Yesterday I received the July SOFREP Crate. Yesterday, just to be clear, was the 8th of August.
So, yes, to get this out of the way – the crate was ridiculously late. More annoyingly, I received absolutely no communications from SOFREP about the fact that it was late, or why, or when I would get it, until after the following things had happened:
A) The end of July had come and gone.
B) I had sent an email asking for an update on where it was.
C) I had been pre-billed for the August crate.
D) I had sent anther email asking for information about my crate.
E) I had cancelled my subscription out of irritation.
F) I had opened a dispute with PayPal.
At this point I should still receive the August crate I have already paid for but after that I am probably not going to re-subscribe. The products and service just aren’t quite good enough.
That said… the July crate was a lot better than the June one.
ASP AA pocket light.
Allegedly with an MSRP of £60 but realistically more like £30-40 online.
That said, this still more than covers the cost of the crate and in my view this is genuinely a good product, and a good choice for the crate. It’s a reputable brand, it seems like a great little torch with a surprisingly powerful beam, and it’s the kind of thing that very few people would take out of the crate and say “I’ll never use this”.
Even though I have plenty of torches, a small EDC torch is always useful, especially a quality one like this.
Gerber Clutch Multi-tool
Claimed MSRP of £25. However I found it very difficult to track down a current price for this because it looks to be a more than 10-year old product that is no longer available. So the question you have to ask yourself is has this really been ‘hand picked by special operators’ or have SOFREP bulk-purchased a load of end-of-line tools from Gerber at a knock-down price? I don’t necessarily object – if it’s a good tool it’s a good tool, and if they were able to get me a good deal by bulk-buying old items then that’s fine by me. However I think there’s a mismatch between their marketing spiel and what they are really doing, and I suspect that if you could find this item today you’d find it in a bargain bin or discount store going for a few quid.
However, the fact remains that, taken at face value, this is another good little product. Like the torch, not many people (especially the kind of people who subscribe to the crate club) will be disappointed to received a new multitool, and this is a decent one. It’s a realistic EDC tool made by a decent brand, and most importantly is fully UK-legal, having a short, non-locking blade.
Probably the most notable things lacking from this tool compared to other similarly sized ones is a can opener and scissors. That’s not too say that it should have them, since all decisions on a tool like this are a compromise, they just jumped out at me as the main things missing.
My current EDC knife is the Swiss Army Spartan, which in comparison has a larger blade (as well as a second, smaller one), a corkscrew, a can opener and that ‘reamer/punch/sewing awl’ tool that I have pretty much never used and probably never will. The most obvious tool the Gerber has that the Swiss Army knife doesn’t is the pair of pliers, which are genuinely pretty great to have in a tool so small.
It’s hard to say which is better overall. Both are somewhat lacking for real outdoors activities, although the fact that the Swiss Army knife has a larger blade and the can opener probably means it wins out there. For ‘normal life’ everyday carry some would probably argue that the corkscrew wins out, while others might find that having the pliers and a slightly wider range of screwdrivers is of more benefit.
As a side note, it did come in the most ridiculously difficult to get into packaging, a fully sealed plastic box so thick I could barely cut through it. Eventually I opened it by sawing through it with a bread knife. Presumably some kind of safety package for international shipping (yeah supposedly the crate was late because it came from the US) but it was bloody annoying.
Killing School Patch
MSRP £10 which is presumably correct since SOFREP sell it.
Although this is essentially a piece of crap, it’s actually sort of the kind of thing I expected and wanted to see in the crate. As long as there are enough quality, serious items to justify the cost of the crate (which in this case there were) then these sort of random little bonus items that I’d never normally buy myself are a nice to have. Will I ever use it? Probably not – I don’t think it looks very good, but you never know. And it’s the thought that counts.
As an aside, the product descriptions on the sheet (which was emailed, not included) were again generic and gave no information about how/why ‘real special operators’ had picked them.
So, summary for this month:
Products: 4/5 – Way better. Good quality, genuinely useful products made by some of the best manufacturers in the class, and with a nice little EDC theme. I think the patch is crap but that is personal opinion. I also still want to see these Special Operators take the time to tell me why they ‘hand picked’ these items.
Value: 4/5 – Ignoring the inflated MSRPs, I probably got over £50 worth of decent kit here. That’s good value for a £25ish subscription. However I have a feeling that the Gerber is essentially a bargain-bin item that has long been replaced with a new model by the manufacturer, and I suspect is not really ‘worth’ anything like what they are claiming. So deducting a point for that.
If the box was this good every time, and arrived on time, I would probably be happy to subscribe. So, let’s see how good the August one is and I just might, might re-subscribe.