My Kitted By Cairn Review
Would you try an outdoor gear subscription service?
Despite growing up in Maine, I never expected that one day I would get more excited about a new dry bag than I would a new purse. My love for clothes and style is well documented, but at a certain point, my interest in clothes and shoes skewed more towards micro-fleece and hiking boots, and being more prepared for different outdoor activities than special events. I love having what I need to do what I love – the right backpack that doesn't dig into my hips, hiking boots that aren't too heavy but still supportive, a packable jacket that keeps me warm but doesn't take up too much space. While fancy-schmancy gear certainly isn't a requirement for enjoying the outdoors, there's something to be said for investing in the right items to maximize those activities. That said, actually going through the process of finding the right gear can be time-consuming, and depending on the return policies of where you're shopping, expensive. This is where Kitted by Cairn comes in. Kitted, which is housed under the Cairn box umbrella, is a "try before you buy" outdoor gear service. Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when you order a new outdoor item, Kitted allows members to actually try out the items before they commit. So, does Kitted elevate the outdoor shopping experience or leave you feeling lost in the woods? Read on to find out what I thought of this outdoor adventure gear subscription service.
This box was sent to us at no cost to review. (Check out the review process post to learn more.)
ACTIVE DEAL: Use code CHEER10 to get 10% off gift subs of 6+ months for monthly or 2+ quarters for quarterly
Kitted By Cairn Gear Subscription Service Overview
- Kitted By Cairn is an outdoor gear and lifestyle service for men and women curated for most outdoor activities.
- Kitted customers can request Kits at any cadence they wish and shop from a variety of selections curated around activity, item, gender, and need.
- Kitted customers get total control over the items they choose, resulting in a greater chance they'll love what they receive.
- Because subscribers are choosing what they receive, there's no back-and-forth with a stylist, making Kitted a streamlined approach to outdoor accessory shopping.
- Sign up is easy, just enter your billing and shipping info, and build your kit from there.
How It Works
- To get started with Kitted, simply sign up for an account, enter your billing and shipping information, and build your first kit.
- Because there's no "styling" involved, there's no back-and-forth, so you can get your first kit right away.
- Once you receive your kit you have one week to try on and test out your new gear and make any returns. Returns must be processed online within one week of delivery to avoid any charges.
- There is no fee to sign up.
- Each Kit will run you a $25.00 fee, which is credited toward any purchase over $100.00 within your shipment.
- Receive additional discounts the more you keep:
- 5% off when you keep more than $200.00
- 10% off when you keep more than $350.00
- 15% off when you keep more than $500.00.
- Prices reflect the traditional cost of gear, ranging from around $6.00 to $400.00 at time of publication.
- Expect the variety of brands you might find at any major outdoor retailer.
- Kitted by Cairn caters to most outdoor activities, including camping, backpacking, trail running, and climbing.
- Sizing ranges from XS - XXL but is limited to between brands.
- Shop both men's and women's in the same account.
- Delivery cadence is entirely up to the subscriber. Choose a Kit whenever you need one.
- Kitted is not a subscription service; there are no regular obligation fees, and the service may be canceled at any time.
- The $25.00 curation fee is only "lost" if you do not choose to keep any items totaling over $100.00. If you make a purchase totaling over $100.00, your fee is applied.
- Kitted is a curated gear subscription service offered by Cairn that allows subscribers to "try before you buy".
- Kitted allows subscribers to test out best-in-class gear, outside and in real circumstances, before they make the commitment to purchase.
- Subscribers enjoy a selection of name-brand and trail-trusted outdoor clothing, accessories, and necessities, like NRS, Kestrel, Kavu, Danner, Jetboil, and more.
- Subscribers can shop curated collections around different activities, like backpacking, climbing, and camping; from curated kit ideas, like camp cooking or women's fitness; pick and choose from different categories, or a combination of all of the above.
- Subscribers can shop from both the men's and women's collections.
- The $25.00 curation fee is credited toward any purchase of more than $100.00.
- Additional discounts are offered for the more you choose to keep.
- If you have pre-loved outdoor gear that you'd like to donate, include it in your return shipment, and Kitted will donate it for you in their Outdoors for All program.
- Gear can be expensive - Kitted prices range from $6.95 (climbing chalk) to $399.99 (a Garmin watch).
- Customers lose the $25.00 curation fee if no items are purchased or if items are purchased but they ring in under $100.00.
- Outdoor brands are notorious for not being size-inclusive, so sizing is often limited to XS-XL.
- The overall shopping experience is a little clunky. While the homepage is relatively sleek, searching for specific products can be difficult and there are no reviews.
Signing Up for Kitted By Cairn
Signing up for Kitted by Cairn is as simple as creating an account. When you create your account, you'll enter your email and choose a password, then enter your shipping and billing information. While you enter credit card information at this time, you're only charged a curation fee when you create a Kit. After signing up, you're brought to the page above, which details the highlights of the service. When you're ready to create your kit, click "Build Kit", and start shopping. When you're ready to check out you'll be charged $25.00 and your Kit will be on its way!
Note: The items in my Kit were selected for review by the folks at Kitted, and it was requested that they be returned in as pristine condition as possible. This is important to note because typically you'd be able to test everything out. This isn't indicative of the usual Kitted experience; when you sign up, you have total control and you can trail test to your heart's content.
What Did I Get in Kitted by Cairn Kit?
What Arrives in the Kit?
Before I dive into what I received, let's review the other items that arrive in your box... well, Kit. Everything is packed economically, leaving no space left unused – there's also very little excess packing material. Some items are in plastic shipping bags but otherwise, no plastic! When you open up the box, you'll find your welcome envelop, which includes a sheet detailing the items you'll find within and their prices, checkout instructions, and a return label.
What Did I Receive?
In case you missed my note above, my experience with Kitted was slightly different than a traditional customer, in that the items within were chosen for me by the Kitted team and I wasn't able to test them in a traditional sense (it also didn't help that we had a week of straight rain when I had the box). SO! While the items below were chosen by Kitted, I was really excited to see what arrived. There is something extra exciting to me about gear, I think it's the possibility it suggests. So many adventures to be had, beautiful places to see, connections to be made. I also just love being prepared for any potential outdoor activity that might arise – Camping? I'm in. Surfing? Let's go! A hike? Now? Absolutely.
The items in my kit were as follows:
- Danner Logger 517 Boot - $230.00
- Black Diamond Women's Roadie Quarter-Zip Fleece in Dune/Carbon - $99.00
- Cotopaxi Do Good Five-Panel Hat - $29.00
- Jetboil Flash Cooking System - $109.95
- Sierra Designs Shadow Mountain Sleeping Pad - $79.95
The pricing sheet included in the box also includes the subtotal, the additional discount, the curation fee credit, and then the total price of what you'd pay if you chose to keep everything. The subtotal of these items came to $547.90 and with the discount and fee credit came to $440.72 (plus any additional sales tax). SO, while not a HUGE discount, still something.
What Did I Think of My Kitted By Cairn Kit?
Receiving my first Kit was exciting – as I said, I love gear, and after a long winter fraught with personal difficulties, it offered a bright spot of possibility coupled with the arrival of spring. I usually spend my winters being pretty active, but not this year, so it was safe to say that by the time I received my kit, I was ready to get outdoors and do something other than run. Let's take a look at what arrived:
Danner Logger 517 Boot - $230.00
Ohh when I saw the Danner Boots box in my Kit, I got excited! Danner is known for creating beautiful boots and are a hiking classic, so I was really excited to try on a pair. These leather boots are beautiful and relatively lightweight, despite their heavy-duty construction. The leather was soft and supple and the unique kilty design stood out from other hiking boots I've tried. That said, I've found I prefer ankle-height hiking shoes for most hikes unless I'm backpacking, which is a rare activity for me. I know ankle support is super important, but I also have weird feet, so I'm really really particular about my boots. These were lovely as maybe a streetwear boot, but wouldn't have made the cut for me for actual hikes.
A cozy fleece is a necessity for just about anyone who spends time outdoors – and for those who just want to be comfy! Fleece is a practical material that keeps you warm while staying relatively dry, and they're lightweight, so while not the most space-saving item when stuffed into a backpack, they won't weigh down your pack. This shaggy fleece from Black Diamond features a front kangaroo pocket and quarter zip. It was super warm and inviting, but I wasn't thrilled with the colors. They weren't bad (although the cream color you see here read more like a light grey IRL), but it wasn't something I would have chosen if I were shopping.
I'm a big fan of Cotopaxi and their mission - not only do they create really cool products, but they're a certified B Corp. I liked this hat more than I thought I would. When I pulled it out of the box, I felt a little "meh" - I don't wear things with slogans on them generally, but I really liked the fit of this. The brim was nice and flat, and it was comfortable - perfect for a day on the water or a sunny summer hike. This is something I definitely would have considered keeping. Cotopaxi's bright designs are my jam.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System - $109.95
This Jetboil cooking system isn't something I would have chosen for myself - but now I'm thinking I might need to get one! This little system is compact, easy to set up, and the perfect answer for where to get a good cup of coffee when you're hiking, backpacking, or camping (the answer: right in your pack!). I wish I could have trail-tested this item because I'd really like to see how well it travels and behaves in weather, but I was still impressed with it. (I may have this in my cart as we speak).
This Sierra Designs sleeping pad is something I could have used back in January when I had the chance to go winter camping, but admittedly isn't something I would have chosen for myself, simply because I don't go backpacking that much (and when I co camping, it's usually car camping, as in, I camp in my car). That said, this sleeping pad is super compact and would be easy to pack. I didn't blow it up to save the integrity of the product, but it seems like it would be easy to blow up and deflate. Would I have kept it? Probably not. I just don't camp that often, and when I do I sleep in my car.
The Return Process
Returns must be processed online within one week of delivery. After you've tried everything in your Kit on, and hopefully had the opportunity to test it out on the trail, simply log into your account and select the items you'd like to keep or return. Pay for the items you'd like to keep (remember: your $25.00 fee will be applied towards any total over $100.00). When you return items, you'll have the opportunity to provide feedback on the items too, so Kitted knows how well – or not well - the item worked or held up. Once you've processed your return, simply pack up anything you're sending back, add any gear donations you'd like to send in for their Gear Up, Give Back program, slap on that pre-paid return label, and drop off your box at your closest FedEx. Done and dusted!
Is Kitted By Cairn Worth it?
Personally, I think whether or not Kitted By Cairn is worth it totally depends on where you live and what you're looking for. If money is no object and you expect to spend a lot on gear, the small discounts offered when you keep items at certain thresholds could be worthwhile for you, as many outdoor retailers don't offer big sales. If you don't live close to a retailer like REI or L.L. Bean, Kitted could be the answer to your outdoor equipment needs. The service is unique in that you're not dependent on a stylist and you can try out a lot of different items in real life before making your final decision. On the other hand, many retailers, like REI specifically, offer generous return policies that essentially allow you to do the same thing. I recently purchased a pair of running shoes from REI and after running in them and realizing they were too small, had no problems returning them for full credit. There's also the subject of lower-cost items. Because your $25.00 fee is only applied towards purchases over $100.00, it's in your best interest to select something over that threshold you're almost certain you'll keep. My favorite item in this shipment was the $29.00 Cotopaxi hat. It wouldn't have been worth it at all to only keep the hat, but if I had kept the hat and the Jetboil, the fee would have been applied. Those two items were what I would have kept if I had ordered this myself.
Is Kitted Expensive?
It is not expensive to order a Kit - that will run you $25.00, then you pay for what you choose to keep from your Kit. Items from Kitted range from around $6.00 to $400.00, with small discounts offered at different thresholds.
Is Kitted Worth It?
That depends. If you're looking to build your gear kit and don't want to fuss and sift through reviews, specs, and options and simply want to try it out, Kitted can be worth it. If you're looking for discounts on higher-end items, Kitted could offer a small discount depending on how much you choose to order. However, there are other options out there from retailers who offer generous return policies that allow shoppers to return items they test out and choose not to keep.
Is Kitted Easy to Cancel?
Yes! Unlike some other styling services, Kitted subscribers aren't locked into a plan or traditional subscription. You can cancel at any time. The only fee you'll ever pay is a non-refundable $25.00 styling fee for each Kit you choose to order - and you'll only ever lose that fee if you don't choose to purchase any items under $100.00.
What Happens to the Trail-Tested but Returned Items from Kitted?
"If an item is returned in completely brand new condition, it is placed back into Kitted inventory and made available for other adventurers to add to their Kits. If an item is returned in anything other than brand new condition, it moves on to our consignment partners that are experts at finding loving homes for pre-loved goods."
My Kitted By Cairn Verdict
As someone who loves new gear, Kitted By Cairn is certainly fun. I love the possibility and sense of impending adventure new gear inspires, but I still require my gear to be sensible and serve an important purpose – I don't want gear simply to own it, I want to USE it! In this sense, Kitted is super handy, members can actually try out items and see whether or not they actually work for their needs. For those with higher budgets, the discounts could be super worthwhile, especially on higher-end items that don't often go on sale, like GPS tracking watches. Kitted also boasts a price-matching guarantee, so if you see a lower price published online, they'll honor it, although that may affect your discount threshold, which isn't the most generous in the first place. The selection is impressive, but depending on the clothing size you need, you may find the size options for both men and women to be quite limiting. The overall user experience could be improved with a better search function and user design - but Cairn was recently acquired by Outside Magazine, so we could see changes in the service in the coming months – or it could stay the same. Personally, I think I'll be sticking with my favorite outdoor retailer that allows generous returns and offers user reviews, but Kitted is still fun and I may find myself using it in the future.
Check out Kitted By Cairn!
Have you used Kitted By Cairn before? What did you think of the selection? Let me know below!