13 Back-to-School Essentials (Even if You're Learning From Home)

Amazon/Hot Topic
Amazon/Hot Topic

Going back to school will look and feel a little different this year, especially when your commute is just a 45-second sprint from the bed to the kitchen table or basement couch. (Or maybe you’re not even leaving the bed at all.)

While pants are now optional, school is still in session—even if you do have The Office or Hamilton playing on loop in the background—so you’ll definitely still need some key essentials to get you through the day.

Whether you’re a teacher gearing up for another year of remote learning or a college student preparing for another semester at Zoom University, these 13 handy items will help make the transition a bit easier.

1. Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair; $80

Smugdesk/Amazon

In search of a comfy yet firm office chair that won’t leave your butt asleep after 15 minutes? Look no further than this mesh office chair, which offers lumbar support to help you sit upright and comfortably for hours on end, sans the back pain. Bonus: The breathable padded mesh cushion is designed to prevent sweat stains.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones; $78

Sony/Amazon

Block out the sounds of neighbors, roommates, fighting family members, or annoying siblings with these noise-canceling headphones from Sony. The adjustable metal sliders ensure a secure yet comfortable fit, and you can also connect them to your Amazon Alexa to make listening to music and podcasts even easier. They'll also hold up to 35 hours of battery life, so they’ll last you through (almost) the entire week.

Buy it: Amazon

3. VIVO Adjustable Standing Desk; $180

Vivo/Amazon

If you get tired of sitting for hours on end, this adjustable and easy-to-assemble standing desk was designed with you in mind. And with 36 inches of surface space, you have plenty of room to fit not one, but two screens along with a keyboard, mouse, a few snacks, and some coffee. If you'd rather learn while lounging, swap the desk for a comfy laptop tray ($35) so you can couch surf through your lectures.

Buy it: Amazon

4. SIIG 10-Port USB Charging Station; $49

SIIG/Amazon

Keep all of your gadgets fully charged—and within arm’s reach—with this functional yet efficient charging station, which can be used for smartphones, Kindles, iPads, and other tech devices. This one from SIIG features 10 USB ports and eight individual slots to help you stay organized and keep your wires untangled.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Shakespeare Insult Pencil Pouch; $13

Unemployed Philosopher's Guild/Amazon

We all know Shakespeare had a way with words, especially when it came to insults. This pencil pouch is adorned with some of the Bard's best jabs, so you won't have to think of your own killer comeback the next time your honor's been besmirched. The compact pouch can easily fit in your backpack or purse—otherwise, display it proudly on your desk for all to see.

Buy it: Amazon

6. To-Do List Sticky Notes; $8

Hot Topic

Keep track of all of your chores and responsibilities—and make sure none of them slip through the cracks—with this adorable assortment of sticky notes from Hot Topic. What sets these notes apart is that they're color-coded by the level of urgency, so you can easily tell the difference between your drop-dead deadlines and what you're free to procrastinate on.

Buy it: Hot Topic

7. Cactus-Shaped Ceramic Diffuser for Essential Oils; $21

LivelyBreeze/Amazon

While potted plants don’t actually improve air quality, this cactus-shaped oil diffuser will certainly help you to breathe easier by reducing stress and transforming your workspace into a Zen oasis. And, it doesn’t require any electricity, heat, or batteries. (TL;DR it’s a lot less work than having to water your succulents every week.) All you need is your favorite essential oil, and you’re good to go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Case; $47-$65

Fjallraven/Amazon

This sturdy, durable case from Fjallraven will protect your precious laptop from any unexpected spillage, mishaps, or accidents. It features all-around foam padding to prevent any bumps or scratches, and there's an outside pocket to hold any important documents, worksheets, or notes. Choose from four different colors: black, navy, green, or pink.

Buy it: Amazon

9. The Office Kevin’s Chili Floating Pen; $10

Hot Topic

The only thing better than Kevin’s famous chili (or The Office in general) is this Office-themed pen, which is complete with an illustration of the famous (spilled) chili and an angry-looking Kevin. If you need a break from school or work, simply tilt the pen to watch the pot of chili magically slip through Kevin’s hands. Just try not to laugh out loud every time you use it.

Buy it: Hot Topic

10. Dwight Schrute Journal; $15

Hot Topic

Stay ahead of the curve, take notes, and keep organized using this Dwight Schrute-inspired journal featuring tabs adorned with icons of a beet, a stapler in gelatin, and even nunchucks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

11. Dustin from Stranger Things Chia Pet; $17

Chia Pet/Amazon

Remember Chia Pets? Of course you do. These nostalgia-inducing novelty items are officially back in style. This one, which is shaped like Dustin from Stranger Things, is the perfect desk decoration to give a little life to your home classroom. The kit includes a planter, a drip tray, and chia seed packets. Dustin’s luscious locks will achieve maximum growth in just one to two weeks and can be replanted indefinitely.

Buy it: Amazon

12. LEVOIT Air Purifier; $90

Levoit/Amazon

This compact air purifier from LEVOIT works hard to keep your air clean and eliminate pollen, smoke, pet dander, mold, or dust. It essentially makes zero noise while it's on, so you can catch up on your work or hop on a video lecture without any distractions. The display light can turn on and off at your convenience, and you can always opt to set a timer for one to 12 hours.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Hamilton “Write My Way Out” Spiral Notebook; $13

stephimariee/RedBubble

Write your way out of almost any dilemma with this 120-page, A.Ham-approved notebook. The back cover is complete with a slot for you to stash away any important letters, essays, or doodles. For an incredibly productive brainstorming or study session, blast the Hamilton soundtrack in the background and let it serve as inspiration.

Buy it: Redbubble

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10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Amazon
Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $20

Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $18

FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $40

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $69

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $10

LOZACH/Amazon

Embrace your inner sloth and declare your lazy feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

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