Small & Mighty Outdoor Gear Picks

Woman stacking firewood in man's arms

Sure, the latest and greatest tent or mountain bike will get any gearhead’s heart pumping. But it’s often the smallest, most unassuming pieces of gear that make the biggest impact on your outdoor experiences. Whether they are literally lifesavers, or just make your time outside a bit more comfortable; big rewards can come in small packages.

Check out the Cairn Crew recommendations for pocket-sized game-changers.

Gear Aid Paracord

Gear Aid 325 Paracord Utility Line

Matt, Cairn Crew "Cool" Accountant "The problems that can be solved by carrying paracord while camping are amazing whether at a campground or in the backcountry. It could be a replacement boot lace, clothesline, critter hang or gibe you that little bit of extra reach while staking out the fly on your tent, paracord is a versatile tool that I always bring with me."

Outdoor Element Fire Escape

Outdoor Element Fire Escape

Jennifer, Cairn Crew Senior Marketing Guru
"I was a huge fan of the Firebiner when we featured it a few years ago, but the Fire Escape has taken the multi-tool carabiner from a 'handy to have' to potential life-saver. Having a fire wheel, seat belt cutter, window breaker, wrench and the obviously necessary bottle opener all combined on a carabiner means that I can clip it to my pack and have an added sense of security without having to think about it. And it calms my somewhat irrational fear of being in the middle of nowhere and my toddler or dog locking themselves inside our car."

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape

Hollie, Cairn Crew Marketing Guru
"This stuff has been a lifesaver with my big gear items like sleeping bags, pads and puffies, AND it has saved me a ton of money. All I have to do is patch up the small tear/hole and we're good as new!"

Mpowrd Luci Core

Mpowerd Luci Core

Will, Cairn Crew Brand Hero
"You always need a good portable lantern in your kit, and this one is a go-to. The adjustable arm and the fact that you can charge it with the sun or a USB makes it just right for off-grid fishing trips or handy task lighting around the house."


Snacks (RXBAR Protein Bar)

Ashley, Cairn Crew Brand Hero
"Having a snack, preferably one that's on the healthy side, makes all the difference when you're out for a long day. I always throw something that is tasty, easy on my stomach, and not too sweet - like an RXBAR - in my waistpack or backpack before I head out for any activity." 

Pocket Bellows

Epiphany Outdoor Gear V3 Pocket Bellows Collapsible Fire Bellowing Tool

Rob and Jared, Cairn Co-Founders and Co-CEOs
I'm not making this up, they BOTH independently recommended this one.
Jared: "Hands down one of the best products ever. Game changer for campfires."
Rob: "From your backyard to the backcountry, the Pocket Bellows is a lifesaver for stoking your BBQ or a campfire! Never would I have considered something so small could have such a big impact on fires, not to mention the sweet sound it makes!"

The Deuce

TentLab The Deuce #3 HD Trowel

Kelly, Cairn Crew Head of Brand Creative
"Classic, don't want to get stuck digging with a stick...."

Speaqua Cruiser

"Easy to charge up, connect, and bring with you basically anywhere. Note: we use this only when other people are *not* around because no one likes to listen to other people's music in the woods!"


Revel Gear Day Tripper

Revel Gear Day Tripper Solar Pack

Reid, Cairn Crew Senior Product Guru
"This compact and solar charging power bank allows me to go for days off the grid and still be able to keep my cell phone battery charged. While I typically like to switch my phone to airplane mode and enjoy the outdoors without the distractions of the modern world, I depend on my phone for map apps (most importantly Trailforks for mountain biking) and taking photos along the way. I can usually charge my phone 5-6 times before needing to recharge the Day Tripper, so with this handy device I am literally set for days. A huge bonus of the Day Tripper is that it has a solar panel to boost its charge when off the power grid, so extending its charge is as simple as putting it out in direct sunlight."

 Cairn Subscriber Recs on @getcairn:

"Best small piece of gear I have is a Pocket Bellows. Makes starting or revitalizing a fire so much easier. Definite game changer." 

"Love my UCO [Air Lithium Ion Rechargeable] Headlamp, it goes on every trip. Liked it so much I bought another one."

"My little [Packtowl Nano] travel towel; it dries off my face and arms during water stops, wipes spills off my cook set, and acts as a snot rag at night. Can't go wrong!"

"My UCO [Leschi] flashlight!"