A couple of weeks ago I received my ‘August’ crate from SOFREP. I’m not sure exactly when it came as I was in Scotland, but it definitely wasn’t before the 24th of August and, based on some people I’ve spoken to on social media, most crates seem to have arrived in the first few days of September. So, once again, it was late.
I also realised, in the process of cancelling my subscription, that I’ve actually been being billed £39.95 a month not the £23.99 advertised on the site. To be fair, it does say ‘+ shipping & handling’ but I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect to be charged an additional 66% of the base price just for P&P (and, I suspect, some import taxes but frankly that is SOFREP’s problem and ought to be covered in the base price). £16 ‘shipping and handling’ on a £23.99 product is absolutely extortionate, and it massively changes my assessment of the value of the items. Regardless of how the cost is made up, most of the items SOFREP provides are available on Amazon Prime with free P&P, or regular Amazon with just a few pounds P&P. So, no getting away from it, this is essentially a £40 box not a £24 box, and that’s a huge difference.
Ok, so the contents.
What we’ve got here is a Gerber Crisis hook knife, a pack of whisky chillers in the shape of bullets, and a sticker.
No real value, this is basically a freebie. This might be the ‘free gift’ I was promised to make up for my last package being late but, if so, everyone else also got one and also it’s absolute junk so… yeah. I mean, the sticker is *fine* although it seems to relate to a fairly stupid video I saw on YouTube promoting a particularly idiotic variety of ‘manliness’ that makes me pretty disinclined to put the sticker anywhere someone might see it.
Alleged RRP of $23, which is about £18. This is a Crate Club product so I can’t argue with that RRP, but I can point out that very similar products are available on Amazon UK for around £14 with free P&P through Amazon prime.
That isn’t even the point though. The point is that this product is ridiculous. It’s not ‘tactical gear’ it’s a vaguely military-themed novelty item that I will absolutely never use because I’m not enough of a prick to serve my friends whisky with little bullets in.
Let me just quote from the website for a second here. The Crate Club is supposed to contain:
Tactical & survival gear curated and certified by former special ops, delivered to you every month.
Sure, I get that I won’t know what the products are in advance and I may not like every single one, but when choosing to subscribe, that was the information I had to go on and therefore as an absolute minimum I expect products to conform to those criteria.
Whisky chillers, whether bullet shaped or otherwise are categorically not tactical gear. They are not survival gear, and I very much doubt they are ‘curated and certified by former special ops’ or are we really supposed to believe that there are ex Navy SEALS all over America, desperately reliving their glory days by drinking whisky out of tumblers filled with little ice-cold bullets?
Gerber Crisis Hook Knife
Supposed RRP of $39. Listed on Amazon.com for $28, but largely unavailable because like last month it’s an old, end-of-line item no longer made or sold.
Let me just point something out here though. Even if we take SOFREPs RRPs at face value (which I don’t), the combined value of the two meaningful items in the crate is $62, which is £47. And the cost of the crate to me, including ‘shipping and handling’ is £40. So even if I was somehow stupid enough to buy these products at the over-inflated prices that SOFREP lists, I’d be making a grand saving of £7 or 15%, which is a little bit less than the military discount available at almost any good outdoor store. And they wouldn’t be forcing me to buy whisky stones.
Ok, anyway, on to the item. If we ignore the price, and the fact that this is an end-of-line out-of-stock piece again, it’s not a bad product. Gerber make decent kit, and this is solid and reliable. It’s designed essentially as a safety/rescue tool with a window punch on one end and a strap cutter on the other. This makes it less likely to cause legal problems if carried in the UK, though it’s not actually fully protected by the letter of the law so I’d still be cautious. No doubt it does what it is designed to do very well: break windows and cut seatbelts.
Whether this is actually of any use to you depends who you are. For someone in a rescue function this might be a genuinely handy bit of a kit, assuming they don’t already have one. For me I could see myself adding it to the small first aid kit I have in my car, to use in the fairly unlikely event that I have to help at the scene of an accident. Or, of course, you could put it somewhere in the front, within reach of the driver, as an emergency self-rescue item.
It’s of fairly niche interest and not something I’m likely to use a great deal but it’s ok – it’s the kind of thing I expected to get in the SOFREP box and I’m happy enough with it. Shame about the rest of the box.
So, overall scores:
Products: 2.5/5 – Tricky one to score because one of the products is ok while the other is terrible. In the end it’s dragged down by the whisky stones being so awful, and the Gerber being an end-of-line bargain buy that is mainly of value to people who will already have something similar.
Value: 1/5 – Absolute junk. Having realised that the actual cost of the box is £40 a month not £24, the value test was always going to be harder. There is one item in this box that I even slightly like, and it’s worth £20 at a pinch, so about half the cost of the box. Everything else is wasted money.
Unsurprisingly, my subscription is now cancelled and I will not be receiving any more boxes. I would be very interested to hear from anyone (especially UK customers) who stay signed up, and whether the quality and service improves, but personally I cannot recommend signing up for the SOFREP Crate Club UK as it stands.