Best of Back-to-School Gear {Top 10}

Since our kids don’t start school till next week, I’m still doing last minute BTS shopping.  I thought it might be fun to put together a list of my favorite Back-to-School gear for kids and parents alike.

1. Best Back Packs: Lands End

As far as I’m concerned, these are the only backpacks to buy.  I’ve had others, but they just don’t hold up.  I can get two years out of a Lands End backpack, and my kids are HARD on backpacks.  They come in different sizes for kids of different ages, and they’re made like tanks.

Right now many are discounted up to 50% off, so if you haven’t gotten your kids’ backpacks yet, you’re in luck!  See, sometimes procrastination pays off.

2. Best Lunch Boxes for Little Kids: Crocodile Creek

These are stinkin’ adorable, especially for the preschool set.  They are made well and easy to clean, and they are PVC, phthalate, and lead FREE.

3. Best Lunchboxes for Big Kids: Lands End

For the older set, I go back to my old standby, Lands End.  They have several different designs and tons of cute color combinations.  This year each of my older kids got to pick out a new backpack and matching lunchbox from Lands End.  I found a coupon code online, and they were surprisingly affordable.

4. Best Water Bottles: Sigg

Each member of our family has one of these.  We take them with us when we’re going to be out and about for the day, and of course when we go hiking. The kids take them to school with water in them every day.  They come in different sizes, which is nice.  The kids have smaller ones, of course.

I particularly like that type of bottle cap.  It’s easy to screw on and off, it’s easy to drink from the small opening, they never leak, and there’s only one simple piece to keep track of.  (And they sell replacement tops if you lose them.)  The interior lining is leach-proof and BPA-free.

Crocodile Creek makes a cute one too, especially for the younger set.  I just don’t like those lids quite as much as the Sigg; I think they are more likely to leak.  Still, my youngest daughter has one of these.  The are free of lead, BPA, and phthalates; and quite affordable at about $8 on Amazon.

5. Best Footwear: OLLY Shoes

OLLY has the best selection of quality shoes for kids I have ever seen in one place — from KEEN to Merrell to Converse to Geox.  If you have one nearby, it’s definitely worth stopping in; but if not, their online store just opened for business.  Lucky you!

6. Best Labels: Mabel’s Labels

Remember when we were little, and our moms had to sew labels into our coats and stuff?  Well, Mabel’s Labels, besides being the cutest name ever, makes fantastic labels in every size shape and kind — new sewing required.

Their water-proof sticky labels are great for labeling water bottles, calculators, cameras, and anything else with a hard surface.  Bag tags are great for labeling backpacks and lunchboxes.  Shoe Labels go inside the shoes so there’s no confusion over whose are whose when the party’s over.  (Am I the only one who had to look that up to make sure I had the right whose?)

Not sure what to get?  They have this fabulous Back To School Combo Pack to make choosing simple.

7. Best Pencils: Newspaper Pencils

Okay, I haven’t actually used these pencils, so I can’t really say they’re the best.  But I love the concept.  These pencils are made from rolled up newspapers.  They promise that no toxic chemicals are used, and they provide jobs for people in developing countries.

Have you tried them?  What do you think?

8. For Fun: PakNaks

PakNaks are fun soft rubbery 3-D decorations for kids (and adults too!) to personalize all of their stuff.  I love PakNaks.  They are adorable, and a great way to jazz up that plain Lands End backpack.  PakNaks also make great party favors or a little extra something to slip into birthday gifts.  For 20% off, enter PAK20 at checkout.

9. Best Family Organizer: Cas Company FridgeFile

I discovered this through a post on organizing your Command Center at I’m An Organizing Junkie.  I ordered it a while back, and I can’t wait to put it to use when school starts next week.  I’m hoping it will help me keep track of all that paperwork that comes home with the kids throughout the school year.

UPDATE:  It is out of stock at Laura’s store, but you can find it on Amazon as well.

10. Best Desktop Organizer: momAgenda

Hey, moms need BTS gear too!  Check out this mom Agenda Home Office Edition.  It sounds the same as the Desktop version I’m used to, with their signature layout with space for mom and up to 4 kids; but the Home Office Edition also gives you monthly and weekly views with monthly tabs, note pages and 2 folders for loose papers.  The academic calendar runs from August 2010 through August 2011.

Or check out this Back To School Survival Kit that includes a momAgenda Desktop Day Planner, momAgenda Grocery List Pad, and momAgenda Sticky Notes.  Plus if you “like” their Facebook page, you can get free shipping and free momAgenda Pockets.

What would you add to my list?