BattlBox Shares Product Tests On A New Netflix Series.
By now, most people in the survival community have heard of the monthly survival subscription box service called BattlBox. If you’re one of the thousands signed up for these incredible gear ensembles, unique and innovative products are sent directly to your home every month so you can build your preparedness collection. The items range from pure survival gear, self-defense and safety products to wilderness and camping equipment, as well as pieces that are so unique, they don’t fit into any discernible categories.
However, with the plethora of amazing products sent each month and people eager to try them out, one of the most obvious questions seldom comes to mind: Where does BattlBox get all its incredible gear?
The answer—thanks to the good people at BattlBox and to mega-streaming giant Netflix—comes in the form of a new streaming show called Southern Survival.
This eight-episode series follows four unique individuals. They contribute their expertise and abilities to find, test and determine if products make the grade to be added to their monthly boxes and used with confidence when an emergency situation arises.
Now, American Survival Guide goes behind the scenes of Southern Survival to meet the eclectic group on the screen and discuss its love of survival gear and equipment, along with the road it took to transform the company from a concept to the powerhouse you can see on your television screen, with the help of the entertainment juggernaut that is Netflix.
Meet the Players
The survival gear might take center stage on Southern Survival, but without the diverse personalities of the four core members of the BattlBox team, the show wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining.
Brandon Currin is the VP of marketing for BattlBox, but this man doesn’t tote around a briefcase and wear a three-piece suit to work. Far from it. Brandon is a patriotic, all-American, self-described “redneck survivalist”—complete with torn-sleeved plaid shirts, a full, two-tone beard and tats running up and down his arms. This man takes product testing to an all new level when he puts each amazing piece of gear to the ultimate test.
And where does BattlBox find the gear to test? That painstaking task falls to Mikki Montgomery, the crew’s product specialist and the company’s corporate buyer. She tracks down gear from across the nation and around the globe to find the most unique, innovative and, at times, the oddest survival equipment out there. Some of these items can very well save your butt when situations go from bad to worse to life-threatening.
The gear doesn’t test itself; not by a long shot. That’s where Steve Jordan steps in. He’s the resident test specialist (and account specialist during his “day” job). More often than not, Steve is the human component who’s knee-deep in dangerous situations as products are tested under real-life conditions. This man goes above and beyond the basics of simple testing: He’s put into perilous scenarios (all controlled by professionals on set and following the highest safety protocols) to illustrate if the survival gear will do what’s expected of it or fail and be kicked to the curb.
Last, but certainly not least, is Daniel Dabbs. Essentially the “big boss” of BattlBox, he’s the company’s CEO and co-founder and leads the crew throughout all their endeavors. Without him, BattlBox wouldn’t be what it is today, and Southern Survival wouldn’t be available for your viewing pleasure.
These four diverse individuals—all highly qualified in their respective fields of expertise—complement, as well as contrast with, one another on the show. This benefits the viewer by adding opposing points of view, different ways of thinking and, not to be forgotten, a healthy dose of humor and calculated abandon that keeps you glued to the TV screen from start to finish.
No Overnight Venture
Few people realize what’s involved to actually take a concept such as Southern Survival, transform it into a program and air it on television through streaming service Netflix. It was no different for the crew at BattlBox.
According to Brandon, the entire process took about three and a half years from start to finish. In the early stages, Brandon created a great amount of video content, both with his BattlBox information and his You Tube and social media accounts. As luck would have it (for him, BattlBox and us), scouts noticed his videos and were intrigued and highly interested. They soon contacted him. During that time, there were many meetings, as well as creating a pitch reel to submit to Netflix that highlighted the gist of the envisioned show. Soon afterward, Netflix gave the series a thumbs-up, and an eight-episode run was ordered.
My 2 Cents
I had the opportunity to watch Southern Survival and, because of Netflix’s very convenient system to drop all episodes at one time, I monopolized my own time with hour after hour of this truly “guilty” pleasure!
Initially, I didn’t know what to expect but, having written a review of the company and its products for ASG about a year ago, I was very curious. Was the show going to have a scientific and serious tone, especially with the testing, or was it going to go with a full-on reality TV show style—complete with faux drama and conflict—and gloss over the important aspects of gear testing?
My impression of the show is that it was an amalgamation of both concepts—ditching the stuffiness of a lecture-style presentation while not going campy like a reality series. And, believe me, it worked amazingly! The description of the show as a sort of “Bear Grylls-meets-MythBusters-meets-Duck Dynasty” affair turned out to be pretty accurate.
From the very beginning of the first episode, the crew was quickly defined and introduced. You knew who they were and what they stood for almost immediately. But, once the four BattlBox specialists were established, it was time to get down and dirty with the gear—which was truly what the program was about—and they didn’t pull any punches.
What I did enjoy about the testing portion was that they showed what worked (which was expected). Nevertheless, they also showed what didn’t.
For example, an item presented in the second episode—a glass-breaking hammer for your vehicle—that not only didn’t do what it needed to, it also broke into several pieces during its “life-or-death” test. The team honestly demonstrated the fact that some items can’t be trusted to work when you need them to and that this could lead to serious injury or even death.
Other items, such as a rappelling backpack (quite useful to escape from burning multi-story buildings), had their limitations exposed. The team pointed out that without thorough consideration before your purchase, you could end up with a unit that doesn’t have enough cordage to reach the ground outside your building. Does this mean it’s not a good product? No, but the crew brought this vital point front and center for consumers to see.
Another aspect of Southern Survival that really jumped off the screen for me was the use of large-scale, aggressive testing methods. Whether shooting a flamethrower at various flame-retardant pieces of clothing, flipping a speeding pickup or submerging a vehicle to evaluate underwater survival gear, the team didn’t skimp on the tests in order to give viewers a feel for the real-life, hard-core punishment of the gear being tested.
A Couple of Observations
Without a doubt, Southern Survival is an incredibly informative and entertaining program. However, no program is perfect, and I feel that two aspects of the show could have been a bit better.
First, some of the music was all over the place. Yes, there was some great music that fit perfectly with the testing and the prep prior to the testing, as well as the introductions to various segments and cast members. However, some of it just didn’t fit the scene and was inconsistent with what was on screen. This wasn’t a huge negative, because the music came and went quickly, but it did distract me a bit and took me “out of the moment” a few times.
The next piece of criticism is a selfish one, I admit. Being a survival equipment user and tester myself, I would have liked to see more detail when they were showing the gear. If the timing could be worked out, a longer spotlight on the item and all its “bells and whistles” would have been nice in order to illustrate more of its fundamental characteristics.
My Verdict: Tune in Today!
Is it worth a watch? Of course—along with a re-watch or two so you can furiously jot down on paper which gear items will be on your must-have list. Most items are available on the BattlBox website (BattlBox.com) for instant purchase, so you won’t have to scour the Internet to find them.
Southern Survival makes emergency preparedness fun and informative without being bogged down by lengthy narratives or unappealing settings. This not only creates excitement for you, the viewer, it also prepares you for what might lie ahead in our ever-changing and uncertain world.
Where Do They Find All the Goodies?
Mikki Montgomery, the crew’s product specialist, is the force behind locating most of the products for Southern Survival, as well as BattlBox’s subscription service.
As Brandon Currin states, “We search the globe for new and exciting products, but we also receive a lot of potential products from companies wanting us to test their products in hopes of being added to our subscription. Also, some just want our honest feedback on products to ensure they work and are of good quality. They know we‘ll push them to their limits.”
The team currently searches for all types of new and trusted gear in the fields of survival, self-defense, safety, first aid and just about any other category that could potentially keep you safe in nearly any emergency.
Streaming to Big Numbers
Not only did Southern Survival introduce a new audience to the world of survival television, it also translated to much more traffic on the BattlBox website.
BattlBox’s Chief Marketing Officer John Roman pointed out that “in a typical month, we see around 150,000 sessions on our website. For July—the month our show launched—we saw 1.1 million.”
With nearly eight times more website sessions recorded than average, the crew at BattlBox is hard at work to bring survival gear into your home for you to enjoy and depend on when the going gets tough and when the you-know-what hits the fan.
Where’s All the Action?
Your first impression upon viewing Southern Survival will, no doubt, be the grand outdoor location where the show is filmed.
According to Brandon Currin, “Most of the show was recorded at the BattlBox Ranch, located in southeastern Georgia. We have roughly 75 acres of land for testing products and using many different scenarios. This allows us to really get hands-on with products and see what they’re actually capable of.”
The team needs every square inch of the ranch to bring viewers the most intense and in-your-face testing performed on a never-ending stream of survival gear.
BattlBox Gear—Front and Center
Netflix’s Southern Survival is a huge outlet for millions of people to experience a great number of unique and life-saving products. Even so, keep in mind that it didn’t start from there.
BattlBox is one of the premier curated “box-of-the-month” services that offer four tiers of professionally picked, packed and shipped emergency, self-defense and survival gear that goes directly to your home.
And, the value you get is indisputable. Brandon Currin shifts into “serious mode” when he says, “We don’t just select items simply to get a box shipped out. We truly want to provide quality gear for any and all scenarios under the umbrella of ‘being prepared for anything.’ We send out actual gear that can be used—not samples. Also, we provide an experience unlike any other subscription box service. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to cultivate a community and mindset we hold dear to our hearts and core values as a company.”
To review the BattlBox tiers and start your monthly order, visit BattlBox.com.
For subscription box information and ordering, as well as purchasing products presented on Southern Survival, visit BattlBox.com
To view Southern Survival on Netflix, sign up for a free, 30-day trial at https://help.netflix.com/en/node/16282.
To follow Brandon Currin on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, use CURRIN1776 for all three social media platforms.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the November, 2020 print issue of American Survival Guide.