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This Year's Coolest Back-to-School Gear

Total Pack Rats

It used to be that when you opened up your kid's backpack, you were likely to find a few notebooks, scattered pencils, books and maybe a slingshot or sticker collection inside. But these days, kids are decidedly high-tech, and the heaviest burden on their back is often their computer. With this in mind, Jansport has created backpacks, like its Cold Fusion Pack, with a built-in internal protective sleeve for your kid's beloved laptop.

Back in the ancient times, we used the sun for scorching ants with a magnifying glass on the playground. These days it can literally charge a cell phone inside a bag. For our future-forward kids, Samsonite offers a solar-powered backpack outfitted with a small solar power panel for children to plug in their electronics.

Cold Fusion Pack - $54.95
Solar-Powered Backpack - $134.99


Students will be begging their parents for the latest iPad from Apple this fall. That's no surprise. But what may shock you is that schools are increasingly building tablet technology into curricula. Teachers like tablet technology because it lets students download books directly and avoid hefty backpacks larger than their bodies. Students can take notes on the text, complete worksheets and access related information online. Additionally, products like Pottery Barn's Roll n' Go Keyboard—a flexible plastic keyboard that can be rolled up and packed away—transform the iPad into a computer for typing papers or projects.

Are you nostalgic for the days when kids carried actual paper books? Design company Twelve South can help you with that. Their BookBook handmade leather cases are designed to protect iPads from the clumsiest of children, yet they look like a beautifully bound book.

While students are increasingly switching out paper and pencils for computers, notebooks still have a role in class. Michael Roger's Decomposition Book offers parents a green take on the classic composition notebook for their kids. Designed with hip covers, featuring woodgrain and topographical maps, the Decomposition Book line is not only trendy, but made with 100% recycled materials.

Roll n' Go Keyboard - $29.00
BookBook iPad Case - $69.99
Decomposition Book - $8.00

To the Lunchbox and Beyond

"Brown bagging it" may be the tradition, but these days kids are looking for lunchboxes that showcase their individual personalities. With the help of, you can create a completely customized metal lunch box for your child. Simply submit a photo of Bobby with his puppy or a drawing of his imaginary friend. The site will print it on a lunchbox for just $30.

Of course, what's inside the lunchbox is more important than what's on the outside. This year, parents will be turning away from the food pyramid of yore and following MyPlate, the government's new suggested eating guidelines. The MyPlate nutrition guide helps parents create healthy lunches for their children. Kellygreen's Filtered Water Bottle is another healthy product parents will be putting in children's lunchboxes this fall. It contains a built-in filter that eliminates toxins and harmful chemicals with each sip, and costs just $10.

Photo Lunchbox - $30.00
Filtered Water Bottle - $10.00

Recess Time

Silly school supplies are a great way to infuse class time with an element of recess. Fred Flare is an online store which offers everything from Polka Dot Tape to Lipstick Ballpoint Pens. Your kids are sure to love some of the more fantastic, less useful products as well. Our inner-child got really excited over the Secret Message Writing Set. It contains two matching pens filled with invisible ink that can only be read with the black light in the pen cap. Think of all the secrets your kid will be sharing with their BFFs. Actually, maybe it's best they just leave this at home.

Polka Dot Tape - $10.00
Lipstick Ballpoint Pen - $5.00
Secret Message Writing Set - $10.00

Maude Standish is a writer who lives in a tiny coach house in Brooklyn. She is currently working on a screenplay and blogs daily about trends at The (t) Files.

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