As summer break comes to a screeching halt, it's time to hone in on the best options for back to school gear. We took on the massive undertaking of sorting through the retail madness, so you don't have to waste a precious minute of valuable vacation time. Rest assured, we value awesomeness over deep pockets, so nothing on this list is sponsored.
We included items for the youngest students all the way up to the seasoned college crew. There is a lot to love out there, but this list is concise to maximize your leisure time.
Here are 12 unisex items sure to please parents and students everywhere.
Where was this smartpen when we were in school? The Livescribe 4GB Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen gives students the freedom to focus on listening and participating instead of pacing a sentence behind the teacher. As you jot down notes or sketches, your Sky Smartpen captures them and brings them into the digital world. With a single tap, you can record audio along with your notes, so you never miss a word again. Featuring 4GB of memory, the 4GB Sky wifi Smartpen can hold up to 400 hours of audio and thousands of pages of notes. Give your favorite student the edge in class with this nifty gadget.
Never miss a thing with the Pebble Smart Watch. Let's face it, students will always keep their phone within finger reach. This watch allows them to stash it out of sight, but not miss out on a steady dopamine hit from emails, texts and all their favorite apps. They can get active and track runs, also kick off voice nav without touching their phone. It will even tell you the time. Imagine that.
How many lunch boxes have you bought in your lifetime? The answer... too many. Stop the madness and spring for a PlanetBox lunch box. Fun to pack and fun to eat from the divided compartments, this little gem encourages healthy eats and is completely eco-friendly. Never worry about plastic leaching, BPA contamination or any other nastiness in your child's food. Toss it in the dishwasher and call it a day, then repeat.
Still have lunch box burn-out from last year? If you need ammo in your healthy packing arsenal, add Best Lunch Box Ever to your cookbook collection.
"The Best Lunch Box Ever is a terrific gift for anyone who has to pack a lunch for a kid, and wants that lunch to be healthy-and eaten. Katie Morford has dozens of interesting and sometimes surprising suggestions for easy, delicious, and nutritious lunch items that kids will enjoy-if parents don't get to them first. I wish I'd had this book when my kids were in school." -- Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat.
Mornings just got easier.
Lunchbox Love for Kids. You've got the lunch box, and the healthy food, all you need is the love. Send your littles to school with a sweet message to find midday. It's like a virtual hug from home. There are numerous sets for young kids, teens, also trivia and encouragement to never give up.
No more wires and completely waterproof, the BlueAnt Pump, HD Sportbuds can take a beating and keep on playing. Students need musical intermission during a long day of brain-cramming. From their site: Train, play and live unleashed with Pump, the ultimate multi-sport wireless headphone. A rugged, military-grade design keeps water and debris out, protecting the premium audio components tuned to let the beat set the pace. No matter how hard you go or how tough the conditions, move with freedom and confidence and let nothing limit where the music takes you."
Students need their computers. Some will never stray from Microsoft, others are loyal Apple junkies. We decided to stay out of that dog fight with our tablet choice, so we went with Android.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is our tablet pick for the 2014/2015 school year. If your favorite student is orderly and craves congruency, this tablet is nicely enhanced with a Galaxy phone. Lighten your textbook load and save your workouts for the gym. Keep all your ebooks in one place, take notes, and prevent shoulder strap burns with this sweet tablet.
Many students and parents are on a budget. Affordable technology is fast on the rise and the Acer C720 is a solid choice if you are looking for a laptop under $500. This Chromebook packs an 11.6-inch touchscreen, a 1.4GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a webcam for video chat, 32GB of SSD storage and a 7.5-hour battery.
Don't leave home without your juice. Sleek, powerful, and versatile, Jackery makes its way to the top of the large heap of portable chargers. The Jackery Giant+ 12000mAh external battery has dual USB port for Apple iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, 4S, iPad, Air, Mini, Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, Note, Nexus, LG, HTC. Super-fast and ready to charge both your phone and your iPad at the same time. Life is too short to be technologically flat-lined.
Last, but most important, the ultimate backpack. There are 3 that caught our eye and we couldn't bear to part with any one of them.
Herschel Supply Co. Settlements Youth backpacks are perfectly sized for students who are too big for pint-sized, character backpacks, but not quite ready for a full-sized adult textbook haul. Nice assortment of fresh new prints that are stylish for both boys and girls.
If you are looking for a laptop bag, Timbuk2 is the way to go. We can't match their crafty wit, so here's an excerpt from their site: "Timbuk2 was born in a San Francisco garage and raised on the backs of hard-working bike messengers. Since 1989, we’ve manufactured good-looking, tough-as-hell bags that you can truly make your own. Timbuk2 bags outlast jobs, relationships and sadly, even some pets. We work hard and play harder. Timbuk2's trademarked Swing Around Access; grab your laptop without taking off your laptop backpack."
This one may just last more than one school year.
If architects carried backpacks, they would flock to the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack. This iconic Swedish designed pack is highly durable with abrasion and water resistant fabric that softens with age through every wash. Timeless, functional and durable...walk onto campus like a boss.
The Birdtyell Team
More from entertainment