The Ultimate College Packing List

What do you take with you to college?

Moving to college is way different from packing for a trip since you’ll be taking everything you need to live for an entire school year, including and stuff for cooking, cleaning, entertainment and, of course, studying. U-Pack specializes in easy, affordable moving, and we’ve become a favorite over the years for campus moves. We know you don’t want to take more than you need, so we’ve narrowed down the basic supplies you’ll want for dorm life. With our college checklist, we can help you figure out what you’ll need and how to get it to campus.

Female student packing books for college using a college packing checklist.


Complete college packing list

Use this supply list to get you started on packing for dorm life. You might need to adjust it based on your lifestyle or what your school or roommate provides. Take a screenshot or bookmark this list to reference later.

Prefer a printable list? We’ve got you. Download and print the college packing list here.

  • Mattress pad
  • Bedding
  • Pillows
  • Pillowcase
  • Fan
  • Lamp
  • Throw Blanket
  • Trash can
  • Bath rug and shower curtain
  • Toiletries
  • Shower shoes
  • Shower caddy
  • Hairdryer
  • Hand towels
  • Towels and washclothes
  • Robe
  • Nail kit
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Hand soap
  • Hamper
  • Detergent
  • Hangers
  • Dryer sheets
  • Quarters
  • Iron/ironing board
  • Lint brush
  • Wrinkle spray
  • Stain remover
  • Drying rack
  • Can opener
  • Chip clips
  • Coffee maker
  • Mug
  • Paper towels and holder
  • Food storage containers
  • Plates, cups, bowls
  • Utensils
  • Silverware
  • Microwave
  • Mini fridge
  • Water bottle
  • Gaming console
  • Speaker
  • TV/DVD/Streaming device
  • HDMI cords
  • Air freshener or diffuser
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Vacuum
  • Dust wipes
  • Glass cleaner
  • Under-bed storage bins
  • Storage drawers
  • Desk organizers
  • Shoe storage (shelves or over-the-door)
  • Adhesive hooks
  • Rugs
  • Corkboard and pushpins
  • Dry erase board and markers
  • Full-length mirror
  • Pictures and frames
  • Wall decor
  • Bike
  • Bike lock
  • Helmet
Office and Tech
  • Small trash can
  • Batteries
  • Chargers
  • Envelopes and stamps
  • Extension cords
  • Headphones
  • Laptop and bag
  • USB drive and memory cards
  • Surge protector
  • Printer and ink
Clothing and Shoes
  • Cold weather gear (hat, gloves, scarf)
  • Dress/professional clothing
  • Everyday wear
  • Athletic clothing and shoes
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • One formal outfit
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Safety pins
  • Sewing kit
  • Umbrella
  • First aid kit
  • Essential medications (pain, allergy, cuts, etc.)
  • Contact cases and solution
  • Glasses
  • Vitamins
  • Cotton swabs
  • Bandages
  • Window coverings
  • Suitcase
School Supplies
  • Backpack or bag
  • Calculator
  • Folders
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Paper and notebooks
  • Markers
  • Pens and pencils
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Staple remover
  • Stapler and staples
  • Tape
  • Sticky notes


Splitting up the dorm room packing list

Use these tips to double-check what you’ll need before you go shopping for your new dorm.

What’s available on campus

Check with the student housing office to find out what’s included in your dorm room. Most will provide basic furniture, like a bed, desk, chair and dresser. Some might also have carpet (so you don’t need rugs) or even built-in paper towel holders. Check on the bathroom situation since communal bathrooms mean you won’t need a shower curtain, but you’ll need a shower caddy to carry your toiletries. Also, make sure you know what size the bed is. Most dorms have Twin XL, but it’s good to double-check. Lastly, find out if they rent anything from the list, like printers, fridges or TVs so you don’t have to buy or move them.

What NOT to bring to college

While you’re talking to the housing office, find out their “Do Not Bring” list. This varies from campus to campus, but it might include things like appliances, adhesive hooks, or pets.

What your roommate is bringing

If you’ve got a roommate or suitemates, you may be able to split many of the shared items among the group. Consider dividing up big purchases, like the fridge and microwave or the TV and game console. And for things you only need one of (like trash cans), communicate about who is bringing what.

What you need for move-in

Don’t forget to gather stuff to help you get everything moved to college, like boxes, tape, and a marker. If you’re bringing anything big and heavy (like the fridge), you might also want a dolly.

What you should buy after moving to campus

It’s best to buy most things on the list before moving to college because during move-in weekend new students shopping for the same thing can leave stores picked over. And in some cases, since demand is high on college necessities, the price can be higher near campus than at home. However, a few things might be better bought after arrival, like cleaning supplies and food, so they don’t spill during the trip. Also, if you’re going to order anything online, you can wait closer to move in and have the packages sent directly to your campus address.

Start packing early

Once you know your move-in date, you can set a date to start packing, ideally, 2-3 weeks before, so you have plenty of time to shop for anything you need to buy. Then use our college moving guide to help with the entire process, from packing to move-in day tips.