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.
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 Cairn delivery arrived in a paper mailer and it felt heavy. What on earth could be inside? Let's find out!
Included in every box is a newspaper-style insert with an overview of the month's theme, the items included, and more topical information. This month's theme is "Winter Warmers" and is all about taking advantage of everything winter has to offer instead of simply hunkering down indoors – I can get behind that sentiment 100%! Since being acquired by Outside Magazine last year, the Cairn inserts have included a topical article. This month it's all about how to stay warm outside. I love to see this – as we say in Maine, "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing."
Ready to see what arrived? Let's go!
UST Parahatchet FS – Retail Value $25.87
Here's the answer to what made this month's mailer so heavy: Cairn really said, "You know what? Let's send 'em a freaking hatchet!" This little hatchet – er, Parahatchet – is pretty cool, it features a stainless steel blade with a black-oxide finish, multi-sized hex wrenches, a flint fire starter, and a paracord handle that can be unwrapped to about 8-feet of cordage (there's also a cord-cutter on the hatchet). It also comes with a handy sheath, so you can use those hex wrenches without fear of hurting yourself. This hatchet has some heft to it and feels nice and sturdy – which is both good and not ideal, depending on what you're up to. The good: It's sturdy and feels solid in your hand and would be great for a car camping trip or to keep in your car. The not ideal: It's heavy, so this isn't a tool I would personally carry with me on a hike or backpacking excursion. It fits with the theme of "Winter Warmers" in the sense that you could feasibly cut some kindling with it. That said, this is the second month in a row that Cairn has sent a cutting instrument that feels more survival-oriented than "fun in the outdoors" (and the second month with a paracord element too, now that I think about it...). This is a neat tool, but I think I'll probably pass it on to my brother or my mom, both of whom work in the outdoors and would have more opportunities to use a tool like this.
WORN Everyday Enhanced Socks - Retail Value $17
I will never be mad about receiving good outdoor socks in a subscription box and these socks from WORN are very much appreciated. If you love the outdoors or live in a cold climate, you know cotton socks are a huge NO-NO (and if you didn't know about cotton socks in winter - just don't do it. Your feet will be freezing and you'll be miserable, and in extreme circumstances "cotton kills". Opt for wool or a wool/acrylic blend). These socks from WORN are made from Merino wool, specifically, WORN's technically enhanced "Arrowool™". They feature 360-degree support and an impact-reducing heel. These socks are super comfy and I like how secure they feel without being too tight (I hate saggy socks), and I think they'll be great for pairing with my more casual, everyday boots for this time of year, but when I tried them on with my snowboard boots, they didn't feel warm enough. This made sense after some research – they're rated more for lighter footwear, so not the best choice for spending long hours in 10-degree weather. That said, I tested them out on a walk during a break from work. I spent about 30 minutes outside wearing my Salomon Speedcross trail shoes and my feet wear warm and happy – not too hot, but not freezing, either. Oh! They also came with a pretty generous discount card, which I'll definitely be taking advantage of.
Good-To-Go Blondie Bites - Approximate Retail Value $2.99 (purchase a bundle of 6 here for $17.99)
These bites from Good-To-Go are vegan, keto, feature no added sugar, and they're really tasty. This is a brand we've received in Cairn boxes in the past and I've always enjoyed it - the ingredients are fairly straightforward, the flavors are good, and I appreciate that they're low in sugar and net carbs since I usually reach for snacks like this to fuel up between meals while I'm out and about. These blondie bites have a texture and flavor similar to cookie dough. I took the package along with me on a snowshoe hike this past weekend and they were the ideal snack to hold me over until dinner.
Cusa Coffee Variety Pack – Retail Value $7.49
Besides a nice pair of socks and cute cats, one of the quickest ways to my heart is coffee. And this month's Cairn box came with seven cups of coffee in the form of a Cusa variety pack. I'm no stranger to instant coffee – it's come a long way over the years, and I'm a big fan of Four Sigmatic, so I was instantly curious to try the sampling from Cusa. This variety pack came with seven packets, which make one 8-10 oz. cup of coffee each. The flavors included are two packets of medium roast, and one each of light roast, dark roast, vanilla dark roast, pumpkin spice, and mocha. I chose to try the medium roast and brewed up a 10 oz. cup. It was pretty good! The scent reminded me instantly of the shipbuilding museum I used to work for and the coffee we'd drink there (so points for nostalgia) and the flavor was pleasant if a little mild. If you wanted to add creamer or milk to the brew, I would suggest brewing an 8 oz. cup so it's not weakened too much. Overall, this was pretty tasty instant coffee – I'd definitely pack this for a hike or camping trip.
Value – Was This Box Worth It?
This month's Cairn theme was "Winter Warmers", but I'll be honest, the Parahatchet made this box feel oriented more towards survival than getting cozy. The Parahatchet could be super handy for chopping kindling for a winter fire while car camping or staying at a cabin, but I wouldn't necessarily take it on a winter hike. I know one of my family members will love it, though, and I'm excited to pass it along to my mom or brother. The socks are cozy and high quality, and I appreciate that they're made from organic materials from a company that seems to care about sustainability. The Good-To-Go bites were super tasty and perfect for a day on the trails – these are something I'll be looking out for the next time I'm stocking up on grab-and-go snacks. The instant coffee felt different and a departure from what we've received from Cairn in the past, which made it feel exciting (but honestly, I'm excited by anything related to coffee). This was a solid box with a great value and it's exciting to see Cairn evolve with the Outdoor acquisition. Here's to more adventures in the months to come!
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Other Things You Should Know
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? No. January boxes shipped late this month, if you sign up today you'll likely receive the February box as your first box.
Value Breakdown: The value of this box rang in at $53.35, including the blondie bites, which is slightly higher than past deliveries.
What do you think of Cairn this month? Did you receive any of the same items as me? Any thoughts on the Parahatchet?