Back to School Gift Guide: $50 or Less
Back to school means new clothes and sneaks! New bags, packs, and cases. And for the college kids, maybe some new dorm or apartment furniture. New sheets for...uh...new fall adventures. New bike lock to replace the one some d-bag on campus cut through before stealing your bike last spring. New headphones to replace the ones some d-bag on the beach stole this summer.
Back to school means a fat wad of new stuff. For those on a budget, stuff that's going to drain the bank account you worked all summer to fill. Or stuff you're never going to convince your mama to buy for you. The gift guide of gear and supplies I've pulled together here bears in mind those of you determined to go back to school without going broke.
I mean on something other than tuition, which is going to take you down for the next 15 to 20 years after graduation regardless of what level of determination you have.
Here's my guide to the best of back to school for $50 or less.
Note: Back to school gift prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub
Hubba, hubba. Anker's USB 3.0 hub has 7 high-speed data transfer ports delivering speeds of up to 5Gbps, plus 3 dedicated charging ports with Anker's PowerIQ feature, able to charge up to 2.1 amps per port. The whole device is also about the size of a pen case.
TaoTronics Elune LED Desk Lamp
Multi-angle adjustments, 4 lighting modes, 5 brightness levels, touch control, and a 1-hour shutoff timer make this simple lamp and desktop dynamo. Use it at your laptop or at your bedside, swiveling the base by 180 degrees and rotating the lamp arm up to 140 degrees.
Fabric & Mesh Shower Caddy Tote Bag
This hanging toiletry bag zips up to store out of the shower, and then opens to reveal a handy hook for latching of the shower head when it's time to get your grooming on. The ventilating mesh helps dry out damp bottles and loofahs, and both the mesh and 300D Oxford fabric are completely waterproof. Choose from 5 different colors.
Tribit XFree Tune Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones
Great sound for a great price. Tribit's well-reviewed XFree Tune Bluetooth headphones incorporate a pair of 40mm sound stage drivers to give you hi-fi stereo sound without sucking up your whole first semester's textbook budget.
POLAR Modular Magnet Pen
POLAR is as a pen that can do your scribbling when it's time to TCB ,and then serve as an accomplice to your goofing off when it's time to TCB, but you really don't feel like it. The modular pen consists of an ink refill skeleton covered in 14 rare earth neodymium magnets of body armor.
The POLAR Pen gives you the freedom to deconstruct and reconstruct it as a ton of different tools and toys, such as a drawing compass, finder of magnetic north, and sweet doohickey to dink around with during tedious lectures or all-nighters.
Carhartt Men's Midweight Zip Front Hooded Sweatshirt
Carhartt's zip-up hoodie looks like a tailgate during the first nip of fall. Like a hungover Sunday morning. Like hood-up, head-down, just walk quickly to class and maybe she won't see you. It comes in a dozen different colors and, for the price, you probably won't find a better quality or cut hoodie out there.
Amazon Prime Student Membership
Sign up for Amazon Prime with a .edu email address, and you'll get a free 6-month trial period to enjoy 2-day shipping, plus access to Prime music, movies, and TV shows. Once the 6-month trial ends, you can continue your Prime Student membership for $6.49 per month, and cancel it at any time.
Prime Student is available for new student Amazon Prime members only.
Embrava Best Ever Water Bottle
Ten minutes and half a mile between classes. Campus life is makin' me thirsty! And Embrava's water bottle is hands down (and bottoms up) the best water bottle I've ever owned. I'll grant, whether you agree with me or not depends on what you're looking for in a water bottle, but if we have similar requirements for our pursuit of hydration, I feel confident you're gonna love using this ram-stamped vessel to take your gulps.
And I do mean gulps. Embrava Benefit the First: a fast-flow drinking valve. Not a dribbling nipple that squeals with air when you drink. Not a snap-on can-style lid that drips water down your chin. And definitely not the unchecked, wide-open fill mouth that screams, "Hope your shirt and pants are thirsty too!" Embrava's is a perfect hollow post that funnels water directly into your mouth however fast, or slow, you want to suck it.
Embrava Benefit the Second: When you are done engaging with the valve, an attached protective cap snaps over to shield it from dust, dropping, sneezes, and your own grimy fingers.
Embrava Benefit the Third: This water bottle feels good to hold. It's not too fat, not too slippery, and, unlike a Kleen Kanteen I also have, doesn't give me the willies when I run my fingers along it.
Kopack Laptop Backpack
Backpacks are like phones and dates, dude. They just keep getting more expensive. Kopack's simple black laptop bag keeps costs within reason, without sacrificing design and quality. The fabric is wear-resistant and waterproof, sewn into a sack measuring 18" x 12" x 7".
The backpack employs a few anti-theft techniques, including hidden, lockable zippered pockets and a main compartment fitted with an anti-puncture, three-dimensional, 4-tooth zipper, also lockable.
Kopack's laptop bag is also charging-friendly, with an external USB port and removable charging cable.
Trinken Lids - Covert Beer Koozies
Let's be clear: I am not advocating taking a can of beer hidden inside a coffee cup to class with you.
Unless you're 21 and really, really need it.
Disguised as a to-go coffee lid, the Trinken fits over a 12-ounce can of beer, which then slides into most any large paper coffee cup to form a covert koozie. Sneaky, sneaky.
MiniPresso Espresso Maker
It's just like squeezing out the mustard. Or the honey. Or the shampoo. Except on the other side of your MiniPresso grip strength action lies a fresh pour of pure pick-me-up espresso, rather than a fat blob of condiment, sweetener, or hair product. The MiniPresso is a super compact espresso machine ready to hit you with its best shot wherever you go.
MiniPresso operation requires no compressed air, N2O cartridges, electricity, or batteries. It's all boiling water and chicken choking, dude. The travel-friendly machine produces 2.35 ounces of espresso per pour, based on its standard water tank attachment.
Rabbit Charger Outlet Cover with Retractable Cord
The Rabbit Charger's Micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning charging cable ears change and grow as you need them. The outlet cover, which screws over any existing standard duplex outlet, preserves one of your 3-prongs for continued use, but alters the other into a device charging station capable of charging 2 Android or iOS devices at once, up to 28" away from the Rabbit base with a retractable cord.
Mini Cargo Crate Containers
And if you keep giving me the side-eye, scissors, I'm boxing up that cargo crate you live in and shipping you off to Abu Dhabi!
Oh what fun you'll have arranging your new school supplies in this set of desktop-sized pallet containers. Labyrinth Design Studio's mini cargo crates are made of pine wood, and arrive nested as one adorable special delivery inside another. Individual container measurements are 3.8", 2.9", and 2.2" cubed.