Box it up

Are Subscription Boxes the Best Way to Try New Outdoor Gear?

September 14, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Cairn

Testing new gear has never been easier. Subscription boxes provide a way to have vetted, desirable outdoor gear show up at your doorstep with little effort on your part. While there are hundreds of boxes to choose from — there’s one for just about every outdoor interest — not all of them are created equal. Here, we cut through the fat and gather four that we’re actually excited about and are worth subscribing to.

The Runner Box

For $20 you get 11 to 14 items that are tested by athletes to help runners improve performance. With marathon season looming, it can be a daunting task to try and figure out what your body can eat before, during and after a race. It can also be easy to quickly drop $50 on food to test. This box narrows your list of potential snack buddies on your long run. With partners like RXBAR, Bia and Rise Buddy, there will be snacks you’ve likely heard of before, and some that are brand new. If you’re not a runner, check out the TriBox (for triathletes) or CycleBox (for cyclists), or special edition boxes like the Race Survival Kit, a one-time gift that is ideal for anyone running their first race.

Cairn Obsidian

Cairn’s latest Obsidian subscription box was designed in collaboration with photographer and adventurer Andy Best. The box is geared specifically toward adventure travel and features gear like Black Diamond’s Fineline Stretch Rainshell, Osprey’s Big Kit packable duffel bag and a book designed specifically to spark inspiration to travel: Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World. The Obsidian box’s ingredients are valued at over $300, but a quarterly subscription will run you just $250 (each quarter). It’s a box full of high-quality gear that will stand up to the rigors a cross-country road trip or backpacking through Europe with ease.


If you’re looking for a fresh upgrade to your EDC, Battlebox is the subscription for you. With four options to choose from (basic, advanced, pro or pro plus), you’ll get three to eleven items each month that will help you survive anything from a subway delay to an apocalypse. Once you sign your life away to receive the products (you might get knives in the mail), you’ll open up a welcome box that’ll get you through a 72-hour survival stitch. All your EDC staples are in there: flashlight, survival bivvy, water purifier, snacks and waterproof tinder — and that’s just the basic box. Each month features a different theme and a new scenario that you’ll soon save the world from.

Freestone Fly Fishing Company

If you’re looking to get into fly fishing, or you know someone who is, the Freestone Fly Fishing company crafts the perfect box for trout lovers. Each box includes 12 trout flies, a fly list and a one-year Trout Unlimited membership. Trout Unlimited is a nonprofit that aims to preserve local streams and rivers, so that there are plenty of fish in your lifetime and your kid’s. It’s a good way to stock up on flies for your fly box, and start planning for your next fishing trip.

What GP Staff Members Can’t Travel Without

What we pack is as varied as the adventures we call “work.” Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Meg Lappe

Meg Lappe is Gear Patrol's Editorial Coordinator, handling strategy across our digital, print, video and social teams. She can typically be found running around.

More by Meg Lappe | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email
Sign Up for the
Daily Dispatch
The day's best product roundups, reviews and gear news packed into one handy, daily email.

By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy and to receive email correspondence from us.