When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Being a student is expensive, but student-exclusive discounts are all over the web.
We’ve found the best offers available for students on style, tech, insurance, and more.
Enrollment in a program like UNiDAYS can alert you to deals, but doesn’t include every offer available.
No matter where learning takes place this year, being a student can really pile up the costs. Whether you’re shopping for back to school or just for fun, many retailers offer discounts for students to help you spend less and save more.
If you know where to look, student-exclusive discounts are all over the web from a variety of retailers. Even online services you are already using like Amazon Prime, Youtube Premium, and Spotify offer huge discounts for students with a validated status. Spare yourself paying full price at the places you already frequent – make sure you are signed up with a program like UNiDAYS or peruse our lineup of student discounts available now to get the deals you deserve.
Here are 65+ retailers offering student discounts
Online services and software
Adobe: Discounted to $20/month for all Creative Cloud apps.
Eurail: Save 25% on a Eurail Youth Pass for people 27 years old or younger.
United Airlines: Get 5% off flights if you are between the ages of 18 to 22.
Student Universe: Save on flights, hotels, and more when you verify your student status.
Allstate: Get the Smart Student Discount if you successfully complete the teenSMART program, attend school at least 100 miles away from where a car is garaged, and are a full-time student getting good grades.
Farmers Insurance: Drivers under 25 years old who are full-time students in high school or college and have good grades may qualify.
Geico: Full-time students with a good academic record could be eligible for up to a 15% discount on certain coverages.
Nationwide: Drivers 16 to 24 years old must be full-time high school or college students and maintain a minimum B average to qualify.
State Farm: Save up to 25% for good grades. The savings last after you graduate from college until you turn 25.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I verify my status as a student?
Each retailer has a verification method and will usually disclose how to do that in the promotion details. Some businesses use verification sites like ID.me or UNiDAYS, whereas others will require a .edu e-mail or enrollment verification such as transcripts or grades. Teachers also have access to exclusive discounts that require ID.me or a similar verification website to get a promotion, so it’s common to have to make an account for discounts.
What is UNiDAYS?
UNiDAYS is a free website and app for college students to find discounts and deals. Signing up requires verification through your institutional e-mail to get access to the discounts. UNiDAYS is not the only way to access student discounts, but it does have a wide selection of discounts in one place.
Are discounts specific to being enrolled in college or high school?
Many discounts will say if the discount is for any student or college students specifically. The details of each promotion will likely say who the discount is for and oftentimes retailers may ask for the name of the college or .edu e-mail, indicating eligibility. Businesses may ask for a student ID, so make sure to bring that with you if you are shopping in person.
Whether you work from home or are back in the office, a good desk will help keep you comfortable and productive. A poorly designed desk can lead to back and neck strain, which will inevitably interfere with your day.
To find out what makes a great work desk, we consulted with experts in ergonomics and interior design to narrow down the hundreds of desks available at online retailers. We looked for desks that were between 23 and 29 inches tall for the best ergonomics (with bonus points going to products that are adjustable), as well as being stylish and made from high-quality materials. We explain our research methodology more at the end of the guide.
The customizable Fully Jarvis Standing Desk provides a spacious work surface and an adjustable height, allowing you to position the desk to suit your frame.
From an ergonomics standpoint, an adjustable desk like the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk is the best option for most people since it allows you to change the surface height to match your frame and chair height.
This particular adjustable desk comes in several widths and heights. We recommend opting for the “Extended Range” height option, which allows you to adjust the surface height between 24.5 and 50 inches. The metal frame is available in four colors, while the bamboo top comes in two finishes, and you also have the option to swap in a contoured tabletop on several of the larger sizes.
The Jarvis has a toggle handset to adjust its height and lifting capacity of 350 pounds. While the base version of the desk is fairly simple, you can choose to outfit it with powered grommets, desk organizers, wire management kits, and more, creating a tailored solution to suit your needs. If you’re not satisfied with the desk, the brand offers a 30-day free return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty on desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.
The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk‘s L-shaped design will fit perfectly into the corner of an office, taking advantage of the extra space and providing a larger work surface than traditional desks. It’s just over 59 inches long and wide, and 29 inches tall. That may seem lower than most standard desks, but our experts say that 30-inch desks are too tall for most people to comfortably sit at.
This corner desk has a black metal frame with a tempered glass top and faux cherry wood accents. The desk can support 60 pounds on each side and has two built-in storage shelves. The wooden corner piece and shelves are made from PVC laminate (a type of plastic), so they’re easy to care for.
The best desk for small spaces
The GreenForest Folding Desk is compact while still providing plenty of space for your work, and it can fold flat so it’s easy to store.
The GreenForest Folding Desk can easily fit into a small apartment, dorm, or makeshift office, as it’s just 32 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The design features a lower desktop that can easily hold a laptop, notepad, or textbook, and there’s also a 6-inch upper shelf that’s ideal for a computer monitor or other desk essentials.
This desk is supported by an X-shaped metal frame, and the desktop is made from medium-density fiberboard. There’s no assembly required, and when not in use, you can fold the desk flat and tuck it into a corner or behind a sofa.
While its design may be simple, the Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk offers convenience for anyone who is regularly searching for an electrical outlet. It has an integrated power strip that you can access right on the desktop. There are two USB ports, allowing for easy charging for all your devices. The power cable for these outlets discreetly protrudes from the bottom of the desk’s back leg, helping to minimize the number of wires running behind your desk and reducing clutter in your space.
This desk, which comes recommended by our experts, is 60 inches wide and just over 29 inches deep, and it has a 29-inch height that will be comfortable for most people. It’s supported by four metal legs and has a laminate top. You can choose between an all-white or faux wood finish to complement your decor.
The best affordable desk
For a desk that won’t break the bank, the Coavas Computer Desk is a comfortable size and it folds down flat when not in use, making it easier to store and move.
Despite its low price, the Coavas Computer Desk checks off many of the boxes for a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The desk has an industrial-inspired design with a metal frame and faux wood top. It’s a moderate size at 40 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 28 inches tall.
Because of its shallow depth (a common feature among budget-friendly desks), it may not be the most comfortable to use when working on a computer, but it will work well for reading, writing, and studying. You can assemble this desk in a matter of seconds, and it’s equally easy to disassemble if you want to put it into storage or move it.
This desk has a weight capacity of 200 pounds thanks to its metal frame. The top is made from medium-density fiberboard, which means you should avoid getting it wet or placing hot objects on the surface. While it might not last forever, the Coavas desk is budget-friendly and sturdy, making it a worthwhile choice for a temporary office.
The best minimalist desk
The Ikea Bekant Desk has a simple design that adjusts to different heights, and it features an integrated cord management system to keep your workspace neat.
If you prefer a minimalistic appearance, the Ikea Bekant Desk is about as plain as they come with its monochromatic two-leg design. However, this desk is sturdy and functional, thanks to its adjustable height and built-in cable management system.
The desktop is 63 inches long and 31.5 inches deep, and you can adjust its height between 26 and 33.5 inches to best suit your height and chair. The table has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, and it has a melamine surface that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, there’s a net underneath the tabletop that allows you to tuck away unsightly cords, keeping your workspace tidy.
Just keep in mind that the Bekant doesn’t have electronic controls. To change its height, you need an Allen key (otherwise known as a hex key), so it isn’t the best choice if you want a desk you can adjust at the touch of a button.
The best extra-wide desk
The Article Madera Desk gives you plenty of space to spread out thanks to its 71-inch width. The desk is crafted from durable solid wood and features a hidden cable management cabinet.
Need ample room to spread out all your work essentials? The Article Madera has a spacious 71-inch design that allows you to set up a computer, with plenty of space left over for documents, books, and other work essentials. This stylish desk is available in either oak or chestnut finishes, and it’s crafted from solid and veneered wood for a durable frame that will stand the test of time.
The desk is 71 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. Its height means it might be best for taller people. The table has an industrial style with metal accents and exposed bolts, and the wood is finished with a wire brush for a naturally textured appearance.
There’s a hidden cable management cabinet at the rear of the desk so you can tuck away charging cables and cords. For added storage, Article also offers a matching Madera File Cabinet to complete your home office.
The best wall-mounted desk
The Trenton Fold Out Table takes up minimal space thanks to its wall-mounted design, and you can install it at the appropriate height for an ergonomic workspace.
If you’re hoping to turn any space into a makeshift office, the Pottery Barn Trenton Fold Out Table is an ideal solution. The versatile table mounts on the wall, and its solid pine surface easily folds down when it’s time to work. Once you’re done for the day, you can simply clear off the tabletop and fold it back up, freeing up valuable space in your home.
This fold-out desk is 30 inches wide and just over 22 inches deep. Because of its shallow depth, it’s not the best option for working on a computer, but it will work well for reading and writing. Since you can mount it at any height, you can find the perfect spot to match your height and chair and keep your body ergonomically aligned.
The desk’s frame is made from powder-coated steel for durability, and its kiln-dried pine surface is easy to maintain. You can use the steel brace as a magnet board, pinning up important notes and other documents in front of your work area.
The best writing desk
The Bedford Writing Deskfrom Pottery Barn is a well-made piece of furniture with a classic design, and it features a two- or three-drawer cabinet for all your storage needs.
Writing desks have a simple yet timeless design. Because they’re designed for note-taking, reading, and writing, they’re often not as large as computer desks. The tricky part when shopping for a writing desk is finding one that doesn’t have a pull-out drawer in the center that will interfere with proper ergonomics. With that in mind, one of the best options is Pottery Barn’s Bedford Writing Desk.
This desk is 52 inches long and 23 inches wide, giving you ample space to spread out with your papers. It’s crafted from kiln-dried pine and veneers with an antique white finish, and you can choose whether you want a two-drawer cabinet with two file drawers or a three-drawer cabinet, which has one file drawer and two small standard drawers for supplies. This cabinet tower fits on either side of the desk, allowing you to tailor the piece to your space. The back of the desk is finished in case you want to have it facing the room.
The best drafting desk
It’s easy to adjust the height of the Zeny Drafting Desk to suit your needs, and the top tilts to make it easier for architects and other creative professionals to draw.
Drafting desks are a popular choice for architects and creative professionals, as the tabletop tilts to allow for more comfortable drawing, painting, or sketching. The Zeny Drafting Desk is ideal for any of these tasks. It has a spacious and adjustable workspace, as well as two storage drawers, a built-in pen container, and a side table for other supplies.
The desktop measures 34 inches wide and over 23 inches deep, and you can adjust the height of the drafting desk between 28 and 36 inches. Additionally, the tabletop adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees, allowing you to tilt it to a comfortable angle. The desk has a steel frame and MDF surfaces, and it also comes with a matching stool.
What to look for in a desk
To develop criteria for evaluating desks, we consulted with two experts. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS-HFE, CPE, the principal ergonomist of Learn Ergo and a consultant with UC Ergonomics Research Lab, and interior designer Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity. Both regularly work with their clients to create comfortable, ergonomic, and highly functional home offices. They highlighted several important features that you should prioritize ahead of aesthetic appeal.
I used their guidance, as well as my background as a product reviewer for four years, when selecting desks for this guide. I used my experience testing household products to develop a comprehensive testing methodology.
While 30 inches is the standard height for many desks, this is actually too high for most people. “The correct height for your computer desk is your relaxed elbow height when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor,” said Afterman.
“It really depends on your own height and upper arm length, but the range that most people fall in is between 23 and 29 inches above the floor. I usually recommend a 28-inch tall desk if you can find it, but even that may be too high” said Afterman. She typically prefers height-adjustable desks, which allow you to find the best height for your frame. If you’re looking specifically for standing desks, check out our guide.
While desk width is a matter of preference, the depth of the surface can impact your comfort if you’re using a computer. If you plan to put a computer monitor on your desk, our experts recommend avoiding desks that are too narrow, which can cause back strain.
“I always recommend a 30-inch-deep desk,” said Afterman. “The problem with a shallow desk is that you cannot get enough distance between your eyes and the monitor when sitting relaxed back in the chair.” You end up resting your hands and wrists on the desktop when using the keyboard and mouse. “These postures can quickly fatigue the upper back and compress the soft tissue or nerves in the wrist,” Afterman said.
However, for those who don’t need a computer, a narrower desk may work just fine.
Thin table top without drawers in the center
Many desks include a drawer or two underneath the tabletop, but this type of design can cause strain on your body. Afterman explains that you increase the risk of bumping your knees on features like drawers, shelves, or panels, and they can interfere with your ability to set your work chair at an appropriate height. “When you have a drawer under the desk, you can only raise your chair so high without your legs bumping into the bottom of the table. This leads to shrugging your shoulders up to use the keyboard and mouse, which quickly leads to shoulder and neck soreness or pain,” said Afterman.
The most common desk materials are wood, metal, glass, and manufactured materials such as medium-density fiberboard, frequently called MDF. Kiln-dried hardwood and metal are more durable choices, but they also drive up the price. If you only need a temporary solution to last a few years, MDF or other faux materials are budget-friendly, but they’re also more prone to wear, stains, and warping.
There are many items you may want to keep on hand as you work, ranging from pens and pencils to files, books, and charging cables. If there aren’t other storage spaces nearby, you may want to look for a desk with a side tower of drawers or a built-in file cabinet, as long as they don’t protrude into your leg space
“Ultimately, a good desk provides you with the basic things you need for when you need them,” says Monte. “Maybe this desk has file storage built in or perhaps it’s just got a few basic drawers, but functionality matters.”
Finally, there’s also the matter of choosing a desk that matches your aesthetic. This should be a secondary consideration after ergonomic requirements are met, but there is no shortage of desks to choose from, including modern, contemporary, mid-century, traditional, and more. We focused on ergonomics here in our guide and considered the design when choosing our top picks.
What type of desk do I need?
There are several common desk styles that you will encounter, and the differences between them can be confusing. Here are the distinctions of each style.
Height-adjustable desks have gained popularity in recent years, as they allow you to set the exact height of the desktop to suit your chair and body. “A height-adjustable table can be used to optimize the desk height when you’re sitting and has the added bonus of providing a standing option as an alternative to mix into your day,” said Afterman.
These desks are often controlled by electronic panels (which means they need to be plugged into an outlet), but some budget options are manual. Others require tools, like an Allen key, which is more time-consuming.
Computer desks are specifically designed to accommodate an electronic setup. These desks typically have larger desktops that provide space for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other components, and they often have various cord management features, as well.
When compared to computer desks, writing desks are typically not as spacious. They’re often not deep enough to comfortably use a computer monitor. Writing desks frequently have drawers on one or both sides, as well as under the desktop, providing space to store writing implements and notebooks. Some also feature a hutch on top for additional storage. Because they’re a more traditional style of furniture, you’ll find that many writing desks have a classic aesthetic.
Corner desks have an L-shaped design that fits into the corner of a room. They come in many different styles and materials, and they often provide more workspace than traditional desks. Some may also feature shelves, file cabinets, or drawers built into their designs.
Originally used by managers and other high-ranking professionals, executive desks are large and stately. Because they’re often arranged in the center of a room, they typically have finished backs. Many executive desks have a double-pedestal design, meaning there are file cabinets or drawers on each side. They naturally become the focal point of any space.
Drafting desks, also called drafting tables or architect’s tables, are used for drawing and sketching. They’re defined by a tilting tabletop, which can generally be fixed at several angles. These desks often have large work surfaces that can accommodate oversized architectural plans or sketch pads, and there may also be drawers, side tables, and organizers for things like pens and paper.
How should you sit at a desk?
In addition to having a desk that’s the proper height, width, and depth, you should also sit properly for comforot and ergonomics. “Foot support is critical to reducing back strain,” said Afterman. “Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest if your seat is raised. The knees should be even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.”
You’ll also want to ensure that your arms are in an appropriate position. “The arms should be supported with the shoulders relaxed,” said Afterman. “You can get support from the chair armrest or the work surface. Avoid resting on the elbows as this can compress the ulnar nerve. Instead, rest on the muscle area of the forearm to allow the shoulders and back to relax.”
Finally, be sure to position your chair and computer monitor in proper locations to reduce strain. “You should sit close enough to the desk to keep the elbows near the body and avoid reaching forward,” says Afterman. “Set the monitor height with the top of the screen at eyebrow level (lower for bifocal wearers) and close enough to read while you relax back in the chair.”
How should you style a desk?
It’s not always easy to arrange your furniture in a way that’s functional but also stylish, and it’s extra challenging when it involves a work desk in your home. “When arranging your desk in your home or office, you want to think about what the focal point of the space is,” says Monte. “When a room lacks a focal point, our eyes tend to bounce all over the place.”
If you have a designated room for an office or want to create a dedicated office space in a living room or bedroom, try creating a natural focal point with a rug. “Not only will this be soft under feet while you’re working, but it will also layer in a bit of warmth to any office,” said Monte.
Monte recommends opting for a rug that’s significantly larger than your desk, as this will ensure your chair isn’t constantly rolling off the edge. If you’re looking for recommendations for office seating, check out our guide to the best office chairs.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Consider your budget and how you’re planning to use your device when buying a new school laptop.
Students should also look for education discounts and consider the resources available on campus.
It’s also important to consider whether a MacBook, Chromebook, or Windows PC is best for your needs.
As a college student, your laptop is your lifeline. Whether you’re working on a paper, watching movies in bed, or blasting music before a night out, your laptop is at the center of almost everything you do.
That’s why picking out the right one is so important. There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a laptop, but there are two key questions that will guide most of your decisions: What do you intend to use it for, and how much are you willing to spend?
There are many other factors, but those two questions should be at the center of your search. A student studying history or English, for example, will experience very different workloads than those pursuing a major in graphic design or video production.
Here’s a look at what to consider when buying a laptop for school.
Know what you’re getting for your money
Budget is the biggest consideration when searching for a new laptop. The best laptops usually cost around $1,000 or more, but you can find worthwhile picks below that price point.
Laptops that cost around $1,000 will typically have the latest processors from Intel in the Core i5 or Core i7 line, which means they should offer fast performance and last for at least the typical four years of study. These laptops also usually have high-quality durable designs, 13-inch screens that have a resolution of at least 1080p, and enough memory and storage to handle most workloads. It’s good to think of $1,000 as a baseline price for a new laptop.
Laptops in the $300 to $600 range will typically come with less powerful processors and usually top out at 8GB of memory (RAM). Laptops closer to the $300 end of the spectrum or lower will probably run on an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, meanwhile you’re likely to find Intel Core chips closer to the $600 range. Many devices in the price bracket will be Chromebooks, which are best for those who just need a laptop for getting online and using Google’s suite of apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.
If you’re spending $2,000 or more on a laptop, you can expect to start seeing options for features like dedicated graphics, Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processors, larger screens with sharper resolutions, at least 512GB of solid-state storage, and at least 16GB of RAM. Most students won’t need to spend this much on a laptop unless they’re planning to use it for gaming in their spare time.
Learn about the tech resources available on campus first
Even if you are planning to pursue a major that might require heavy-duty computing, most colleges have computer labs on campus and allow students to rent tech equipment. The facilities will vary depending on the campus, and schools known for specializing in certain fields like technology or design may have more advanced computer labs than others.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the resources available on-site before investing in your own computer. Make it a priority to see the computer labs during a campus visit, conduct some online research by browsing the college’s website, or even reach out to the admissions office for more information if you have questions.
This will help you gain a better understanding of whether you’ll be using your personal computer for the majority of your classwork, or if you’ll be able to rely on the school’s resources for more demanding workloads.
Look for student discounts before you buy.
Many laptop makers offer special deals and discounts for students, so be sure to browse their education programs before buying.
Apple offers year-round education discounts that take $100-$200 off the price of a MacBook laptop depending on the model. As part of its special back-to-school promotion running through September 27, Apple is also throwing in a free pair of standard AirPods.
Decide whether a Mac, Windows PC, or Chromebook is best for you
Aside from budget, choosing the right operating system is the most important decision you’ll make when buying a new computer. For most people, this decision comes down to which software they’re most comfortable and familiar with. But each operating system offers certain benefits that are worth considering.
Windows is the most popular laptop operating system and offers the most flexibility. You can find Windows devices at almost any price range, unlike MacBooks which start at $899 for the newest MacBook Air with a student discount. Certain Windows laptops are also available in 2-in-1 designs with touchscreens that allow them to serve as both laptops and tablets. That could make Windows a better choice for those who plan to use their laptop for entertainment, too.
Apple’s macOS is the operating system that powers MacBook laptops. If you own an iPhone, you might feel most comfortable with macOS since Apple’s smartphone and laptop software share many apps and features. For example, iPhones and MacBooks each have apps like iMessage, Safari, Maps, Mail, and Calendar. Plus, you can pick up from wherever you left off in most of Apple’s apps when switching between iPhone and Mac through a feature called Handoff.
Chromebooks, on the other hand, run on Google’s Chrome OS. It’s a very simple operating system that’s designed around using web-based apps like Google’s Chrome browser, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. They’re best for those who just want an affordable laptop for getting online and performing basic tasks like notetaking, researching, and web browsing. If you don’t anticipate needing much software for your schoolwork other than Google’s web browser and word processor, a Chromebook might be the right choice for you.
Choose a laptop with the right specifications for your needs
Next, you’ll want to think about factors like how much processor power you need and what size you’re looking for in a laptop. Here’s a rundown of the most important specifications you should consider during the shopping process.
Processor and memory
A laptop’s processor is the biggest factor in determining its performance. Most laptops run on Intel processors, but you’ll occasionally find some powered by AMD chips as well.
In general, it’s best to avoid buying a laptop with a processor that’s more than two generations old. That’s because you want to make sure your laptop remains fast and capable for at least four to five years. Investing in technology that’s several years old could result in you spending more money in the long run since you might have to replace it sooner than expected.
When it comes to memory, you’ll ideally want a machine with at least 8GB of RAM. The RAM often determines how good your computer is at juggling multiple tasks, such as opening dozens of tabs in a web browser, and buying a laptop without enough RAM could result in slower performance under heavy workloads.
In general, a laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM is plenty for most tasks. But an Intel Core i3 laptop will also suffice if your budget is a little tighter and you don’t anticipate that you’ll be using your laptop for much more than browsing the web and watching Netflix. It’s common to see Chromebooks with lower-end specs when it comes to the processor and RAM because they’re only meant for basic tasks like these.
Just like anything else, your laptop’s display quality and size depends on how you intend to use it. If you’re mostly using your laptop for writing papers, taking notes, and conducting research, you probably don’t need a super high-resolution screen. Many laptops come with a screen resolution of at least 1080p, which is all you really need for basic word processing and research.
If you’re already planning to spend $1,000 or more on a laptop for other reasons, like the processing power, your laptop will probably have an even sharper display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 or 2,560 x 1,200. Touchscreens can also add to the price, so consider whether that’s a priority for you before buying. Some laptops come with the option to upgrade to a 4K display, but it’s usually more money than it’s worth, especially considering it can impact battery life.
Many laptops come with 13-inch screens, but you can also find larger models with 15-inch or 17-inch screens, and smaller-sized 11-inch laptops. Larger-sized models are more expensive and usually come with more powerful processors, while smaller-sized laptops are tailored for convenience and portability and are generally equipped to only handle the basics.
Laptops with 13-inch screens fall right in the middle and usually offer the best combination of screen space and portability for most people.
Consider how you plan to use your laptop before deciding which size is right for you. Is having a device that’s lightweight enough to squeeze in a small bag and carry around campus your main priority, or are you planning to primarily use your laptop at your dorm room desk?
Many laptops come with at least 128GB or 256GB of storage, except for Chromebooks since they rely on cloud storage. This should be enough storage for most people, but students working with large video files and photos might want to upgrade to a laptop with 512GB or more.
Just remember that storage drives up the price, so it’s important to carefully consider how much you need. If you’re not sure how much storage to get, you can always opt for a laptop with 128GB or 256GB and purchase an external hard drive later if you need it.
Our guides to the best laptops
Still not sure where to start? Check out our laptop buying guides for our favorite picks.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Going back to college is always an exciting time, whether it’s your first year or you’re a senior.
If you’re heading off to college for the first time ever, you’re probably wondering what to pack.
Below I’ve listed some dorm room essentials most of us recent graduates agree are essential.
If you’re heading off to college for the first time this fall, congrats! It’s such an exciting time – picking out your classes, meeting your roommate, making new friends. Although exciting, moving away from home and into a new space with a new person can be nerve-wracking. A good packing list to get you prepared for move-in day won’t necessarily calm all of your first-day jitters, but it hopefully will make you feel a little more ready.
As someone who recently graduated from college, the chaos of dorm-room shopping is fresh in my mind. I also remember the items I used every day and the items I was convinced I needed, but sadly never made it out of their packaging. That’s why this list exists – to give you some guidance that will hopefully make your college shopping process a little less hectic.
From the more obvious basics, like a comforter, to the more obscure, like an Amazon prime membership, this list has all the essentials to get you ready for the big day.
Shop our picks for 43 great dorm room essentials below
An Amazon Prime Membership for convenient shopping and free shipping
Amazon Prime is the ultimate in convenience, especially if you don’t have a car on campus or if you go to school in a more removed, rural area. I found myself on Amazon Prime often, constantly ordering last-minute school supplies, my favorite snacks from home, and even toiletries when I was too lazy to drive to the store. The convenient service takes the annoyance of shopping away so you can focus on more important things, like studying.
If you are a new member you can get a free trial of Prime for six months, otherwise you can just get a discounted student membership.
My student ID was one of my most valuable possessions in college. That little plastic card gave me access to my meal plan, my dorm, laundry, and more. I didn’t usually carry a full wallet with me, but I always had my phone on me, so I used these little phone wallets to hold my important cards instead. I could fit three cards, or two cards and some cash, in one of these.
When you need to bring a hot beverage to class, there is nothing worse than opening your backpack to find your travel mug has leaked onto your schoolwork. This travel mug is great for keeping your drinks hot, but it also has an autoseal that actually keeps your drinks from leaking and spilling. So, you can throw this in your backpack and still hand in your essay sans coffee stains.
A pair of shower shoes that you can also wear to class
If you don’t have air conditioning in your dorm, you need a fan. This one is small, but mighty. You will actually feel the difference in the air when you turn this fan on, but it is still small enough to fit on your desk, making it a great choice for a college dorm room.
These little hooks are major space savers. They come with adhesive strips for easy application to the wall and come off the wall without damaging the surface. It says these hooks can hold up to 5 lbs, but I was still surprised that this little plastic hooks could actually bear the weight of my heavy winter parka. These are great to stick to the wall for additional storage for jackets, bags, and other items that might not fit in your closet.
Dorm room walls can be dull, but you can easily cover them and add some intrigue to your room with a tapestry. Society6 has tapestries in a wide range of prints including photographs, paintings, and typography. You can find lots of unique designs to make your room feel a little more like your own.
The UE Boom 2 speaker is made for college students. It wasn’t really, but this shockproof, waterproof speaker can survive all of the antics of a college party. In a dorm room, these speakers are pretty loud on their own, but if you are moving to a bigger space and want even louder sound, you can connect your UE Boom with up to 150 other UE speakers for the ultimate party sound system. The fun colors are also a plus.
You don’t get much space in dorm rooms, so any multi-purpose items are great for capitalizing on what you actually do have. This lamp is functional enough on its own, but the added USB outlet and organizational space make it that much more practical. You can hold post-its, paperclips, and other small school supplies in the organization compartments and the USB outlet is great if your room has limited wall outlets.
A drying rack that can be folded up for easy space-saving
When folded down, this drying rack is flat and can be stored easily under your bed. When opened up, it provides 14 feet of drying space without taking up much space in your room. If you have any clothing that is too delicate for the dryer, one of these racks will come in handy. The best part is, you won’t even notice it once you put it away.
A Moleskine journal that you can use for handy notes
Moleskine journals are great for a multitude of uses. They are smaller than most typical subject notebooks, but still can be used for class. I like to use mine as a planner and for jotting down random notes and thoughts I have throughout the day. The hard cover notebooks are flexible, but still durable enough to survive a messy backpack.
To make your dorm feel homey, add some decorative pillows to your bed. Decorative pillows are a fun way to show off your style and make your space feel like its yours. Plus, these will also make your bed extra cozy.
A set of plastic drawers for easy under-bed storage
Dorm rooms don’t typically offer a lot of space, so you have to get creative to make room for all of your belongings. These plastic stacking drawers are great for under-the-bed storage. These drawers are stackable to really maximize space and the front of the drawer is clear so you can easily see what is inside. These are perfect for storing clothing, towels, sheets, and more.
With a lot of tech, you will need a lot of outlets to charge everything. Many dorm rooms are not set up so outlets are in the most accessible locations, plus you have to share what is available with your roommate. A power strip is an easy, cheap solution to make sure all of your devices can be charged simultaneously.
Depending on your laundry situation, you might be lugging your hamper up flights of stairs or to another building on campus. This hamper will make that process a little easier, with side pockets for your laundry supplies, so you have everything laundry related in one place. Plus, when you’re not using it, this hamper can be folded down flat and stored easily elsewhere in your room.
A kettle that makes heating water safer, and easier
I didn’t use an electric kettle until senior year, but now it’s a staple in my kitchen. It heats up water rapidly and automatically turns the kettle off once the water is boiled, so you don’t have to worry about any fire hazards. As a college student who was always rushing out of my apartment in the mornings, I always had peace of mind knowing that I didn’t leave the stove on to make my tea or oatmeal, because I didn’t need to use the stove at all. If you’re in a dorm and don’t have a kitchen, this is just as useful of an appliance for quickly heating water for tea, oatmeal, or a personal favorite instant meal, easy mac.
A towel wrap is a great substitute for a regular towel. These are just as comfortable and drying as your average towel, but the added Velcro strap ensures that your towel will stay put on your trek from your room to the shower.
Popcorn, easy mac, ramen — there’s so much you can make with a microwave. If you want to go a little more gourmet, you can make your own microwave-friendly dishes like mug cakes and frittatas. With the range of what you can make, and the ease of use, a microwave is a worthwhile and necessary investment for your college years.
On those days when it feels like you will never get out of class, you’re going to need some sustenance. Nutrition bars are a quick fix that you can throw in your backpack for long days when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal. I like these ones because they’re made of simple, natural ingredients which will keep you fueled without a dreaded sugar crash later on.
It’s easy to let trash pile up in your dorm room, but having a trash can will at least help contain that mess. A lot of dorms have giant trash and recycling bins scattered throughout, but don’t have anything in the actual rooms. These wastebaskets are small enough that they can be hidden in the corners of your room, but they’re big enough to actually hold a good amount of garbage to make sure your surfaces are visible, and hopefully, clean.
Your dorm room is your home base in college and you likely will use it for many other activities besides sleeping, which can give your room a “scent,” if we’re being generous. Many colleges don’t allow candles in dorms, but you can still hide the smell of burnt microwave pizza and dirty laundry with a can of Febreze. This linen & sky scent is light, but strong enough to eliminate the stink of college activities, so you can actually enjoy hanging out in your dorm room, odor-free.
Even if you don’t have a kitchen in your dorm room, bring a mug with you to school. You can use it as a vessel for tea, microwave meals, and if you really have no desire to make any sort of food, this will make an adorable pencil holder on your desk. I like this one for the fun animal prints and sayings.
A set of sheets that is cozy and cool at the same time
These cozy percale sheets only get better with time. With each wash, the breathable fabric softens— a good incentive to do your laundry. Each set comes with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases.
A bottle that will keep your water cold all day long
This insulated water bottle can keep your beverages cold for 24 hours, so you can always stay hydrated with ice cold water. I love the range of bright colors and the option to purchase different caps, like a sports cap great for taking to the gym.
A set of Rubbermaid food storage containers to stash your snacks
Whether you are living in a dorm or off-campus, these Rubbermaid containers are a necessity. You can use these to bring packed lunches to class, to keep your favorite snacks safe from bugs, or stock up on food in the dining hall to stretch that college budget. These containers are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, so you can really use them for anything.
A cheap, easy way to bring your memories with you to college
Once you’re away, you may realize how much you miss your friends and family back home. Scrolling through pictures on Instagram and Facebook doesn’t always cut it, but printed pictures are a great way to keep the people you love around and make a great room decoration as well. Snapfish makes it easy to print your favorite pictures in a variety of sizes and finishes, and they start at only 9¢ per print.
Early morning classes and late night study sessions make caffeine a college student’s best friend. When I was a freshman I could get unlimited free coffee at the campus dining halls, which was great. Once I graduated from an unlimited meal-plan though, I realized how much money I was wasting buying coffee that was honestly not even good. The Keurig was the answer; a speedy, single-serve coffee maker that is extremely easy to use and clean. The upfront cost may seem like a lot for a coffeemaker, but if you consider how much money you will save making your own brews in the morning, it definitely is a smart purchase.
You most definitely will need folders or binders to keep track of all of your class handouts. While you can opt for individual folders for each subject, I found that one compact folder was the most convenient. With one folder, I was always prepared for class as I had all of my papers with me. Plus, this one is vertical so you can easily take papers in and out when you need them.
Long nights in the library, early morning classes when you wish you were still sleeping, these are the times that call for a comfortable sweatshirt and these are the times that make up a good chunk of the college experience. It may seem obvious, but pack a comfortable sweatshirt that you can lounge in, sleep in, and wear to class.
Nobody is cleaning your room for you once you get to college, so you should have some basic cleaning supplies on hand. Clorox wipes are great for wiping away crumbs, dust, and any other grime that accumulates in your room. I have even used these to clean muddy, white sneakers, but I’m not sure that is the best method.
A charging cable that is extra-long and extra-convenient
This phone charger is extra-long, so you can use your phone while it charges in an outlet up to six feet away. This is super useful if there is no outlet near your bed, but also it’s just as good as a regular phone charger.
You should definitely have some storage to keep your supplies organized, so you can actually use your desk. This desk organizer won’t take up too much space and is a tidy way to store the school supplies that you use often, like notepads, scissors, pens and pencils. The natural color will fit in with any decor and it rotates too, for easy, fast access to your school supplies from all angles.
The artificial lighting that you will find in most dorm rooms is pretty depressing. String lights are a cheap, easy way to brighten up a dim space. With 33 feet of lighting, there are ample ways to set up these lights in your dorm room. When turned on, these also make a cute, and useful, decoration.
When you realize how dirty dorm floors get, you’ll be happy you have a pair of comfortable slippers to wear around your hall. This pair has an indoor/outdoor sole, which is great in the case that you do want to wear them outside.
If you have the free time to read for pleasure, a kindle is the way to go. With all the reading you have to do for class, you’ll have enough books taking up space on your desk and in your backpack. With a kindle you can get all of the titles you want on one compact device and at a fraction of the cost. This one has a Paperwhite surface, so you can read outside with no glare, and a built in light, so you can read before bed even if your roommate is sleeping.
I use this little canvas pouches for everything. They can be used as pencil cases, makeup bags, or to organize any other knick-knacks you have lying around. With a multitude of designs and even personalized options, you could get a few to hold a different items.
A mattress topper that’ll transform a stiff mattress
Your university probably isn’t welcoming all first-years to school with Leesa and Casper mattresses — and if they are, I want to know where you go to school. Luckily, you can transform those stiff-as-a-board mattresses for $40, or even less. A mattress topper is truly a blessing, turning any old bed into the comfortable sleep haven you deserve. I like the feel of plush memory foam toppers like this one, but there’s a plethora of materials to choose from so you can be sure you’ll find one that’s perfect for your sleep preferences and budget.
I’ll never forget walking into my dorm room for the first room to find an armoire filled with about hangers of random shapes and sizes. You can deal with the crappy ones that may (or may not) come in your closet already, or you can just bring your own. These hangers are easy on your clothes, sturdy enough to hold up to 10 pounds, and have a slim design that maximizes closet space. Plus, using a set of uniform hangers will help keep your closet consistently neater.
A reading light that won’t annoy your roommate when you’re up late studying or reading
Living with a roommate means you have to be mindful of someone else’s schedule, not just your own. You might like reading late into the night, but your roomie might want lights off at 10 p.m. to prepare for her early-morning lecture. Rest assured, you don’t have to give up your night-owl habits to respect your roommate’s preference. Pick up a small reading light instead — it takes up barely any space, is bright enough to see comfortably in the dark, and clips onto surfaces for easy use.
An over-the-door organizer that can be used to hold just about anything
In a small dorm, you have to get creative about storage. The back of your door is the perfect place to hang an organizer like this one. Use it to store snacks, shoes, cleaning supplies, or random knick-knacks. It provides tons of storage (36 pockets worth) in a space that would probably go unused otherwise. Plus, it’s easy to clean — all you have to do is wipe it down.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
A planner is an all-in-one productivity tool for writing down events, to-do lists, and goals.
Planners come in all varieties, from dated and undated to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
The best planner is a personal choice, whether it’s small and undetailed or big and densely packed.
Paper planners are calendars that help you keep track of tasks, appointments, ideas, and so on. They let you see the week or month all at once, in a clear and legible way. But no planner is one-size-fits-all: The best planner for you might be unsuitable for someone else’s needs.
Picking a planner comes down to personal preference, whether you like to schedule things down to the minute or just jot a few weekly notes. Many have space for notes, to-do lists, and other tasks. Some people want a balance of enough space for their jottings but in a book that can easily fit in their backpack.
Planner styles get even more detailed, and we break down the ways to choose what’s right for you at the end of this guide. We talked to two stationery store owners and a productivity expert to get their advice on how to pick a planner.
“There’s lots of different, great planners, and it just kind of depends on thinking about how you want to plan your week and how you want to visualize your week,” said Jeremy Crown, who co-owns Little Otsu, a paper store in Portland, Oregon.
Whatever style of planner you prefer, you’ll be able to find something in the list below. Keep in mind that manufacturers often make their planners in several styles and sizes, and we try to reflect that in the list.
Basic but very functional, Apica’s monthly planner has 32 pages, a cardstock cover, and thread binding. It’s undated, so you can pick it up and start scheduling any part of the year. There are 16 sheets of monthly calendars (one month stretches over two pages), plus another 15 pages of grid paper. There are also a couple of pages for a yearly overview. If you don’t need a super-detailed calendar but still want something with nice paper and an affordable price, the Apica is a great option.
If you’re looking for a lot of structure and prompts, the Self Journal might be right for you. It has pages of tasks and templates to guide your goal-setting. While undated, it’s only meant to last 13 weeks, so you won’t have a full year at your fingertips. The idea, though, is to break the year down into chunks and do the same for daunting projects. There are spaces to fill out what you’re grateful for, goals, and targets.
With 240 pages, the size is fairly portable, and it has a hardcover. The paper is also fountain-pen friendly.
Bloom Daily Planner
The Bloom Daily Planner comes in many versions to suit many styles, all with plenty of supplemental sheets for tracking progress.
Bloom’s planners are full of lists and charts for you to fill out and help you figure out how to schedule the year ahead. There are vision boards and habit-tracking options included. You can also sign up for additional, downloadable sheets for bill tracking, meal planning, and so on.
The nice thing about Bloom is that it has almost countless options for getting exactly what you want. The planners come in both softcover and hardcover options, and there are several planner layouts to choose from. For teachers, there are undated versions, as well as ones that start in July. If you have a wedding or new baby on the horizon, there are planners for that, too.
Clever Fox‘s daily planner has scads of room for those with busy days — or anyone who likes to doodle and brainstorm in their calendars. Each day of the week has its own page, with space to schedule from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are also prompts for weekly goals (both work and personal priorities) and productivity tracking. The planner also comes with stickers to help you personalize your pages. With a sturdy cover in colors from black to rose gold to royal blue, it should be easy enough to find one that matches your style.
In addition to the daily version — which is only for six months — there are weekly options that have space for a full year. If you want a larger planner, the pro version measures 8.5 by 11 inches.
Getting started with PowerSheets is a bit of a commitment; it can take a couple of hours to fully fill out your goal sheets. There are also video explainers to help you check all the boxes. The planner is hefty and sturdy and should have no problem lasting the year. There are 160 pages, with the months spread over two pages. There are also two pages per month for monthly, weekly, and daily ideas and action items. PowerSheets aren’t made for day-to-day notes but are more for bigger-picture projects and goals.
There are lots of stickers and a pastel palette, which won’t appeal to everyone.
Usually, Day Designer planners are $59, but the Blue Sky collaboration version is $28. The Blue Sky planner does have lower-quality paper and a flexible cover that may not stand up to wear and tear as well as a hardcover. The day has a 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule, along with room for to-do lists. At the top and bottom are boxes for gratitude, your “top three” important items, and notes for the night.
If you have a larger budget and prefer a daily calendar, Day Designer’s flagship planner has a page dedicated to each weekday, with a single page for weekends.
2021-2022 Academic Year Daily & Monthly Planner (small)
Field Notes 56-Week Planner
Compact yet rugged enough to toss in a backpack, Field Notes‘ 56-week planner is no-frills but fully functional. Each week gets two pages, with Saturday and Sunday sharing space. They’re undated, so you can start anytime, miss a couple weeks, and pick back up without wasting pages. As the name suggests, you get space for over a year, with 112 pages total.
At less than $20, it’s one of the more affordable planners on the list, though we wish there were a few options for the cover.
Happy Planner has lots of customization options, including layout and length.
Happy Planner is all about making its products work for you, so there are quite a few ways to customize your planner. It offers horizontal, vertical, and dashboard layouts, as well as a few different sizes and undated options. You can also buy plenty of stickers to add more flair. The covers tend to be pastel, boldly colored, or Disney-themed, so it might be hard to find something more understated. We also like the planner’s discbound binding, which is like a three-ring binder you don’t have to open and close.
Happy Planners are popular with teachers, and they offer 18-month versions that start in July.
Classic Planner (12-Month) (small)
The Panda Planner is meant to be hyper-focused on a three-month period, with daily tracking.
The classic version of the Panda Planner is undated, with room for three months of daily tracking. There are also weekly and monthly sections. The planner is designed for those who need lots of on-page support, with boxes for morning and end-of-day reviews, habit tracking, and priorities. Each day gets a two-page spread, and they’re undated, so you can skip weekends if you want something more work-focused. The cover and interior designs are less flowery than many other planners on the list, which may be a positive or negative, depending on what you like.
Designed with motivation in mind, the Passion Planner has a few layouts to help you follow through with your goals.
The Passion Planner is focused on motivation and helping you achieve your yearly goals. The weekly version has places for you to note what you’re focusing on and good things that happened. The layout is vertical, so keep that in mind if you prefer a horizontal setup. There are a few styles to choose from, including undated daily and weekly layouts. On the website, you can choose whether you want your planner’s week to begin on Sunday or Monday. Small, medium, and large sizes are available, with the biggest being a bit larger than a standard sheet of paper.
If buying a Passion Planner doesn’t fit into your budget, the site has downloadable content that you can print and fit into a regular, three-ring binder. There are also digital versions available.
With nice paper and a stylish design, the Rhodia Webplanner may appeal to those looking for a mix of structure and freeform planning.
Rhodia is a French notebook company with a trademark orange and black scheme, so there aren’t a ton of color options. Unfussy, with a faux leather cover and nice paper, the Webplanner gives room for a weekly schedule on one page and a grid for notes on the right. It’s a nice compromise for those who like bullet journaling but want a little more structure.
A well-designed, pocket-sized planner from Quo Vadis, it has a textured, faux leather cover. It’s helpful to go on the Quo Vadis website because it lays out all the options available for its planners: academic or calendar year; daily, weekly, or monthly format; and small, medium, or large size. The planner’s weekly layout is vertical, with scheduling space from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are large squares on the right page for extra notes. The cover comes in several colors, and you can also find the planner in faux suede or smooth faux leather options.
Though there isn’t a lot of extra space for habit tracking, the back of the planner does have some space for personal notes and a map of the world’s time zones.
If you want a planner that you can’t ignore, this desk version from Wit & Delight is a good option. It’s undated, with 180 sheets. Each page has vertical space for Monday through Friday. There aren’t Saturday and Sunday spots, but there’s a “home life” box that could work for weekend activities. There are also places for notes, projects, and big picture items.
How to choose a planner
There are an overwhelming number of planner types. “I used to try to just stock as many as possible because it’s such a personal thing,” said Chandra Greer, who owns Greer, a stationery store in Chicago, Illinois.
She eventually realized it was impossible to cover every base and now just selects functional, quality options, knowing they might not be the right fit for everyone. “I’m more interested in the function of it,” she said. “Is the layout useful? Is the layout well-designed? Is the paper great? Is it something that is going to withstand being your daily friend for 365 days?”
To find out what will work for you, you can start by considering what qualities are most important to you. “I think if you sort of start with, ‘What is it that I want to use this for?’ that gives you a good starting point,” said Alexandra Cavoulacos, founder of The Muse and author of “The New Rules of Work“. You can start with format — daily, weekly, or monthly — and overall length. Do you want to keep it to a few months for a specific project, or would you prefer something that gets you through a month or even longer?
Daily, weekly, monthly
For some people, a planner is merely a portable calendar, Cavoulacos said. “They want to know where they need to be, when they have a doctor’s appointment, those sort of things,” she said. Other people want to track projects and create to-do lists. The amount of detail per day will start to dictate how much space you need. “There’s a hundred ways somebody might schedule their day,” said Greer. Some people need an hour-by-hour breakdown. If you’re mostly making to-do lists, a weekly calendar might work. If it’s more about keeping tabs on a few appointments, monthly might work.
“It’s all about what works for you,” said Cavoulacos.
Dated or undated
There are many reasons you might decide to buy an undated calendar. “People might decide on March 28th, they want a planner,” said Greer. “But if a planner is dated, they’re already three months through the year.” With an undated planner, they can get more bang for the buck by having it carry them through the next March.
Another reason might be you know yourself to be a fickle planner user. If you keep it undated, you can always pick up where you left off without wasting days’ worth of paper. People working on a big project, planning a wedding, or focusing on a specific goal might also prefer an undated planner, for more flexibility or to keep everything contained in one book.
Months or years
Some hyper-focused, daily planners will only last a few months. It helps keep them from being too bulky and cumbersome. Others are much bigger picture, with five-year plans. In between, there are standard yearly planners and academic versions, which tend to start in the summer or early fall.
The only thing that might stop you from buying an academic planner in January is that most manufacturers don’t have the current year’s available, so you’re better off waiting a few months for that.
Horizontal or vertical
You’ll often see weekly planners arranged with each week covering two pages and the days spread out horizontally or vertically. When someone comes into Little Otsu looking for a planner, co-owner Jeremy Crown first asks, “Are you more of a task-oriented planner?” He thinks people with detailed schedules or long to-do lists will prefer the column format of vertical layouts. Those who like making notes or doodling might like the horizontal layout better.
Some planners use a “dashboard” view, with a week or day on one page and the other dedicated to habit trackers, gratitude prompts, and other fill-in-the-blanks.
Doctors, nurses, and chefs always want pocket-sized notebooks and planners, said Crown. You might want something big enough to hold your sprawling handwriting but small enough to carry around in your purse or messenger bag. Many planner makers will offer at least a couple of choices when it comes to size.
Minimalist or full of prompts
Planner aesthetic ranges from very barebones to packed with extras. What you like is completely personal. You’ll find plenty of basic books with a plain cover and just the calendars. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can get a planner with quotes, charts, and check-ins. You may want something in between, with a pretty cover but few internal embellishments.
“You want your planner to inspire you, whatever that means for you,” Cavoulacos said. That could mean a simple planner with zero distractions, she said, or something with quotes and your horoscope that makes you look forward to opening the book every day. “I do think the sort of aesthetic piece, the inspiration piece, is also something that shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said.
If you do want something more stripped down, Greer suggests looking to Japanese planner makers. “You’re not going to see little flower illustrations and little quotes and 85 pages of guided journal meditation,” she said. “They keep it very simple. They’re very serious about it.”
Both Greer and Cavoulacos point out that you can add your own quotes and personalizations to even the most minimalist planner, as long as there’s space. “It could become more of a person’s little command center,” said Greer.
For some, the quality of a planner’s paper isn’t really a factor. There are a few things to know, though. Two Halloween-ish-sounding words that are useful to know, stationery-wise, are bleeding and ghosting. Bleeding is when the ink leaks through. Ghosting is when you flip the paper over and can see what’s written, even though it hasn’t actually bled through. “Good paper, whether it’s thin or thick, doesn’t ghost,” Crown said.
In many countries, fountain pen use is much more widespread than in the United States. The paper made there reflects that. “As a general rule, Japanese paper tends to be softer and smoother, and American paper is kind of the roughest — or we’d say the toothiest — and Europe’s kind of in the middle,” Crown said.
“Fountain pen usage is a really big factor,” Greer said. “It’s probably the number one question we get about any of our notebooks and planners, ‘Is the paper fountain pen friendly?’ and not all papers are.” If paper quality is high on your list of importance, Greer suggests taking a close look at who makes a planner.
“I definitely gravitate towards manufacturers who have a background in paper,” she said. “So they’re not so much about being a planner company. They’re about a notebook/paper company that has planners.” Some of the manufacturers that make planners with excellent paper include Midori, Paperways, High Tide, and Kokuyo Jibun Techo, she said.
Even if you’re not into paper, you’ll want to pay attention to the cover’s material. Hardcovers will stand up to more wear and tear than softcovers. “Sometimes people will trade off that durability for something that doesn’t cost very much so, but definitely people are expecting, when they purchase a planner, that it’s going to get through the whole year and not look like it was run over by a truck,” Greer said.
It’s important that planners lie flat since you’re writing in them. Many are spiral bound, but others are stitch bound. Either will let you write on them, but you can flip one side of the book behind the other with a spiral binding. “A lot of people are kind of indifferent between spiral and stitch bound now, as long as it lies flat because that’s really what they’re looking for,” Greer said.
Discbound is similar to spiral-bound, but it’s a bit different. The pages in a discbound book can be easily removed and put back in, but you don’t have to open the discs, as you would with a three-ring binder. Instead, there are little notches in the paper that fit around the disc. It makes planners more customizable because you can quickly and easily move pages from one section to another.
Another concern with the binding is whether it will keep the planner together for the whole year. Some glued-in pages might not hold out as well. “If you have something that’s stitch bound or spiral, it’s very sturdy for the long haul,” Greer said.
Bullet journaling is a system of tracking and tackling tasks, goals, and projects. It can be used with basically any notebook, but it’s not for everyone. “I think for some people you want the prompt and you want the structure to guide you because you’re not exactly sure how to organize everything,” Cavoulacos said.
“There’s a lot of stationery enthusiasts in the United States, and so there’s all these different subcultures with people who are really into making their own space on paper,” Crown said. “And that’s what bullet journaling is perfect for.”
If you’ve never tried it, you can either start with an ordinary notebook you have lying around. There are also plenty of hybrid options, with calendars and space for notes or bullet journaling.
There might be some little perks with certain planners that might be deal-makers for you. Maybe you want a front pocket to keep extra papers. Perhaps you prefer a planner with an elastic band to help keep it closed.
If the extra that’s most attractive to you is stickers, keep in mind that you can probably buy them separately.
Why not just use your phone as a digital planner?
“I don’t necessarily think a planner is for everybody, just like any particular productivity hack or tool,” Cavoulacos said. There are plenty of people who prefer to keep their calendars and notes strictly digital, and getting a paper planner might not make sense for them.
If you’re on the fence, she suggests asking yourself what’s attractive about a paper planner. “I think for a lot of people it’s slowing down, right?” Cavoulacos said. “It’s like the lack of distraction. It’s the moments to think, to cross things off — the satisfaction of crossing things off.”
Greer said she went through a few years where not many people were buying planners. Now she’s seeing more customers who want something physical to carry around and write in. She even gets tech workers buying them. “They’re saying that their schedule’s more accessible to them in some ways, in terms of getting the big picture, if they’re using a physical book,” Greer said.
For Crown, it’s more personal than a phone calendar. “It’s your life in a book,” he said. “That’s kind of what’s special about them. The end of the year, you have this book that was like, this is what I did. That’s something that the phone doesn’t do that well.”
There are a couple of reasons why a shelf divider is an absolute must-have for every closet. First and foremost, it’s way less expensive than a closet renovation or hiring a professional organizer. It also takes up less space than bins or boxes, while still keeping everything visible and within reach. Plus, a divider can be easily installed and removed.
Most people have limited closet space and shelf dividers indisputably help you make the most of every precious inch. There are lots of options out there, but we focused on the most important categories to consider; your shelving style (wooden or wire), the divider size (especially height and depth), the design or style (solid or open), and the cost.
Pros: Easy to install, simple design, affordable, taller than most dividers
Cons: Not compatible with wire shelving
These durable and minimalist metal dividers are the way to go if you’re trying to create a better storage solution in your closet. With a sturdy, sleek and unobtrusive design, they are simply the best option for most people.
Each divider clips easily onto wooden shelves up to 7/8 inches thick with no tools required. Once in place, the Lynk tall shelf divider stays put. A stabilizing crossbar on the bottom of the divider helps hold it securely on the shelf, ready to keep anything from pants, sweaters, and accessories in place. They’re also strong enough to handle leaning items like bags, thanks to the grips which attach them to the shelf.
They are taller than most dividers, which means you can fold higher stacks and save even more space. You might want to measure your closet height to ensure they’ll fit, but the average closet should be able to accommodate them. At 8.4 inches deep, they’ll fit on both deep and narrow shelves.
This product is particularly great because it’s easy to install on thicker shelves, durable, and slides into place easily. There’s also a handy extra with this divider, a space-saving valet hook that you can use to hang items like bags, belts, or a robe in front of your shelves.
Although some users mention that it’s not quite as sturdy as they would have hoped, the Container Store Clear Shelf Divider is still a great bet and is an upscale, aesthetically pleasing choice that’s perfect for interior design buffs or anyone looking to upgrade the look of their closet.
Pros: Great value, simple design, easy installation, multipurpose, comes in many finishes
Cons: Not as tall or deep as other dividers
The cheapest, most popular shelf divider is the mDesign Metal Wire Closet Shelf Divider. Promising an easy, tool-free installation, polished, rust-resistant steel finish, and a stable, sleek design, this is the perfect choice for a rental or dorm closet. With eight per set, you’ll have extras to keep as replacements or to set up in multiple closets.
At just over 9 inches tall, it’s pretty decent for maximizing vertical space, but it does measure a bit short in depth at only 8 inches. You need to stretch it a bit to attach it to a standard 1-inch thick shelf, but the wide stabilizer on the bottom will keep the divider securely in place.
The clean, metal design, available in five different finishes, matches perfectly with any décor, which is helpful if you’re thinking about using this divider in a pantry, linen, or bathroom closet.
The company also suggests flipping the divider upside down and hanging it under the shelf, which gives you seven bars of hanging storage for things like scarves, belts, or bags.
Durable, affordable, and specially designed to clip on to wire shelving closet systems, their plastic coated steel design won’t rust or get dingy over time. With a substantial 12-inch x 12-inch frame, consider these as a practical solution for a rental property, where most closets have wire shelving. The dividers are super quick to install and no tools are required.
One criticism, however, is that the open sides don’t keep certain items securely inside.
The best cloth closet shelf divider
If you’re looking for the full divide of a solid material but don’t want to splurge on acrylic, try the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider.
Pros: Visually appealing for those who want a solid divider, items won’t snag or get scratched by the cloth material
Cons: Material may scuff or tear over time
There are lots of reasons why people like the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider. The simple, durable fabric is available in two colors: platinum and bronze. The soft material also means that there’s no risk of snagging your clothes on a metal design.
Not only do these look nice, but they also are also tall at 13 inches, and are easy to install by sliding onto standard size wooden shelves. You’re getting a great deal, too, as the price is fairly low.
This solid style of shelf divider is recommended because it creates a visual definition of your space and keeps everything neat.
Cloth dividers also work particularly well in linen closets, where they can keep folded towels, blankets, and other linens neatly organized.
Buying a new mattress is an expensive undertaking. If your mattress is less supportive than it once was or you inherited a bed that isn’t right for your sleeping style, a topper can improve your comfort until you are ready to replace your mattress. They’re also a great option for college dorm rooms or other situations where you might not have a say in the comfort of your sleep surface. Though most toppers are designed to make your bed softer, we found some models can potentially add firmness.
These thin slabs of padding can also help with body temperature regulation. And, when you go camping, a topper affords you extra padding between your sleeping bag and the hard ground.
I have four years of experience testing sleep products professionally. In addition to honing my subjective assessments, I’ve developed several objective tests to evaluate which toppers are best for specific needs. You can find details about how I test mattress toppers in our methodology section.
Here are the best mattress toppers you can buy in 2021
The Parachute Down Mattress Pad was one of the best in every category we tested, including heat dissipation, motion isolation, comfort and support, and fit.
Pros: Excellent heat dissipation, comfortable and supportive, made in the US, attaches to your mattress like a fitted sheet, machine washable, best motion isolation
Cons: Warranty void if tag removed
The Parachute Down Mattress Pad did well in every category we tested. The only category it was just “good” in was the surface temperature immediately after getting up. Yet, two minutes after getting up, it registered cooler temps than before I laid down. It was one of only two toppers to dissipate heat this well.
Parachute recommends washing your Down Mattress Pad before you sleep on it. Fortunately, it’s machine washable, and the cleaning process was effortless. Once it’s ready, the topper goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet and has deep pockets to fit mattresses up to 18 inches thick. I liked that it stayed in place well and didn’t shift after sleeping on it for several nights.
The topper is made in the US of European white down and features a sateen cotton shell. The down of the topper kept me cool while offering plush comfort. I fell asleep quickly each night and woke up feeling refreshed in the morning. I preferred to sleep on my side while testing the Parachute topper, but it wasn’t overly soft so I felt good on my back and side as well.
The Parachute Down Mattress Pad is also a smart choice for couples with its impressive motion isolation. In fact, it did the best at dampening motion transfer in our tests.
The biggest negative has to do with the warranty. The tag on the pad states that the warranty is void if removed.
Pros: Excellent cooling properties, great motion isolation, made of CertiPUR-US certified foam, stays in place, easy to set up
Cons: May be too soft for some sleeping styles and body types, plush design hinders movement
The first thing you notice when you lie down on the Lucid Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Mattress Topper is how much you sink in. The topper comes in two-, three-, and four-inch thicknesses. I tested the three-inch-thick model, which was a little too soft for me, and I like soft. Unless you require the softest of the soft, I’d recommend trying the two-inch style instead to ensure you are keeping your spine properly aligned.
Despite the overbearing plushness, which made sleeping on my stomach uncomfortable, I woke up feeling refreshed after each night I slept on the Lucid Bamboo Charcoal topper.
The topper is nothing more than a slab of CertiPUR-US certified, bamboo charcoal-infused memory foam. There are several holes to help with heat dissipation, which apparently works since the Lucid topper never got very hot in my tests. When I got up from it, the heat dissipated quickly.
The thick foam also helped with motion transfer, causing this model to register one of the lowest scores on the vibration meter I use for this test. Despite not attaching to the bed, it stayed in place as I slept on it.
There weren’t any instructions for setup, and I was confused by the low-grade fabric covering that came on the topper. (I assumed it was for shipping purposes and tossed it.) The topper had a strong initial odor and was compressed, but it expanded and was odor-free by bedtime.
The best cooling mattress topper
The Bear Pro Mattress Topper is your best bet if you’re looking for a plush topper that will offer you support; pressure relief; and a cool, comfortable night’s sleep.
Pros: Excellent cooling, plush comfort, good pressure relief, made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified copper-infused foam, great motion isolation, stays in place, 100-night trial period
Cons: Had a strong initial odor that took several days to dissipate, doesn’t attach to the mattress
The Bear Pro Mattress Topper was both the best cooling and best memory foam topper we tested. It’s made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified copper-infused memory foam. I found it provided a plush feel that will appeal to all sleeping styles thanks to its ideal balance of support and pressure relief. I experienced comfy, restful sleep each night I tested it.
The Bear Pro was one of the best at cooling in our tests. In fact, it was one of two toppers to register a lower final temperature reading than the initial reading before I laid down on it. I was surprised by this, so I reran the test and verified my findings. This topper dissipates heat well. It accomplishes this with a copper and Celliant construction, which Bear claims helps with heat regulation. We weren’t able to find any scientific studies to back this up, but based on our experience, it seems to be working.
The Bear Pro was also one of the best at motion isolation. Despite not attaching to the mattress, the topper stayed in place just fine.
The biggest negative with the Bear Pro Mattress Topper was the strong “new bed smell” that lasted for several days. Other than that, setup took less than five minutes, and the topper expanded to full size by bedtime.
Pros: Made of supportive and pressure-relieving memory foam, good heat dissipation, removable and machine-washable cover, 10-year warranty, easy to set up
Cons: No trial period, shifted significantly in the night, hard to put the cover back on after washing it
While testing the Tempur-Pedic Topper Supreme Mattress Topper, I was getting back into running and weightlifting after an injury sidelined me. I suffer from chronic lower back pain that’s aggravated by both these activities. I went to bed with my body exhausted and awoke feeling refreshed and ready to run and lift again, and I think the Tempur-Topper Supreme had a lot to do with the fast recovery.
I’ve long appreciated the supportive feel of Tempur-Pedic’s proprietary memory foam, which slowly adjusts to the contours of your body and keeps your spine aligned no matter what position you’re sleeping in.
The pad features a cover made mostly of polyester that zips off so you can throw it in the washing machine. Removing the cover and washing it was easy, but putting it back on was a different story. It took me about 10 minutes to slide the cover on the floppy pad. I recommend just putting a mattress protector over it (and your mattress) to save the hassle.
Setting up the Tempur-Topper Supreme was intuitive, and there was minimal initial odor, which completely dissipated by bedtime. The topper also did a good job of staying cool, and when I got up from it, the heat dissipated quickly.
There are a few negatives with this model, though. First, you can’t return the topper once you receive it. Fortunately, there is an impressive 10-year warranty so if there are manufacturing defects, you can get a replacement.
Another negative is the pad shifted by several inches over the course of the night as I slept on it, and there are no straps to keep it in place. Lastly, the motion isolation was just average.
Pros: Made in the US with organic materials and natural latex, comfortable and supportive, great motion isolation, one-year risk-free trial period, 10-year warranty
Cons: Sleeps hot, shifts a bit, expensive
I’m a big fan of natural latex as a sustainable, responsive material to sleep on. The soft rubber-like foam offers cushioning around the hips and shoulders while supporting your lower back and neck. You don’t sink in like with memory foam; instead, there’s more bounce.
When it comes to support and pressure relief, the Avocado Organic Latex was one of the most comfortable toppers I slept on. Whether I was on my stomach, side, or back, I felt great, and I woke up feeling refreshed in the morning. I tested the plush topper, which was slightly softer than average, but it’s also available in firm.
Unfortunately, it slept quite hot. It did an okay job of dissipating the heat once I got up, but when I was on the topper, it reached surface temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Another negative is it doesn’t attach to the mattress, which might have prevented it from shifting at night.
On the plus side, the motion-dampening properties were great. I was able to set up the topper in under five minutes. While there was an initial odor, by bedtime, it dissipated.
The best firm mattress topper
The Airweave Mattress Topper is ideal for back and stomach sleepers who are looking to add firm support to their mattress.
Pros: Firm support that may appeal to back and stomach sleepers, completely washable, 100-night risk-free trial period, easy setup, good bounce and easy to move around on
Cons: Poor heat dissipation, poor motion isolation, shifts on the mattress, not recommended for side sleepers
For the most part, mattress toppers are designed to help give a softer feel to a mattress that is maybe too firm for your sleeping style. The Airweave Mattress Topper, on the other hand, does the opposite.
It’s made of firm, interwoven strands of polyethylene that the brand claims allow for better airflow and heat dissipation (though in my tests, the topper was among the hottest and didn’t dissipate the heat well once I got up).
I primarily sleep on my side, but the Airweave topper felt a little too firm for me to sleep in that position. Instead, I gravitated to my stomach and back, and the supportive feel left my body pain-free in the morning.
The Airweave Mattress Topper came tri-folded in a large, 62-inch by 30-inch by 9-inch box and was easy to set up. It didn’t have an initial odor, and I liked how easy the topper was to clean. It’s the only model I tested that is completely washable. The polyester/cotton blend cover is machine washable, and you can wash the core with mild soap and cool water.
The topper doesn’t attach to your mattress, which might have been helpful since it shifted as I slept on it. Another negative was the poor motion isolation. It was the worst at dampening motion transfer. But the Airweave topper has a lot of bounce, which makes it easy to move around and could help facilitate intimate activities.
What else tested
We tested 18 mattress toppers for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
$150 and under
Allswell 4-Inch Memory Foam: This CertiPUR-US certified copper gel-infused memory foam topper was in the middle of the pack in every test, which makes it a solid product, but nothing sets it apart. It was easy to install, affordable, and stayed in place on the bed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a warranty.
SensorPedic Bamboo Charcoal Infused Memory Foam:If our budget pick isn’t available, we strongly recommend picking this topper up, especially if you suffer from back pain. When I started testing, my back pain was flaring up, but after two nights on this, I was feeling great. It didn’t make our guide because it wasn’t particularly good at cooling, and there’s no trial period.
Helix Ultra-Cool Pad: If you’re looking for just a subtle addition of plushness to your mattress, this is a good option. The pad is only about an inch thick and goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet. (It’s also machine washable.) Yet it didn’t do as good of a job cooling as its name would suggest, and it didn’t add much support or pressure relief compared to just sleeping on the mattress alone.
Nest Bedding Cooling: This topper didn’t live up to its name as it held onto heat once I got up from it and also had poor motion isolation. However, it was comfortable to sleep on, is made in the US with CertiPUR-US certified foam, and didn’t move on the bed. It’s on the softer side, so it may be a good option for side sleepers who prefer a more pillow top feel.
Slumber Cloud Core: This pad did at least okay in every test we put it through. It goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet, which kept it in place, and it’s easy to clean. It was also comfortable and supportive. The Core mattress pad also offered impressive motion isolation. The biggest negative is the relatively short 180-day warranty. Also, it was just in the middle of the pack at cooling and heat dissipation.
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt + Cooling: Though this model shares the same product page as our best topper for back pain, it didn’t perform as well in our tests. It was also inferior at cooling despite its name and $80 more than the other Tempur-Pedic topper. However, it was comfortable to sleep on, has a removable, machine-washable cover, and is backed by a 10-year warranty.
Saatva Graphite: We almost included this topper in our guide, but it just wasn’t the best in any of our categories. Its average firmness was comfortable and supportive to sleep on no matter what position I was in. It did a good job of dissipating heat and features straps to secure it to your bed. However, it still shifted and the topper has poor motion isolation.
Birch by Helix Plush Organic: The Birch topper is similar to our best overall pick. Both are handmade in the US using organic latex, cotton, and wool with all sorts of eco-friendly certifications. However, though the Birch was comfortable, I enjoyed the Avocado more. If the Avocado isn’t available, this is a worthy substitute.
Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover with PerfectFit: The cool thing about the Eight Sleep topper is it makes your bed as hot or as cold as you want. It pumps water between 55 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit through the topper to keep you cool or warm you up. The app (available for iOS and Android) tracks your sleep, and you can adjust the temp to help you stay asleep through the night and wake up in the morning. However, it took an hour to set up, has poor motion isolation, and wasn’t as pressure-relieving as I would have liked.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Lucid Gel Memory Foam: Similar to the topper above, the Lucid Gel Memory Foam Topper is way too soft. But, since it’s made of memory foam, you sink in, which makes it hard to change positions in the night or get up in the morning. Go with our budget pick instead.
PlushBeds Natural Wool: The PlushBeds topper was the only model we tested that had wool fill. It’s handmade in the US and is chemical-free. However, it smelled awful and the odor didn’t go away. It also trapped heat and was way too soft for comfort.
I personally tested all of the mattress toppers in this guide. In addition to sleeping on them, there are several objective tests I put each one through. The most important factors to consider when picking a topper are comfort, bed fit, and heat dissipation. I used the same Queen size mattress with each topper for consistency.
Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:
Setup: I timed how long it took me to unbox each mattress topper and if there were any unusual or unintuitive steps. Aside from the Sleep Number and Eight Sleep toppers, each model took less than five minutes to set up. I noted if the topper came vacuum-sealed, if it had an initial odor, and if any smell dissipated by bedtime.
Fit: Once fully expanded, I measured each topper to see if it covered an 80-inch-by-60-inch Queen mattress. After sleeping on the topper, I noted whether it stayed in place or shifted and if a fitted sheet with 13-inch-deep pockets was able to cover the topper and our 10-inch-thick test mattress. The fitted sheet stayed on through the night with all models we tested.
Heat dissipation: I used an infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the part of the bed where my torso would be before laying on it for at least an hour, right after getting up, and two minutes after getting up. I compared the temperatures to determine which models were best at heat dissipation. I performed these tests several times until I felt confident in the measurements.
Support: This is a subjective test based on my four years of testing sleep products. Each morning, I would record any soreness I felt, how comfortable the topper felt the previous night, and I’d look at my sleep stats collected using the Garmin Forerunner 945 Smart Watch. I’d also note which positions I felt most comfortable in.
Motion isolation: I placed my phone with the Vibration Meter app open on the bed approximately 12 inches from the right side. Next, I lifted a 15-pound bowling ball above my head and dropped it onto the topper so that it landed approximately 12 inches from the left side of the bed (and 36 inches from the phone). I performed this test five times and kept the median score.
Trial and warranty: It’s important that you be able to return a topper if it’s not right for your body type and sleeping style. I looked at the return policy/trial period for each topper and looked for any loopholes, like shipping costs. The median trial period for the models we tested was 30 nights, and I docked points if a topper didn’t have a trial period. Also, since you want your topper to last, we looked at the warranties. The median warranty length is three years.
What we’re testing next
We’re always testing new mattress toppers and retesting our top picks to determine the best models. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:
Wavy: I’ve had this memory foam topper for about a month and am waiting for it to be available to the public before testing. Wavy still hasn’t announced a release date, but once it’s available, I’ll put it through its paces and let you know what I think.
There are several reasons why you might want a mattress topper. Many people like to have one around to use as a pad under their sleeping bag when camping, or in a pinch, it can serve as a guest bed.
The most common reason people turn to mattress toppers is to make their otherwise uncomfortable mattress more comfortable. “Let’s say you bought a mattress a couple of years ago, and you’re not quite satisfied with it, but you want to extend the life a little bit,” said Rebecca Robbins, PhD, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. Maybe you got a second-hand mattress that doesn’t match your sleep style. “Then, that’s a perfect situation to consider a mattress topper,” she said.
“A mattress topper customizes the foundation and the mattress to your personal preference because we’re all different,” added Robbins. “We all vary in our preference for firm versus plush. Some people really want something that’s just super cozy. They want to sink in, whereas others actually prefer a firmer mattress.”
Randall Laurich, DC, a chiropractor in South Florida, agrees. “I always like to say that everyone’s different, and everyone responds differently to certain things,” said Laurich. “I would say the main benefits are if the mattress is too firm, a mattress topper would actually make it softer and more contouring to the spine. And then, in turn, the benefits become less stress on the spine.”
However, Laurich said to consider that some mattress toppers can be too soft and unsupportive. “I have had patients that have attempted to use mattress toppers and have actually had some negative side effects from it,” said Laurich. “Not having enough firmness can sometimes cause the spine to reduce its curvature. So, it won’t contour to the spine because it is so soft. A softer, thicker topper can sometimes have adverse effects, while a smaller, thinner topper could have more positive benefits overall.”
Should you buy a new mattress or a mattress topper?
A mattress topper can provide all of the benefits listed above, but if your mattress is starting to exhibit sagging and providing less support, it might be time for a new one. First, check your mattress’s warranty. Most warranties cover your bed for at least 10 years, and some last for a lifetime. If your mattress is still covered under warranty, you may be able to get a replacement or repair for free or for a nominal fee.
If your mattress has reached the end of its life and you can’t afford to replace it yet, a mattress topper is a good stopgap that can help you squeeze an extra year or two out of your mattress while you scrape together the funds for a replacement.
Sometimes, our bodies or sleeping styles change, and this can cause our mattress to become less comfortable. This isn’t covered by warranty, and you probably don’t want to throw out a perfectly good mattress that still has plenty of years left in it. This is where a topper can help.
Lastly, mattress toppers can help couples with different sleep preferences. “If you want to sleep together though, you might put a topper under the fitted sheet on one side of the bed for somebody who prefers a plusher experience,” Robbins said.
If you go this route, a Twin XL is your best bet. It’s the same length as King and Queen size mattresses and half the width of a King.
How do you clean a mattress topper?
This will vary depending on the mattress topper. For the most accurate directions, consult the topper’s user manual or tags or the manufacturer’s website. Most mattress toppers are not machine washable. For instance, you should avoid getting latex and memory foam wet since they’re hard to dry. In most cases, you will want to spot clean any messes with a mild detergent and a damp towel. Then, allow it to dry completely before covering or sleeping on it.
Whether you have a mattress topper or not, we strongly recommend using a mattress protector on your bed. The best ones are waterproof and machine-washable and cost as little as $20. Check out our guide to the best mattress protectors for more info.
Which mattress topper is right for your sleeping style?
There are three main sleeping styles: back, stomach, and side. Laurich recommends starting your mattress topper search with a firmness that is best for your style. “A stomach sleeper should have something a little less firm,” said Laurich. “Because when you’re lying on your stomach and have a bit of a belly or abdominal dissension or anything like that, it’s uncomfortable to be on something that’s extremely firm. If you are a back sleeper, it’s better for you to have something firmer that contours better to your spine.”
“If you’re a side sleeper, it’s better for you to have a softer mattress topper,” added Laurich. “But side sleepers get different issues or ailments. For instance, you can get hip issues from being on one side for so long. You can get other issues from positioning your shoulders in different ways. So, it’s really tough to say exactly what the best mattress topper would be based on sleeping style, but these generalizations serve as a good starting point.”
If you’re unsure about your comfort preferences, we strongly recommend choosing a mattress topper that comes with a long trial period so you can return it if it’s not right for you.
For college students, the dorm room will be their home-away-from-home, and great sheets are a must.
Most twin XL dorm beds are 80 inches long, which is five inches longer than a standard twin.
Beyond buying the right size, look for sheets that are budget-friendly, durable, and comfortable.
No matter how late you stay up in college, eventually, you’re going to want to catch up on some much-needed shut-eye. With a set of cozy, comfortable, and colorful sheets, you can create a restful sleeping setup that’s also reflective of your style and personality.
Though the decorating of your dorm room might not be as crucial as choosing a major or registering for classes, that small space will be your home for at least a year, if not more, so you want to create a welcoming atmosphere.
This may also be the first time you get to pick out bedding for yourself, rather than living with what your parents chose or what was handed down from someone else’s bed. It’s a great opportunity to define and execute your own personal style, and learn what kind of bedding materials, patterns, and colors you like.
Make sure to read your dorm information and note the measurements of the bed. Almost all dorm rooms have an 80-inch extra-long twin mattress – 5 inches longer than a standard twin. Extra-long and standard twin mattresses are both 39 inches wide.
Also our top pick for the best budget sheets, the Threshold Performance sheets are silky smooth, with deep pockets that fit well on a twin XL bed and durable construction to last many washes.
Pros: Great fit, OEKO-Tex certified, good thread count
Cons: May show body oils more easily, smells bad out of the package
Target’s Threshold sheets are smooth, soft, and silky, made from materials that usually match the specs of sheets four times the price. You might be disappointed to find they’re not actually wrinkle-resistant, as advertised, but they’re great otherwise — both comfortable and durable.
One of their most notable features is the deep fitted sheet. There’s extra stretch built into the corners of the sheet, helping it cling to any twin XL mattress and reduce fabric bunching. There’s also a top and bottom label to further speed up the process of making your bed.
Compared to other sheets we’ve tested, the Threshold set traps body oils readily and can develop a greasy feel if you don’t wash it often. This drawback provides a lesson in a good bedkeeping habit you should keep for life: wash your sheets every one to two weeks.
Luckily, after many washes, you shouldn’t have any pilling or durability issues. Just make sure to wash them before your first use, since they smell bad initially.
Cons: Produces a lot of dryer lint, limited color selection, pillowcases run small
Our favorite flannel sheets are the velvety soft and thick Pinzon sheets. From the first use, they’re soft and immensely cozy, giving you the feeling that you’re snuggling in a mountainside cabin, even if your reality is a rickety bunk bed in a tiny triple dorm room.
Once your winter quarter or semester starts, it’s a good idea to switch over to these heavy and comforting flannel sheets. They’re very warm, but never itchy, uncomfortable, unbreathable, or stifling. I personally felt like I slept better and deeper because of how warm and comfortable they were. The Pinzon sheets are exactly the kind of bedding you want when you’re away from home and acclimating to a new environment.
The pillowcases can be a tight fit if you use high-loft pillows, so we’d recommend getting smaller pillows if you want to buy these flannel sheets.
Like the Threshold sheets above, you’ll want to wash them before first use since they have a slight chemical smell. And, be prepared for a lot of dryer lint. The amount of lint will eventually go down over time after more washes.
The best jersey twin XL sheets
If you love the comfy feel of your favorite t-shirt, then soft jersey sheets like the ones from AmazonBasics are for you.
Pros: Cozy, soft fabric, good color selection
Cons: Might be a little thin, may not fit deep mattresses
Jersey-knit sheets are sometimes called t-shirt sheets, as they are made from the same type of soft, slightly stretchy, just-a-little-bit-fuzzy fabric as your favorite garments.
AmazonBasics’ Heather Jersey Sheet Set is made of modestly woven jersey knit and 100% cotton, which, for all that dorm life may put them through, should serve you or your beloved offspring perfectly well for the duration of college.
The sheets are also a good option due to their ability to keep from pilling. Many reviewers say they’ve had the sheets for more than a year and seen little or no wear in the fabric at all, which is pretty good for jersey sheets at any price.
The best colorful twin XL sheets
Available in more than 40 eye-catching colors, the Nestl sheets are the best way to showcase your style and add some life to your dorm room.
Pros: Large range of colors and sizes, soft brushed feel
Cons: Not suitable for those sensitive to synthetic fabrics
Quality and comfort are important, but it’s not too much to ask for some sheets that also look great. From mellow yellows and creams to vibrant jewel tones, Nestl offers colors for all kinds of dorm room aesthetics.
The microfiber sheets are double brushed for extra softness, and they’re cozy yet breathable. Plus, they’ll retain their color and durability after many washes.
The other great aspect of the Nestl sheets is they come in many sizes, so if you loved them during college, you can continue buying them even once you’ve upgraded bed sizes. For the twin XL size, there’s also an extra deep option. The regular twin XL should fit mattresses up to 16 inches deep.
The best premium twin XL sheets
The Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheets are buttery-soft, luxurious, and fairly priced, even though they’re the most expensive of our picks for twin XL sheets.
Pros: Super soft, lots of color and pattern options
Cons: Shorter mattress depth, pricey
If you want to have luxurious sheets during your time in college, look no further than Brooklinen’s Luxe Core Sheets. One of the best sheets we’ve ever tried, they’re buttery soft right out of the package and only get softer over time.
The sheets are an ongoing favorite at the team because they’re made from high-quality materials but cost a fraction of luxury brands. Even though they’re likely a splurge for college students, they’re worth the investment because of the thoughtful design and long-lasting construction. There are labels for the long and short sides of the fitted sheet, and it’s made from long-staple cotton, which is softer and stronger than cheap, short-staple cotton.
We also love that its colors and patterns are sophisticated yet fun, unlike some twin XL sheet sets that look cheap and childish.