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 identities. In mid-2021 Cairn was acquired by Outside Magazine.
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.
ACTIVE DEAL: 20% Off
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE $34.99 MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION.
This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes.)
This month's delivery arrived in a paper mailer – I really appreciate that Cairn tailors their shipping products to each shipment to reduce packaging as much as possible.
What have we here? Some major changes have taken place with the included publication! What used to be the Cairn Scout is now Outside – looks like the recent acquisition of Cairn by Outside is officially reflected in the monthly send, and I'm not mad about it. Upon first glance, the photos are more clear, the text is easier to read (no more white-on-yellow text blocks, thank goodness), and there's an article excerpt from Outside that aligns with this month's theme, Packable Performance. It looks great.
Alright, let's see what we received this month:
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lantern – Retail Value $24.95
This month's theme is all about lightweight packability, and this little solar light fits the theme perfectly. It's ultra-light, packs down to a small footprint, and can withstand up to 150 pounds of pressure – so it'll survive if it accidentally ends up at the bottom of your pack. It recharges within 7 hours and can last up to 24 hours on a single charge. While this is geared towards backpacking, this little lamp would be great for camping, hiking, or nighttime paddling. MPOWERD is also a certified B Corp, a detail I really appreciate about Cairn's curation.
Nomadix Multi-Purpose Recycled Hand Towel - Retail Value $19.95
This little towel from Nomadix is so handy (see what I did there?). It's made with GRS-certified post-consumer plastic, is super durable, absorbent, and – in accordance with this month's theme – packs down small. It weighs 40 oz and really, considering how small it rolls down to, the size is pretty generous: 30" x 18". While it's meant for a packability theme centered on backpacking, this towel would be great for the gym, at-home workouts or yoga, or keeping in your car for impromptu surf sessions or swims. Can you guess what I'll be using mine for? If you guessed surfing, you're right. I'll tell you the truth: my surf towels rarely make it from my car to my apartment, and they take up a lot of unnecessary space in my small car. This little towel would fit right in my glove box, making it the perfect functional space saver to have on hand for when the ocean (or swimming hole) calls.
One note: Outside has misprinted the Nomadix website on the mailer. If you follow the website listed, you'll end up on the site of a rental agency. Here's the correct link (I'm eyeing the full-size National Parks towels and think those changing surf ponchos would be the perfect holiday gift for my brother).
Skratch Labs Crispy Rice Cake - Retail Value $2.45
As much as I'm a proponent of packing real food, that is, things made at home and fruit, nuts, etc. I do love discovering new-to-me food bars. I almost always have a food bar with me to have in case of emergency, either when I'm on the trail and need a little pick-me-up, or out and about and hangry with no healthier options in sight. This crispy rice cake from Skratch Labs is made from puffed rice, toasted grains, and fluffy marshmallow, and designed to be easily digestible for when you need a quick burst of energy. True to this month's theme, it's very lightweight. Looking at the ingredients, this bar is vegetarian but not vegan (there's no gelatin in the marshmallow but there is egg white), and contains palm kernel oil, modified palm oils, and canola oil, among other things. When looking at the ingredients, I think it's important to note that this bar is not a nutrition bar but one meant to power high-intensity sports and be easily digestible. It's not uncommon for energy foods or gels to contain high levels of sugar and oils. Nutrients aren't high on the list of priorities. But was it tasty? It absolutely was – I mean, when isn't a marshmallow treat tasty? I received the Strawberry Mallow flavor – yum!
Value – Was This Box Worth It?
Judging by the past two boxes, Cairn's curation has only continued to improve since their acquisition by Outside. I love that, while this box was geared towards packability, the items included offered versatility outside of the chosen theme. The solar light is useful for so much more than backpacking and would come in clutch for so many activities, like hiking, nighttime kayaking, and even just hanging out in the backyard. The Nomadik towel was my favorite item in this month's box. It'll come in super handy on surf days and, come summer, for last-minute swims and dips in the ocean (anyone else keep a "just in case" swimsuit in their car?). The rice cake was tasty and would be a great addition for anyone who has difficulty digesting other energy-boosting foods during high-intensity and long-duration exercise and activities. More of this, please, Cairn!
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Other Things You Should Know
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No, the December box is currently shipping.
ACTIVE DEAL: 20% Off
Value Breakdown: The value of this box rang in slightly higher than normal at $47.35 (I'm counting the crispy rice cake since you can purchase them individually from the site). With the price increase of the Cairn boxes this past summer, I hope to see this somewhat elevated value in the boxes to come. While there were fewer items this month, the selection felt thoughtful and delivered value to me across the board.
What do you think of Cairn this month? Did you receive any of the same items as me?