Better Box? Review of Cairn’s Subscription Box

Cairn ReviewA couple of years ago, Cairn’s subscription box hit the outdoor world.  The business is pretty straightforward: you pay a monthly fee and get a box of outdoor goodies mailed to you each month. It is a fun way to try out gear that you might not otherwise even be aware of, and the value is very good.

The Evolution of Cairn’s Subscription Box

For those of you avid hikers, you likely already know that a “cairn” is a man-made pile of rocks to help guide you along a trail. It derives from the Scottish Gaelic word càrn.

The subscription box company Cairn wants to act as a “trail marker” for us outdoors enthusiasts, enabling us to try out cool items and motivate us to get outdoors more.

Cairn Subscription Box

It has been a couple of years since I last tried out a Cairn subscription box, and I’ve noticed a few things that have changed (mainly for the better!) When I tried out Cairn shortly after the business launched, my conclusion at the time was that the Cairn box subscription seemed like a fun service for people wanting to try new outdoor related items, and it was a good gift idea.  If you aren’t a coupon junkie, the value was decent, and you got to try out products that you might not otherwise have ever considered.

How Does Cairn Work?

There are various subscription plans, starting at $27.45/month. You receive a box of 3-6 items with a total value between $35-40. You can also purchase a gift subscription – holiday gift idea anyone?!

What’s Changed?

  • Pricing/Value: Previously, you paid $25 per month and got a box with a 4-5 items and a total value of $35-40. Now you pay $27.45+ and get a box with 3-6 items valued up to $50.
  • Useful insert: The new box has a neat “Cairn Scout” publication – a couple of pages with info about the new gear in the box, info about the Adventure Upgrade Program (once a month one Cairn subscriber gets a HUGE upgrade and is sent some very fancy merchandise), and special 15-25% off discount codes for some of the brands Cairn works with (this month it was Natrapel, Serac, CLIF, Rumpl, and CVT.

Hiking Lady’s Review of a Sample Cairn Box

I received my sample Cairn box, and inside were the following items: a Serac Hammock with accompanying straps, a new flavor of CLIF Bar (Peanut Butter and Chocolate Whey Protein!), and Natrapel DEET free wipes (just in time for summer mosquito season)!

Cairn's Subscription Box, June 2017
Cairn Box, June 2017

Is A Cairn Subscription Box a Good Value?

The total retail value of the items in the box based on my calculations was $49.90. Since the monthly subscription is $27.45, including shipping, this is absolutely a great deal!

I decided to check the retail prices online and see if I could easily find some of these items on sale. Those of you discount and coupon sleuths out there will find this interesting:

Item: Full Retail Price of Item: Online Discounted Prices Found:
Serac Hammock and Hammock Straps $39.95 The Serac Classic Portable Single Camping Hammock is available at Amazon for $39.95, but the straps at Amazon are smaller, so it isn’t perfectly comparable.The 2 straps in the Cairn box are a unique “Tree Hugger” kit that are 80 inches long each (almost 7 feet), with 10 anchor points.  The ones on Amazon are 6 feet long.
CLIF Whey Protein Bar $3.00 at REI If you’re willing to buy a new flavor in bulk, you can grab 8 for $1.87 a piece on Amazon ($14.24).
Natrapel DEET-Free Insect Wipes $6.95  REI has the same 12 pack available for $6.95.

Bottom line is that it even the most discounted replica of this box would be $48.77, and you’d have 7 extra CLIF Bars to buy for an additional $13.09.  Plus you’d have to shop at two separate stores, and you might not ever even think to try any of these neat products.

Conclusion: Yay or Nay to the Cairn Subscription Box?

I think that the Cairn box subscription is not only a great value, but a perfect way to get introduced to new gear at a fairly low price.  You get to keep everything and build an amazing gear collection, and have lots of fun items to put to the test on the trail (and in the case of this box, a CLIF Bar to munch on).

Have you tried Cairn?  What do you think of it?

Happy trails!


  1. Thanks for sharing! These product you’ve described here are awesome, especially those insect wipes. I think that using DEET-Free remedies for repelling mosquitoes is always better.

  2. Jo Selvaggio says:

    I have been a Cairn subscriber for about a year. I love and have definitely found it worth the price.

  3. wayno12 says:

    Glad to see a classy Lady with a great web site. Good information and well done. Siggest you review The Source products. Better than Camelback and it doesn’t go green and black after a couple of days with unchlorinated water.

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