chromebook Flip, which is about $100 cheaper, and doubles as a tablet and performs school related tasks well.
14. The best tablets for students
Tablets are also a great addition for some new school tech, as they allow speedy note-taking without lugging around a laptop. For younger kids, we recommend the Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition because it's sturdy, portable, and has great image and audio quality, as well as parental control. High school and college students will prefer the Apple iPad, as it’s the best tablet we’ve ever tested and has incredible features like a long battery life, high-resolution display, and access to the largest library of apps, media, and more. It’s a no-brainer.
15. Lunch boxes that will keep food insulated
For students heading into school, a lunch box with good insulation is essential if you’ll be transporting food to and from home. That way, you’ll ensure your food stays fresh and cold before you nibble. After testing lunch boxes, the bento-style LunchBots Large Trio was our top pick because it makes lunch fun and easy to organize, which is good for picky eaters. Though, you do need to pack it in an insulated bag. If you’re looking for more insulation, we recommend the Coleman Soft Cooler, which is our favorite lunch cooler and is basically a mini freezer, requiring no ice packs.
* Get the Coleman 9-can Soft Cooler for $14.87
* Get the LunchBots Large Trio for $38.99
16. A planner to track all the assignments
In these hectic times, a planner is more than necessary to stay on top of all your assignments. Plus, it feels good crossing off each task as it’s completed. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, the Daily Panda Planner is an excellent choice. It comes not dated and has daily, weekly, and monthly sections designed to help with prioritization and reflection.
17. The best water bottle we’ve ever tested
Between classes (or Zoom meetings) and all the assignments, it can be hard for students to actually remember to drink water. But a water bottle serves as a great reminder to hydrate. Brita makes the best water bottle we’ve ever tested as it's insulated (actually keeping water ice cold throughout the day), holds 20 ounces of water, and has a filter, which is great if you're refilling your bottle with questionable fountain water.
18. Noise-canceling headphones to zone into work
From listening to your study playlist or trying to watch a virtual class on Zoom without disturbing anyone, noise-canceling headphones are essential for blocking out everything else and tuning in. The Sony WH-1000XM3s are the best noise-canceling headphones we’ve ever tested for their expert active noise-cancelling technology that allows you to control how much of the world you block out. But others might want to opt for our favorite pair of true wireless headphones, the ever-popular Apple AirPods.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.