Cairn Subscription Service - Explore! Cairn Subscription Service - Explore!

Cairn Subscription Service

Cairn, a Bend, Oregon, firm, offers a subscription service that provides outdoor products to subscribers on a monthly basis. In this article I’ll explain how this works, describe the kinds of things you might get in your packages and the monetary value of the service. I am addressing the standard monthly subscription box rather then the more expensive subscription options that deliver more expensive products.

But, Why?

Why might you want to subscribe to Cairn?

I like getting a surprise box in the mail every month. I enjoy both the surprise and the sense of discovery that comes with each box. The boxes contain three or four items each. Most of the items (see header photo and the list below) are things I would not be likely to purchase on my own. Thus, each box teaches me something new about products that can enhance my outdoor experience. The food items give me an opportunity to try new things and perhaps discover something I really like.

Cairn Logo

You will save some money on the products you receive. Of course, if you would never buy a $3 trail bar you might consider receiving one to have zero value. Whether you get enough value over your subscription period depends upon you and what you find useful in each package.

In my case, the prime reason I subscribed, beyond the above, was to see if I would get items that I could review for EXPLORE! While I’m not likely to review a water bottle or a trail bar, I might review a hammock or some other unique and durable product that our readers might find particularly interesting.

Finally, a Cairn subscription is about the greatest gift your hiker, camper or general outdoors person could get


One of the items I received was a package of Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal. It looks like a great product, but it doesn’t work at all for me and thus has no personal value. First, the herbs added to the product give it a caffeine content of 25 mg. That’s not much considering a cup of coffee has around 95 mg, but I have a heart issue that is exacerbated by caffeine, so I will avoid eating this product.

Second, it looks like a backpacking meal, but the bag is not designed to hold the added water. The product requires a bowl or cup for rehydration. When I’m backpacking, I don’t want to wash dishes and I don’t even carry any along. I’ll find someone that will enjoy the oatmeal for breakfast at home or when car camping, so it won’t be wasted.

My preferences are likely different from yours. Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal may be exactly what you want.

Clearly there is more to value than the money spent on your subscription compared to the cost of the individual items you receive. However, monetary value is important too. Let’s take a look.

I bought the six month subscription for $169.50 ($28.25 per month). After seven months, here are the items I received and how much each item would cost at (or elsewhere as noted) if I ordered it today (without shipping). Note that there is a link to each item if you would like to learn more about it. In some cases single items are not available. I performed a little division to get the single item price. Cairn has deals for subscribers, where, for example you can get 15% off the full price Peak Sherpa bars and pay $2.48 each.

Box Item Retail
1 EcoVessel Aspen Insulted Stainless Bottle $26.95
1 Gear Aid 325 Paracord $6.50
1 JonesBar – Mango/Almonds/Dates/Chia Seeds $2.42
1 Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal $2.99
2 Serac Classic Hammock and Strap Bundle $29.95
2 Peak Sherpa Energy Bites Mango/Coconut $2.75
2 Natrapel Insect Repellent Wipes $7.88
3 Kate’s Real Food Stash Bar $2.49
3 Coast HX5R Rechargeable Flashlight (REI) $29.95 (1)
3 GoBites Duo Fork/Spoon $10.12
4 Pocket Disc Sports Edition $12.42
4 Speaqua The Cruiser Bluetooth Speaker $24.88 (2)
4 Bobo’s Stuffed Oat Bites Apple Pie $1.24
4 Bobo’s Toast’r Pastry Strawberry Jam $2.49
5 EcoVessel Stainless Steel Straw Set $11.95
5 All Good Tinted Sunscreen Butter $10.99
5 Nomadix Travel Lite Towel $39.95 (1)
6 Blackstrap Daily Tube $19.99
6 Points6 Ghost Runner Ultra Light Socks $18.95
6 DeFunkify Laundry Detergent 5-Pack $5.00 (2)
6 Honey Stinger Energy Gel Mango Orange $1.99
7 Croakies Custom Belt Bottle Opener Buckle $29.99 (2)
7 UCO Sprout Mini Lantern $14.95 (1)
7 Yumbutter Cashew $6.99

  1. From REI
  2. Direct from Manufacturer

After seven months I’ve received products worth $323.78 at retail. Those seven months of my Cairn subscription cost $197.75 for a 39% discount. Cairn claims “Up to 50% off Retail Value in Each Box.” Key words: “up to.”

On a financial basis, the subscription will save you money, but only if you were to buy these items anyway.

Customer Service

What a minute – seven months what happened to the six month subscription? Well, here’s the story. Cairn has my credit card info and tried to automatically renew my subscription, as they were supposed to do. For some reason my credit card failed. I figured it was just because I had recently updated a credit card and my info was no longer correct. I didn’t do anything about it because I didn’t want to renew anyway. A few days later they tried again, and the credit card worked for them. I had paid for another six months. Ooops.

Cairn has a no refund policy, but I explained in an email what happened anyway. The money was back in my credit card account the same day! , They did subtract a prorated amount for one month, because the box had already been shipped – fair enough. Thus, I got seven months for the price of seven months and Cairn proved they have GREAT customer service!

If I decide to subscribe again in the future, I’ll be sure to cancel before the end of the subscription period should I choose not to continue.


If you’d like to give Cairn a try, here’s the process:

  • Go to
  • Click “Get Started’
  • Choose your subscription option – if you pay for more months at a time, your savings increase. The Obsidian option (higher priced items) is also available.
  • Pay for your order
  • Answer some questions, so that the people at Cairn can tailor your box to your interests.
  • Wait for your first box to arrive

Your Box Arrives

In this video, I open my first two Cairn boxes so you can see exactly how they arrive and what came in them. Your first boxes will likely be different, but that’s part of the Cairn adventure. My third box wasn’t a box at all, but a shipping bag.


All photos, video and text by Jerry Haugen ©2019 Global Creations LLC, All Rights Reserved.  

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