Although you may not be going into battle any time soon, the contents within these amazing boxes may very well save your skin while you’re out on nearly any type of outdoor survival exercise or adventure.
Battlbox, basically put, is a subscription box-of-the-month service that equips you with some of the latest high-quality gear for camping, survival, self-defense and other rigorous activities. They’re available in four levels, including basic, advanced, pro and pro plus. You control the mix and cost that’s right for you.
“THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE CONTENTS OF MY BATTLBOX WERE USEFUL OR JUST FOR SHOW AND DESTINED TO BE FILED AWAY IN A SOON-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN STORAGE CONTAINER SOMEWHERE, WAS ANSWERED AS I DUG DEEP INTO THE CONTENTS AND GOT HANDS-ON IN THE FIELD.”
Each month’s kit offers a different assortment of items, and they all share one common theme: to be fully functional and useful in the outdoors directly out of the box.
Battlbox was exceptionally kind and sent me their highest tier box, the Pro Plus. With the surprisingly large shipment under my arm, I trekked into the nearby woods to put some of the included items to the test in a real outdoor environment. Read on to see how they did.A BOX IS A BOX, OR IS IT?
There’s a plethora of survival-style subscription boxes on the market today, and to the ill-informed, they all seem basically the same, but they absolutely are not. The process may be similar, such as choosing a level or tier of the kit you want, paying every month, or every other month and having it delivered to your front door for use in a possible future survival, self-defense or outdoor scenario. But what you get inside may be extremely different in quality and usefulness.
Realistically speaking, having poor-quality items or items that will ultimately not be effective or needed during most scenarios is defeating the main purpose of the service. With that being said, Battlbox, without a doubt, doesn’t fall into this arena. In fact, all, yes, all of the items in my box were both superbly constructed and exhibited practical and reliable in-the-field applications.
From the takedown bow with a sturdiness that you could feel from the first heft, to the soft, comfy texture of the sleeping pouch, to the exquisitely detailed, yet ultra-sharp knife, this box exuded high quality. It’s no difficult task to identify cheaply constructed gear on the market today, whether through flimsy materials or lack of substance. The contents within the Battlbox Pro Plus had no such shoddy components.DIVERSITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
The question of whether the contents of my Battlbox were useful or just for show and destined for a soon-to-be-forgotten storage container somewhere was answered as I dug deep into the contents and got hands-on in the field. The mix of items, although diverse, had a central theme of credible outdoor survival use.
The contents of my box included a takedown bow with arrows, a 130-piece first aid kit, a folding knife, a sleeping bag/blanket, a leather-bound notebook, a pack of pumpkin seeds and a watertight matchbox with matches.
Imagine this scenario utilizing my Battlbox contents. You are out in the woods, keeping warm, thanks to both the sleeping pouch and the matches used to create a fire, after the Bastion knife shaved some feather-like tinder. You then decide to hunt some small game with your bow, until settling in for the night, jotting down directions and landmarks in your field notebook. Finally, you snack on some pumpkin seeds and go to sleep. This is a very practical set of gear. Now, more on each specific item…
The takedown bow included was a Wrascal “Survive 55” and was very quick and easy to assemble. From attaching the limbs to the grip, to screwing together the take-down arrows and securing the bow string, the set was fully functional within minutes.
The max draw on the bow (55#) is 30 inches and felt great as I took some test shots. The sturdiness of the weapon was apparent instantly and the accuracy was surprisingly good, as most of my shots hit their intended target (my misses are credited to my own shortcomings and not the bow’s functionality.)
The sleeping bag could be used as a blanket if needed. I wrapped the thick cloth around me and instantly could feel both warmth and comfort. I then unzipped the easy-to-enter pouch to experience it in its sleeping bag mode and it performed wonderfully. Not only did it hold my six foot, one-inch frame with ease, but it also provided just enough of a balance between wiggle-room and efficient heat retention by not making the empty space within the bag too roomy or spacious.
The first aid kit was compact yet didn’t skimp on the number of items within the handled pouch. True outdoor essentials overflowed when opened. Poison ivy cleanser (you don’t see that in most kits), antiseptic wipes, an emergency blanket, burn cream (fire-starting has it’s hazards), lip balm and plenty of bandages for the little nicks, scrapes, and cuts that you can incur trekking through thorny vegetation were all present in the bag. Fluff items included? Definitely not, only practical outdoor aids.
The knife, dubbed “the Baron” from Bastion was beautifully designed and constructed, with brass accents and an attractive Damascus steel blade. It was a shame to get it dirty, but an EDC knife isn’t for show. With a few strokes I shaved a broken branch into tinder.
The wood withered under the sharpness of the blade, and I experienced no effort or fatigue with my repetitive slicing. The locking mechanism kept the blade firmly open during my trials. The knife felt solid in my grip. Solid is a word I keep returning to with many of the Battlbox’s items and with good reason… they are.
“THE FIRST AID KIT WAS COMPACT YET DIDN’T SKIMP ON THE NUMBER OF ITEMS WITHIN THE HANDLED POUCH. TRUE OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS OVERFLOWED WHEN OPENED.”
The included food item was roasted pumpkin seeds, and they were fresh, tasty and crunchy directly out of the bag. Sweet Texas barbeque was the variety included, and it didn’t lack in the flavor department. They made a great snack as I trod through the woods continuing with my gear testing.
For safety reasons, I didn’t test the matches in my review location. However, the container itself was durable, while the matches inside were long, thick and coated for rain-resistant use. Lighting a few at home, after wiping through the protective coating, they lit up quickly and burned down the matchstick slowly, both traits that you look for in a survival match.NO FILLER, NO FLUFF
One area that I want to touch upon briefly is what the Battlbox doesn’t have and that’s filler. Filler is basically small, insignificant items used to fluff-up the amount of “stuff” within a subscription box. These products, more often than not, are cheaply constructed and offer no true use in real-life settings.
These could include easily breakable generic “survival” gear or even more out-of-place items such as patches, stickers, t-shirts, generic bracelets and the like. These are items you can find in most novelty stores or websites, and don’t belong in a true survival box.
“WITH A FEW STROKES I SHAVED A BROKEN BRANCH INTO TINDER. THE WOOD WITHERED UNDER THE SHARPNESS OF THE BLADE, AND I EXPERIENCED NO EFFORT OR FATIGUE WITH MY REPETITIVE SLICING.”
FUNCTIONALITY DURING A CRISIS
Testing in a controlled environment is one thing, using the gear when your heart is beating out of your chest during a real-life emergency situation is another. As with any testing, some speculation based on the data collected in the control is needed. The question is, will this box’s contents be useful when or if a crisis hit? My answer is a definite yes.
First, the simplicity in both set-up and use is a resounding plus. All items included in the box of the month that I received were easy to open, assemble or set up, most within seconds or just a minute or so. When time is not on your side, or you’re shaking with fear or an adrenaline rush in a true emergency situation, there is no time for complicated gear; only quick access and deployment, and all the products fit the bill perfectly.
From rapid bow assembly to easy-to-hold matches (unlike cheap tiny imposters that are easy to lose with big hands or when wearing gloves), to a first aid kit with easy-access items; nothing will create problems by delaying use or difficulty in handling.
Second, a crisis can be ongoing, and you may need to use your gear repeatedly during upcoming hours, days, weeks or longer. I’m confident that all the gear in this kit will not only withstand constant use but will maintain its high standards of reliability and performance throughout. Too many times, cheaply constructed gear can break after only a few uses which, during a long-term crisis, can not only be detrimental to everyday survival, but could possibly be life-threatening.
Finally, all items take up very little space when packed. This seemingly minor benefit becomes important during bug-out situations when you can only take so many things with you. Items that pack down easily, or have their own carrying methods, such as the sleeping bag, take-down bow and first aid kit become valuable when it’s time to “hit the road.”
“IN A SEA OF SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES AND, MORE SPECIFICALLY, THOSE THAT FOCUS UPON SURVIVAL OR SELF-RELIANCE, THE BATTLBOX IS A VERY SOUND CHOICE, BOTH FOR ITS QUALITY AND ITS USEFULNESS.”
The only thing I’d like to change is the readability of the printed information included within the box. This pamphlet was two sided. One side explains the pricing and value of that month’s four box options, and it was clear and concise. However, the opposite side, with an explanation of the box’s contents, was very difficult to read. The font size was extremely small and the white lettering with black background appeared blurry to the point that the lines and words were difficult to read.
When hunger strikes, this pack of roasted pumpkin seeds will hit the spot and give you a needed burst of energy. Photo by Michael D’Angona
Bear in mind that this isn’t a huge problem, but when I took my time focused intently to read the information, I discovered a lot of details and interesting information. A simple solution to correct this problem would be to use a larger card stock, which would in turn make it possible to increase the size of the print, making for an easier read. It’s a shame that many people may toss this card away because of the difficulty in reading the very detailed and informative material about the box’s gear.FINAL THOUGHTS
In a sea of subscription services and, more specifically, those that focus on survival or self-reliance, the Battlbox is a very sound choice, both for its quality and its usefulness. It’s also a fact that people are different in both needs and wants so Battlbox box offers four choices to fulfill their monthly “thirst” for gear.
Remember, quality and quantity are two very different things. A lot of junk is just that, junk. If you want reliable, practical gear, then it’s time to go full-on into battle with this amazing service!MONTHLY ADVENTURES
Choose your own adventure every month! Battlbox offers four packages to choose from each month, depending upon your needs, wants and price range. These options allow you to either get your feet wet if you’re new to the survival/outdoor world or jump in head-first and explore all the high-quality tech, gear and EDC that Battlbox has to offer. Which will you choose? (Prices do not include shipping and handling)
This kit is perfect for the novice entering the diverse and sometimes overwhelming world of survival. Items such as emergency supplies, first aid manuals, and simple outdoor gear are all part of this entry level box
Moving up the ranks, this package includes all the BASIC kit’s gear and adds valuable additional items such as camp equipment, hiking essentials, bushcraft and EDC gear and more. It’s a step up for the gear junkie.
As the name suggests, this assortment is focused on the seasoned professional but is also ideal for those folks with less experience who want to increase their collection of quality gear quickly. BASIC and ADVANCED items are inside the box, and other products such as sleeping bags, backpacks, tents or high-tech gear are added.
Includes all the items in BASIC, ADVANCED, and PRO, but with the added bonus of the Knife of the Month. Top knife brands such as Kershaw, Spyderco, CRKT, Bastion, Gerber Gear and others add their bladed perfection to this kit.
MSRP: $149.99/monthFEELING LUCKY?
The Battlbox mystery box offers gear with a twist. Sometimes you just can’t get enough, and the waiting time between Battlbox deliveries may be too long for you to bear, so what do you do? You add a little excitement to your life and select the Mystery Box option when it’s offered!
These packages feature not only gear, equipment and supplies from previous shipments, but also include never-before-seen items that only those people adventurous enough to snag the Mystery Box get to enjoy.
In addition, as an added bonus, one lucky recipient will receive a high-end, top quality knife as a surprise in their box, which adds even more to the thrill and anticipation of your box’s arrival.
New mystery boxes are released about every four to six weeks depending upon demand. Sign-up on the waiting list is recommended so you don’t miss out.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October, 2019 print issue of American Survival Guide.