It's that time of year again: The leaves are turning colour, mornings are colder, bedrooms are decanted into boxes ahead of the big move, new stationary bought, recipe books gifted from relatives... it can only be the start of university.
Here's an alternative and light-hearted look at a few items that could form part of a survival package for freshers and returning students alike, written by Ellie, one of our Bristol team. Ellie studied in Wales and experienced the best of student life combined with the worst of the Welsh weather (sideways rain anyone?) She knows first-hand the pitfalls of not being prepared at the start of term, so hopefully this guide will keep you ahead of the rest.
1. A Waterproof Jacket
Firstly, invest in a waterproof, one that will actually keep you dry when it pours down for the tenth time that day. Though I'm not sure why, a huge amount of university years are spent walking to and from the supermarket, so ideally find a jacket that strikes a balance between hard wearing performance, good looks (very important) and budget.
Patagonia have some great choices this season, and their Torrentshell is definitely worth considering; fully waterproof, lightweight, excellent fit and has a price tag that won't break the bank.
2. Some Good Shoes
Next up, footwear. Timetables tend to be drafted up based on which two buildings are furthest from each other, so running between lectures and seminars is a dead cert. Choice of footwear will be decided on fit, but here are some suggestions to help narrow down the range. Waterproof shoes will definitely be an asset, and a sole that can give you traction on mud as well as concrete would be ideal. Shoes that can be used for multiple activities like running or hiking will also help keep costs down.
Salomon's XA Pro 3D GTX shoes are a great place to start. They are designed with trail running in mind, so give plenty of stability and support underfoot. The sole has excellent grip and the GORE-TEX keeps your feet dry – although they are also available in non-waterproof versions for those going to study in warmer climes (i.e. not Wales).
3. A Decent Pack
As many students take laptops or tablets to lectures, along with course books, food and the rest, things can get heavy quickly. A backpack that is supportive and has multiple storage pockets will make your life a lot easier.
The Borealis is a classic from The North Face; it has two zipped compartments, a laptop sleeve, internal zipped pockets and plenty of colours to choose from. It's a great investment that will see you through university and beyond.
The girls also get some great choices, with an array of female specific packs that are anatomically designed to give more comfort and a better fit. Highlights from this season include the Osprey Questa 27, with room for a laptop, files, gym kit and more it has plenty of pockets to make organising that little bit easier.
4. The Real Essentials...
Finally, some accessories that could come in very handy; from electrolyte tablets that are great for recovering post run (or session in the pub), to Sugru – a miracle fixing product that will keep your kit/furniture/phone together when the student loan starts to run low.
Available in three flavours, the High5 Zero is a sports drink tab that you dissolve in water. It contains Vitamin C and electrolytes that help rehydrate and replenish the body after exercise.
Ideal for combatting the late nights and 9am lecture combos, the Grower's Cup Coffeebrewer pouch is a quick and easy way to get your morning caffeine fix (no washing up either!). If you team it with the Lifeventure Transit mug you can keep your brew warmer for longer on the walk into lectures.
Like many students, I spent my first year in uni halls. With ten people living in a self-catered flat, cutlery turned out to be a precious commodity (whilst washing up turned out to be a rarity). However, with one Spork you can do it all, and with its distinctive looks there’ll be no arguments as to who its owner is!
Lastly, Sugru is a self-setting rubber that bonds to almost anything; it is waterproof, heat and cold resistant, flexible and easy to use. You can repair cables, fix broken plates and even patch clothing with it. Or to give your new accommodation a truly personal touch watch this for inspiration.