Bozeman's Top 10 Back-to-School Supplies

Christopher Dyrland-Marquis

It’s that time of year again! You could hear the back-to-school season approaching in the growing wails of nearby adolescents and exhausted college students. But, it doesn’t have to be all that bad—take a look at the supplies listed below to help equip yourself for success this fall. 

Buy New Shoes
There aren’t a lot of excuses in life to buy a new pair of shoes (I’m looking at you, you grungy pair of slip-ons from 2016), but what better time to improve the pep in your step than the beginning of classes? You are certain to do a lot of walking here and there, so investing in the comfort of your feet just makes sense. Be on the lookout for any shoes that might offer padded insoles: those swanky kicks might be the ticket to giving your feet spa-days every week. 

If you’re looking for local products, try shopping at the Bozeman Running Company. The establishment offers a selection of athletic footwear at fair prices, in a variety of styles. Certainly something worth a look!

Wear a Versatile Jacket
It shouldn’t be a secret that Bozeman prides itself on unpredictable weather. Often, warm weather can turn sour, and that sour weather can turn worse. Making sure to properly insulate yourself with a good jacket that can handle hot or cold weather will make certain that your exposure to the outdoors remains a positive experience. There’s nothing worse than walking home with an inadequate sweatshirt and numb fingers because you didn’t plan ahead, so invest in a good coat. 

Need a good selection? Head over to the Crazy Mountain Outdoor Company on Main Street. The business offers a variety of popular, well-priced brands to choose from! 


Grab a Roomy Backpack
Every student across the country can most certainly agree that they are given too much homework. As if in an unspoken response, every teacher across the country answers these complaints with a unified solution: more homework! While it might not help with those late-night procrastinations, finding yourself a backpack that offers enough space for both your assignments and supplies goes a long way towards achieving success throughout the school year. Small backpacks often bust at the zipper under heavy course loads, so save yourself the frustration, and go big! 

These packs can be found at just about any sporting goods or department store, such as Schnee’s Boots and Shoes, Stone Glacier, or our local REI outlet. Keep an eye out for good deals! Soon, your former, bulging seams will be a thing of the past.


Use a Weekly Planner
While most students might assume that they can internalize their deadlines without a writing aid, a weekly planner can serve as a useful tool for all ages: either to practice recording what’s due and when or to help structure advanced time constraints. It’s never too early to organize the time in one’s life, and a weekly planner can provide useful, day-by-day plans of action. Forgetting a meeting, or that presentation that every other group member remembered to practice, can be the stuff of nightmares. Avoid the embarrassment and awkward excuses by incorporating this organizational savior into your repertoire.

Student scheduling aids are fairly common in any run-of-the-mill office supply store around Bozeman. Many useful planners can be found inexpensively at Staples or Office Depot. Often, Back-to-School sales can drive the prices for these items down even more! 


Organize a Pencil Bag
Whether you like to rock those old school, tri-color Bic pens, or are just trying to secure your favorite pencils that always seem to disappear when loaned (thanks Jeremy), a pencil bag can help contain your highlighters, erasers, pens, pencils, and forbidden chewing gum that one math teacher hates. No one likes digging through a jumbled mess of graphite and plastic to find the single working No. 2 pencil they have left, so stay organized with a handy container that’s able to keep everything tidy and in its place. 
While you can also find this and many other items at office supply stores, custom Bobcat-themed merchandise can be acquired at the Montana State University Bookstore located on campus. This might appeal to college students, as the store is also where new students can buy and return textbooks for the semester. Be sure to show your support for Bozeman’s Choice!


Pack a Mini Stapler
Nothing beats the convenience of stapling an assignment together from the comfort of your desk, while lines form around beaten-up office supplies that look like they’ve been in circulation since 1983. Nothing. I will die on that hill. Not only are today’s mini-staplers able to use regular-sized staples, they can fit in a small side-pocket or pouch: the essence of stapling luxury. Having a small stapler at your disposal is sure to make you a superstar among your peers, and provides an accessibility that cannot be matched by its larger, clunky counterparts.

Wonderfully, this practical item can be found in any office supply or department store! On top of that, whether you go to Walmart, Office Depot, or Staples, you are sure to find a model that uses regular-size staples. Now that’s a product.


Fill a Few Notebooks
Notebooks: those classic, blue-ruled reams of paper. They can be used for anything, and come in all sorts of colors, sizes, partitions, and line spacing. A must-have for students looking to practice note-taking, these varied and diverse supplies can often be found for less than a dollar, or can scale up into collections of multi-manilla volumes for any range of a student’s needs. While some institutions increasingly allow digital note-taking, packing along a few notebooks will help refine your handwriting, learn new material, maybe doodle a little bit, and record the wisdom you come across every day.
Just about everyone must have their own preference for where to buy notebooks. I’m fairly certain these are even available in some grocery stores of all places! But, the most variety you will find will, again, occur within Bozeman’s office supply retailers. Head over for yourself and admire the variety!


Acquire a Set of Highlighters
With all of the information that students encounter through the daily basis of their education, there needs to be some way to prioritize information into what is important, and what is really important. Highlighters offer strong solutions (in a variety of very fun colors) to quickly note relevant information: whether in a short book report or that manuscript on Public Rhetoric that you promised not to fall asleep reading again. Additionally, these tools can be used in a variety of applications, prioritizing any handwriting or printed text you might need to remember (just make sure you own the printed work if you put marks on it). Highlighters offer ways to make the most of your learning and review content to ensure you remember it. 

If you are yearning for a local business to visit for your recurring office supply needs, give Paper and Grace a shot! Located off of East Oak Street, this gift shop carries a variety of supplies and even gifts for any of your art-loving friends. Their inventory is sure to bring you a smile or two. 

Use a Stress Ball
If learning things were all rainbows and marshmallows, everyone would be a genius. Often, we are challenged by the content we try to learn, and this can lead to unhelpful side effects like stress and anxiety harming our productive growth as students. Finding wholesome ways to mitigate this build-up is important, and nothing does it better than a soft novelty you can release all of your weekday tension on. Enter the stress ball.

This “hand exercise equipment” relieves burnt-out students by allowing them to violently squeeze out their anxiety and is surprisingly effective! They can be found in almost any toy section across the general stores in Bozeman. Just be sure not to distract fellow classmates and save all that unwinding for when you get home. Your education will be sure to thank you for the effort.

Apply Hand Sanitizer 
While in-person classes might be returning for most institutions, it remains important to protect yourself as well as you can against rampant infections and transmission taking place in the current pandemic. One way to help facilitate this protection is to wash your hands and utilize hand sanitizer whenever reasonable. Making sure to properly disinfect your hands can go a long way towards staying healthy, and nothing would ruin a productive year faster than having to miss out on classes because of an illness. Do yourself a favor and bring along some hand sanitizer to help stay as happy as possible this fall.

While supplies of hand sanitizer did stretch thin over the last year, this item can now be found in pretty much any store. However, if you happen to be a Montana State University student and have a special need for a sanitizing “Clean ‘Cat Kit,” you can contact by email.

There is certainly a lot to prepare for this year in order to make your semesters the best they can be, but with the proper equipment and resources, any student can make the best of their situation. While unpleasant to return from summer’s freedom, fair amounts of preparation go a long way, and giving yourself the right tools for success can help improve all sorts of future opportunities. No one said that grumbling wasn’t allowed, but take advantage of the resources you find helpful to make the most of your discomfort and find your academic stride!

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