MSA is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read the full disclosure.

Cairn “Don’t Wait, Hydrate” Subscription Box Review + Coupon – February 2021

Cairn is a monthly subscription box that sends members outdoor, adventure, and fitness gear. Cairn’s goal is to enrich your outdoor adventures by connecting you with best-in-class products. It was chosen as one of our favorite subscription boxes for men but is suited to adventurers of all genders.

In addition to the monthly subscription, Cairn also offers a premium quarterly box, Cairn Obsidian; UnStacked by Cairn, a unique gear auction site in which prices drop over time; and Kitted, a curated gear “styling” service. 

This is a review of the $29.95 monthly subscription.

FYI – COVID-19 Update, from Cairn: 

Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on distribution centers, Monthly Cairn Subscribers, as well as Monthly Cairn Gift recipients that are beyond their first month of the gift term, may experience delays of up to two weeks on their Monthly Cairn delivery. Cairn products that are not experiencing shipping delays:

  • Initial Cairn Gift deliveries (the first month of the gift term)
  • Cairn Apparel
  • UnStacked orders
  • Obsidian Subscriptions

If you have questions about your order, please email [email protected]

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.)

About Cairn

The Subscription Box: Cairn

The Cost: $29.95 per month with discounts for 6- and 12-month subscriptions.

COUPON: Limited Time Only! Use code MSA20 to save 20% off your first box when you sign up for a 6 or 12-month subscription! .

The Products: Outdoor gear, including apparel, nutrition/energy products, skincare, and other essentials often curated around a theme to keep you prepared and comfortable on all your adventures.

Ships to: The U.S. for free, Canada for $5.00, and internationally for $10.00.

Cairn February 2021 “Don’t Wait, Hydrate” Review

Hello! Julie here. I’ve recently taken over this box for Christen, and to say I’m excited to be reviewing Cairn is an understatement. As someone who tries to spend as much of their free time outside, I love trying out new gear. Fresh gear and accessories always get my mind moving as I imagine all the adventure there is to be had out there, sort of like the way a pair of new running sneakers can help motivate you to hit the pavement more often (anyone else?).

But before I get ahead of myself, why don’t I tell you a bit about my “outdoor style”? I’m lucky to live in the beautiful state of Maine, where the outdoors are celebrated year-round. It’s not uncommon to see people running in shorts in the dead of winter or to take a quick surf session or hike on your lunch break (yes, even when the temperature is below zero). Some of my favorite activities include snowshoeing, snowboarding, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking, and trail running, and two of my outdoor goals this year are to get better at surfing (a new hobby of mine) and try rock-climbing. As I said, I always love new gear, but I’m especially excited about Cairn because of how tightly-curated the box is. There seems to be few superfluous items, and everything has a purpose. Not only that, but Cairn has a give-back program called Gear Up, Give Back, where outdoor enthusiasts can send in their retired gear and Gear Fix will repair it and sell it in their shop. The net proceeds are then matched by Cairn and Gear Fix and donated to Outdoors For All, an organization working to enrich the quality of life of children and adults with disabilities through the outdoors. My sister has severe autism and other disabilities, and access to outdoor activities like kayaking and snowmobiling has made an enormous impact on her quality of life, so I love that Cairn and Gear Fix are giving back in this way while giving old gear new life.

Ok, ready to dive in? Let’s see what was inside this month’s box…


First out of the box is our Cairn Scout! This newspaper-style info sheet arrives with (almost) every box and provides details about what came in your box that month, shares info about upgrades, showcases a community member, and more. The theme for February is “Don’t Wait, Hydrate” and includes items that support better hydration year-round.


Mazama “Intake” Reservoir  – approximate retail value $22.95

I always carry water with me – whether I’m working from my desk at home, hiking, snowshoeing, or whathaveyou, my 40 oz. stainless water bottle can be found close by. But surprisingly, up until now, I didn’t own a reservoir. Safe to say I was really excited to see that the hero product for this month’s Cairn box is this 2-liter pouch from Mazama. From what I can tell from Mazama’s website, this is a brand new reservoir for 2021 (you can shop an older style on sale here) – awesome! It’s always nice to receive a brand new product in a box as opposed to one you’ll find deeply discounted across the web. This reservoir features an easy-to-fill and flavorless pouch for taste-free drinking, a universal-fit shape to fit most packs, a high flow bite valve for easy drinking, and an easy-to-dry design. I was really hoping this reservoir would fit the vest I use for trail running, but alas, it’s just a little too big. However, it looks like Mazama makes a hydration pack of their own, so I could upgrade in the future if I wanted to. In the meantime, I have a backpack that this would fit for day hiking and other activities.

A hydration reservoir may feel like more of a warm-weather item but as our Cairn Scout points out, hydration is essential year-round and is actually easier to overlook during the colder months. Sweat evaporates more quickly during cold weather activities, and in the winter our thirst response can be diminished up to 40% – even when you’re already dehydrated. When we’re cold, our bodies conserve energy by constricting blood vessels in the extremities in an effort to keep our core warm (this is why you often feel cold in your hands and feet first). This is why it’s so important to insulate the core and proactively hydrate (if you want to nerd out over winter dehydration, you can read more about it here). I’m really excited to take this reservoir with me on my next outdoor adventure – probably snowshoeing this weekend – it’s more ergonomic and convenient than my heavy stainless water bottle and will come in handy for summer activities, too.


Mazama Insulated Drink Tube Sleeve – Approximate retail value $10.99

A water reservoir in winter conditions is of no use if the water’s frozen. This neoprene insulated drink tube sleeve keeps your reservoir drink tube from freezing during winter conditions by protecting it from the elements. It’s designed to be a companion to the Mazama Intake Reservoir and is a low-profile solution to keeping your water, well, watery. It slips over the drink tube easily, attaches to your pack with a loop, and includes a little pouch to keep your bite valve protected. Not the most glamourous item, but extremely useful for winter adventures. This seems to also be an update to the older model and not yet available online, however, you can find last year’s drink sleeve on sale here for $8.99.


Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews in Raspberry – Retail value $2.45 (also available here in a 10-pack for $23.50)

These Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews have a soft, gummy texture and nice raspberry flavor that’s not overly cloying and pleasantly tart – and they’re vegan. Skratch describes these as a candy gumdrop made of sugar and pectin (with actual raspberries as the raspberry flavor) – they’re made to be consumed either before or during a high-intensity workout or activity for a burst of energy that won’t cause stomach upset (and we’re talking carbs-as-energy here, not the kind of energy you get from caffeine). These would be great for an endurance athlete or to keep with you as an emergency source of sugar and carbs during long hikes, trail runs, or road runs in hot weather. Personally, my running mileage rarely exceeds 4 or 5 miles and my high-intensity workouts take place at home, so I’ve always preferred to get my energy from whole food sources, like fruit, rather than gels or gummies. But I’d consider stashing a packet of these in my car or backpack for just-in-case moments – it’s always a good idea to keep an “emergency snack” on hand. If you’re more of an endurance athlete, these might be for you!


Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix with Oranges – Retail value $1.95 (other size options available here)

Last but not least, we have this Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix. I should note that this isn’t meant to be used in the reservoir – that would lead to a sticky mess. Instead, this can be added to a glass or bottle of water and mixed in 12-16 fl oz of water for a boost of hydration and energy before, during, or after exercise. I mixed this up in my 40 oz water bottle to hydrate before a run recently and found the flavor to be pleasant and mild with no funky aftertaste (granted, it was slightly more diluted thanks to the larger portion of water I used). I drank a bit before my run, then finished the remaining water once I returned. Did I feel hydrated? Yes! Would I consider using this in the future? … Maybe! I appreciate that these are naturally flavored with orange oil and that the mix isn’t super sweet but like the chews, I prefer to use whole foods for flavoring my water and typically opt for a pinch of Himalayan salt in my water to replenish electrolytes. If you enjoy using hydration drink mixes like these, give them a go. The flavor was nice and the powder dissolved easily in cold water.

Verdict: I’m happy with this month’s Cairn delivery – my first! Everything included fit the hydration theme perfectly and I imagine would be a welcome addition to nearly anyone’s gear library. The Mazama Intake Reservoir is something that was missing from my own equipment closet and I’m looking forward to using it for year-round activities. The insulated drink tube sleeve is a thoughtful addition to ensure one’s water doesn’t freeze in frigid conditions and I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it, most likely starting this weekend when I go out for a snowshoe. While I’m not a huge fan of energy chews and drink mixes, the inclusion of these products was a thoughtful touch and aligned with the theme well – I also appreciate that these products are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and flavored with real ingredients. If I were to begin using chews and hydration mixes more frequently in the future, I’d absolutely consider purchasing these on my own. This box costs $29.95 (less with longer subscription commitments) + free shipping, and the contents add up to about $38 (using estimated retail values for the 2021 reservoir and drink tube sleeve models). That’s about an average value for Cairn, though sometimes they range higher.

To Wrap Up: 

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? February boxes are still shipping at the time of writing, however, based on their subscription model, your items may vary based on your survey responses and boxes you have received in the past. 

COUPON: Limited Time Only! Use code MSA20 to save 20% off your first box when you sign up for a 6 or 12-month subscription! .

Value Breakdown: This box costs $29.95 + free U.S. shipping, and I calculated that it contained about $38.34 worth of goods. That comes down to a value of approximately $9.58 per item.

Check out all of our Cairn reviews, and learn more about our readers’ favorite fitness boxes.

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

What do you think of Cairn this month? Did you receive any of the same items as me?

Created with Sketch.

Never miss a post: get email alerts about Cairn!

Enable notifications () to get the latest Cairn spoilers, reviews, deals, and news delivered to your inbox.

Written by Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

Julie O’Boyle-Sharp

As a copywriter and editor, Julie crafts reviews and articles for MSA. Her favorite subscription boxes are any that introduce her to new products in the clean beauty, sustainable style, and outdoor adventure realms. A self-described “outdoor cat”, Julie enjoys taking advantage of everything her home state of Maine has to offer and spends her free time hiking, surfing, snowboarding, trail running, and doing volunteer trail maintenance. When she’s not penning reviews or spending time outdoors, Julie can be found snuggling with her two cats and working on her blog, By Julie Sharp, which celebrates secondhand style, sustainability, and adventure.

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

Comments (11)

  1. I loved hearing your take on this box, Julie! I can’t wait for these items to join you on Maine adventures!

    • Thanks, Christen!

  2. I think it would have been more practical if it included a water filter.

    • Hey Colleen! Cairn sent a LifeStraw water filter in the November 2019 box. I know that doesn’t help someone who wasn’t a subscriber back then, but I think with this box they took effort not to send a repeat item. If you’re curious, you can check out my review of that box!

    • Water bottles and products are surprisingly personal, aren’t they? I’m happy with the reservoir and wouldn’t have much use for a filter, but for you, it sounds like the total opposite. Thanks for your comment, Colleen, I’m excited to see what March has in store 🙂

  3. This bag looks really good but I would have loved to see what the gummies look like.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Boxy Fox. I just added a photo of the gummies for you.

  4. Hi Julie! I read your blog and follow you on Instagram. So fun to see you here too; thanks for the review! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Kate!

  5. I’ve been a subscriber for about a year now. I almost always find one useful item in the Cairn box. Sadly not this time, a BIG miss for me. I already have a water bladder and I don’t use it. They’re way to heavy for backpacking. The one item that I would have used was the electrolytes, but sadly it had exploded all over everything in the bag. I miss the boxes they used to ship in. I can’t complain to much though, I’ve had many nice months.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sharon. I can totally understand where you’re coming from already having a bladder. I’d definitely suggest reaching out to Cairn to see about a replacement for the electrolytes.

Please do not enter your email address in the Name field or in the comment content!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember to post with kindness and respect. Comments with offensive language, cruelness to others, etc will not be approved. See our full comment policy here.


Get our newsletter

Be the first to know about MSA exclusive deals, news, and reviews