Survivalism is more than just a hobby, especially when you take it seriously. It's honestly a lifestyle choice, and one that usually requires spending a little bit more than is always comfortable. I'm still at the point where I'm dipping my toes into the world of survival gear - grabbing the things that look interesting and useful, and trying them out to see how well they hold up to real use.
There are a few really great survival boxes on the market right now, but the name that I've heard over and over again has always been Barrel and Blade. A subscription box that gives its users access to three different categories of survival gear each month, it packs a big punch when it comes to bringing top-tier materials into the home.
Barrel and Blade is a little different than what I've come to expect from subscription boxes. For the most part, these boxes give you a little taste of the big topic - sample-sized items, maybe, or some small toys. Barrel and Blade, however, really goes big with everything it includes.
If you're looking for a good box that will deliver excellence with every shipment, this one might be for you. Though it's definitely not without its flaws, taking some time to really look at what the subscription includes will show you exactly how worthwhile it is.
What's in the Box?
Barrel and Blade is a subscription box that tends to focus on three basic areas of survival gear - tactical items, true survival items, and every day carry items. Each box has a mix of the three items, so you're not necessarily going to get one of each when you order a box. Instead, you're going to get something that matches the month's theme.
The boxes themselves vary quite a bit from month to month. Some months, you're going to get really high-quality survival gear - everything from two-man tents to tomahawks have shown up in the past packages. Other months are going to concentrate a lot more on tactical gear, and specifically on hand-gun accessories - again, you're looking at everything from holsters and bags to cleaning kits.
You can also expect a fairly large array of every-day carry items in the boxes as well, including things like t-shirts and notepads. You're really getting a good variety of items here.
There's really no clear guide for what you're going to get in a given month, save for a central theme. What that theme ends up being, though, won't necessarily tell you what you're going to get.
Depending on your particular philosophies on survivalism, you're either going to end up with an excellent set of tools every month or you're going to end up with deadweight that's not going to make it into your bugout bag.
Regardless of what you get, though, the items are usually fairly high quality. Everything included is brand-name, and it's definitely the kind of stuff you could pick up at a high-end sporting goods supplier. Quality is the watchword here, and you can depend on anything that happens to come in one of these boxes.
Barrel and Blade clearly knows their audience and understands that the items they choose may well be items that people depend upon in survival situations.
How Much Does it Cost?
Barrel and Blade gives its customers two options for its boxes - Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 runs customers about 49.99 plus tax and shipping each month, while Level 2 runs about 99.99 per month plus tax and shipping. The former package contains "3+" items per month, but what the typically means is that it contains three legitimate survival items and a few accessories. The latter package includes all of the Level 1 items for the month, plus a handful of other upgraded items.
There's not a set number of items in either crate for the month, but you're always going to get more for the Level 2 than you'll get for the Level 1. What's important to note, though, is that the really good items are almost always reserved for those customers that are in Level 2.
What does this mean for the average subscriber? It means you can almost guarantee that the bigger, more impressive items that are featured on the site will only be available it if you're willing to pay for the larger crate.
The good news is that the Barrel and Blade has consistently shown itself to be a good value. The Level 1 crate has two or three items that are worth at least thirty dollars each, while the Level 2 crate will usually have all those items plus at least one more that is worth significantly more than anything else in the crate.
If you're able to use everything that comes in one month's crate, you're going to come out ahead compared to what you would have spent on buying each item individually.
What's The Verdict
Barrel and Blade is an excellent box for those who want to dabble in survivalism gear or who want to see what's available. It's definitely not going to give you everything you need, but it's an excellent survey of the field. If you want a subscription box that can actually give you things that are useful instead of things that are just going to sit in your closet, this might be one of the best choices you'll make.