12 innovative items for back-to-school that are practical and affordable

Better Basics is here with the best back-to-school products for students.

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Whether you’re a parent or a student, the start of a new school year comes with lots of excitement, anticipation and planning.

Lifestyle expert Jenn Falik joined the TODAY team to talk about some of the best items to add to your back-to-school shopping list. From microfiber sheets, to cups for on-the-go snacks, there is no doubt that these items will be rising stars on the first day of school.

Here are some of her must-have products that will make the transition to upcoming school year a seamless one.

BETTER THAN A BASIC BACKPACK:

Vaschy Water Resistant Backpack

This lightweight backpack that has a 5-star rating on Amazon, holds 20 liters of volume and comes in 11 bold colors. On top of being fashionably versatile, it’s made from water-resistant material to withstand bad weather or a spilled drink from lunch — putting it a step ahead of a typical school bag.

INSTEAD OF A BASIC NAME TAG:

Water Bottle Bands

The color from a permanent marker will fade and a sticker is bound to come off a water bottle that builds up condensation throughout the day. These bands will hold still and certainly add some style and personalization to any water bottle. One of the cool characteristics of these bands is that they can be used over-and-over agin, and can be swapped from one water bottle to the next.

BETTER-THAN-BASIC HYDRATION:

Hydro Flask Kids Bottle

If you haven’t seen the rise in popularity of this water bottle among school kids, then you’ve likely seen a story about it online. Why is it better than your regular plastic bottle? The Hydro Flask can keep a drink hot for up to 12 hours, or a drink cold for up to 24 hours. Plus, the easy-sip straw lid is super easy to use and very kid friendly.

BETTER-THAN-BASIC TUPPERWARE:

The CrunchCup

The CrunchCup might serve a similar purpose as a piece of tupperware, but it goes far beyond a typical plastic container. It’s comprised of two cups — one for milk and the other for cereal — and the two don’t mix until they reach your mouth. The portable nature of this innovative cup is ideal for on-the-go breakfasts when you're running late. Say goodbye to soggy cereal for good!

INSTEAD OF A BASIC LOCKER MAGNET:

Locker Succulent Magnet

Add some greenery to any locker with this succulent magnet. Not only is it trendy, it’s perfect for holding up photos, notes, reminders, or a school schedule. Plus, it gives off a lively look which provides a subtle pick-me-up during those long school days.

THIS BETTER-THAN-BASIC LOCKER SHELF:

Locker Shelf

Lockers in crowded hallways tend be on the smaller side, but you can get an A+ in organization with this simple product. This locker shelf will help to make the most of the valuable space that is available, and will help to keep a jumbled mess at bay.

INSTEAD OF YOUR BASIC LOCKER STORAGE:

Pool "Go Get Em" Essentials Pocket

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Keeping track of pens, chargers, and small office supplies can be a bigger challenge than homework itself. This polyester pocket features three pockets and sturdy magnets to avoid slippage. This pick is currently unavailable, but similar products can be found on the Pottery Barn Teen site and on Amazon.

BETTER THAN A BASIC SET OF RISERS:

USB Power Bed Risers

Sometimes, the best place to sit down and do some studying is in bed — but finding enough outlets close by can be a tough task. One set of these risers includes two 3-prong electrical outlets and two USB ports so your computer won’t run out of juice in the middle of an assignment.

INSTEAD OF A BASIC HAULING BAG:

Ombyte Bags

Moving into a new dorm can be a fun and exciting experience, but amid the excitement, there is often some stress involved. You can ease the hassle with this super light duffle. It can hold up to 66 pounds in one bag, and has a 128 liter volume capacity for large items like bedding and winter coats.

BETTER-THAN-BASIC SUPPLIES STORAGE:

Chair Back Storage

Why waste valuable storage space? This cotton canvas chair back space saver will hold books, tech items, and office necessities without getting in the way of limited desk space.

INSTEAD OF A BASIC ALARM CLOCK:

Kid's Ready to Rise Alarm Clock

This alarm clock does way more than sounding an alarm. With changing colors to communicate when it’s okay to “wake the parents,” and functions to help youngsters grasp the concept of time, it will help to get your kids into a normal daily routine.

BETTER-THAN-BASIC SHIPPING METHODS:

Scotch Flex and Seal Shipping Roll

The Scotch Flex and Seal Shipping Roll has a three-layer construction and an adhesive surface to eliminate the need to use packing peanuts, cushion wrap or tape during shipping. Customers claim that it’s “easy to use” and “very adaptable.”

For more Better Basics, fashion and beauty picks, follow Jenn on Instagram at @jennfalik or check out her blog jennfalik.com.

Last year, Jenn joined TODAY to share why back-to-school shopping doesn't have to be synonymous with boring or tedious.

"Be it saving time, reducing waste, clearing clutter — there is so much innovation to be found this season! As far as where to spend and where to save, I like to think of it as an equation of sorts: the frequency an item will be used plus the time and energy to be saved by using it equals how much more I am willing to spend on a better basic for back to school," said Jenn Falik, lifestyle blogger and fashion expert.

Rocketboot Everlast Notebook

This very cool notebook features 36 reusable pages that wipe clean with a damp cloth, and can be reused forever and ever.

Rocketbook Wave Notebook

Both of these work like a traditional pen and paper version; this one has 80 pages. When they are full, you can scan them with the app and send the contents to the cloud. Meaning, no more crumpled papers or lost notes. Genius!

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure

The original PackIt lunch bag cooling technology is built into the walls of the bag so you'll never waste money on ice packs again.

PackIt Freezable Grocery Bag

This is a very cool freezable bag that keeps your grub fresh and chilled.

rezip Stand-Up Leakproof Reusable Storage Bag

These bags are food-safe, lead-free and BPA-free. The lightweight bags can be used for snacks, sandwiches, travel, home organization and more. Most importantly, they're a great solution for those of us who worry about all that plastic we're dumping out every day.

Beeswax Reusable Sandwich Wrap

We love these cute wraps for adorable, eco-friendly lunches.

Scratch-off Lunchbox Notes

Such a fun way to let little ones know you love them (or remind them to eat their veggies)! These interactive scratch off notes are perfect lunch box surprises.

PLAE Sneakers

These kids shoes are fun, functional and fashion-forward. Plus, you can customize them with easy-to-swap velcro straps!

DIY Decorative Tape Decal Dispensers

Such a fun way to personalize papers and notebooks. These mini stickers easily roll off the pen and onto paper to add a unique touch to all your school supplies!

Mineral Laundry Egg

This is an all-natural, long-lasting laundry alternative ideal for kids going off to college. One egg can handle up to 720 loads of laundry, and you can choose from a variety of scents! One TODAY writer loves these laundry eggs so much she wrote an entire article about them!

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