Cairn Obsidian Subscription Box Review – October 2017
Cairn is a subscription service that delivers outdoor gear every month. They are inspired to enrich and expand the outdoor experience by fostering connections among those who create and enjoy it. Obsidian is their quarterly premium collection, offering 5-10 high-quality items with at least 2 items carrying $50 or more in value.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out our review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Cairn Obsidian
The Cost: $199 a quarter (UPDATE: The price changed on this box since this review was published. It is now $249.95 a quarter)
The Products: A limited, recurring quarterly delivery of 5-10 outdoor related products sent in March, June, September, and December, featuring high quality popular outdoor brands and new or up-and-coming brands, at a minimum value of $300
Ships to: U.S. for free, Canada for $42, and Internationally for $63
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
On the back side of the Trailgating insert, we begin our Obsidian experience with this info booklet. Inside we have an intro to the Fall box, a little blurb on each item, and some info about the artist who made the art featured throughout this collection.
Marmot Featherless Hoody – Retail Value $200
The Fall Obsidian box starts out strong with this beautiful hooded jacket from Marmot! Marmot is one of my favorite brands for outdoor clothing – I had 2 of their rain jackets for years and they served me really well – so I knew I was in for a high-quality item when I saw the preview for this box. The Marmot Featherless Hoody is a fully synthetic down-alternative jacket that is super lightweight yet impressively warm. I got the Dark Spruce colorway (did other Obsidian subscribers get other colors?) and while I would have probably opted for black, I think the green looks nice! The 3M Thinsulate fill is equivalent to a 700-fill down and while it doesn’t pack as tiny as a down jacket would, it still packs down pretty small into it’s own pocket! I ended up using one of the other items this month to stow it in my pack for a quick overnight on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (Shire 5 represent!) and while it dipped down into the low 40s this jacket kept me plenty warm. My friends compared it to the Thermoball from North Face but I like this one a little more because it has a hood.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Compression Bag Set – Retail Value $39.95
Up next we get this set of ultralight compression bags from Eagle Creek! While I’m not used to having zippered bags in my backpacking gear, these bags weigh in at 5.3oz and 2.2oz respectively, so the pros outweighed the cons for me. I am definitely an organizer nut, so having the ability to keep things separated in my pack is a must, and the flat/square design of these bags made packing super easy. Since I wasn’t going to access the jacket right away, I was able to use it as a base in my pack, helping to spread out the walls and shape of the pack evenly. I used the smaller sized pouch for a base layer (just in case), a beanie and a length of rope. There was plenty of room to spare and the bags remained malleable so they could easily be crammed beside other items in my pack. The zipper makes compression really simple, unlike some strap-based compression bags, and I really love the graph paper color scheme. In the future, I’ll probably tuck the jacket into its own storage and try to squeeze some larger items into the bigger pouch, but for this trip they worked out perfectly for my needs.
Toaks Titanium 450ml Cup and Pouch Set – Retail Value $49.90 (on sale for $39.90, $19.95 each)
I received a titanium mug as a gift years ago and have taken it on many a trip over the years, and I feel like these Toaks mugs are going to last me just as long. These 450ml cups are perfect for backpacking as they weigh in at 2.7oz and come with a mesh pouch to keep them looking new while also allowing them to dry on the outside of your pack. Collapsible handles are space savers, and I appreciated the minimal branding they had going on. I ended up gifting one of these to a friend already! We shared some instant tea (stay tuned on that) but I didn’t test how these would fare with hot drinks since the lack of a dual wall might make the cup too hot to handle.
Gorilly Goods Nut and Seed Snacks – Total Estimated Value $13.14 (buy a box of 12 for $26.28)
Next up we have 6 pouches of snacks from Gorilly Goods! I took these along to share with everyone at our shelter. Coast is a sweet curry cashew and fruit mix featuring cashews, raisins, coconut, curry and cayenne and was my #1 favorite. The cashews had a really pleasant crunch which was surprising – most cashews in snack mix tend to feel very soft. Trail was a mix of cashews, pecans, almonds, raisins, coconuts, cacao nibs, goji berries and pineapple. It was good and I was surprised to see whole pecans, but there was something in there that was super hard and really stuck to my teeth. Zach was a fan though! Finally, Hillside was a savory mix of pumpkin seeds, kale, tamari, onion, nutritional yeast and cayenne. I am not a kale fan, not even a little bit, so this was a no-go for me personally, but everyone who did try it really seemed to enjoy the savory flavor with a hint of spice. Each pouch is about 1.3oz, and while Coast and Trail were delicious, they maxed out at 5g of protein, while Hillside packed 14g of protein in there!
Cusa Premium Instant Tea Variety Pack – Retail Value $9.99
Finally, we have this variety pack of instant teas from Cusa! We get 2 packets each of 5 flavors: English Breakfast, Green, Oolong, Mango Green and Lemon Black. My friend Jamie and I sampled the English Breakfast and Lemon Black while getting ready to head out and both were impressive! While the instructions say to add warm water to dissolve the tea, we didn’t feel like breaking out a stove so we just went with cool water and didn’t have any trouble with dissolving the powder. The english breakfast flavor was spot-on for a standard cuppa, and the lemon black had a bright lemon scent but not an overpowering lemon flavor. I kept the remaining packets in my snack box for future trips!
Verdict: This was my first Obsidian box from Cairn and I am extremely impressed. We make back the initial investment with the jacket alone, so everything else is just icing on the cake, and all of the items are going into regular rotation for me. I put the value of this box at $312.98, just over the promised $300 worth of goods, and well over the $199 cost. While there weren’t 2 items over the $50 value mark as indicated on the product page, I think the $200 jacket more than makes up for that. (UPDATE: The price changed on this box since this review was published. It is now $249.95 a quarter)
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes! While supplies are limited, this box is currently still available!
Value Breakdown: At $199 for this box, here’s what you are paying approximately per item:
- Jacket: $127.16
- Bag set: $25.40
- Mugs: $31.73
- Snacks: $8.35
- Tea: $6.35
At the current price of $249.95 for this box, here’s what you are paying approximately per item:
- Jacket: $159.72
- Bag set: $31.90
- Mugs: $31.86
- Snacks: $10.49
- Tea: $7.97
What do you think of Cairn Obsidian this quarter?