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. Update: In February 2022 subscribers learned that Cairn will soon be making a full naming transition from Cairn to Outside. While the website does not yet reflect the change, "Cairn" was notably absent from this month's box and replaced with "Outside".
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 delivery arrived in a larger-than-average box for the monthly collection – I wonder what's in it? Let's find out!
First out of the box is our Outside mailer – a newspaper-style insert that details the theme of the box – this month's theme is "Necessary Navigation" – along with info on the items you'll find inside. Subscribers will also find an excerpt from an Outside Magazine article that relates to each month's theme. This month's article is all about mapping, specifically mapping mistakes, and how hikers are helping to fill in the gaps and find lost corners of the wilderness. My mom is a land surveyor, which means she's mapping land Monday through Friday, so I'm excited to show her this article and hear what she thinks. The insert also includes a community feature; I was happy to see @WildDiversity featured this month. They're a community focused on creating a welcoming space for all to belong in the outdoors. Heck yeah.
Ok, ready to dive in? Let's see what we got this month!
SOL Sighting Compass With Mirror – Retail Value $17
SOL, which stands for Survive Outdoors Longer (and a bit sinister if you ask me), is a brand we see often in Cairn/Outside boxes, which makes sense. They make solid, reliable outdoor gear that's also reasonably priced – this sighting compass included. This handy tool comes with a bunch of features, especially considering it's so low-tech: there's a sighting mirror for accurate reading and to use as a signal in case of emergencies, a clinometer for measuring angles of slopes, a magnifier for easy map reading, and metric and imperial scales for better map reading. If you hike, you should have a compass, and this one is an all-in-one tool to cover all your bases. I know my mom, who almost exclusively uses paper maps (I'm still teaching her how to use the navigation system on her phone), would dig this but I'm keeping it for myself. It's a great addition to my pack.
Kula Cloth – Retail Value $20
True story: When I was 5 years old, I got in trouble for teaching all the other kids at pre-school how to pee in the woods. It's a skill! And if you've ever spent time in the wilderness – or even on frequently trafficked trails – you've likely come across a not-too-welcome sight: used toilet paper (insert puking emoji here🤢). While it's OK to use TP outdoors, leaving it behind violates the "Leave No Trace" rule and send the message to others that it's ok to leave their TP behind, too. And over time... it builds up. And attracts animals. And it's disgusting. The solution for those of us who squat when we pee? Either pack your used TP out with you (many hikers will carry a Ziploc bag reserved for this purpose) or use a Kula Cloth! I was excited to see a Kula included in this month's box, not only because it's a great product – one side is waterproof to keep your hands clean, one side is soft and antimicrobial, and it snaps to your pack (and you can double-snap it shut so you're not letting your pee flag fly, so to speak) – but they're a company working to be more sustainable. And after a few months with products that included warning labels on them, I'm happy to see a company feature that's working to be more eco-friendly and inclusive (I really appreciate the language that Kula uses in their marketing). This is absolutely an accessory I'll be bringing with me on my adventures.
NUUN Hydration Immunity3 - Approximate Retail Value $7.47 (purchase a bundle of 8 packets here for $19.99)
My husband and I are big fans of NUUN. We both appreciate the relatively straightforward ingredients and since we don't drink soda or juice, the tablets can be a nice way to change up the taste of water when a little variety is needed. But up until now, I hadn't tried the stick packs. These single-serving packets are meant to support immunity, have 30 calories, and can be dissolved in 16 oz. of water (although I usually use more because they're too sweet for me). Overall, I liked the taste, although I'll always prefer citrus flavors to berry – just a personal preference. I'll keep the other two packs handy for days when a little extra hydration boost is needed.
Value – Was This Box Worth It?
After a few months of boxes that felt oriented more towards survival, I was happy to see this month's box align a little closer to what I've come to expect from Cairn/Outside. Since the Outside acquisition, I'm not incredibly surprised to see box content varying – in fact, I'm happy to see Outside maybe experimenting a bit. That said, I was happy to see a product represented this month – the Kula Cloth – that's working to be more eco-friendly and sustainable. The items sent this month are all items I'll use. The compass will be a handy addition to my pack, and I'm excited to experiment with it the next time I'm on the trail. The Kula Cloth is something I'll be happy to clip to my bag, too. And the NUUN hydration stick packs are a welcome addition. Overall, this was a solid box – what did you think?
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Other Things You Should Know
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? You will most likely receive March as your first box.
Value Breakdown: The value of this box rang in at $44.47, including the hydration packs, which is on par with past values.
What do you think of Cairn this month? Did you receive any of the same items as me?