Pay the Lowest Price For Every Budget
Once again, we set out to find some camelcamelcamel data on back to school related items. And wouldn’t you know it, most items show an annual price drop around August and September. Paired with free one-day shipping, it makes a lot of sense to purchase back to school items online these days.
For the youngsters, basics like rulers, pencils, backpacks, and insulated lunch bags can be shipped overnight. For high schoolers and college kids, necessities like binders, laptop backpacks, graphing calculators, and portable chargers can all land on your doorstep in less than 24 hours. With lower, moderate, and upper price tiers, free shipping (sometimes, but not always one day) is readily available as well.
Whether you’re a parent trying to ease the pain of your kid going off to college, or a parent trying to ease the pain of your kid staying home for college, or you just need all your back to school purchases to be as thrifty as possible, camelcamelcamel helps you save money on all your back-to-school gear. If you haven’t yet, check out Top Amazon Price Drops, the Popular Products page, and the extensive price history charts.
Kindergarten Through 12th Grade
Keeping up with the fashion sense of children and young adults is a full-time job. Luckily, kindergarteners don’t really have a say in the matter. For the rest, we tried to present not just popular items at three different price points, but ones that come in a variety of colors and patterns.
For some, a standard binder is more than enough, especially since you can customize the covers as well as the spine with your own artwork. But as far as the next steps go, Five Star is the gold standard for spiffy binders. Like this zipper binder that has built-in zipper pockets, a velcro pocket for your calculator (or phone, let’s face it), and one of the covers even expands into a five-tab paper file. Not to mention, it is not too big, and not too small – some might call it the Goldilocks of zipper binders.
If you want to take it up a notch, check out the Amazon Basics 3-Ring Binder with Zipper. This binder would be great for high schoolers on their way to college. It has a lot of the same features as the Five Star, but it’s bigger, and has a carrying strap and handle. If you play your cards right, you might not even need a backpack.
We all know what it’s like to open up that sad brown bag only to find a “feast” of room temperature carrot sticks, PB and J sandwiches, and having to wash it down with a lukewarm, sugary beverage. Not only are they insulated to help keep food more fresh and temperature safe, reusable lunch bags are better for the environment. They allow for more healthy, and tasty, meals to be enjoyed mid-day.
Bentgo Kids Children’s Lunch Box
For youngsters aged 3-7, this multi-compartment lunch box is leak-proof. To keep things extra cool, stick it in an insulated lunch bag with a side pocket meant for a water bottle. Or try the Bentgo Kids Chill Lunch Box which comes with an extra compartment for ice packs.
VAGREEZ Insulated Lunch Bag
This is a no frills insulated bag that gets the job done for an extremely low price. This particular bag would work for children and adults. It’s waterproof and can keep food warm just as easily as it keeps food cold.
Upper Order Durable Insulated Lunch Box Tote
It’s always a good day when the fanciest option is not the most expensive option. The features of the Upper Order Lunch Box Tote are simplified from the Bentogo, but more versatile than the VAGREEZ. The even better news is that it’s extremely affordable. It also comes with handy outside and interior pockets. Stick an ice pack in between a few pieces of tupperware filled with leftovers and you’re set. There is something energizing about looking forward to lunchtime.
One way to save some bucks is to buy back to school supplies in bundles. Like this Essentials Bundle which is great for 4th through 7th grade. Or this slightly more involved set that could very easily get a kid into the first few semesters of high school. The good thing about buying in bundles is if you run out of one particular item, like pencils, you can just restock that particular item when the time comes.
College is a place where young adults have more agency in their lives. There are also many more distractions around this time. This is why it’s important to purchase back to school items that make college students feel confident and excited to learn, or at least make the process a bit more easy and enjoyable. That could mean using more organizational tools or finding reusable items that are fun to use, not to mention, better for the environment.
Cool Pens and Pencils
Pentel GraphGear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil
There’s nothing wrong with the classic BIC mechanical pencils, except that they’re not refillable. When you really want to have just one trusty pencil for taking notes, why not upgrade to a very affordable drafting pencil. It feels good in the hand and will last a long time.
You probably know about Stabilo from their very cool set of felt tip markers that are used more and more for adult coloring books. But this little set is made for jotting down notes more than filling in mandalas. It could be just what the college kid in your life needs to get a bit more excited about reading, writing, and taking notes. They’re also seriously great for doodling.
Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen
This short, refillable fountain pen has a cool screw-off cap that connects to the back of the pen making it full size. It’s refillable and can even be converted to use whatever ink you want. Writing with a fountain pen turns everyday note-taking into a bit more of a cathartic endeavor. It’s really in its own category. Not to mention, how much more stylized writing can look, and how much more satisfying the process can be.
Cool Water Bottles
We get it, there is just something so satisfying about Hydro Flask insulated water bottles. But they can be expensive and rarely go on sale. Luckily, there are many ways to scratch the water bottle itch without feeling buyer's remorse every time you want to take a sip.
This insulated water bottle is among the most affordable options, and that’s for a large, 40oz bottle. Not to mention, it looks just as slick as the Hydro Flask.
This bottle is basically identical to the Hydro Flask, except as the size doubles, the price does not.
This extremely popular water bottle is a wonderful alternative as well. Amazingly, as the size of the water bottle goes up, the price increases in smaller increments in comparison to the Hydro Cell.
Smaller Hydro Flask
We get it, there’s something in you that can’t reconcile the Hydro Flask conundrum. Our advice to you would be, check out the smaller sizes. Is there a water fountain that you can swing by regularly to fill it up? Have you ever asked if you can fill up your water bottle at a soda fountain?
Cooler Notebooks - MoleSkine Alternatives
Having school supplies that feel good when you hold them, and look good when you write, can really make the slog of Finals more manageable. Just as Hydro Flask seems to be the gold (trendy) standard of water bottles, Moleskine journals, too, have a cult following. Luckily, there are many alternatives that have way less hipster stigma.
These colorful leather-covered journals strike a perfect balance: they feel like a Moleskine but don’t look like them. Besides coming in at a fraction of the price, the selection of colors set it apart just enough from the typical Moleskine.
This hard-covered alternative will make note-taking feel more like art than a chore. It comes with an elastic strap and a matching ribbon bookmark attached. This one also doubles as a journal.
Moving away from the classic backpack can be liberating, and not just because you will be spared from back sweat. Breaking loose from the norm and trying one of these backpack alternatives is a great way to enhance style and individuality. There is nothing like getting a cool new bag and methodically loading in your school supplies for the first time.
Rothco Canvas Classic Messenger Bag
This is a classic no frills messenger bag and it is far, far cheaper than any Timbuk2 bag. It comes in a ton of different colors and has multiple pockets on the inside, and a sleeve for a water bottle on the end. The single color tone is also a great canvas for enamel pins, patches, and cloth art.
MOSISO Crossbody Shoulder Bag
There are so many shoulder bags around these days but few are as affordable, or come in as many color options as this one. This bag is absolutely perfect for K-12, and works for college too. If you don’t like this one, there are many, many, other shoulder bags that are still a fraction of the price of trendier brands. Like this one, check out this unisex leather bag made for cycling.
Easy peasy, one big pocket, two handles that sling over one shoulder––tote bags are extremely versatile and easy to find your school supplies in. If you wanted to get a little fancy, you might try this unisex Champion bag. Or keep it classic with this canvas tote bag.
Self Care for Parents
Care Package for Parents to Give Themselves
Some kids who’re fresh out of high school will be staying home while they begin their college careers. For this occasion, it’s only fair that the parents also get a care package.
A solid cocktail set will surely come in handy getting over the Wednesday hump. This one even comes with a recipe book.
Massagers for Neck and Back with Heat
Although there are many options for personal massagers out there, this one hit several marks: it’s affordable, portable, and very versatile.
Pair one of these with some scented candles and a padlock on the bathroom door, and you will forget what children even are.
And sometimes you need to pull in the big guns and escape reality. Luckily this handy headset allows you to do just that using only your smartphone. Goodbye worldly problems.
Care Package for Freshly-Minted Adults in College
Classic care package items include fresh baked cookies, cases of Instant Ramen, George Foreman Grills, electric kettles, and hot sauce packs. But consider some of the many devices around that will help your adult children stay in touch with you.
For example, imagine sending over the Echo Show 8 with an HD smart display with Alexa. This 8-inch screen can be mounted by the computer in any dorm room and allows for quick and easy video calls. It will also help the students in your life manage their day swiftly, not to mention, it can be used as a digital picture frame if they are feeling homesick.
Another cool device that is extremely affordable and can help with homesickness is the Petcube Pet Monitoring Camera. Imagine setting this unobtrusive camera up near the areas of the house where the beloved childhood dog, cat, or lizard sleeps. Anytime they want, your college kid can open up an app on their phone, and see what Spot, Fluffy, or Slimy are up to.
When helping a child move through the school system, it’s important to help them feel confident. With camelcamelcamel, you don’t have to worry about overpaying for all kinds of back to school necessities. We have extensive price history charts available for many items. Just put the Amazon URL or product keywords into the camelcamelcamel search bar. Or maybe you’re not sure about an item or aren’t in a hurry, the price drop email alerts are totally free, (along with every other feature of the site).