The Dopp kit that isn’t really a Dopp kit
The BattlBox April 2017 was Mission 26 (all BattlBox shipments come branded with a “mission”) and arrived on my doorstep with the theme of Dopp Kit. In case you don’t know, a Dopp kit is a small bag that is used to store and carry toiletries. It was given this somewhat funny-sounding name (instead of the more generic yet unwieldy “toiletry kit”) because it was invented by Charles Doppelt in 1926.
As the information card for this BattlBox shipment tells us in its “Sitrep: Hygiene Essentials” description:
“Everyone needs a daily Dopp bag or kit to start their morning off right.”
So let’s take a closer look at what’s inside this shipment and how it can help start your day off properly and what might be of interest to the outdoor adventurer.
Grenade Smoke Company Gunsmoke Soap
When I was a young man, the funniest thing in the Avon catalog was “soap on a rope.” So I couldn’t help but be amused by this bar of “badass soap on a rope” that helps “warfighters” to “experience the smell of freedom.” Why is it badass? Because instead of a rope, this is soap on a stainless steel cable inserted in its pre-drilled lanyard hole . And it looks a bit like a MKII pineapple grenade. And it has a “fresh scent derived from gunpowder and hate.” All in all, the marketing is a bit over-the-top for a bar of soap, but I suspect the target market digs it. While I don’t think it smells like gunpowder (although it does have a strong black pepper aroma) it does smell okay, plus it’s made 1/4 moisturizing cream (which is totally badass, by the way). Retail price: $9.00.
- Usefulness: 7/10. Soap is a useful tool for getting clean.
- Purchasability: 1/10. I never would have bought this.
- Usability: 7/10. Sure, I’ll hang this in the shower and use it as needed.
Grenade Soap Company T.A.I.N.T. Scrubber
Most of us know that taint is crude parlance for the perineum, a sensitive area in a human’s nether regions. So when I pulled out the T.A.I.N.T. Scrubber, an abrasive scrubbing mitt (or, per the marketing copy on the box, a tactical loofah soap pouch), I was a bit baffled. According to the literature from the Grenade Soap Company stands for—excuse me—Tactical Ass & Intense Nut Technology. The idea is to load it up with your Gunsmoke Soap and scrub like hell using the “rough mesh for extreme cleaning.” Even at my filthiest, I’ve never been dirty enough down there to resort to a scouring pad with the intensity of a cheese grater. Just thinking about using it makes me wince. Retail price: $10.00.
- Usefulness: 1/10. I’ve never had the need for something this abrasive to cleanse my delicate parts.
- Purchasability: 1/10. I can’t think of a scenario where I’d even be tempted to buy this item.
- Usability: 1/10. Yeah, no.
The N-rit Campack Towel is a small (approximately 16″ square) microfiber towel that comes in its own carrying bag. There’s a clip inside the bag so it and the towel aren’t easily separated, and the bag has an aluminum carabiner so it can be clipped to any convenient loop. It’s not a bad tool, although there are numerous other packable microfiber towels on the market. Retail price: $9.00.
- Usefulness: 8/10. Having a small, quick-drying towel within easy reach is a good thing.
- Purchasability: 5/10. I have a number of these already, but I’d consider buying this brand should I need a new one.
- Usability: 8/10. I’ll add this to the small pile of microfiber towels I already own. I won’t complain if it ends up on an adventure with me.
Grenade Supply Dry Antiperspirant
The Grenade Supply Dry Antiperspirant is simply a small hunk of overpowered antiperspirant enclosed in a plastic container molded to look like a grenade. I was disappointed to learn that the pin is non-functional (you can’t even pull it!). However if you squeeze the lever, the top pops off in an ever-so-slight explosion-like fashion. You’d never get this thing through airport security, but that’s okay because it’s too big to travel with anyway. Retail price: $8.00 ($10.00 online).
- Usefulness: 4/10. While antiperspirant is useful, this one is packaged in a very unwieldy container.
- Purchasability: 1/10. Not really my thing.
- Usability: 3/10. I tried it, but didn’t really like it how it smelled and the application surface is too small to really be effective. Plus it made my underarms itch.
Coleman Camp Soap Sheets
This is a small plastic box that holds 50 Coleman Packable Soap Sheets, which are simply paper-thin slices of soap. To use one, simply pull a single sheet out of the box (with dry hands), wet it, and rub your hands together. This unassuming sheet quickly turns into a foamy cleansing solution tool that’s easily rinsed away. Retail price: $4.00 ($6.00 online).
- Usefulness: 9/10. Soap is useful for getting clean, and the compact package make this useful indeed.
- Purchasability: 7/10. Sure, I like the idea enough that I’d give these another go.
- Usability: 10/10. This little package has already found a home in my hiking toiletry kit.
Epic Wipes Massive Refreshing Wipe
The Epic Wipe, “your shower on the go” solves the the problem of cleaning up when you aren’t able to take a shower. Its main advantage over a standard handi-wipe is its size. The Epic Wipe is, according to the company 16 times larger than a typical wipe. And it is large, about the size of a really moist towel. The problem is at 3.5 ounces (100 grams), it’s also heavy and bulky. And since each epic wipe is only good for one use, on a typical four-day excursion, you’ll be carrying nearly an extra pound of weight for a daily cleaning. I guess you could leave one behind in the car and wipe down when you get off the trail, but as an on-the-go cleaning solution, it’s just too unwieldy. Retail price: $2.00, but you can’t buy them singly. The company sells 10 for $25.00 ($2.50 each) or 20 for $30.00 ($1.50 each), so $2.00 is a good compromise.
- Usefulness: 5/10. Wipes are useful for the long-haul hiker, but this is just too unwieldy.
- Purchasability: 2/10. I don’t think I’m going to be buying any of these.
- Usability: 3/10. Again, the bulk and weight of the package limits most use-case scenarios.
The last item in this shipment was a bag of 50 EZ Towels. These are small discs of compressed rayon that, when wet, unfold into a small towel. I like these things. Once unrolled, they’re about as durable as a paper towel, but they do the job they’re designed to do. They’re small and light (0.1 ounces/2.6 grams each). The bag came with a carrying tube that holds 10 EZ Towels for convenience—and that tube of 10 is still lightweight at only 1.25 ounces (35 grams). Retail price: $8.63, which is an odd price and I’m not sure how BattlBox determined that. But they sell online for $9.00, so that’s the number I’m going to use.
- Usefulness: 8/10. Small, disposable towels are great things to have on hand, and these are no exception.
- Purchasability: 8/10. I’d buy these for hiking, camping, or even long road trips.
- Usability: 10/10. Totally usable.
Combined Goods Total
At $51 in retail value ($55 accounting for variance in the prices I found online), this subscription box is a decent, though not fantastic, value over the $35.47 I paid. Interestingly, the BattlBox sitrep card tells me that this shipment is worth $60.49, which is about $10 more than all the items added together. I think they may be adding $10 for a ReadyMan Basic Subscription (even though the card lists that as free), but I can’t be sure what sort of mathematical shenanigans are going on here.
Unboxed Gear Score
This particular subscription box wasn’t really a good Dopp kit. Although it did include a wide assortment of items—both interesting and weird—only a few of those could be considered useful for adventuring in the great outdoors (which is the main focus here). But overall it was too heavy on grenades and towels.
Canceling BattlBox was as easy a pressing a button on the account page.
Unboxed is the continuing report of my personal foray into the world of subscription boxes aimed at the outdoor enthusiast.