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 and identities.
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.
Cairn also 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.
This is a review of the $29.95 monthly subscription.
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
The Cost: $34.99 per month with discounts for 6- and 12-month subscriptions.
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.
Good to know: Cairn's prices recently increased from $29.99 per month to $34.99 per month. They were also recently acquired by Outside Magazine. Will the price increase and new home with OM mean a positive shift in offerings? I have my fingers crossed! You can read more about the acquisition here.
Cairn April 2021 "Packed With Purpose" Review
Last month I mentioned that it was finally beginning to feel like spring here in Maine. And per usual, I spoke too soon. If you're unfamiliar with this beautiful state, we actually have multiple mini-seasons all packed within the one season other people call "springtime". We have false spring, winter's revenge, bug season, mud season, spring's second coming, "oh, you thought", and, depending on where you're located within the state, even more. March was "Oh, you thought" month. And April? Cold and dreary, save for one glorious day when the temperature shot above 65, and it was perfect timing because my April Cairn box had just arrived. Naturally, we headed for the coast.
After last month's slightly underwhelming offering (in my opinion, of course), I was really excited to see what April's box would bring. Would Cairn "peak" my interest or would it get caught in the flats? Read on to find out!
In typical fashion, the first thing out of the box is our Cairn Scout. This newspaper-style info sheet arrives with (almost) every box and provides details about what to expect in your box that month, shares info about upgrades, showcases a community member, and more. The theme for April is "Packed With Purpose" and includes items that were thoughtfully designed for the earth and the user. This theme feels really well thought out to me, not only is it aligned with Earth Month, but purpose is something I look for in my gear and when I'm packing my backpack. There's also a nice section on the final page of the Scout that addresses the Leave No Trace principles. I was just talking about Leave No Trace on my Instagram recently, and I think it's perfectly aligned for this month's theme.
Green Goo Everyday Essential Travel Salves - Retail Value $14.99
First out of the box this month are these travel salves from Green Goo. Featuring different salves to address dry skin, skin repair, first aid, and pain relief, these come in a small package – each one is the size of a standard chapstick – making them extremely packable, and are packed with super nourishing, natural ingredients. I've delved into each a bit more, here:
- First Aid Salve - Features calendula, rosemary, yarrow, and comfrey, this salve is meant to act as your first line of defense against insect bites, poison ivy, cuts, scrapes, blisters, sunburns, and more. It can be used to relieve the itch and sting of insect bites and as a wound dressing.
- Skin Repair Salve - Features aloe, helichrysum, vitamin E, and coconut oil to nourish and moisturize parched skin. Use it after sunburn or on scarring.
- Dry Skin Salve - Features calendula, chamomile, elder, and yarrow, to nourish dry, parched, and cracked skin. Supports the relief of eczema and psoriasis, cracked skin, and windburn.
- Pain Relief Salve - Features arnica, ginger, peppermint, and cinnamon, this salve supports the relief of achy joints and sore muscles.
First of all, I love this delivery system. I'm a huge fan of portable skin treatments in stick form because they're so easy to throw in your bag – whether we're talking about a hiking backpack or a purse. Second of all, Green Goo really lives up to the "Packed With Purpose" theme. They're woman-owned, gluten-free, vegan, and a certified B-corp. All this, and these products are small and light, making them a no-nonsense addition to any outdoor adventure. I dig it.
HydraPak RECON 750 ML Water Bottle - Retail Value $16.00
After three months of receiving Cairn boxes, I feel pretty confident in saying they send one hydration item per box. In February it was a reservoir, in March it was a water treatment kit, and this month we received this bottle from HydraPak. I'm not against hydration, but at the same time I own so many hydration and hydration-adjacent items (So! Many! Water bottles!), and I'm willing to guess most Cairn subscribers do too, that this is beginning to feel a little... played out? Expected? That said, I also really like this water bottle and it fills a need in my gear kit. On a day-to-day level, I go nowhere without my trusty 40 oz. Hydro Flask. I drink 2-3 per day and it's how I ensure I remain hydrated. That said, the thing is heavy, especially on shorter hikes. So I was really happy to receive this cool bottle from HydraPak. In fact, this is HydraPak's first sustainable outdoor water bottle! It's made from 50% recycled plastic and has a great shape – unlike my giant Hydro Flask, it actually fits in my car's cup holders and I don't have to fight to get it into my backpack's pockets. The smooth flow twist cap is nifty and easy to use (although washing it thoroughly takes some work). I brought it with me on a short coastal hike and it was perfect. It didn't weigh a million pounds but was still sizeable and the recycled plastic didn't impart any aftertaste or smell. Plastic isn't my # 1 choice when it comes to water bottles, but for short periods, I appreciate how light it is.
Overall, I like this thing but I could imagine a lot of Cairn subscribers rolling their eyes at yet another hydration item. At the very least we should all be well hydrated at this point.
Humangear GoToob+ 2.5 fl oz 3-Pack - Retail Value $23.99
These silicone GoToobs are something I've always wanted in my travel and outdoor kit but could never pull the trigger on – so big thanks to Cairn! These flexible silicone bottles are ideal for travel thanks to their small size, lockable lids, and easy to fill (and clean) wide openings. They're carry-on approved and food-safe, so these could be used to house shampoo and conditioner OR condiments (or hey, hand sanitizer, too). They're handy – the locking mechanism also serves as a loop that can be clipped to your pack – and can cut down on waste by eliminating the need to purchase small versions of toiletries or condiments when you're on the road. I was happy to receive these and will definitely be using them for my next trip, whenever that may be.
Verdict: After March's (personal opinion) unexciting delivery, I was really happy with this month's Cairn box. I felt the products lived up to the "Packed With Purpose" theme on a couple of levels – they were thoughtfully designed and all serve a meaningful purpose when you're spending time outdoors (hydration, first aid, portability – and cutting back on waste). Yes, we received yet another hydration item, but I was happy with it. That said, I would love to see Cairn deviate from this hydration theme in the coming months, and I would imagine other subscribers would, too. There are so many outdoor categories out there! I'm really hoping we'll begin to see some variation in the warmer months. After all, with kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, swimming – and more – on the agenda, there should be a myriad of products to choose from. I'm also really interested to see how the Cairn delivery will change with the price increase and acquisition by Outside Magazine. Will it get better? More tightly curated? I'm excited to find out!
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, this was the April box and it looks like May boxes have begun to ship.
Value Breakdown: This box costs $34.99 + free U.S. shipping, and I calculated that it contained about $54.98 worth of goods. That comes down to a value of approximately $18.32 per item, which is about on-par with this box month-to-month.
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?