34 College Backpack Essentials that Students Use Everyday

Let’s talk all about college backpack essentials!

college student backpack essentials

You may think that you only need a couple of items to survive your four-year college career, but if you want to be prepared for anything life throws at you, you are in the right place!!

College and studying is more manageable when you carry around the BEST college backpack essentials.

I understand that knowing what to put in a college backpack can be overwhelming so I made this MEGA list to make your life a little easier. 😉

In this article we will highlight college backpack essentials that students use everyday, as well as some items that are often overlooked!!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I do earn a small commission when my links are used, at no extra cost to you.  Find full disclosure here.

Best College Backpack Essentials for Everyday Use

1. Backpacks

school backpack essentials list

Having a good backpack in college is NECESSARY.

A great backpack provides extra storage space and is perfect to lug around on a huge college campus.

You will need a good backpack for carrying around your laptop and other electronics.

2. Notebooks

More on this school backpack essentials list:

A notebook is an essential for a college student because you will need it on a daily basis.

You will use your notebook for all of your school assignments and class notes.

Personally I used this notebook all throughout college because it is smaller than most notebooks and fits on the tiny college desks.

3. Textbooks

With studying comes textbooks.

Make sure to remember to find your textbooks for classes ahead of time so you don’t fall behind at the very beginning of the semester or quarter.

4. Laptop

More on this school backpack essentials list:

backpack essentials for everyday use

Personally, I think a laptop is the MOST essential item college students will need.

Investing into a good laptop will allow you to access your school work, Canvas, Google Calendar, your friends… the list goes on and on.

5. Tide to Go

I know it sounds nuts, but Tide to Go is one of my favorite recommendations in college.

Tide to Go is a stain remover that looks like a pen.

It saved me so many times in college when I made a random mess and could not walk back to my dorm room RIGHT BEFORE CLASS.

*got my roomie hooked on it too lol*

6. Portable Charger

More backpack essentials for everyday use:

One of my biggest regrets in college was not buying a portable charger.

Having a portable charger will help you on campus by charging your phone, tablet or laptop when you are no where near an outlet.

7. Mini First Aid Kit

After spending ENTIRE DAYS adulting on a college campus, I can say that accidents happen.

In college there are so many students on skateboards, bikes, reading texts getting to class; just have in mind your own self care. <3

Shop for a mini first aid kit that could help you or a friend out just in case.

If you are interested in other ways to perfect adulting, check out our related content:

8. Calculator

More backpack essentials for everyday use:

backpack essentials for work

I was hesitant recommending a scientific calculator because STEM classes and professors require different things.

Definitely check in with your professors to make sure you get their recommended calculator.

9. Chapstick

As small as chapstick is, it can be easy to forget to carry one with you.

You will need one being on campus for so long.

I personally bundle up on Carmex chapsticks so I never run out!

10. Deodorant

More college student backpack essentials: 

Oh honey, the amount of times my deodorant came in clutch on campus.. SO MANY.

You will be walking all over campus and it will come in handy if front of crushes, friends, or before interviews.

My favorite is the this Clear Gel Deodorant because it doesn’t leave that weird white residue.

11. Pocket Tissues

Pocket tissues come in clutch as well (this will be so embarrassing to have written 5 years from now).

With so many emotions in college (career, relationships, tests, etc.) you will appreciate having pocket tissues with you.

12. Hand Lotion

More college student backpack essentials: 

college backpack essentials reddit

Hand lotion was another thing I was debating how to talk about with you since everyone’s skin is so different.

I would recommend buying a travel size hand lotion to carry to your classes for those cold days when your hands dry up.

These are perfect to implement into your self care routine as well!

Here are our related posts about self care for college students:

13. Charger

Haha, this one honestly cracks me up.

Please do not forget to have a backpack charger like someone you know (me).

Your laptop or phone is like your lifeline, and you will want to have it alive and well at the library during finals..

14. Disposable Wipes and Face Wipes

More college student backpack essentials: 

With 2020 and everything, I started carrying these flushable wipes with me to public restrooms.

Definitely carry around some kind of wipes for liquid spills at your university’s dining area or for feeling sticky walking around campus.

15. Planner, Digital Planner or Bullet Journal

Everyone has their preferences in college organization.

Personally, I use a bullet journal for random notes and Google Calendar.

I RAVE about this Minimalism Art bullet journal ALL THE TIME!!

Feel free to stay energized and organized with these related posts:

16. Headphones

More college backpack essentials:

college backpack items

I swear, headphones are your best friend in college.

Have a reliable pair of headphones with you while studying or eating watching a video.

17. Hand Sanitizer

After the disaster of 2020, hand sanitizer is another handy college backpack essential to carry with you AT ALL TIMES.

Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect.

18. Meal Prep Containers

More college backpack essentials:

One of the best things you can start in college is meal prepping!

Finding the perfect meal prep containers that fit with your lifestyle makes it easier to have a bunch of healthy meals ready for the week.

19. Water Bottle

Having a reusable water bottle is super convenient for college students.

You can fill it up at the fridge, and it’s ready to go when you’re out and about.

My all-time FAVORITE water bottle is the Simple Modern Insulated Water Bottle since it keeps my ice frozen for a while and it is cuter than other options in my opinion.

Pencil Case Essentials

20. Pencil Case

More college backpack essentials:

college student backpack essentials

One of the best stationery items for college students is a pencil case.

You will need a pencil case to hold your pencils, highlighters, markers, USB, etc.

21. Erasable Pens

Erasing the ink with these erasable pens is easy!

Students are always using pens to write notes, take lecture notes, or just sign their name.

Unfortunately, some stationary can be hard to erase if you need to change something or erase your mistakes.

22. Pencils

More college backpack essentials:

The mechanical pencil is an instrument that is essential for any college student.

I always make sure to have a #2 mechanical pencil since that’s usually what my professors recommended for scantrons.

To be fair, I have never seen a non-#2 pencil.

23. Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are an essential tool for most college students.

They come in handy when studying, writing assignments, or jotting down random reminders.

I personally use them as bookmarks for physical textbooks.

24. Highlighters

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what should be in your backpack

Dual sided highlighters like my favorite Mildliner Highlighters are essential for any college student because it has both a broad tip and thinner tip.

This helps with efficiency when you are trying to write fast notes during class and want to keep it all organized!!

Seasonal College Backpack Essentials

25. Sunglasses

backpack essentials every student needs

During the hotter days/seasons, you are going to be walking from class to class ALL DAY.

Invest in a pair of sunglasses to block out the heat.. and haters.

26. Light Cardigan and/or Jacket

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During the cooler months or when you stay on campus till midnight, a light cardigan or jacket will be a LIFE SAVER.

I have found that carrying a cardigan or light jacket saves me from having goosebumps on my way back to my college apartment.

27. Umbrella

On the cloudy days, you will want to have an umbrella at your disposable.

You never know when the sky will be nice & bright prior to your lecture, and rainy & gloomy right after your class.

College Girl Backpack Essentials

28. Hair Ties, Hair Clips or Scrunchies

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backpack essentials for college students

This was is for my long-hair folks.

You will want to have hair ties, scrunchies or hair clips ON DECK for several reasons: people messing with your hair during class, wind, or you lost the one on your wrist.

29. Feminine Products

I seriously hate having to recommend this one but if you have a monthly cycle, you know what I mean.

Always have some pads, tampons, or menstrual cups in your backpack when mother nature gets ya.

30. Compact Mirror

More on this school backpack essentials list:

Carry a compact mirror AT ALL TIMES.

This is especially true for anyone that uses makeup, is applying for internships/jobs, or is afraid of a period stain.

College Commuter Backpack Essentials

31. Car Keys

This one makes me laugh, but people seriously forget their keys.

When you are on campus miles away from your house, the last thing you want is to leave your keys in your car.

32. Bus Ticket

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More my bus commuters, remember your bus ticket!

It can be easy and painful to forget!!

33. Extra Pair of Gym Clothes

If you are out of the house all day, you will want to carry a LIGHT pair of gym clothes.

Then, you can still work out at your campus’s recreation center if your friends invite you to play basketball with them!

34. Pocket Blanket

More college backpack essentials:

Something no one really thinks about is having an emergency pocket blanket.

If for some reason it gets really cold or you have nothing to keep you warm, an emergency pocket blanket can help you out a little bit.

Shop for Pocket Blankets here!

We Made It!

In conclusion, this article compiled the BEST college backpack essentials that students use everyday. From a water bottle, backpack, and school supplies, these are just a few of many useful items that can help you out as a student.

This list should help you save time and energy as you go through your day as a student. So go ahead and give some of these items a try today! 

Summary of post: This post is all about college backpack essentials.

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