The Verge Back to School Guide 2015

For students around the world, August signals summer’s last glorious hurrah and the impending arrival of that much-dreaded milepost: the first day of school.

Fear not, The Verge has your back. We’ve surveyed our brightest minds to compile a must-have inventory of gear and gadgets essential to any young scholar in and out of the classroom. That means the perfect headphones for tuning out your pesky roommate, the right laptop to write your thesis on, and a spill-proof coffee mug so you won’t have to buy a new computer come September. Oh, and our arsenal also includes a board game that casts you and your friends as postapocalyptic survivors eking out an existence in a world full of diseased, flesh-craving monsters. Think of it as a how-to guide for the school year ahead. Good luck!


Cranking the volume to 11 is crucial, but so is retaining the ability to hear past the age of 35. Dubs acoustic filters dampen volume without crippling audio quality, making them essential festival accessories.

$25 / Amazon Buy Now

Boundless Nutrition Perfect Cookie

Perfect Cookies have the nutritional and health benefits of energy bars but they actually taste good and come in a far superior "cookie" shape.

$25 for 12 / Amazon Buy Now

GoPro Hero 4 Silver

If you’re looking for an action camera, GoPro is the way to go. There's a huge array of mounts and accessories for everything from skiing to skydiving, with better video quality than any other action camera in this price range. And the Hero 4 Silver includes a handy touchscreen on the back, making it easier than ever to use.

$400 / Amazon Buy Now

Amazon Fire TV Stick

There are lots of different streaming video sticks you can plug into your TV, but Amazon's is probably the most versatile. It supports a wide variety of apps, a few games, and it doesn't require you to pull out your phone to use it. One neat trick: it can even work with hotel Wi-Fi "captive portals," so it's worth chucking in your travel bag, too.

$39 / Amazon Buy Now

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer DryTouch Sunscreen

The worst part of applying most sunscreen is that it leaves you feeling like a greased pig. Neutrogena's DryTouch Sunscreen solves that problem, keeping skin healthy and comfortable.

$11.50 / Amazon Buy Now

Leatherman Wave

Needlenose pliers? The Wave's got you. Wire stripper? You're covered. Diamond-coated file? Can opener? Screwdriver? Yep, yep, and two of them, in fact. Pretty safe to say the Leatherman Wave will be your most helpful new bff.

$108 / Amazon Buy Now

Aukey 5 Port with Quick Charge

Most people end up with a huge pile of devices that charge over USB, so getting a multi-port charger is a good idea. Aukey's is one of the best and is able to charge phones and tablets quickly. It also includes official support for QuickCharge for Android devices.

$59 / Amazon Buy Now

UE Roll

Logitech has been making the best Bluetooth speakers lately, and the UE Roll is our favorite yet. Good sound, small profile, and durability are all key factors — it's a speaker that's designed to be tossed around. The best part? It's waterproof.

$100 / Amazon Buy Now


It's unclear what rip in the fabric of time and space brought Tevas back into fashion, but the premier hackey-sacking sandal is now haute couture. Luckily they're just as comfortable, versatile, and rugged as they've ever been.

$25 / Amazon Buy Now

Beats Studio Wireless

You need a good set of headphones when it comes time to cram for finals and your terrible roommate won't stop watching reruns of The Bachelorette. It's hard to beat the Beats Studio Wireless — they sound good, have no wires, and look cool.

$380 / Amazon Buy Now

Google Cardboard

Virtual reality is shaping up to be the next big thing in movies, gaming, and pretty much anything else you can think of. But you don’t have to wait until the expensive, fancy headsets from companies like Oculus or HTC come out. Google Cardboard offers a great entry VR experience at an unbeatable price point.

$14 / Amazon Buy Now

Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4)

The magnum opus of Rocksteady’s Batman games, Arkham Knight brings the combat, gadgets, and open-world gameplay to a current-gen console, while adding in an all new Batmobile gameplay mechanic to a truly massive map. Who needs friends when you can hang out with the Dark Crusader?

$60 / Amazon Buy Now

Mighty Mug

Is there a mug that won't let you accidentally spill another drink on that poor laptop? Asking for a friend. The Mighty Mug is just that. Put it down on a flat surface, and it won't budge from side to side; you can only move it by purposefully picking it up.

$27 / Amazon Buy Now

Apple iPad Air 2

When it comes time to kick back at the pad, you'll want an iPad to kick back with. The iPad Air 2 is the best tablet you can get: it's thin, light, super fast, and has more apps and games than you could ever want.

$499 / Amazon Buy Now

Sony RX100 III

The camera on your iPhone is great, but if you want to step up your Instagram game, the Sony RX100 III takes killer photos while still fitting in your pocket. There's a newer version called the Mark IV, but we don't think it's worth the extra $200 if you just want to take great photos on the go.

$800 / Amazon Buy Now

Dead of Winter

Gadgets down: sometimes you just want to play an analog board game. Dead of Winter casts you and your friends as a group trying to survive a postapocalyptic hellscape, which is the definition of good fun. But you're not just surviving together, you're also considering stabbing each other in the back. Just like you do with your friends in real life.

$75 / Amazon Buy Now

Bonavita Gooseneck Electric Kettle

The secret to making truly great coffee and tea is the water. This kettle offers extremely accurate and precise water heating paired with a classic design.

$100 / Amazon Buy Now

Apple MacBook Air

You need a laptop for school, and you can't do any better than the 13-inch MacBook Air. It's super light, super portable, and great to type on — perfect for crafting your thesis.

$999 / Amazon Buy Now

PlayStation 4

Sony's way out ahead in this generation's console wars, thanks to a powerful machine focused on gaming. That said, it's no one-trick pony — it can stream Netflix and other services too.

$400 / Amazon Buy Now

HMG Summit Pack

Forget the twee leather and canvas backpacks of last year. School is an extreme sport and you need a backpack that can handle inhospitable territory. HMG's Summit pack is made of Cuben / polyester material, making it hyper-light, water-resistant, and 100 percent badass.

$165 / Amazon Buy Now

Muji Body Fit Cushion

Bean bag chairs went out with the '90s, but in their infinite wisdom, Muji brings us the Body Fit Cushion. Sit on it, sleep on it, eat on it — it's the Swiss Army knife of furniture.

$190 / Muji Buy Now


Photographer - Vanessa Rees

Photo Editor - Mélanie Duault

Art Director - Kelsey Scherer

Developer - Frank Bi

Editorial Leads - Dieter Bohn, William Savona, Dan Seifert, Michael Zelenko

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