So, subscription services are all the rage these days. Everything from food to dog toys, it’s like getting a little gift (that you paid for) once a month. I really like the concept, and about a year and a half ago, I signed up for the Waterman’s Pack (which was meant for fishermen, surfers, and SCUBA divers), and happily, signed up to get a box in July, which was timed for Shark Week (check out my Shark Week reviews here at Nerdvana!). It was a box curated by Andy Casagande IV (the Shark Week veteran photographer and diver), and a portion of that month’s profits were donated to my friends at Shark Angels, who I wound up diving with 8 months later in Fiji. I got a nice little dive knife, and a few other things, including a print of an Andy Casagrande shark encounter.
And then a month later then ditched the fishermen and SCUBA divers portion of it, and started going marketing directly to watersports. I kept going for a month and got a tshirt and hat, but not really my thing, so I cancelled it.
And then thanks to the miracle of Facebook Targeted Advertising… I found ReefBox!
Reefbox describes itself thusly!
“ReefBox’s mission is simple – we want to deliver high quality dive supplies and accessories to divers to keep them interested and excited about the sport, while contributing to the conservation efforts of our world’s coral reef ecosystem.”
Well, sign me up. To the tune of $325.89 (that’s with a 15% discount code from the FB ad), so that comes out to $27.16 a month for a year. I’ve got $27 to spend on myself a month. And some of the profits are donated to Coral Reef Alliance? Even better (especially as I did a FB fundraiser for Coral Reef Alliance for my birthday and raised $500.00)
So, as is the custom of my people (nerds), I will do a monthly unboxing of my ReefBox, which will be a world of arbitrary ratings and commentary. I will rate the boxes on four criteria:
1. Environmental Friendliness – How does this box help, hinder, or stay neutral towards the marine environment – both here in the United States, and from the post-colonial nations I will be diving in.
2. Usefulness – Do I already have this stuff? Would I use it? How often? A successful diver builds redundancy in their Save-A-Dive kit (or they just rely on their divebuddy Mark to keep a Save-A-Dive kit, but what happens if Mark is not there?).
3. Value – $27.16 is my break even point. Everything above that is PROFIT BABY.
4. Fun – Is it fun? Or does it make me want to scowl in a darkened room looking out the window and demanding that the squirrel outside fall, dammit, fall!
I’ll probably go to video for the next one but I’m
bored at work excited to open this box on my lunch break, so we’ll be doing picture stills for this. So! Let’s begin:
THE BOX (featuring guest appearances by DC Murderverse Aquaman and Black Manta!):
Nice looking, has the requisite marine life one would expect, says “The Dive Boat Delivered to My Door”, which means I can get someone to move my stuff without asking AND take the good seat during the surface interval at home now? AWESOME. The box ALSO asks you to recycle/reuse which you think you shouldn’t have to tell people this in 2018 but you absolutely do have to tell them, considering how many fucking plastic bottles I fish out of the trash at DayJob, so that’s a nice touch. It’s shipped by the US Postal Service and not by FedEx, which is still shipping shark fins, which is appreciated.
Some paper padding, which is nice, since we’re trying to AVOID PLASTIC, RIGHT PEOPLE?!?!
Seriously. I will cut you.
Now, the goodies! And this month’s theme is NIGHT DIVING. So, the big goodie is, of course, going to be a dive light. I’m pretty sure this is the one Dive Buddy Mark uses as his secondary/backup light. It’s not the brightest torch in the box, but he’s been using it for a while and hasn’t had many complaints. Personally, I’ve already got a secondary light, but I’m not a huge fan of my wrist mount primary light, so I might change it up a little bit. It’s got that plastic packaging I’m not the biggest fan of, but that can be recycled, so over all, it’s pretty good. Per the card, it’s valued at $49.95, and burns for up to two hours and down to 100 meters. I expect to use rechargeable batteries, but it can also use two AA batteries. All in all, not bad. And I’m already up $22 and change.
Next up, and I think my favorite thing of the box: A glow in the dark slate. I’m most excited about this. I always forget to take my slate with me (and it’s also a wrist-mount – wrist-mounting seemed like a good idea at the time). Having a glow in the dark slate seems like something I’m going to love. Ubiquitous plastic bag packaging, but short of this thing getting lost off my arm in the ocean, I think the environmental impact on this is pretty slim. Excited to give it a whirl. At $9.95, we’re up to a $31 profit.
Ok. Light sticks. Now, these are a little controversial. They’re plastic. They’re single-use. They’re filled with chemicals – but lots of divers swear by them. Why? They’re bright enough to illuminate a diver under water, they last at least a single tank dive, they don’t add to weight or take up storage space the way a lantern would for a shore dive, and they’re convenient. In the United States and other “Developed” nations, is one glowstick going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Likely no, as long as it’s disposed of properly, but even still, we’re past the point of needing to wean ourselves from single-use plastic. In “Developing”, post-Colonial nations like the Philippines, single-use plastic is a massive problem. If you’re going to use glowsticks while traveling the globe, I think you’re morally obligated to pack them out. Or use a reusable tank light. Amazon is selling them for $10, but I think my dive shop sells them for $8. These are listed as $5, which seems right for two. And get a lantern and just find a way to make it work (you’ll love your lantern later when you’re trying to pack up in pitch black). Up to $36.00!
Finally, a glow-in-the-dark line arrow, which the card says “is used by cave and wreck divers to mark locations on nearly every dive“. Not a caver, although I did get the flavor of it at Devil’s Den in Williston, FL this past December (video coming soon!), so I might start and I’m definitely going to get wreck certified soon, so I’ll treat this as my pinkie toe dipped into that particular pool. No packaging and reusable, as long as this doesn’t get lost, low impact! At $1.50, I’m ahead by close to $37.50 over the monthly subscription.
There’s also a donation made to Coral Reef Alliance, (they include a “Reef Brief” updating you on the work of CORAL – this month, FIJI! go here to learn more) so over all, this was an environmentally friendly, useful box of dive stuff. Also included is 20% off of Volivoli resort, where some of the Shark Angels went to before the trip to Waidroka Bay and they were raving about Volivoli. If I wasn’t already booked up for the year, I’d be making reservations now.
Let’s do the ratings!
1. Environmental Friendliness: 6.5 out of 10. Reefbox’s packaging is 100% recyclable/re-usable, but some of the item’s contained within have packaging which isn’t. The choice of glowsticks over a re-usable tank light is likely predicated on cost/convenience, but I would have been happier with the tank light and less return on investment.
2. Usefulness: 8 out of 10. I’ll use all of this stuff, but most will go into my Save-A-Dive kit versus be carabined to my BCD. LOVE the glow-in-the-dark slate.
3. Value: 10 out of 10. Can’t complain about $38.24 worth of savings for stuff I’ll use.
4. Fun: 10 out of 10. I’m jonesing to get into the water to try this stuff out. I live in Arizona. It’ll be a while.
So, the rating I give this box is an 8.6, or “Above Average”. Adding hypothetical savings for a Fiji trip, and you’re likely at a 9/9.5.
And if anyone from ReefBox reads this – if you’re ever doing a “Shark” themed box, I can get you a screaming deal on a book of shark themed poetry with a unit cost that is much less than the MSRP.