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From best-selling sneakers to computers, a back-to-school shopping list

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By Tim Farkas

Capital Region Independent Media

I hated going back to school. I hated having to go back to school. I hated my kids having to go back, and I hate my friends’ kids having to go back now. 

On social media, one friend and I lament the experience every year. It’s become a tradition, just like my complaints as a youngster.

Summer is just too short. Swimming pools, county fairs and lemonade are about to be replaced by football, fall festivals and pumpkin-spiced everything. 

But through at least age 16, school is mandatory in every state – whether it’s done on campus or at home – so students and their parents/guardians need to prepare for the time of year that so many people welcome more than I did.

From lunch boxes to laptops, students need school supplies and parents need peace of mind. Thus, we assembled a team to make our picks in some key shopping categories for your upcoming school year. 

Prices listed are from Aug. 23 on Amazon.com, and all products are among the highest-rated on the site. 

LUNCH BOXES/BAGS

1.          Bentgo Kids’ Leak-Proof, 5-Compartment Bento-Style Lunch Box

This lunch box is just cool. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and if you need further proof of that selling point, just click on the link. The five compartments make this kid-friendly product perfect for ideal portion sizes for students as old as 7. And parents will be happy to know it’s made of food-safe materials and is safe for dishwashers. List price $39.99, now $29.99.

2.          FlowFly Kids’ Insulated Soft Bag Tote

This gem is perfect for girls and boys alike. Whether it’s solid black, solid blue or decorated with cherries – or with dinosaurs and palm trees – this thermal-insulated, pocketed, lightweight lunch container is listed as an “Amazon’s Choice” buy. Definitely a delicious pick. List $21.59, now $15.99.

3.          Bentgo Kids’ Double-Insulated Lunch Bag

The biggest-discounted product (38%) on our lunch board is durable, water-resistant and features zippered pockets inside and outside, and also has a water bottle holder. There’s nothing like merchandise that is listed as the No. 1 best-seller in reusable lunch bags and is ideal for children 3 and older. It’s also easy to clean. List $39.99, now $24.99.

4.          Aiphamy Neoprene Insulated Lunch Box 

Age diversity is the biggest plus in this 11.4-liter-capacity lunch box. Depending on the style you choose, this product is for toddlers, kids, teens and adults – an across-the-board winner. It’s made of Neoprene, a synthetic rubber that is more durable than natural rubber. And it’s water-proof, of course. List $19.99, now $16.49.

5.          Adidas Unisex Excel 2 Insulated Lunch Bag

Three stripes and you’re … in.  There are fewer colors to choose from compared to some other styles, although the lime green version certainly will get you noticed. The bottom line is that Adidas’ trademark logo represents a high-quality product, so you can’t go wrong at the lunch table with this one. List $32, now $22.40.

SNEAKERS

  1. Under Armour Unisex Grade-School Assert 9 Running Shoe

Along with a new lunch box for the upcoming school year, you gotta have new shoes, right? And they have to be stylish enough for TikTok yet functional for running on the playground (but not in the halls!). This shoe has high approval on Amazon.com, with nearly 5,000 people taking the time to rate it. More than 2,000 pairs have been bought on the site in the past month, free returns are permitted on some sizes and colors, and the sneaker has a rubber sole. (Hey, that sounds like a good name for a Beatles album.) List price $55, now $29.97.

2.          Adidas Unisex-Child Grand Court Sneaker

Whether it’s cars or shoes, German engineering is good. Very good. This sneaker is an “Amazon’s Choice” model, and you have over 20 colors and patterns to choose from. Perhaps most importantly, the sales price is 40% off from the list price. And who doesn’t want to save that kind of money, especially in a big-name brand? List $50, now $29.97.   

3.          Converse Unisex Chuck Taylor All-Star High Tops

Go retro or go home. This is the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor brand, which was created in 1917. Lots of people are wearing them, including the kids in ultra-cool London. From optical white to pinkypink to black, the sneakers are imported and have a rubber sole. And they’re fashionable, versatile and lightweight. Price range: $69.95 to $72.22.

4.          Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid, Men’s Sneakers

Here it is – the one, the only, the original, the legendary Air Jordan brand from Nike. Since this shoe was the perfect fit for icon-to-be, gravity-defying NBA rookie Michael Jordan in 1984, it also is perfect for kids today. A truly transformative shoe can be yours with the click of a link. You might not win six NBA titles with a new pair, but you’ll be a star at school, either in the classroom or on the court. Or both. This yellow-white-violet model sells for $139.94 to $179, but prices vary – up and down – in other versions.

5.          Ikunka Kids’ Sneakers for Boys and Girls

Be a trend-setter with these fashionable, lightweight, breathable unisex shoes. The new arrival had only one rating on Amazon.com as of Aug. 23, but it was a perfect one – a 5.0. The shoe is suitable for daily wear or for gym class, running, playing, walking, travel, exercise or vacation. The person who gave it the perfect rating said simply: “Great fit. Comfy. Easy on and off. Good buy.” That works for us. A limited number of pairs remained, so order soon. We think it could be a game changer. Price: $30.99.

LAPTOPS

A survey this summer of 2,000 millennial parents of school-age children revealed that although kids still need the basics – pencils, pens, notebooks, etc. – tech is king when it comes to spending. And the product in the top tier of the tech list? A laptop. The technology news website The Verge emphasizes that buying a laptop can be stressful. As options for this computer evolve, so do the needs of students. But we at Capital Region Independent Media did some studying, and we came up with five recommendations (all of them have at least a 4.3 composite rating via more than 2,000 ratings on Amazon.com

1.           Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6-inch Screen

Full HD IPS Display, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, Vega 3 Graphics, 4GB DDR4, 128GB SSD, backlit keyboard, Windows 10 in S Mode, A515-43-R19L, silver color.

Among the consumers who gave it a 5-star rating, the comments were “excellent laptop,” “highly recommended” and “excellent computer.” List $369.99, now $347. Or you can pay $28.92 a month for 12 months, interest free, upon approval for an Amazon Visa card

2.          HP Stream 14-inch Screen, Intel Celeron N4000

4 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC, Windows 10 Home in S Mode With Office 365 Personal for one year (14-cb185nr, royal blue).

Among the consumers who gave it a 5-star rating, the comments were “works great,” “just what I needed” and “great PC.” List $259.99, now $212.79. Or pay $162.79 upon approval for anAmazon Visa card

 3.           HP Chromebook 14-inch Screen

Intel Celeron N4000 Processor 4 GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC, HD display, chrome, lightweight computer with webcam and dual microphones for home, school, music and movies (14a-na0021nr, 2021).

This laptop has a special anti-glare feature. Among the consumers who gave it a 5-star rating, the comments were “have bought two of these,”good computer overall” and “good little laptop for the price. List $269.99, now $223. Orpay $173 upon approval for an Amazon Visa card.

 4.           [2021 Version] ASUS Vivobook Laptop L210 11.6-inch Screen

Ultra Thin, Intel Celeron N4020 Processor 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC storage, Windows 10 home in S mode with one year of Office 365 Personal, L210MA-DB01.

Among the consumers who gave it a 5-star rating, the comments were “great little powerhouse,” “nice little laptop” and “excellent.” Price: $195. Or pay $145 upon approval for an Amazon Visa card.

5.           Amazon Fire HD 10.1-inch Screen Kids’ Tablet 

1080p full HD, ages 3-7, 32 GB

The Verge calls this model “a colorful, fast tablet with kid-friendly content.” According to Amazon.com, every Fire Kids tablet comes with a sturdy, kid-proof case designed to protect against drops and bumps. The tablet also has an easy-to-use dashboard that allows parents to filter content based on a child’s age. Among the consumers who gave it a 5-star rating, a comment was: “This thing is fantastic – 2,500-mile road trip with a 4-year-old tested and approved.” Price: $199.99. There are free returns, and you can save 20% with a trade-in. 

Note: The Capital Region Independent Media group might be compensated and/or get an affiliate commission if you purchase a product through any pertinent links in this article. 

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