Cairn Subscription Review: The Gift that Lasts All Year

Every year, there seems to be at least one person on our gifting list where we draw a complete blank. Subscription boxes are great, but they can get expensive. Our Cairn subscription review tells you what you need to know before sending this gift to your favorite outdoor friend.

Although we received the October 2018 box from Cairn at no cost to us, the opinions expressed in this Cairn subscription review are our own.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy for more information.)

Update for 2020: it’s been 2 years since we received the box. While it’s always fun to try out new things, any subscription box is only worth it if it comes with some great new finds. Read on to see what we still love – and what we don’t – from our original Cairn subscription review.

cairn subscription box with a snowy background
The Cairn subscription box comes with a monthly selection of outdoor products.

The October 2018 Cairn Subscription Review

This is where all the fun comes in. You never know what you will get, and it changes every month.

Each box will have up to 6 (full-sized) products, valuing up to $50 total. Outdoor products can include apparel, trail food, gear, skincare, and outdoor safety items.

We found 3 great products in our Cairn box: a headlamp, a water bottle, and a snack bar. A Cairn sticker and newsletter were also included in the box.

UCO Air Headlamp

uco headlamp
UCO Air Headlamp includes a red light for stargazing

This lightweight headlamp is water-resistant and has a dial to change the brightness of the light. It also has a red light, ideal for stargazing.

Our favorite features of this headlamp are the rechargeable battery and the flip-down light so you can get the light in the direction you need.

Update for 2020: we are still using this headlamp and often argue over who gets the “good one!” We love it because the adjustable strap makes it quick and easy to fit on different-sized heads. And we still love that the light flips down to keep light from shining directly at other people.

The UCO Air Headlamp retails for $34.99.

Related Reading: The 2021 Outdoor Gift Guide: The Perfect Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Families

HydraPak Stash 750 ML Water Bottle

hydrapak stash bottle
The HydraPak Stash 750 ML water bottle packs down small

The HydraPak water bottle is not only lightweight, but it also collapses when not in use.

The best part? This water bottle is dishwasher safe!

Update for 2020: we’re still using this water bottle too! We’ve found that it can take a long time to dry out, and we don’t want to put it away until it’s thoroughly dried. But the compact design is definitely worth it when stashing away when the empty bottle – whether we’re on the trail or running through the airport.

The HydraPak Stash retails for $20.00.

Kate’s Real Food Stash Bar

kate's real food stash bar
Peanut Butter, Hemp, & Flax Stash Bar from Kate’s Real Food

We got the Peanut Butter flavored bar (with Hemp & Flax), so we knew it would be easy to love this one.

But what we really loved was how light the bar was. Similar bars are often dense and hard to eat.

Update for 2021: Kate’s Real Food bars are also available at Whole Foods.

Kate’s Real Food bars retail for $2.99 each.

Cairn Scout Newsletter

an issue of Cairn Scout, the newsletter that comes in each Cairn subscription box
Cairn’s monthly newsletter contains tips, info, and inspiration.

The Cairn Subscription box included a newsletter with more information about this month’s products. The newsletter also has more details about a Cairn subscription, a few adventure tips, and some words of inspiration to get out and explore.

Don’t Miss Out on These Items!

If you missed out on the October box, not to worry. These products are all available on Amazon – and each gets excellent reviews.

Kate’s Real Food Organic Granola Bars - Peanut Butter Hemp & Flax (2.2 oz, Pack of 12) - Organic Energy Bars Made with Gluten Free Oats - Non GMO, Soy Free, Whole Grains, and All Natural - Healthy Snacks
  • USDA-CERTIFIED ORGANIC EXCELLENCE MADE WITH HIGH-QUALITY REAL FOOD – Elevate your snacking experience with our organic snack bars. We take pride in creating bars infused with the highest quality, organic ingredients like: organic peanut butter, organic oats and brown-rice crisps, and powered by high-energy superfoods. Most granola bars are powered by white sugar, but our bars keep you moving throughout the day with organic honey, offering the perfect harmony of energy and essential nutrients.
  • FUELED BY WHOLESOME GOODNESS AND COMPLEMENTS MOST DIETS - It's our commitment to provide you with the wholesome nutrition your body deserves. Packed with goodness, they're not only gluten-free bars, but also non-GMO, kosher, soy-free, and with all natural flavors. With a balanced 8g protein per bar, this guilt-free indulgence is the perfect organic snacks for adults no matter the diet. With Kate’s, you're getting not just a bar, but a piece of our dedication to your well-being.
UCO Air 150 Lumen Lightweight Rechargeable LED Headlamp with Variable Brightness Dial Control and Adjustable Strap, Reflective Grey
  • Lightweight, super-bright 150-lumen rechargeable, variable brightness LED headlamp for camping, hiking, backpacking, and other nighttime activities
  • Single LED light and dial control allows for smooth, adjustable brightness from zero to 150 lumens, as well as white LED light or red night vision mode
Hydrapak Stash 750 Flexible Water Bottle, Malibu Blue, 750ml
  • Twist to collapse down to 1/4 of it's filled size when empty, minimizing the space it takes up in your pack
  • At 50% lighter than most hard bottles it's the most compact and convenient water bottle solution

Gifting a Cairn Subscription Box

This has to be one of the easiest gifts you could ever give.

Choose the subscription length (options vary from one to 12 months) and provide the recipient’s name, email, and mailing address.

>> Set up a gift subscription here <<

Cairn won’t email the recipient until after the first box is sent. But once that first gift is received, they’ll have the opportunity to set up a profile to personalize their boxes.

The Perfect Recipient

Just about anyone who loves the outdoors (including you!) will love getting a monthly box with new outdoor products. Whether the Cairn outdoor box is filled with gear they need or just inspires them to get outside, there is always something fun.

The family-friendly products aren’t necessarily geared toward kids. Still, our kids claimed everything in the October 2018 box, including the sticker!

Clothing sizes and activity preferences are noted in the recipient’s profile to match them with gear that fits their favorite activities.

Cairn subscription box inspirational message
Inspiring messages found inside the Cairn box

The Gear

When you don’t know what products will be in each box, it’s easy to worry about gifting something they already have.

As we’ve seen in past boxes, our box wasn’t filled with everyday brands. You aren’t likely to see Coleman, REI, or Patagonia. Instead, you’ll find newer, smaller brands with innovative products.

So while we have lots of headlamps in our house, none have the cool features of the UCO Air Headlamp.

Want More Gift Ideas?: The Best Camping Gifts for Your Favorite Tent Camper or RV Owner

The Cost

Gifting a full 12-month subscription means lots of gear (that is, at least 36 products!). While that’s an outdoor gear lover’s dream gift, it does come with a price tag to match.

Take advantage of Cairn’s flexible subscription length to make it a budget-friendly option.

The Bottom Line

A Cairn subscription is an excellent done-for-you gift, especially to inspire friends and family to get outside.

While the price tag can creep up quickly, it ends up being a lot of gear that people won’t usually buy for themselves. 

We think the Cairn subscription box is such a great gift that it earned a spot on our 2018 gift guide for outdoorsy people. After all, what’s better than a gift that keeps giving all year long??

Have you received a Cairn subscription? Give us your Cairn subscription review in the comments!

Click below to save the Cairn subscription box on Pinterest for your holiday gifting list!