It's back-to-school time again, and the students in your life are definitely going to need school supplies and gadget essentials to help them work — and play. And to help, we've assembled some of our favorite gear for those who are on tighter budgets. Here are three of CNET's top picks to give your student a boost back into the educational routine. These are the back-to-school essentials under $100 that we heartily recommend. And for more gadgets for classroom and dorm, check out CNET's full guide to the Best Back-to-School Gear for $100 or Less in 2022 at


Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack

Great budget laptop bag

CNET TAKE: Trying to decide between a shoulder laptop bag and backpack? Hybrids like this Solo Duane Hybrid Briefcase Backpack have both options, with detachable backpack straps that stow in a pocket on the back when you want to ditch the shoulder strap and wear it like a backpack. The dedicated laptop compartment has room for up to a 15.6-inch laptop, and there's plenty of room for all your other stuff. Available in multiple color options (price varies slightly by color), it's a great laptop bag with a budget-friendly price that's on our list of the best laptop backpacks for 2022.


Anker 735 3-Port 65W USB-C charger

Compact and versatile on-the-go power

CNET TAKE: Anker's compact 735 65W charger can charge a MacBook Pro 13 at full speed. Not only is it quite small for the amount of power it can deliver (it has foldable prongs), but it also has three ports (two USB-C and one USB-A) that allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time (though that 65 watts of power is split between the ports if you charge more than one device).


JBL Go 3

Pocket-friendly wireless speaker

CNET TAKE: The JBL Go 3's durable design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its tiny size, make it one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.

Available in multiple color options, it has an IP67 water-resistance rating, meaning it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof. Battery life is rated at up to five hours. If you want something a little more oomph to really get that party started, check out CNET's list of the Best Bluetooth Speakers for 2022 at


The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Executive Editor David Carnoy and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit

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