The countdown has begun, and there’s a buzz in the air. You or a teen in your home might be heading off to college in just a few weeks. With the excitement and nerves, comes a long shopping list of necessary items to ensure the transition to college life goes smoothly. Laptops are necessary, but your entire BluRay collection of Game of Thrones? Probably not.
Teens staying away from home for the first time likely want to make their new dorm room more livable, with all the comforts they’re used to, in order to keep homesickness at bay, and limit stress. But what do you take with you and what do you leave behind?
We’ve done the research for you and narrowed down the list, with dorm essentials for the freshmen year. Our picks are based on top-rated reviews on Amazon. Pick up these items during the Back to School Sale with Prime and get them delivered to you well ahead of the big day!
1. Best Charging Station: Belkin 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Station
- Charges three devices simultaneously
- Case compatible charge (up to 3mm thick)
- Includes manufacturer warranty
- Only compatible with Apple devices
Students are always connected, which means their gadgets may need recharging more than once a day. Charge all three Apple devices you use regularly – the iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods case – in one go, with this impressive Belkin multi-purpose dock. Reviewers love its sleek design: it accommodates all three devices seamlessly. The station is optimised for Apple products – while the iPhone charges at 7.5W, the Apple Watch and AirPods charge at 5W, respectively. Most reviewers were happy to have a docking station where they could pop in all their devices for the night, knowing they would be fully charged and ready to go the next day. Do note this charging station is not suitable for Android phone users, who could benefit from a similar product by AccLoo. Check out other wireless chargers.
2. Best Power Outlet: Promate 16-in-1 Power Tower-5
- 12 AC outlets and 3 USB ports
- Includes USB-C PD port
- Attractive, space saving design
- Has one main switch
There are never enough power outlets, especially in a dorm. Ditch long, awkward power strips and get a power tower instead. Promate’s 16-in-1 Power Tower-5 features 12 AC sockets, along with three USB-A ports and a 20W USB-C power delivery port – so you’ll never run out of outlets for your electronic devices and appliances. This heavy-duty tower is built with an advanced surge protection system that prevents over-charging, overheating, and short circuits. Reviewers say they’ve placed it right on or under their desk and it works like a dream, without creating a tangle of wires. Check out other power adapters.
3. Best Noise-cancelling Headphones: Sony WH 1000XM5 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
- 30-hour battery life
- HD noise-cancelling processor with eight mics
- Music stops when wearer speaks or takes off the headphones
- Noise cancellation is optimised based on environment
- Compatible with voice assistant
- ANC is not adjustable manually
The Sony WH 1000XM5 was our top pick for everyday use in 2023, among noise-cancelling headphones. It's sleek, cushioned, and has a long battery life of 30 hours. Eight mics work together with Sony's Auto NC Optimiser to adjust cancellation levels based on atmospheric pressure and wearing conditions. If you’re using it in the library and someone stops to speak with you, you don’t need to fumble with the mute button – the Speak-to-Chat function automatically pauses any audio to filter in the outside world. This pair works with voice assistants, charges via a USB-C head and comes in its own travel case. Students in the comments have used it successfully to tune out their surroundings and focus completely on their projects or books.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh91.67 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh69 and two years for Dh113.
4. Best Ergonomic Chair: Navodesk KIKO Chair
- Detachable headrest
- Comfortable seat
- Foldable design to save space
- Seven colour options
- Warranty included
- Some reviewers think the backrest is not very comfortable
With long hours of studying ahead, invest in an ergonomic chair that’s great for small spaces. The Navodesk KIKO is our top pick for students since it has a unique folding design: the entire chair can slide under the desk when you’re done using it, saving you space in your dorm room. Despite its storage capability, the chair is fully ergonomic, with a comfortable cushion seat and a mesh back that improves air flow to the back of your body. The chair is Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) certified, which means it meets some of the best international safety standards. Reviewers say it’s very easy to set up, and holds up well to rough use. Although they found the back of the chair uncomfortable after several hours of staying seated, they said the problem is easily solved with the addition of a cushion. The chair is available in seven colours.
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh57.50 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The seller provides a three-year limited warranty.
5. Best Laptop Stand: Lamicall Portable Laptop Stand Riser
- Compatible with most laptops
- Collapsible design
- Manipulating positioning requires both hands
If you’re not opting for a standing desk or a desktop monitor in your dorm room, consider a laptop stand. These gadgets elevate your laptop, making studies more comfortable and reducing the need to hunch over your desk. Lamicall’s stand is compatible with all laptops between 10 and 17.3 inches, and is both adjustable and collapsible, so it’s easy to take along with you for study group sessions. It’s made with anti-skid silicone and has smooth edges to prevent your laptop from sliding and getting scratched. With close to 2,500 4.5-star ratings on Amazon, it comes with rave reviews.
6. Best Compact Coffee Maker: AeroPress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press Kit
- Compact, portable
- Fast brewing
- Makes one to three cups
- Comes with its own travel mug and lid
- Filter holder is poorly designed, reviewers say
One of the most popular coffee brewers on the market, with close to 10,000 five-star reviews, the AeroPress Go is small enough to fit into a drawer, incredibly lightweight and perfect for cramped dorm rooms with limited counterspace. The coffee maker produces one to three cups of smooth American coffee, and can also brew espressos that you can use to make your own lattes, cappuccinos and other drinks. Want a cold brew? Just add ice and milk. Reviewers say the 444ml travel mug (with lid) included with the AeroPress is convenient and perfect to take along when they’re rushing to class. Some, however, found the filter paper holder to be irrelevant, since it can only store a few filters at a time. If you have more space in your dorm, consider an espresso machine or pour-over coffee maker instead.
7. Best Mini Fridge: Hisense Single Door Refrigerator, 122L
- Adjust between eight temperature levels
- Three Energy Star rating
- Door can be opened from the left or right
- Manufacturer warranty included
Whether you’re looking to store your midnight snacks, leftovers, or just some water bottles, you’ll need a compact fridge for your dorm room. Hisense’s single door mini fridge has a solid 122-litre capacity, making it the perfect size for a small room. It has a separate chiller within, for foods that can be stored a few degrees above freezing temperatures. An adjustable thermostat allows you to customise how cold you’d like the fridge’s interiors to be, and the appliance’s doors can be opened from the right or the left, based on your convenience. With plenty of door shelf space, as well as interior space, it’s a great option for hungry students who want the option of a well-stocked fridge. Take a look at other mini fridges.
8. Best Garment Steamer: Tefal DT8159 Access Steam+ Clothes Steamer
- Heats water in 40 seconds
- Portable unit
- Comes with five accessories, and a travel bag
- Steam is hot enough to eliminate odours and bacteria
- Small water tank
While the grungy look can be endearing, it can get old really fast, especially for your professors. Dress sharp with wrinkle-free clothes, thanks to a handheld steamer. Although you’ll have to refill it more often than a regular steam iron, it’s just part and parcel of its travel-friendly form factor. Our Tefal pick takes only 40 seconds to heat up its 200ml water reservoir. The head is fitted with a 140°C heated soleplate to reduce the chances of dripping. It comes with a crease head attachment for creating trouser pleats, a fabric brush for steaming thicker materials, a steam bonnet to disperse the hot air for delicate clothes, a door hook for hanging, and a travel bag to fit it all in. Check out other garment steamers.
9. Best Backpack: Fjällräven Kånken Laptop Bag
We picked the Fjällräven Kånken bag for university students, since it lasts for years. It’s made from Kånken’s defining Vinylon F fabric – a synthetic fibre that makes the bag resilient and durable. The silhouette is rectangular but slim, ideal for laptops up to 15 inches in size. You get a spacious main compartment with an extra zippered pocket inside, a zippered pocket on the front and two open pockets on the side. It’s neither too small, nor too big and bulky – perfect for trips from the dorm to class, and back.
10. Best Sheet Set: Thread Spread Pure Cotton Bed Sheet Set, Twin Size
Nothing sets you up for success at university better than a night of good sleep. Thread Spread’s quality Egyptian cotton sheets are luxurious (with 1,000 thread count), soft, comfortable and durable. The three-piece set includes a white twin flat and fitted sheet, along with one pillowcase. Reviewers say the sheets don’t fade easily, and are extremely comfortable to sleep in. Take a look at other backpack options.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.