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Cairn “Backcountry Bound” Review + Coupon – June 2021

Cairn
4 overall rating
11 Ratings | 7 Reviews

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 $34.95 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.)

About Cairn

The Subscription Box: Cairn

The Cost: $34.99 per month with discounts for 6- and 12-month and annual 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.

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. You can read more about the acquisition here.

Cairn June 2021 “Backcountry Bound” Review

Summer is upon us and has kicked off with a vengeance – like much of the country, Maine has been in a heatwave with temps well into the 90s. Woof. Will the rest of summer be like this? Time will tell, but for now, I’m retreating to the water. We’ve been doing a ton of paddleboarding and kayaking lately in an effort to keep cool while being outdoors, the only downside? BUGS. Maine is mosquito and black fly central in late spring and early summer (if you don’t know what a Maine black fly is, aka our “state bird”, be thankful), which makes this particular box especially appreciated. Why? Read on to find out!

 

As always, 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 June is “Backcountry Bound” and includes items to cover all your basic needs in the backcountry – hydration, fire, food, and bug protection. This feels like a great theme for early summer when – under normal circumstances – the weather is still taking a while to warm up and we might be opting for some backcountry hiking or backpacking. Ready to hit the trail? Let’s see what this month’s box brought!

 

Ultimate Survival Technologies Watertight Fire Kit 1.0 – Retail Value $17.99 (on sale here for $8.73)

Even if you’re not a backpacker or bagging big peaks, it’s still smart to carry a fire kit with you on hikes in case of emergencies. Heck, even if you’re skiing or snowboarding it’s smart to keep one handy – you never know when an emergency might strike and you’ll need to make a fire to stay warm. This little kit includes tinder, a fire starter, and an instruction sheet, all housed in a waterproof case with a carabiner and lanyard to use to secure to your pack. This isn’t something I hope to need to use any time soon, but if I were to suddenly take up backcountry hiking, I’d definitely take this along.

 

Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm – Retail Value $5.99

While I appreciate the good intentions behind all-natural bug-repellent (this one is crafted with rosemary, lemongrass, cedarwood, and peppermint oils), when it comes to Maine bugs, you won’t stand a chance with essential oils only. It’s more like a marinade that just makes you more appealing to blood-thirsty mosquitos. The upside of this balm from Murphy’s? The stick is super useful for application and it smells great. I’ll keep this around for later in the summer when insects are less of an issue.

 

Aquamira FrontierMax Water Filter – Retail Value $39.99

It’s… another water filtration device! We just received an Aquamira product in the March Cairn box, so this filter feels a little redundant. Plus, we just received a water bottle in April… so yeah, the water accessories are feeling a bit repetitive. While I don’t imagine myself using this anytime soon, it’s a cool filter – it removes 99.9999% of bacteria, along with cysts and microplastics from water and reduces viruses up to 99.9%. I think I’ll probably pass this on to a friend who does more backcountry than I do.

 

Good To Go Double Chocolate Snack Bar – Retail Value $2.66 (buy a box of 9 here for $23.94)

This bar was cakey and not too sweet and honestly, it was better than I was expecting. While I don’t follow a keto diet, I appreciate the relatively straightforward ingredients of this chocolatey bar and the low sugar content (1g). Good To Go is also a certified B-corp and part of 1% For The Planet. Would I eat this again? You bet!

Verdict: If you can’t tell, I wasn’t super blown away by this month’s box. Cairn has been heavy on the water treatments of late, and I was hopeful last month when we got a little break from them. While I’m not a big backcountry hiker, the Fire Kit will be something I stash in my pack in case of emergency (fingers crossed that emergency never comes to pass). The bug repellent wasn’t super effective, but it smelled nice (maybe nice for the bugs, too!) and it’s something I’ll keep handy for later in the season when bugs are less of an issue. The water treatment isn’t something I see myself using, so I’ll pass it along to someone who spends more time in the wilderness and may be in need of effective water treatment to remove impurities from drinking water. The Good To Go bar was surprisingly tasty and is a brand I’ll keep in mind if I’m looking for a snack bar to stash in my pack for hikes (or even hangry moments at the office). Overall, this was a thoughtful selection, but I’d love to see Cairn begin to curate boxes geared towards other activities besides camping and exploring the backcountry.

To Wrap Up: 

Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, order now for the August box.  

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 $34.99 + free U.S. shipping, and I calculated that it contained about $66.63 worth of goods which is slightly higher than what has been typical of Cairn in the past.  

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?

Cairn is an outdoor subscription box, delivering best-in-class gear to your doorstep on a monthly basis. This box will be your guide for discovering hot, new outdoor products that you didn’t even know you needed. In addition to new amazing gear, you'll get access to exclusive brand promotions, Adv... read more.
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.

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.
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1 comment

Jody E

I just don’t see the value of this box. I would rather pick an item I really need at the store.I need real bug repellent too.

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.