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If choosing from a vast array of running accessories, outdoor gear and nutrition products overwhelms you, let someone else do it for you with a monthly subscription box
August-September RunnerBox, with Trail Runner supplement.
Entering a massive retailer, like a major-city Whole Foods or REI, can be an overwhelming experience. With aisles upon aisles of products to choose from, some shoppers forget what they needed and wander around in a stupor.
Perhaps that explains the appeal of subscription boxes. The principle is simple: shoppers sign up to receive a monthly package of products curated around a certain theme or niche. Since BirchBox, a beauty products service, kicked off the subscription trend four years ago, boxes have appeared catering to, among others, wine drinkers, dog lovers, bros, eco-conscious snackers, lazy clothing shoppers and people who shave.
In fact, there’s now such a dazzling array of subscriptions available that choosing the right box has become almost as overwhelming as stepping into one of those massive retailers. To spare you the anxiety of choosing, we’ve “curated” a few subscription boxes geared toward trail runners.
In an Oregon running store last year, James Erickson observed patrons studying a huge wall of bars, gels and chews. “All of them eventually walked away without buying anything,” he said. The experience got him thinking about how to stay up-to-date on sports nutrition products, “other than attending a running expo every couple of weeks.”
So Erickson founded StrideBox, which he describes as a way to try out new products “without having to commit to buying a case of something only to find out it tastes horrible, or gives you a stomach ache.”
- What: Monthly box of running-specific food and accessories. Each box features an “anchor” product – a piece of apparel or gear – as well as bars, gels and other nutrition items.
- How much: $15/box
- Last month’s box: Rundana (lighter-weight version of a Buff), A3 energy bar – Peanut Butter and Jelly, Clif Shot Bloks, Gu Energy Gel – Root Beer Flavor, Beet Elite Neo Shot drink mix, MRM Reload recovery drink in both watermelon and lemonade flavors and SK Energy shot drink.
Similarly, RunnerBox was founded to spare runners extra legwork and “help take the guesswork out of the process” of testing new food and gear, says Laura Jorgensen of RunnerBox, so runners can spend less time in stores and more on roads or trails.
- What: Bimonthly box of “vetted” nutrition items, personal care products and accessories aimed at runners. RunnerBox also caters to cyclists and triathletes with CycleBox and TriBox.
- How much: $20 + $7 shipping/box
- Last month’s box: Primal Sport Recovery Mud, ZYM electrolyte drink tablets, Sweat X Sportswear Detergent, a Trail Runner magazine supplement, Sunscreen Bands, Block Island Organics sunscreen, Choopko Peanut Puffs, Accel Recover bar, Accel gel, Honey Stinger Peanut Butta Protein Bar and a special edition RunnerBox sticker.
3. Cairn Subscription Box
A recent box from Cairn.
However you reach that little pile of rocks on the summit – running, hiking, biking, climbing, skiing – Cairn could be the box for you. Each month, subscribers receive what CEO and Founder Rob Little describes as “recreationally neutral” packages geared toward “anyone who enjoys spending time outside.”
- What: Accessories and gear for a variety of outdoor sports.
- How much: $25/month
- Last month’s box: a Gossamer Gear Ultralight Q-Ditty Bag, Sea to Summit Accessory Straps, Paleo Eats Cro Bar, Sunsect Insect Repellant and Sunscreen.
4. The Feed
The Feed’s ProBox.
The Feed is aiming to be a “complete online source for everything sport nutrition,” says John Franklin, who works in business development with the company. Consumers can shop online for individual products – The Feed stocks some 800 products from 60 brands – or choose one of several curated boxes, like the Pro Box, which features bars, gels, chews and hydration and recovery products, or the Team Garmin-Sharp Box, containing nutrition products used by the team during the Tour de France.
“We encourage our customers to think about the type of athlete they are, look at one of the curated boxes, and then craft and customize it to meet their needs,” Franklin says. “It’s really important to note that every piece of nutrition is customizable, because every person is different, and reacts differently to foods.” To aid consumers in their choices, The Feed also blogs about various nutrition topics on their website.
- What: An online store for sports nutrition, also offering curated but customizable packages like the Pro Box, the Colorado Box and boxes based on the nutritional regimes of certain professional endurance athletes.
- How much: Varies. The Pro Box and Colorado Box are both around $29.
- Last month’s Pro Box: Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer, Nuun All Day Tablets, Chia Bar, Clif Bloks, Powerbar Performance Energy Blasts, Rip van Wafels, Skratch Exercise Single Serves, KIND Bar and Vega Protein Smoothie.