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Are you wanting to take your survival and outdoor preparedness game up a level? I'm not talking about protein bars and sunscreen here (although those are great things to have also), but rather hard-core survival gear that will make you feel safe and ready to tackle any outdoor problem that life throws at you. Steel to Reel Club promises to do just that through 4 different levels of club membership and we wanted to know if it lived up to the hype.
Living in Idaho, we get outdoors a lot. Carrying things like guns, knives, bear spray, a permanent fishing pole in our car etc. is not a far stretch of the imagination here. Most people who live here are transplants from another state (my family included) that wanted less city and more natural beauty. Don't get me wrong, we have the cities as well, but we also have the largest contiguous federally protected wilderness in the lower 48. Like 3.3 million acres large. Needless to say, if you want to get lost... you can do it in Idaho. We pride ourselves on Idaho's natural beauty, but that beauty can also be dangerous if you are not prepared and decide to venture too far out without a plan in place. Especially, if you are ex-city dwellers like ourselves.
So What Exactly Is Steel to Reel Club?
Steel to Reel Club is an outdoor box that caters to anyone and everyone who loves to fish, hunt, camp, or hike... or someone who just wants some new gear for a bug out bag. Their boxes only contain name brand outdoor gear and everything is hand picked by a team of experts who are veterans or survivalists themselves.
But is the stuff legit?
Well, thats what we wanted to find out. So, I decided to put the Steel to Reel Club subscription box to the test to see if it could really help us in an outdoor or survival situation.
One caveat here: I didn't actually go get lost in the backcountry of Idaho to see if these things kept me alive. Many of these are the types of products that you hope to never have to use. So, I tested them out at home and crossed my fingers that they would stay zippered away in our outdoor bags.
Subscription Box: Steel to Reel Club
Level 1 Survivor Box - $48.99/monthly
- Includes 3-5 items valued up to $60
Level 2 Survivor Plus Box - $66.99/monthly
- Includes 4-7 items valued up to $90
Level 3 Survivor Pro Box - $134.99/monthly
- Includes 6-12 items including 1-2 higher end products valued up to $180
Level 4 Survivor Elite Box - $399.99/quarterly
- Includes 8-15+ items including 2-3 higher end products valued up to $550
This box is only sent quarterly. The price on these boxes do drop significantly if you sign up for a yearly plan, however they charge you in full at the time of payment. That's a hefty chunk of money even for the lowest tier box.
Steel to Reel Club Subscription Box
Ok now on to the goodies! I was sent a Level 3 Survivor Pro Box which contained 9 items. Of those 9, there was 1 item which I would consider higher tier and 2 which I would consider low tier or even novelty items. The other 6 were solid outdoor gear products that while they do not cost a lot, are great to have in your bag and a good addition to this box.
I'm going to start with the highest tier item as I know those products are why most people purchase these boxes!
Bio Light Solar Panel 5+
The Bio Light Solar Panel is bar none, hands down, without a doubt (I'm running of out phrases here) my absolute favorite thing in this Steel to Reel Club box. This. Thing. Is. Awesome. You can literally throw it on your backpack, head out for a hike, and then charge your electronic devices at night. And then do it all over again the next day. It takes the worry about a dead cell phone battery or camera totally out of the game and allows you to freely use your electronics as much as you need/want while out in the backcountry.
It's also incredibly lightweight at only 13.76 oz and as the saying goes, every extra ounce that you don't need will feel like an extra pound. So, this thing is a great addition to your bag with barely any added weight.
This small, but mighty solar panel can even charge in less than ideal conditions, however you will get the best use out of it with direct sunlight. It has an intuitive aiming area in order to help you achieve direct sunlight that even my 5 year old could figure out. You literally just need to adjust the panel until the shadow is directly in the middle of the aimer, then let the panel do the rest of the work!
We tried this product out on both overcast days and sunny days. It took the solar panel the entire day to reach half a charge on the overcast day, but was fully charged in just a few hours time on a fully sunny day. We then used the solar panel to charge an iPhone 11 which went from approximately 50% to 75% in just over an hour. So, while this thing isn't going to speed charge your phone, it will definitely get the job done.
The other thing I really like about this product is that even if you are not someone that goes on multi-day trips in the great outdoors, this is still a great product to have in your home. If you live in an area where mother nature repeatedly leaves you without power, you can pop this outside, grab a charge, and be able to have at least a few small electronics still working.
Gerber 18.75" Gator Machete Jr.
Ok, so I want to first mention that this knife is not the knife that was on the product receipt. What had been listed was a Gerber 10" Fillet Knife which can be found on the Gerber website to purchase with a price of $50.
However, what I was sent was definitely not that. Instead, I received a Gerber 18.75" Machete which can be found on the Gerber website for $22. So, actually a pretty large difference in price from the what was on the packing slip to what I received in the box.
As far as the brand Gerber goes, they are a well-known line of knives, and tools and are the #1 direct military supplier for their products. They are headquartered just outside Portland, Oregon and at one time manufactured all of their knives in the US. While some are still manufactured here, neither the Gator Machete I received nor the fillet knife I was supposed to receive are on the USA made list.
So, on to the knife itself. The Gerber 18.75" Gator Machete Jr has two blade edges. One side can used for chopping small pieces of wood such as for kindling for a fire, while the other size has a serrated edge that can be used to saw off smaller pieces of wood. It came with it's own sheath that provided a snug fit, while also being lightweight. The grip itself is called a gator grip (hence the name!), and is specially textured allowing you to keep hold of it when wet or dry.
We tried it out on a few low hanging branches in our yard, and so far it has worked incredibly well. It was easy to handle, lightweight, and not too big that you couldn't throw it into your backpack for a weekend camping trip. For the price of this knife, this is a great entry-level machete and was a great addition to this box.
TacWare 100 Flashlight
Another great item in this box was the TW 100 Flashlight. It is only 3.5" long, weighs practically nothing, and has 2 modes. For the size of this flashlight the 100 lumens it gives off is incredible. And let me tell your, it is bright! This is not something that you want to accidentally shine in your eye when it is on high (ask me how I know).
The flashlight also runs off triple AAA batteries, which anyone who has had to deal with trying to find odd sized batteries on the go, knows that it can be a huge pain. Every store carries triple AAA's, so there won't be any issue in getting this thing up and working again once your old batteries run out.
It has a sturdy pocket clip and my favorite part...a silicone diffuser cap that glows in the dark to turn it into a mini hand lamp rather than a flashlight. It's also waterproof, so you can feel free to clip it onto your pants while out fishing and not have to worry about damaging it.
Honestly, this flashlight is great because it is just downright handy. You do not need to be in a survival situation or even an outdoor situation to need a great flashlight. This is perfect for every day use, but fantastic when out in the wildness.
Total bonus? Grab a battery recharging kit that you can hook up to that nifty solar panel and you are good to go!
My Medic Super Wipe
This was another item that was different from what was on the packing slip. Kind of unfortunate that this happened twice, and hopefully not a normal occurrence for their boxes. I was supposed to receive a pack of Combat Wipes Active, but instead received My Medic Super Wipe. To be fair, I'm not upset about this, as I will take anything that is antibacterial due to having two boys, but not a mistake that should happen... let alone twice.
The My Medic Super Wipe is one giant antibacterial wipe. Literally, there is one wipe in the package that is 12" by 24". You can throw this into your bag while out doing pretty much anything and be able to clean any wound in the event of an emergency. It only weighs 1.59oz and is just a solid product to have on hand.
This is also great for a car first aid kit or for campers who are desperate to take a shower after a long camping trip as it also eliminates odor. Honestly, it's really great for anything, but remember there is only 1 in the package! So, use it accordingly!
My Medic Super Bivvy
This is the one product that you really do not want to find yourself pulling out. If you find yourself in a situation where this is needed... it is not a good day. The Emergency Bivvy is a waterproof, windproof, and snow proof cover to keep you warm, covered, and protected. Its metallic material helps to direct your own body heat back on you to keep you warm. It is meant to be pulled out if you are spending an unexpected night outdoors, your heat goes out in the middle of winter and you are miles away from civilization, you find yourself in a torrential downpour with high winds in the middle of the woods, etc. (See, told you, bad situations you don't want to find yourself in!)
The emergency bivvy is 84" by 36" and weighs 3.8oz. This bivvy will protect one person from extreme situations, so if you are headed out with a group make sure everyone has their own.
It is orange in color so as to be easier seen by emergency personnel or search and rescue and does come with it's own carry-sack. This is not a sleeping bag, but designed to keep you alive until the weather passes or rescue workers are able to find you. A definite necessity and great addition to this box.
Montana Campfire 3qt
The Montana Campfire is a 3 quart jug of highly flammable wood shavings designed to be used as kindle when camping. We tried this in our fireplace at home to see how quickly it lit, and boy did it light up fast! The only concern I have with it is that it also burned through itself very quickly which may not be the best option for wood that is overly green.
The jug is too big to take the entire thing on a backpacking trip, but you could throw a handful of these into a small baggy just in case.
This product is perfect though for packing on any trip that you will be using your car as a base... or more likely for when you can't start that fire pit and your kids already have the s'mores ready to go.
EDC CLP Gun Lube
The Steel To Reel Club subscription box also contained EDC CLP which is gun lube. The EDC stands for every day carry, while the CLP stands for clean, lubricate, and protect which basically means it is an all-in-one lube that is great for everything.
If you already own a gun, you most likely also already have gun lube. And the gun lube you do have is probably what you know and love. However, it's never a bad idea to have an extra bottle just in case. This bottle is 2oz, which makes it super lightweight easy to throw into a hunting bag. It can also be used for all types of pistols or rifles and has a good seal on the bottle so you don't have to worry about leaking.
Readyman Wilderness Card 2.0
The Readymade Wilderness Card 2.0 is basically a Swiss army knife folded into a metal business card. It is designed to be carried in your wallet in the event of an emergency. It is marketed as a 12 gram product being able to replace up to 20lbs of gear due to including 9 fish hooks, 5 arrowheads, (can be used with a stick for bow and arrow or a spear), 4 snare locks, 1 awl (tool used to make holes in wood), 2 sewing needles (mend clothing or stitches), 3 saw blades, 1 set of tweezers.
Can you actually survive with this though? Ehhh, maybe?
Look if you are Bear Grylls, then yes absolutely as he would probably be able to use this thing to stay alive for the next 30 years. If you are Joe Schmo that got lost in the woods and is trying to just catch a fish to eat that night... well, let's just leave it at that.
Here's the thing. If you are a true outdoor survivalist, you are going to have other products (like an actual Swiss army knife) that will help you get the job done better and faster. Does it hurt having this in your wallet if you are headed out. No, probably not, but is it really needed?
The other issue I could see with this is that you don't really want to put it in your wallet and forget it. Technically, there are items on here that could be construed as weapons and if you work in a place that has a no weapons policy, or if you are trying to get through TSA, you could run into some problems.
Red Rocks Tactical Shemaghs
So, I'm going to first give a quick background on these. Shemaghs were made popular by the military in our most recent engagements in the Middle East. The news would cover events from overseas and people back home would see our military wearing them, think it looked cool, and basically want to replicate the look.
I want to pause here for a moment, because there is a very good reason that our military as well as residents in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan wore these. Not only does it get blazing hot (like 130 degree F hot), but they also have horrific sand storms. Shemaghs are almost a basic necessity....in the Middle East.
Here in the US? We don't need them.
Can they be useful? Sure.
They are 100% cotton, lightweight, and can be used to protect your face from the sun, used as a tourniquet, clean guns, etc. but to be fair, so can any other 42" by 42" piece of cotton.
This item is a novelty item with an M-16/AR-15 style weapon that adorns it. Tacticool is the adjective that comes to mind for this, which is basically any product that someone buys in order to have the appearance that they were in the armed forces.
This item is a huge miss in my opinion and disappointing that it was put into a box that caters to hard-core outdoor enthusiasts.
Rundown Of Prices
Biolite Solar Panel 5+ - $89.95
Gerber 18.75" Gator Machete Jr. - $22.00
Tacware 100 Flashflight - $29.99
My Medic Super Wipe - I looked all over for the internet for this, but could not find it being sold anywhere. I found similar products from other companies, but they weren't quite as big. As this one is pretty massive and smaller ones go for approximately $1 each, I'm going to take an educated guess and say this one could run approximately $3.
My Medic Super Bivvy - $24.50
Montana Campfire 3qt - $14.95
EDC CLP gun lube - $14.99
Readyman Wilderness Card 2.0 - $12.99
Red Rock Tactical Shemaghs - $7.99
Total price of purchasing all products individually - $220.36
Overall, this box was a great deal for the value of the products. As the box costs $134.99, you are receiving $85 dollars of additional value by getting the products this way. There were a few items that are more novelty items that I would prefer have been left out, but if they are something that you would love, than this is even more worthwhile.
Who is this box good for?
Basically, anyone that is not actually a hard-core survivalist or outdoor enthusiast. This box is great for anyone that is just beginning to get into the outdoor lifestyle, and is looking for products that will help them along in their journey. Which honestly, is a lot of people. Real survivalists already either have what they want or have very specific items and brands that they intend to buy.
This box would make a great gift for an outdoor lover that is hoping to try out more products or wants to try different brands to see which one they prefer more or works better for their specific situations.
The Steel to Reel Club subscription box does contain some very cool outdoor, survival gadgets. For practicality's sense, it depends on how much you really are in these types of situations. Some people have go-bags or bug out bags and this stuff is great for that. If you just enjoy a quick hike or like to fish from a dock, then you most likely are not going to be using the majority of these products. However, a few of them such as the solar panel and flashlight are amazing products to have on hand regardless of the type of situation you find yourself in.
The biggest disappointment of the box for me was that items did not match up to the packing slip. I don't mind what was sent to me, but it does make me wonder if they just threw in alternatives on a whim. After paying a decent price for this box, I would hope that this is a one-off mistake and doesn't happen in future boxes.
If you are interested in trying out the Steel to Reel Club subscription box, I would recommend purchasing one box to see how you like it and then go from there. As they also require you to pay for the year in full, it is best to make sure the first box is up to your standards.
Have you tried Steel to Reel Club? What did you think?
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