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Best College Dorm Packing List For Guys: What They Actually Use

Got a son heading to college? This packing list for guys includes all the essentials, plus tips on what to leave at home. Get ready for a comfortable and organized dorm room!

We’ve helped our sons and our daughters get ready for their college dorms, and have come to the same conclusion: guy’s dorm rooms are a whole different thing from girl’s!

Our daughters had Pinterest boards.

Amazon and Dormify wish lists.

Asked to go shopping at HomeGoods and Target.

Coordinated everything with their roommates from the time they found out who they were.

Meanwhile, our sons?


So a lot more of the preparations fell on our shoulders.

Athletic duffle bag on a large storage tub packed with linens for a college dorm.

After lots of conversations with other moms, we’ve learned we’re not alone in this experience!

This is pretty typical.

Most guys really just want some basic creature comforts, and decorating isn’t something they really think about.

Of course, there are exceptions!

But today we’re sharing the things that our sons wanted, and what they actually used.

Lofted bunk bed in a boy's dorm room with a desk underneath.

We found that most lists that we saw are created by stores that stand to make a profit by selling you things they either don’t really need or will never use.

It was important to us that their rooms were cozy, comfortable, and organized.

Here are the things that our boys actually needed and wanted in their dorm rooms.

We even have a free printable PDF packing list to help keep you organized!

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What Should Guys Pack for College?

Table stacked with supplies for a boy's dorm room.

The first thing you should always do before making any purchases is check with your student’s college to see what’s included in their dorm rooms, as well as anything that isn’t allowed.

There are some things that aren’t absolutely necessary but that are nice to have that should be coordinated with any roommates like an area rug, some kind of seating, a refrigerator, a microwave, and a TV. After all, you don’t typically need more than one of these things!

You don’t need to get everything before moving them into their dorms.

We found it was easier to get an idea of how much room they actually had before investing in things like storage drawers.

It’s easy enough to make a quick shopping trip on move-in day, or to have something delivered a few days later.

For instance, my son was provided a desk chair in his dorm, but after a few weeks, he requested something more comfortable since that was where he preferred to study.

At the end of the day, you know your son best, so you have a better idea of whether he’ll actually use some of the things we suggest.

Any list that you find to prepare for college dorms may need some modifications based on your student’s preferences.

Another thing to remember: you don’t need to buy all new things! Go ahead and bring things from their rooms.

Unless it’s a necessity that can’t easily be brought back and forth during breaks, pack it up and send it with them to school.

They probably don’t need two of everything!

How Many Clothes Do Guys Need to Pack for College?

Small closet in a boy's dorm with hanging storage, plastic bins, and a shower caddy.

The one thing all our kids have reported is they packed way too many clothes.

If your son is planning to pledge a fraternity, he will need to bring some button-down shirts, slacks, ties, and a jacket. Otherwise, he’ll likely not need any of those things his freshman year.

Students will likely end up with several new t-shirts during the first week or two of college too.

We found that sending them to college with about two weeks’ worth of clothes was more than enough.

After all, there are laundry rooms in every dorm.

Generally speaking, guys tend to live in t-shirts, jeans, athletic shorts, sweatpants, and hoodies.

Depending on the weather, a lightweight jacket should be enough to hold them until fall or Thanksgiving break. But, if the college is in a colder climate and your student is far from home, you may want to send them with some warmer clothing and a winter coat.

Every student has different preferences when it comes to clothes, but remember: they don’t need to pack everything from home!

You can get our complete printable packing list with more details in our VIP library.

What Do You Need to Organize a Guy’s Dorm Room?

Desk in a guy's dorm with a bulletin board displaying family photos and desktop organizing shelf with supplies.

Dorm rooms are small, so keeping them organized really makes a difference.

AnnMarie shared her best tips for organizing a dorm room, and her middle son’s room was extra small!

A few things that we’ve found helpful:

Depending on the space in your son’s dorm, you might also want to set up a small kitchen space using this inexpensive hack.

You probably don’t need all of these things! Choose the organization solutions you’ll need based on your son’s dorm room and what he’s planning to bring.

What Decorations Are Popular For Boy’s Dorm Rooms?

Guy's dorm room with lofted bed, folding saucer seats, desk, and college flag on the wall.

There isn’t a lot of decorating going on in most guys’ dorm rooms.

The decorating thing we saw most often? Flags with a sports team, the school’s logo, or a fun saying.

Some guys hung posters.

That was about it! LOL

A few ways to make it feel more homey and look a little decorated are:

Here are some more ideas for making a small dorm room feel cozy and more like home.

Don’t Forget These Bathroom Items for a Guy’s Dorm!

Boy's dorm room with sink and toiletry organizer.

There are so many different bathroom configurations in dorms now!

Some dorms still have large shared hallway bathrooms.

Others are set up suite-style with several rooms sharing a bathroom.

Some dorm rooms include a sink area in the room with showers and toilets in another area.

Your son’s dorm setup will partially determine what he’ll need.

If he has a smaller shared bathroom, you may need to coordinate things like shower curtains, plungers, and cleaning supplies with his roommates.

Regardless of the situation, all our sons needed a few things:

In addition to their toiletries, we both put together a first aid kit/medicine chest with everything they might need.

Get more details about what to include in a portable first aid kit here.

Don’t Skimp on Bedding in a Dorm!

dorm room with lofted twin beds on either side of room against walls with window on far wall 5x7 area rug in middle of room between beds on laminate wood floors

The one thing all our boys agreed on about their dorms: the importance of good bedding.

The mattresses provided by the colleges are generally not very comfortable.

We highly recommend the following items to help your student get the best rest possible.

Remember, you’ll likely need Twin XL sizes.

The One (or Two) Things Every Guy Wants in His Dorm

Drawer and storage units with TVs placed under a lofted bunk bed in a boy's dorm with a standing fan.

Our boys all loved having a good fan in their rooms.

And they all felt that having a TV (or two…) was a “necessity” along with their video gaming systems.

After all, they’re living in these rooms, and life isn’t studying all the time!

Some other electronics that are actual necessities:

Don’t Forget Some Cleaning and Laundry Supplies

Small closet in a boy's dorm with hanging storage, plastic bins, and a shower caddy.

Sadly, you really don’t need as many cleaning and laundry supplies as you might hope…

We sent our oldest sons off with a whole arsenal of cleaning tools, and brought most of them back home at the end of the year virtually untouched.

Here are the supplies our sons actually used:

What About School Supplies?

Hold off on getting any school supplies other than their laptop until they’ve attended their first classes.

Professors are notorious for changing textbooks, and most other supplies aren’t really necessary.

Our students typically got a notebook and some pencils or pens.

If your student likes studying in bed, a lap desk can be helpful.

Some universities provide desk lights while others don’t.

We’ve included some common school supplies in our free printable PDF packing list, but every student and college is different when it comes to this category.

Getting your son geared up for his college dorm can be exciting and a little overwhelming. Remember, if you happen to forget something, it’s not the end of the world: you can easily stop at a store or order it online if needed.

Now that you have everything you need for his dorm, be sure to check out all our tips to make move-in day go smoothly! And don’t forget to get these move-in day essentials.

Resources and Shopping Links

Visit our Amazon Storefront Dorm Shopping List for all our favorites for a college dorm.

Or for specific items, shop from the images below.

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Click on any image to shop items from this post

Collage of essentials for a guy's college dorm.

Sources: Assorted Ziploc Storage Bags | Glade Air Fresheners | Dish Washing Wand | Lightweight Stick Vacuum | Large Duffle Bag | Swing Top Trash Can | Shower Slides | Mesh Shower Caddy | Fuzzy Throw Blanket | Twin XL Comforter Set | Twin XL Jersey Sheet Set | 20-inch Box Fan | Assorted Command Hooks | Plastic Dishware Set | Portable Utensil Set | Gel Foam Mattress Topper

Collage of essentials for a guy's dorm room.

Sources: Gaming Organization Station | Hanging Shelf Rack | Water Filter Dispenser | Magnetic Whiteboard Calendar | Over the Door Hanging Hooks | Slimline Hangers | LED Desk Lamp with Charging Station | Dorm Cleaning Kit | Set of Towels | Mattress Protector | Backpack Laundry Bag | Power Strip with Surge Protector and XL Cord| Clear Desk Organizer Set | Drawer Organizers | Rolling Tiered Utility Cart

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Stacy Ling

Friday 21st of July 2023

Great packing tips!


Friday 21st of July 2023

Thanks, Stacy!