25 Back-to-School Products That Earn High Marks

iStock
iStock

New school style: Whether you're starting college, shopping for the kids, or just want an excuse to treat yourself to new office gear, Mental Floss has you covered. Equip yourself or a loved one with these stylish and functional school supplies.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. COFFEE AND DOUGHNUT POST-ITS; $13

coffee and doughnut Post-its
Courtesy of Post-it

Add some flavor to your notes with the two-pack set of coffee and doughnut Post-its. Each of the 60 sheets is 3.20-by-3 inches.

Find It: Amazon

2. PACKIT FREEZABLE HAMPTON LUNCH BAG; $16

PackIt Freezable Hampton Lunch Bag, Blanket Stripe
Amazon

This spacious lunch bag is designed with a freezable lining, so it can be folded and placed in the freezer. When you're ready to take it on the go, it'll be ready to chill your food for hours. Bonus: It's also lead- and BPA-free.

Find It: Amazon

3. MONSTER REUSABLE SANDWICH BAGS; $11

Orange Monster Reusable Sandwich Lunch Bags
Amazon

Save the Earth and amuse little students with these reusable, dishwasher-safe bags. Each set of four includes two sandwich bags and two snack bags—all with an easy-to-grip opening.

Find It: Amazon

4. BENTO BOX FOR KIDS; $40

OmieBox Bento Lunch Box With Insulated Thermos For Kids
Amazon

This three-compartment bento box is roomy enough to fit a hearty, healthy lunch. The BPA-free container—available in five bright colors—is leak-proof, easy to open, and comes with a built-in thermos.

Find It: Amazon

5. LARGE MONTHLY PLANNER; $15

Large Personal Monthly Planner
Amazon

JStory's minimalist planner is made of thicker-than-average paper and includes a column for notes. And the blank design offers flexibility: You fill in the dates yourself.

Find It: Amazon

6. ORANGE LINED NOTEBOOK; $9

Rhodia Staplebound Orange Lined Notebook
Amazon

French brand Rhodia earned a strong following among artists and designers for its high-quality paper that's unbelievably smooth. The cover is sturdy so you can take notes anywhere.

Find It: Amazon

7. HONEYSTICKS BEESWAX CRAYONS; $23

crayons
Amazon

These sustainable crayons are made of 100 percent beeswax from New Zealand. (They smell like honey, too!) The thick shape is perfect for toddlers to hold.

Find It: Amazon

8. MOPHIE POWERSTATION XL; $66

external battery
Amazon

An external battery is a must for days when shuttling around campus from classes to clubs to rehearsals is unavoidable. This slim rose gold option has two USB ports and is compatible with both smartphones and tablets.

Find It: Amazon

9. CABLEKEEP; $13

Nice GLD-02 Goldie CableKeep
Amazon

This helpful gadget for iPhones holds both your power adapter and USB cable while keeping them tangle-free. It also functions as a stand for your phone when the Cablekeep is plugged into the wall.

Find It: Amazon

10. PARKLAND BAYSIDE KIDS' BACKPACK; $28

Parkland Bayside Kids Backpack
Amazon

Tote books in style with this eco-friendly backpack, featuring a polyester exterior made from recycled water bottles.

Find It: Amazon

11. LEGO BRICK BACKPACK; $50

LEGO Brick Backpack
Amazon

This whimsical statement backpack from LEGO features a padded handle and shoulder straps, so it's as comfortable as it is cool.

Find It: Amazon

12. HERSHEL NOVEL DUFFEL; $81

Herschel Supply Co. duffel
Amazon

Class up your gear with this stylish duffel from Herschel. It features a padded shoulder strap and a special compartment for those dirty cleats.

Find It: Amazon

13. ANTIQUE BRASS PHARMACY FLOOR LAMP; $50

Dawson Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Amazon

Overpower dim dorm room lighting with this brass floor lamp. Its height can be adjusted from 33 inches to a maximum of 55 inches, while the arm can be adapted to shine light at a variety of angles.

Find It: Amazon

14. EGYPTIAN COTTON TOWEL SET; $24

bathroom with towels
Amazon

This set of soft Egyptian cotton towels from Amazon's Pinzon brand includes two hand towels, two washcloths, and two bath towels—all listed as 100 percent cotton and at an affordable price.

Find It: Amazon

15. WHITE MARBLE MACBOOK KEYBOARD SKIN; $12

White Marble MacBook Keyboard Skin
Nordstrom

Protect your keyboard while adding a little luxury to your Macbook with this white marble keyboard skin.

Find It: Nordstrom

16. MAGNETIC CHALK BOARD; $18

chalkboard
Amazon

Get organized with this wood-framed chalk board, which comes with chalk and two vintage-style magnets.

Find It: Amazon

17. COFFEEBOXX SINGLE SERVE COFFEE MAKER; $230

portable coffee maker
Amazon

This ultra-durable single-serve coffee maker is great for the dorm as well as the campground. It's water- and dust-resistant and works with K-cups.

Find It: Amazon

18. TRAVEL MUG; $25

 Zojirushi SM-SA48-BA Stainless Steel Mug
Amazon

If you need java to survive, pick up this sleek vacuum-insulated travel mug, which features a splatter-free push-button lid. It's also lockable, so you won't be that person who spills coffee in class.

Find It: Amazon

19. SIX-PACK OF STACKING DRAWERS; $32

stacking drawers
Amazon

Stack these versatile transparent drawers to create a dresser so you can fit your huge wardrobe in your dorm room.

Find It: Amazon

20. FACETED TAPE DISPENSER; $7

gem tape dispenser
Amazon

This elegant copper tape dispenser will give your desk some class. It's also weighted, so you can grab with ease. (Roll of Scotch tape included.)

Find It: Amazon

21. COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE; $84

microwave
Amazon

Master the art of dorm room microwave cooking with this 1000-Watt model, featuring that all-important popcorn setting.

Find It: Amazon

22. SATEEN SHEETS; $18 AND UP

sheet set
Bed Bath & Beyond

These 400-thread-count sateen sheets feel silky to the touch: They're a simple way to make your dorm room feel luxurious.

Find It: Bed Bath & Beyond

23. TOUCHSCREEN MIST CLEANER; $10

Two-In-One Spray and Microfiber Cloth
Amazon

Use this screen-safe spray to remove dirt and fingerprints from your phone. It comes in a bottle that's coated with microfiber cloth so you can spritz and wipe all in one.

Find It: Amazon

24. MESH SHOWER BAG; $13

 Saltwater Canvas, LLC Zip Top Mesh Shower Bag
Amazon

No more feeling around outside the shower curtain for your shampoo. Take this quick-drying mesh shower caddy right into the stall with you.

Find It: Amazon

25. MINI FRIDGE WITH DRY ERASE BOARD; $250

 Igloo FR326M-D-BLACK Erase Board Refrigerator with Neon Markers
Amazon

Make your dorm room unique with this fun fridge that has a dry erase exterior and comes with neon markers so you can write notes directly on it. No paper and magnets needed. It also includes a freezer unit and ice cube tray.

Find It: Amazon

Microwave Your Food Safely With This Soft Silicone Lunch Box

ParentDiary
ParentDiary

Even if the contents of your lunch are healthy, the container you pack it in may pose a threat to your health. Heating up some plastic food storage containers can release harmful chemicals, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families to avoid putting such products in the microwave or dishwasher. (And there's still some debate as to what constitutes a microwave-safe plastic.) But the All-Silicone Lunch Box, a storage product currently raising money on Kickstarter, is strong enough to stand up to a range of temperatures, allowing you to safely put it in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher.

This lunch container is made from silicone instead of plastic, making it a safer choice for kids and adults. The flexible box is easy to seal, open, and wash (either by hand or in the dishwasher). And whether you're using it to store leftovers in the freezer or heat up your lunch in the office kitchen, the All-Silicone Lunch Box is designed to maintain its shape and not leech anything unsavory into your food.

After originally releasing a single-compartment box, ParentDiary has now developed a lunch box with dividers, too. The container is now available with three compartments (perfect for snacks or bento boxes), or two compartments (with each side just big enough to fit half a sandwich).

The All-Silicone Lunch Box has over a month left to reach its $4000 funding goal and has raised $1000 so far.

Pledge $12 or more on Kickstarter by May 19 to reserve your own lunch box, with shipping set for June. For more packed lunch inspiration (including some other great silicone options), check out these products.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

13 Products to Keep You Dry on Rainy Days

Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

April showers bring May flowers … plus soggy shoes, wet hair, and dripping, broken umbrellas. If you’re looking to stay dry this rainy season, consider picking up some of this gear.

1. Bogs Auburn Boot

These are a rare find: Rain boots that are both functional and cute. Bogs gave us a pair to test out, and we’ve been tempted to wear them even when it isn’t raining. The Chelsea-style ankle-high boots have a slight heel and a zipper so you don’t have to awkwardly try to stuff your feet into them. They’re 100 percent waterproof, equipped with moisture wicking technology to keep feet dry (and stink-free!), and have a slip-resistant outsole. And thanks to gel cushioning in the footbed, they’re super comfortable. (The men’s version, available for $70, is also waterproof and is available in three colors.)

Buy it on Bogs for $120 or from one of the retailers below:

2. Levi’s Women’s Faux Leather Anorak Jacket

A woman in a maroon rain jacket

Levi's, Amazon

This hooded, rubber faux leather anorak jacket comes in 11 colors; it has zipper and button closure, plus adjustable cuffs, to keep the rain out. One reviewer described the coat as “practical yet stylish.” The best part? It’s machine washable.

Buy it on Amazon from $39 or at one of the retailers below:

3. Levi’s Men’s Rubberized Parka

A man in a black faux-rubber jacket

Levi's, Amazon

Levi’s also makes a rubberized parka for men that comes in three colors.

Buy it on Amazon from $72.

4. Sharpty Inverted Umbrella

An open green Sharpty umbrella next to the same umbrella as it looks folded up

Sharpty, Amazon

This highly rated umbrella opens in reverse—so when you close it, water stays firmly inside and doesn’t get all over you or the floor—and it's designed to withstand bursts of wind up to 60 mph. Made with carbon fiber and equipped with a C-shaped handle that makes holding and storage easy, it’s available in a staggering 26 patterns/colors, ranging from plain old black to the New York City skyline. And it’s big enough to fit two people underneath.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $16.

5. Drybrella

Two Drybrella bags next to a backpack and a purse with umbrellas wrapped in Drybrellas inside

Drybrella, Amazon

These polyester pouches—which accommodate umbrellas up to 12 inches long—are lined with microfiber so you can stash wet umbrellas in your bag or backpack without getting everything else wet.

Buy it on Amazon for $10 for two or at Walmart for $9.

6. Waterproof Elastic Gardening Headwear

A woman wears a hands-free umbrella on her head

MAGIFIRE, Amazon

Perhaps you hate when the wind blows your hood off, or maybe you want a moisture-free perimeter to keep the stuff in your hands dry. We’re not here to judge, merely to provide you with a product that could help solve your problems. This 36-inch-diameter hat has an adjustable headband and folds down to 10 inches for easy stowing. Its top layer is also reflective, which means you can wear it when you’re working in the sun, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $13.

7. Columbia Men’s Watertight Cap

A waterproof black cap

Columbia, Amazon

If elaborate headwear isn’t your thing, this nylon hat—which comes in three colors—will also work.

Buy it on Amazon or at Columbia Sportswear for $25.

8. Lightspeed Outdoors Sport Shelter

A blue and gray pop-up shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors, Amazon

If you find yourself at many of rain-or-shine events, considering picking up this pop-up shelter. At nearly 9 feet wide and almost 5 feet tall, it has enough space to fit four friends, and it’s equipped with sun protection and a PU coating, so it’s appropriate for both sun and rain. And it packs down small (49 inches by 5 inches) for easy storage.

Buy it on Amazon for $80.

9. Harry Potter Crests Color Changing Umbrella

A black-and-white and a colored version of the Harry Potter umbrella

Bioworld, Amazon

This officially licensed Harry Potter umbrella features Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff house crests and changes color when wet. The company also sells a Marauder’s Map-themed umbrella as well as a Hogwarts-themed one and one decorated with magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter.

Buy it on Amazon or Walmart for $17.

10. CloudTen Helmet-Shaped Umbrella

A woman peeks out from under a CloudTen umbrella

CloudTen, Amazon

In addition to looking a bit like Darth Vader’s helmet, this umbrella’s design makes it virtually impossible to blow inside out, even in the windiest weather. It’s also a good option for city dwellers—you’re less likely to take another pedestrian’s eyes out!

Buy it at Amazon for $23.

11. Mini Umbrella

A diagram of the size of the pocket umbrella open and folded up

Fidus, Amazon

There’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain without an umbrella—so pick up one of these ultra-small (just 6.6 inches) umbrellas and carry it with you at all times.

Buy it on Amazon for $15.

12. Alex Carseon Multi-Purpose Tray

Four images of the Alex Carseon multi-purpose tray being used to store boots, gardening tools, a bucket, and cat food

Alex Carseon, Amazon

Keep muddy boots and shoes contained with this polypropylene tray, which measures 30 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Buy it on Amazon for $17.

13. Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover

An Osprey rain cover folded up

Osprey, Amazon

Available in three sizes, this cover wraps around packs and equipment to keep them dry. It's equipped with reflective elements (which is especially helpful if you're biking), a cinch attachment, a hipbelt, and harness attachments—plus, it packs down small, so you can easily fold it back into your bag when the rain clears up.

Buy it on Amazon from $30 or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER