Posted by on in Cairn Reviews, Subscription Box Reviews | Tags: | 11 comments

Cairn Subscription Box Review – September 2015

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - box

Cairn is a subscription service that delivers outdoor gear every month. They bill their service as “Your Monthly Box of Outdoor Discovery.” Fall is our big outdoors adventure season, so I am ready to gear up for hiking, camping, and backpacking!

My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - inside

The Subscription: Cairn

The Cost: $25 per month with discounts for 3-, 6-, and 12- month subscriptions

The Products: “A recurring delivery of outdoor related products sent to your doorstep! Get introduced to new brands and products, including gear, apparel, nutrition/energy, skincare, and more.”

Ships to: US for free, internationally for an additional price

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - quote

I love the quotes they print on their liner paper!

This was my third package from Cairn. When I signed up they asked me to do a huge questionnaire for customization purposes. It asked questions about the types of outdoor activities I like, and I chose hiking, camping (car), backpacking, and yoga. They had loads of options, though, like rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing — just about everything I could think of! They also asked a few lifestyle questions (kids? dogs?) plus basics like t-shirt size.

All this leads me to believe that contents may vary from subscriber to subscriber, so if you subscribe but get different things, please let me know!

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - info

This is the info card that came in the package, listing out all the contents.

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - info-reverse

This month’s info card had such a pretty picture on the reverse side, I decided to take a picture of that, too!

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - bellows-balm

Pocket Bellows – Value $13.49

This is a tiny kit to help start or stoke your outdoor fire using your breath (but not burning your face). This will be excellent for backpacking! Plus, it comes with a 20% discount coupon code!

Butter Stick Lip Balm by Whiskey Run – Value $4

I am always happy to see lip balm in any subscription box. My family goes through it like mad! This will definitely go to good use.

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - tube-carabiner

Blackstrap Daily Tube – Value $20

Tubes as headgear are gaining popularity among hardcore backpackers and campers. I can’t wait to try this one out! It feels lightweight enough to be really comfortable.

UST Brands Compass Carabiner – Value $3

This looks super handy! The boys are learning orienteering in scouts, so I know this will also go to good use!

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - seeds-card

Skout Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds – Value $6.50 (3.99 on the producer’s website)

We haven’t had a chance to try these yet, but they look delicious. Plus pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, which is so helpful when cold and flu season hits.

Mike Putnam Photography Greeting Card – Value $3

I was so excited to see this card in the box! We actually were just out at Mt. Jefferson in Oregon two weeks ago! This is probably the most famous photo of Mt. Jeff, or at least the most beautiful! This was a really nice inclusion in the box, even though it is not outdoor gear, strictly speaking. It really makes you want to get out there!

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - envelope

Cairn’s envelopes always look so enticing!

Cairn Subscription Box Review September 2015 - extras

Here are our extras for the month! The first is a coupon for 40% off at BlackStrap, maker of the Daily Tube. The one below that is 15% off at Whiskey Run, and the last one (right) is for 20% off at Epiphany Outdoor Gear.

The Verdict: I am super happy with our subscription to Cairn so far! We will definitely use everything in this box, even the greeting card! Plus the value of this month’s box is $50 – double the cost of the box! That’s excellent!

Do you subscribe to Cairn? What are your outdoor activities? What did they send you?

Written by Anna Rodriguez

Anna Rodriguez

Anna has been a fan of subscription boxes since joining Birchbox in 2013, but didn’t become a true addict until discovering subscriptions she could share with her children. Her favorites include Kiwi Crate and Fab Kids.

All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.


  1. I received the same box and was less pleased with the contents than you seem to be. 1. BlackStrap Daily Tube – I am unable to fit this over my large head…(not too upset because this is a common problem). 2. The Pocket Bellows – This seemed completely useless to me. You could make the same thing out of an old broken radio antenna, but either way seems completely useless to me. 3. The Pumpkin Seeds – These were delicious and my favorite item in the box! 4. Lip Balm – Turned my lips white and had a bad taste. Another item I won’t be using. 5. Compass Carabiner – the compass does not work at all and I would not want my survival dependent on it. I cheap kids toy at best. 6. Greeting Card – I signed up for camping/survival gear, not post cards. Yet another item I will not use and will give away.

    My frustration with Cairn grows…Last month I did not receive my subscription box and sent an e-mail to customer service requesting a replacement box be sent to me. Their response was that I should contact the post office and asked me if I’d like to cancel my subscription. Needless to say I have since canceled and will not recommend Cairn to any of my friends.

  2. I love the looks of these boxes.. But as an employee of REI, I just don’t think they’re very cost efficient compared to the discounts I get on gear. But if they were cheaper, I’d so sign up.

    I’m guessing the daily tube is like a buff. It’d be interesting to see a comparison of the 2, since as far as I know, buff is like, the biggest name in that kind of item- and I love mine!

  3. Anna, I am exposing my ignorance here, but what did you mean by the tubes being used as head gear? Do they inflate and you place them on your head. Or is it used to carry things on your head? I only do day hikes, so I haven’t heard of this. Great review, as always!

    • It’s like a sock with the toe end cut off, only bigger, of course. You put it over your head and can wear it like a scarf, or a head wrap, or pull it up over your nose and mouth–there are lots of ways to wear it.

  4. I got the same exact box. The compass on my keychain was broken so I emailed them and they immediately mailed a replacement along with some other goodies! I love this box!

  5. I think I saw a comment from Cairn on Facebook that they would start personalizing a bit in the future. So far the only differences, I think, have been meat/vegetarian related and I think one gender specific item.

    I love this box. I like to backpack, and the July box came the day before a big trip, so that was awesome. I also day hike and kayak.

    The lip balm feels amazing but be aware it turns your lips white!

  6. I always love your reviews of this box! I hope the sub is still going strong at tax refund season because I think I’d like to sign up.

    • Thanks heyhey!

  7. I love Cairn boxes and was happy with this month’s as well. I got the same items that you did. Those pumpkin seeds were delicious and I’ve already ordered some on amazon since there aren’t any stores in my area that sell them (per maker’s website anyway). The bellows thing looks very interesting and I can’t wait to try it.

    • Hi Melisa! Do you have the same activities checked? I am wondering how much variation there is based on activities selected.

      • Yes same choices. Plus I’m vegan – don’t recall if that was a specific choice I could make for snacks but as I recall there was some carnivore vs no carnivore choice I was able to make when signing up. 🙂

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