College Packing List: 51 Things You Absolutely Must Bring to Campus

Packing for college can be stressful. Our ultimate college packing list introduces 51 essentials you should have before heading to campus.
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Deciding what things to bring to college can feel overwhelming. That's why we created a comprehensive college packing list. This checklist will help you keep track of all the essentials you need for academic success and campus living. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

You'll probably be really busy your first few weeks of college, so it's best to have your belongings sorted before you arrive. Start packing for college at least a few weeks before you leave for campus. This way you can avoid having to do any last-minute errands on move-in day.

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Dorm Room Essentials

1. Desk Lamp

Our Recommendation: AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp With Charging Ports

This sleek and functional desk lamp has over 15,000 ratings on Amazon, averaging 4.4 stars. In addition to providing light during late-night study sessions, the lamp comes with a wireless charger, a USB charging port, an auto-timer, an adapter, and five brightness levels with eyecare in mind.

2. Alarm Clock

Our Recommendation: DreamSky Compact Digital Alarm Clock With USB Port

You can choose from seven display colors on this sleek, affordable alarm clock. Rather than relying on your phone, use this bedside clock with a USB charging port, brightness dimmer, and adjustable volume to keep you on schedule during busy days. You can also choose from several alarm sounds.

3. Storage Bins

Our Recommendation: storageLAB Underbed Storage Containers

Maximize limited room space with this two-pack of underbed storage containers made from breathable woven fabric. Each container can hold more than 20 articles of clothing or a large comforter. With sturdy handles, zippers, and sidewalls, these storageLAB containers are durable and lightweight, making them easy to carry when it's time to move in or out.

4. Toolkit

Our Recommendation: Apollo Tools 39-Piece General Repair Hand Tool Set

With over 1 million units sold around the world, this Apollo Tools hand tool set is one of the most popular options for general home repair and DIY projects. The kit comes with 39 pieces, including commonly used tools like pliers, a claw hammer, and a bit driver. Every piece fits securely in a compact and sturdy carrying case, making it ideal for college students.

5. Trash Can

Our Recommendation: Greenco 2-Pack of 6-Gallon Silver Mesh Round Trash Cans

Between late-night snacks and used-up pens, trash can build up fast. These sleek metal office trash cans will help keep your room clean and tidy. Their small size means you can easily store them in a corner or under your desk to save space.

6. Mattress Pad

Our Recommendation: Bedsure Twin XL Mattress Pad

Sleep better on that dorm room bed with a twin XL mattress pad from Bedsure. Made from stain-resistant and hypoallergenic microfiber, this mattress pad fits mattresses up to 18 inches deep. Its polygon design reduces shifting to help you get a restful night of sleep.

7. Pillows

Our Recommendation: GOHOME Luxury Velvet Bed Pillows, 2-Pack

Want a good night's sleep? Then pick up this pair of luxury bed pillows. These hypoallergenic, machine-washable pillows fit on a standard twin bed and come with adjustable filling, allowing you to customize them for maximum comfort.

8. Sheets

Our Recommendation: LIANLAM Twin XL Bed Sheets Set

This twin XL bed sheets set comes with one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, and one pillowcase. You can choose from nine color options, including purple, dark gray, lake blue, and white. In addition to boasting hypoallergenic properties, these microfiber sheets are resistant to wrinkles, stains, and fading.

9. Comforter

Our Recommendation: LINENSPA Hypoallergenic Down Alternative Microfiber Comforter

This microfiber comforter provides the warmth of down without the odor or risk of potential allergies. You can utilize it as a standalone comforter or attach a duvet using the eight built-in loops. Choose from colors like black, navy, and mocha to match your room's decor.

10. Hooks and Hanging Mechanisms

Our Recommendation: Command Medium Designer Hooks

Help fight clutter with convenient hanging hooks. These nondamaging hooks are perfect for dorm room and apartment walls. They can be used to hang coats, bags, and other accessories. You can also use them to display photographs and decorations.


11. Shower Caddy

Our Recommendation: Attmu Mesh Shower Caddy Basket

This shower caddy contains inner and outer compartments that let you store and organize shampoo and conditioner bottles, razors, combs, and other toiletries. Made from durable mesh that comes in eight colors, the caddy is compact, lightweight, and quick to dry. Use the reinforced handles to hang the caddy from hooks and pegs.

12. Shower Flip Flops

Our Recommendation: Finleoo Shower Sandal Slippers With Drainage Holes

If you'll be living in a dorm, there's a good chance you'll share your shower with roommates — or even your entire floor. Because of this, investing in shower shoes is a good way to make sure you stay clean after bathing. Available in both men's and women's sizes, these self-draining, lightweight sandals come in a variety of designs and more than 20 colors.

13. Bath Towels

Our Recommendation: Utopia Bath Towels Set

Made from 100% ring-spun cotton, these bath towels are soft, absorbent, and lightweight. This set comes in a pack of four with color options like white, burgundy, turquoise, and plum.

14. Bathrobe

Our Recommendation: Turquaz Unisex Spa Robe

This comfy bathrobe features a double-stitched waffle design, a tailored collar, two front pockets, and a tie closure. Made from a combination of cotton and polyester, the robe comes in three sizes and a variety of colors.

15. Hair Dryer

Our Recommendation: Conair Full-Size Pro Hair Dryer

This top-rated hair dryer uses ceramic technology to produce uniform heat that quickly dries hair without creating frizz or damage. In addition to three heat and two speed settings, this full-size hair dryer comes with a "Cool Shot" feature and a concentrator nozzle designed for styling.

16. Loofah

Our Recommendation: Almooni Premium Exfoliating Loofah Pad, 2-Pack

This two-pack of body scrubbers made from natural Egyptian loofah contours to the shape of your body. The loofah pad features an abrasive side for exfoliating and a soft pad you can use to apply body wash and moisturizer. Remember to clean your loofah weekly.

17. Electric Toothbrush

Our Recommendation: AquaSonic Ultra Whitening Electric Toothbrush

Accepted by the American Dental Association, this electric toothbrush is affordable and powerful. It comes with eight brush heads, four brushing modes, a timer, wireless charging capabilities, and a travel case. This popular toothbrush boasts an average rating of 4.6 stars based on over 74,000 reviews on Amazon.

18. Water Pick

Our Recommendation: H2ofloss Water Flosser

This cordless water pick can help improve the health of your teeth and gums. The flosser comes with five speed settings and six jet tips, allowing you to customize the function according to your needs. Other features include a leak-resistant design and up to 15 days of battery life.

Clothing and Laundry

19. Luggage

Our Recommendation: Rockland Melbourne Hardside Wheel Luggage, 3-Piece Set

Use this three-piece luggage set from Rockland to move to campus and for trips throughout your time in college. Available in a variety of colors, this set comes with large, medium, and small suitcases, making it ideal for both long journeys and short vacations.

20. Steam Iron

Our Recommendation: BLACK+DECKER Steam Iron With Pivoting Cord

This lightweight, easy-to-store steam iron is simple to use and perfect to keep you looking your best, whether you're ironing a load of laundry or touching up an outfit for an interview. It even comes with a spray mister for treating difficult creases and a pivot cord that helps it move easily on clothes.

21. Ironing Board

Our Recommendation: Honey-Can-Do Door-Hanging Ironing Board

This hanging ironing board's handy, space-saving design means you won't struggle to store it in your dorm room. Simply hang the board on a door and unfold it when it's time to iron something. The product is ready to use and comes with both a foam pad and cover.

22. Hangers

Our Recommendation: Zober Nonslip Velvet Hangers, 30-Pack

These ultra-thin clothing hangers are made from a sturdy chrome material and black velvet. With chrome hooks, each hanger can hold up to 10 pounds. They also feature a pants bar, so you can store more clothing in less space.

23. Shoe Storage

Our Recommendation: Simple Houseware Over-the-Door Hanging Shoe Organizer

At 19 inches wide and 64 inches long, this clear hanging organizer contains 24 pockets for shoes and other accessories. Use the built-in hooks to hang the organizer from any standard door without the need for hardware.

24. Laundry Basket

Our Recommendation: Handy Laundry Store Mesh Popup Laundry Hamper

This laundry hamper is made from sturdy mesh. When not in use, it collapses into a flat disc for easy storage — ideal for dorm life and travel. Choose from an array of colors and patterns, like navy blue, red, monkey, and sports.

25. Sunglasses

Our Recommendation: KALIYADI Unisex Polarized Sunglasses

Whether you're in the bleachers on game day or strolling across campus between classes, it's important to keep your eyes comfortable and protected. These unisex, UV-blocking sunglasses come in a stylish retro design. They can be modified with different frames and lenses to suit your personal taste.

26. Raincoat

Our Recommendation: Charles River Apparel Pullover Rain Jacket

Keep yourself dry and warm in inclement weather with this unisex rain jacket. The coat's exterior is made of water- and wind-resistant RiverTec nylon, while the interior is constructed from a soft cotton flannel. Tons of color options are available, such as maroon, orange, and yellow.

School Supplies

27. Dry-Erase Calendar

Our Recommendation: Quartet Combination Magnetic Whiteboard Calendar and Corkboard

At 23 inches wide and 17 inches tall, this portable whiteboard and corkboard offers ample room for notes without taking up too much wall space. The whiteboard contains a magnetized calendar for multifunctional use. You'll also get a mounting system, a dry-erase marker, and two magnets.

28. Planner

Our Recommendation: Clever Fox Planner

This planner from Clever Fox allows you to organize your schedule by week and month with an undated format. It comes with decorative and time-management stickers, and contains writing exercises that can help you reach your short- and long-term goals.

29. Backpack

Our Recommendation: Matein Travel Laptop Backpack

If you're looking for a durable backpack for college that has lots of storage space, consider getting this Matein model. Featuring a laptop sleeve, an anti-theft pocket, a USB charging port, and water-resistant fabric, this backpack is perfect for busy college students. Available colorways include red, camo, black, and gray.

30. Notebooks

Our Recommendation: Oxford Spiral Notebook 6-Pack

Every student knows the importance of taking good notes in class. You can stay organized with this pack of six spiral-bound, college-ruled notebooks. And because each notebook in this set is a different color, it's easy to keep track of which one you're using for each of your classes.

31. Pens

Our Recommendation: SyPen 2-in-1 Stylus Pens, 12-Pack

Seamlessly alternate between your notebook and smart device with these 2-in-1 ballpoint and stylus pens. The sensitive stylus tip is compatible with most smartphones, tablets, and touchscreen laptops. Choose from either a twist-action or click pen.

32. File Storage

Our Recommendation: Fireproof File Folder

Protect passports, transcripts, and other important documents with this portable file organizer. Made from five layers of silicone-coated fiberglass and insulated aluminum, this folder is waterproof and capable of withstanding temperatures that exceed 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. You can fit about 600 sheets of standard paper in this folder.

33. Laptop Stand

Our Recommendation: BoYata Ergonomic Laptop Stand

Promote neck, shoulder, and back health during those long nights of studying with an ergonomic laptop stand. This adjustable stand is made of durable lightweight aluminum. It is compatible with many laptop types and will ensure your computer sits at a comfortable height while you write essays and complete assignments.

34. Stapler

Our Recommendation: Deli Effortless Standard Desktop Stapler

This stapler allows you to attach up to 25 sheets of paper with a single finger. Key features include a jam-resistant design; quick, spring-powered loading; and a rubber base that minimizes skidding and scratching. You'll also get a staple remover and 1,000 staples.

35. Notecard Organizer

Our Recommendation: Snap-N-Store Index Card Holder

An index card organizer box can come in handy during midterms and finals week if you're studying with several sets of notecards. You can also use this chrome-protected and water-resistant box to store business cards, photos, and receipts. The box holds up to 1,100 notecards and comes with a pack of blank labels.

Have More Questions Before Heading Back to School?

Dive into our collection of back-to-school resources to find tips, checklists, and insights from real students.

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36. Item Locator

Our Recommendation: Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker and Item Locator

This bluetooth tracker makes finding your keys, backpack, phone, and other important items much less stressful. Use the free app to ring your Tile from within 250 feet or view recent locations of items located far away from you.

37. Water Kettle

Our Recommendation: Hamilton Beach Electric Tea Kettle and Water Boiler

This cordless water boiler heats water faster and more safely than a microwave or conventional stove. The kettle features an automatic shutoff function to keep water from boiling dry and a mesh pour spout that traps deposits caused by hard water.

38. Mini Fridge

Our Recommendation: BLACK+DECKER Compact Refrigerator

Keep your beverages cool and leftovers fresh with this compact refrigerator. At a little over 1.7 cubic feet, this mini fridge can easily fit beneath a bed or desk. Additional features include a reversible door and adjustable temperature controls.

39. Laptop

Our Recommendation: Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Whether you're writing essays, emailing your professors, or keeping in touch with friends and classmates, getting the right laptop is essential for college success. This option from Acer is rated an impressive 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Features include an easy-to-use touch screen and a backlit keyboard.

40. Portable Charger

Our Recommendation: Miady Dual USB Portable Charger, 2-Pack

This two-pack of portable power banks lets you keep your electronics running on long trips and busy days. Each charger features USB, USB-C, and micro-USB connectivity, and enough power to fully charge the latest iPhones and Androids 2-4 times. Durable rubber exteriors protect your chargers from being damaged.

41. Flash Drive

Our Recommendation: SanDisk 128 GB Cruzer USB 2.0 Flash Drive

This flash drive lets you store and transport up to 128 GB of documents, pictures, and media files. The drive comes with SecureAccess software that uses 128-bit AES encryption, enabling you to password protect private files.

42. Power Strip

Our Recommendation: One Beat Power Strip

This power strip features three AC outlets, three USB-A ports, and one USB-C port. It uses smart technology to maximize energy efficiency between different devices and works with voltages between 100 and 240 volts. It also comes with a 5-foot extension cord and fire-resistant surge protection.

43. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

Our Recommendation: Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo

If you do a lot of writing and research in college, using only the small keyboard and trackpad on your laptop could get uncomfortable. Logitech's full-sized keyboard boasts a spill-resistant design and a comfortable palm rest. The right-handed mouse contours to your hand for precise maneuverability.

44. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

Our Recommendation: Noise-Canceling Headphones

These wireless headphones cancel a variety of low- and mid-frequency noises, including noise from conversations, traffic, and airplane engines. The headphones also produce hi-res audio using dynamic drivers and BassUp technology. Additional features include an enhanced voice pickup microphone and a Bluetooth 5 connection.

45. Wireless Speakers

Our Recommendation: OontZ Angle 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

This portable Bluetooth speaker uses dual-precision acoustic stereo drivers and a passive bass radiator to produce clear sound with little to no distortion — even at the loudest volume setting. The speaker's 14-hour battery life and 100-foot Bluetooth range make it suitable for movie marathons and dance parties.

Health and Wellness

46. Dehumidifier

Our Recommendation: SEAVON Electric Dehumidifier

This 16-ounce dehumidifier removes moisture and irritants from the air. The result is a cooler, less muggy room where you'll feel more comfortable studying, socializing, and sleeping. This mini dehumidifier uses energy-efficient and ultra-quiet thermoelectric cooling technology to clean the air you breathe.

47. First-Aid Kit

Our Recommendation: First Aid Only 57-Piece First-Aid Kit

Accidents happen, but you can prepare for them with this OSHA-compliant portable first-aid kit. The set contains 57 pieces, including antiseptic towelettes, sterile gauze pads, plastic and fabric bandages, and scissors. All supplies fit neatly in a durable plastic case that can be stored in a drawer or mounted on a wall.

48. Moisturizer

Our Recommendation: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this popular moisturizing lotion is gentle on both acne-prone and sensitive skin. It contains ceramides and niacinamides to calm skin and restore your body's natural lipid barrier. The lotion also protects skin from UVA and UVB rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

49. Water Bottle

Our Recommendation: Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle

Staying hydrated can help you stay focused, making a good water bottle a must-have for college students. This stainless steel model is vacuum-insulated and double-walled to prevent spillage and keep your drinks hot or cold all day. It's available in a variety of colors to suit your style.

50. Weighted Blanket

Our Recommendation: Weighted Idea Cooling Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets offer a form of deep-pressure stimulation therapy that can relieve pain and help you relax. This 15-pound, twin-size blanket is made from breathable cotton meant to keep you cool or warm depending on the conditions of your room. You can customize your weighted blanket by choosing from a selection of removable duvet covers.

51. Backrest

Our Recommendation: Ziraki Large Plush Foam Reading Pillow

Despite your best intentions to use a desk or table, you might end up doing homework or watching movies in bed. Unfortunately, our backs don't always love this setup. A backrest can provide lumbar support for areas that commonly grow achy when we sit in various positions. This Ziraki reading pillow comes in gray velvet and provides arm rests. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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