We seriously LOVE Cairn’s monthly subscription boxes! I surprised Tony with a subscription for Valentine’s Day over four years ago and we look forward to them every month. We actually have an agreement that we have to wait to open it when we’re together because we have so much fun seeing what comes wrapped up in that little brown box. A huge amount of the gear we’ve received has been highly useful, and we use many pieces of it on every day hike, backpacking trip, or both.
So, what is a Cairn subscription box? Basically, it’s a monthly subscription that we pay $29.99 a month for and receive a box with hiking related gear worth up to $50 in each box. Every month it is a surprise as to what the gear will be. The products in each box are always full-size (no samples), expertly curated and tested, and never an overstock or last season item. It’s always full of super legit stuff! We’ve found so many new products and companies that we may have never found without the subscription.
While we subscribe to the monthly collection, Cairn does offer a “premium” box, their Obsidian Collection. The Obsidian Collection is $249.95 every quarter and has up to 10 curated items in each box valuing up to $300. We cannot vouch for what comes in this box, but maybe someday we will upgrade to it and see.
Another thing we love about Cairn is that they donate to the Conservation Alliance with their Gear Up and Give Back ™program. They will mail you a bag free of charge to send any of your unwanted used gear and/or clothing from high quality outdoor brands to The Gear Fix who will repair your equipment, sell it in their shop, and the net proceeds will be matched by Cairn and Gear Fix, and donated to The Conservation Alliance.
We love that this little gift we give ourselves every month inspires us to get outside and try out the new stuff we received. The Cairn box subscription also makes an amazing gift for the hiker in your life and can be easily gifted for 1-12 months. So to show you what an average box looks like, we went live and opened our July shipment while hiking. We were actually able to use the items that came in the box on our hike!
To sign up for the monthly subscription box or the Obsidian Collection click here:
July Shipment- Eco Conscious Theme
Nomandix Eco Friendly Pack Towel
I actually was planning on buying a larger pack towel for my upcoming Sierra backpacking trip and then this amazing towel came in the box! It’s a bit heavy for backpacking, but our route is moderate so I am going to consider it a “luxury item” so it’s coming with me. This towel is made using certified post-consumer plastic bottles. Nomandix National Park Smokey Mountain pack towel is a top of the line yoga towel, beach towel, pool towel, and pack towel when you go camping or travel. They designed it to be versatile without sacrificing performance, so you can own less and do more.
Product specs are:
You can purchase the towel on its own for $39.95 here:
Ecovessel Stainless Steel Set of 4 Reusable Straws with Silicone Tips and Cleaning Brush
According to Ecovessel, did you know that Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day? To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. We know the small size of the straws makes them harmful to the environment – they’re too small to go through most recycling equipment, so most end up in the oceans which can poison or injure fish and marine animals. Tiny pieces, called microplastics, become food for fish which end up on our dinner plates. The EcoVessel stainless steel 4 pack reusable straw set with soft silicone tips are a great alternative to wasteful single-use plastic straws. The straws are wide enough for smoothies and thicker beverages while being narrow enough to fit all of their tumbler lids. The included straw cleaner will ensure your straws stay clean and the silicone tips are soft and colorful. Product Specs are:
You can purchase the straw set on its own for $9.95 here:
All Good SPF 50+ Tinted Zinc Sunscreen Butter
I was so excited when I pulled this tin out of the box! All Good is one of my all-time favorite brands ever! They’re products are organic, high quality, smell delicious, and this sunscreen is reef friendly (oxybenzone free) so it won’t damage reefs when you wear it in the water like most sunscreens. I also adore that this company is woman founded (Caroline started it in her kitchen) and mostly women run. They care deeply about the environment, and run their production facility on solar power, use organic, high quality, cruelty free and reef friendly ingredients, oppose the use of GMO’s, use recycled and recyclable packaging, shipping and printed material, and give back 1% of sales to the planet. Plus they are super high vibe and you can tell they love what they do.
The Tinted Sunscreen Butter SPF 50 formula is a compact, reef friendly sunscreen tin that provides maximum UVA/UVB protection and it’s smooth, creamy texture applies effortlessly on the skin with a neutral tint coverage for most skin tones. Product specs are:
You can purchase your tin on its own for $10.99 here:
As you can see this shipment had some amazing products worth $60.89 and we will use very single one of them!
To sign up for the monthly subscription box or the Obsidian Collection click here: https://www.getcairn.com/collections/subscribe
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When it heats up here in Southern California, we head to the beach! One of our favorite summer hikes is on the trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Known as one of only two places our nation's rarest pine, the Torrey Pine or Pinus Torreyana grows, the park boasts 2,000 acres of a fragile and unique coastal environment. In addition to the park preserving the Torrey Pine, it also preserves one of the last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California. The reserve has multiple trail options ranging from easy to moderate, but all the trails have amazing views of the Pacific ocean. Trail features include steep and dramatic cliffs, stunning views of the ocean, twisted pine trees, and an Adobe visitor center that was built in 1923. Flowers are abundant in the Spring, and you might sight an Osprey if you're lucky.
Torrey Pines State Beach lies below the Reserve and is accessible by trail. Our favorite route is to head up to the Reserve first and explore all the trails before descending down to the beach for some relaxing in the soft sand. These trails are very popular and are packed in the summertime, especially on weekends. If you're looking for a more solitary experience, go in the off season and during the week. It is a different kind of beauty in the wintertime (although trails may close if it is raining to preserve them).
Make sure to pack water and sunscreen. No food is allowed in the reserve so plan to have your snacks before or after your hike. Enjoy your hike and don't forget to practice Leave No Trace on all trails.
12600 N. Torrey Pines Road
San Diego, CA 92037
Operating Hours: Gates open at 07:15 am and close at Sunset.
The Visitor Center opens daily at 9:00AM.
The reserve is a day-use park only. There is no overnight camping at this facility.
General Admission Day Use fee is $10-$25 per vehicle (demand based pricing) or a valid annual California State Parks Vehicle Day Use Pass. Camping is not permitted at Torrey Pines. Pay at the Automated Pay Machine located near the entrance or west end of the parking lot if no staff person is in the kiosk.
Winter Weekdays: Hourly rates are available at North Beach lot.
Note: Recreational vehicles longer than a standard parking spot are allowed only in the North Beach lot.
A seed was planted in 1986 while paddling the Boundary Waters between Minnesota and Ontario in founders Jeff Knight and Dan Cruikshank minds. They realized there was a need for better outdoor gear. After that trip, Jeff and Dan set out to make the best gear possible. For the past 30 years, Granite Gear’s team of product designers and engineers have done just that, built gear that has gained a following of dedicated fans and proven their product’s durability in some of the toughest environments, including Mount Everest, the North and South Poles, and thousands of miles of everyday wear and tear. Today, Granite Gear is going strong and expanding their products from stuff sacks, to ultralight packs, to ultra-durable packs that meet the demands of soldiers. Just like their name, Granite Gear is truly tougher than granite.
Granite Gear’s Unisex Crown2 38 Liter pack is the skinnier version of their thru hiker favorite, the Crown2 60. The pack is ultra light, and as we found out after many trail miles, ultra comfortable.
V.C. (Vapor Current) Mark 2 Frame with 35 lb (15 kg) load rating
Dual density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and removable sternum strap
Re-Fit fully adjustable dual density hip belt (from 26" - 42")
Dual large hip belt pockets with DWR treated zippers
Roll-top main compartment opening with centered dual strap and singular buckle for quick access and easy compression.
Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper
Hydration port & internal hydration sleeve
Large size stretch woven pockets
Stretch mesh front pocket
Side and front compression straps
Robic High-tenacity nylon (100D and 210D)
Torso Size = Regular 18" - 21" / 46 cm - 54 cm
Volume = 38 liters / 2320 cu in
The pack weighs in at just around 3lbs with the removable pack lid and removable frame sheet. It weighs 2.1 lbs without the lid, and 1.6 without the lid and frame sheet. The pack has a maximum comfort load of 35lbs, making it a great option for long day hikes, winter hikes when you need to carry extra gear, and multi day hikes.
The comfort comes from the patent-pending fully adjustable Re-Fit hip belt, Vapor Current Mark 2 compression molded PP frame sheet with molded foam back panel, and dual density shoulder harness with load-lifter straps and removable sternum strap. The pack is designed to be unisex, and fit both both of us just as well as any of our other packs specifically designed just for men or women.
Granite Gear is known for the durability of their packs and the Crown2 38 lives up to that reputation. Although it is rated as an UL pack, the sturdy construction and design of the pack will ensure a long lifetime of use. Granite Gear’s packs include a limited lifetime warranty where packs are warranted to the original owner for the lifetime of the product against defects in materials or workmanship under normal recreational use. If your granite gear product fails due to material or manufacturing defect, they will repair or replace it at their option.
Get your Crown2 38 here:
A company that cares.
After being inspired by the Packing it out Team, they met at the Appalachian Trail Days in 2015, Granite Gear founded the Grounds Keepers Program. Through the program, Granite Gear and other sponsors are able to support hikers who want to “Leave it Better” and pack out trash as they hike long trails and parks and paddle waterways and lakes around the country.
The Grounds Keepers are individuals who previously completed or are currently completing a thru-hike or various section hikes, (such as the PCT, AT, AZT, PNT, SHT) and have a passion for Leave No Trace ethics, are strong in mind and body, and are committed to doing their very best to pick up as much trash as possible while outdoors. Since the first team in 2017, Grounds Keepers have picked up more than 6,630lbs of trash, mostly micro trash, like bar wrappers, bottle lids and toilet paper.
Grounds Keepers are fitted with the following gear for their hike:
1 multi-day backpack or 1 portage pack, 1 Dump Trunk (Tactical Line), 1 Stuffsack of their choice, 1 Toughsack, 1 pair of gloves and 1 scale
Each Grounds Keeper is given two pairs of Altra Running shoes of their choice, plus gaiters if needed
Five meal packets from Backpacker's Bistro
1 reusable water bottle from Klean Kanteen
T-shirts from Recover Brands
1 Kula Cloth
The goal of Grounds Keepers is to inspire as many hikers to value our outdoors areas and pack out trash. They believe, and we support them, that trash in our outdoor spaces is everyone’s responsibility. You can follow along to also be inspired by the pounds of trash picked up on Instagram.
Join in and use #TheGroundsKeepers for a chance to be featured for doing your part of keeping our outdoor spaces litter free.
Meet the 2019 team here:
Overall, we loved this pack and would recommend it for many uses. A huge thank you to Granite Gear for making a wonderful pack and caring about our outdoor spaces.
Cheers to the Gear!
We adore finding inspiration for getting outside in many ways and beautiful quotes about nature are one of them. From Ansel Adams to Walt Whitman, we've shared our favorites below.
Feel free to download and share them as well! Just right click and save the image.