Everyday carry equipment can fall into many different categories. Some EDC gear is designed for fun. Some gear is designed for convenience. Yet, still more is designed to save lives.
A tourniquet is becoming an increasingly popular item for EDC adventurists. Hopefully, you will never be in a position to need a tourniquet. However, having the proper equipment can truly be a matter of life and death in certain circumstances.
Here, we will look at the best tourniquet for EDC duty, as well as some of the most important features to consider when shopping for the best tourniquet.
Last update on 2020-06-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 Best Tourniquet Reviews
- 2 Recon Medical ORNGTQ Tourniquet
- 3 SOF Tactical Tourniquet SOFTT-NH
- 4 North American Rescue Military Issue
- 5 SWAT-T Tourniquet
- 6 C-A-T RESOURCES CAT Combat Application Tourniquet
- 7 Best Tourniquet Buyers Guide
- 8 What is a Tourniquet?
- 9 Look for Bright Colors
- 10 A Time-Stamp Is Surprisingly Useful
- 11 Get a Metal Windlass
- 12 Make Sure It’s Big Enough
- 13 Easy Routing and Anti-Curl Stitching Is Key
- 14 Conclusion
Best Tourniquet Reviews
The Recon is an excellent place to start, as it is an impeccable example of a tourniquet that does almost everything right. Beginning with the windlass. The Recon uses an aircraft-grade aluminum rod that is strong yet light. Of course, having a proper grip is important when tightening a tourniquet, so Recon knurled each end of the windlass. Even with wet hands, this proved to be one of the most effective windlasses that we tested. Beyond the windlass, there are several more niceties included in this tourniquet. There is an included time tag, which makes it quick and easy to remember to keep track of the timing of the wound and blood clotting.
However, this is not a perfect model. First, the color is an issue. This tourniquet is only available in black. This makes it hard to see and find in a hurry. While black may be fashionable, fashion does not count when it comes to first aid. Beyond the color, the size of this tourniquet could pose an issue for some users. This is one of the smaller tourniquets that we tested. For the majority of people, this will be fine. However, this may become a limitation if you needed to restrict flow to a larger leg.
Overall, this is a nicely designed tourniquet. With its slim price tag, it also represents one of the stronger bargains of the group. However, the mentioned limitations mean that this is not a perfect tourniquet for all situations.
- Well made
- Great value
- Darkly colored
The SOF Tactical Tourniquet shows that being expensive does not always equate to being the best. There are a lot of impressive features on this model, but in testing, I was left wondering if any of the bling added any meaningful practicality. The windlass on this model is almost a work of art. Milled from aluminum, it features a knurled surface and hooks at each end to provide even more torque. It is impressive looking, but in practice, it performed no better than the less expensive models.
Beyond the fancy stitching and ornate windlass, the SOF has some surprising oversights. The most notable of these is the lack of a time-stamp. Of course, this does not impact the function of the tourniquet itself. Yet, with so many cheaper models including this feature, it was disappointing to see it missing on a premium model. Lastly, the color was also a questionable choice. Although this model is theoretically available with different colored bands, our test unit was pure black and we were unable to ascertain the availability of other colors. As it sits, the black coloring made this difficult to find.
There are a lot of positives to the SOF tourniquet. The windlass is great, and the overall quality is fantastic. However, for the price they are charging, the oversights are hard to excuse.
- Great quality
- Windlass is beautiful
- Dark colors
- No time-stamp
As the official tourniquet of the United States Army, this model makes a lot of big claims from the start. Luckily, it delivers on almost all of them. The construction of this tourniquet is one of the most robust I have ever seen. The band itself is large and heavily webbed, and the stitching is superb. Further, the designers included a red-tipped tab on the leading edge of the band. This makes it much easier to quickly loop the tourniquet and know where to apply pressure. When seconds matter, these details are nice to see. Even if you don’t know how to apply a tourniquet, this model makes it easy.
The windlass is also one of the toughest on the market. Rather than opt for the lighter-but-weaker aluminum, this windlass is mild steel. This makes it slightly heavier, but there is no concern over the strength of this tool. Ultimately it is only a difference of an ounce or two, so this is a logical path to take.
There are only two complaints I can find with this tourniquet. First, while it has a time-stamp area, it is not reusable. Rather, they simply provided an area of white fabric where information could be written. This is functional but a slightly odd choice. Finally, I have the same complaint with this model that I have with so many. It’s black. I have a hard time grasping why first aid equipment would be made difficult to see. Alas, in a model that is otherwise close to perfection, this may be a compromise worth making.
- Extremely strong
- Leading edge is marked
- Very tough windlass
- Dark color
- Non-reusable timestamp
The SWAT-T is a unique take on the tourniquet game. This is the only disposable tourniquet we reviewed, so it is in a category of its own to some extent. Functionally, this model is little more than a bicycle innertube. While it will restrict the blood flow, it can be more difficult to apply the necessary pressure due to the flexible nature of the band. A traditional fabric tourniquet allows you to slowly add force with the windlass. Here, your first shot is also your only.
The quality of the rubber felt adequate. However, rubber products can break down over time and become brittle. A tourniquet may be stored in a gear bag for years before needing to be used. Therefore, I have some concerns regarding whether or not this model will have the necessary strength when the time comes.
Overall, I struggle to see the advantage of a disposable tourniquet. It is not significantly more expensive than a fabric model, and the function is diminished. I have read that this style of a tourniquet is easier to apply to yourself. Thus, if you are a solo adventurist, that may be worth looking into. However, I cannot personally confirm that. For most purposes, however, you would be better off with one of the other more traditional approaches.
- Relatively inexpensive
- May be easier for solo use
- Not as effective
- Longevity is questionable
In design, the C-A-T tourniquet is very similar to the North American Rescue model above. I liked that model, so I’m bound to like this one. There are a few subtle tweaks, however. First, the fabric on this model is more substantial. It is probably not a make or break difference, but this is a particularly confidence-inspiring unit. Further, the stitching is of higher quality. While the North American model was not poorly made by any means, there seems to have been more attention to detail with the C-A-T. This model still retains the red-tipped pull-tab that proved so useful in testing, and the size and shape are similar.
The windlass is another highlight. It has additional ridges to allow increased grip. Given the numerous advantages of this model, the final advantage is somewhat surprising. This unit is actually priced well over the North American, despite the more premium feel. This company knows how to make a tourniquet.
- Beautifully made
- Very strong
- Reasonably priced
- Dark color
- No time stamp
Best Tourniquet Buyers Guide
What is a Tourniquet?
What is a tourniquet? A tourniquet is a device used to restrict blood flow to a limb, thereby slowing down blood loss following a traumatic injury. Preventing excessive loss of blood is commonly the most important factor in saving a person’s life.
Any tourniquet is better than none. If no other options are available, even a piece of rope or a belt is better than nothing at all. However, there are countless advantages to having a proper tourniquet.
The best tourniquet for EDC will be compact, lightweight, and inexpensive. Thus, if you engage in any form of recreational or outdoor activities, there is little excuse for not having one in your EDC kit. Shopping for the best tourniquet can be a confusing process, but it does not have to be. Here are some of the most important things to look for in a tourniquet or tourniquet holster.
Look for Bright Colors
When you need a tourniquet, chances are that you need it as quickly as possible. Despite the importance of being able to locate the device in an instant, a surprising number of tourniquets are nonetheless made in dark or hard-to-find colors.
When shopping for the most effective tourniquet, look for one that is a bright and easily-seen color. The specific color is not important, but make sure it can be found quickly in low-light conditions or a heavily packed bag. When dealing with first aid, seconds count.
A Time-Stamp Is Surprisingly Useful
When applying pressure to a wound, the timeline is very important. Medical professionals need to know how long a tourniquet has been in use so that they can accurately assess the condition of the patient and study the clotting of the blood.
Of course, you could simply try and remember when you first installed the tourniquet. However, in a stressful situation, remembering to complete minute tasks can be a difficult thing to ask of a person. Thus, some of my favorite models of tourniquet feature a tag that gives you a place to write the time of application.
The tag not only provides a place to put the information, but it serves as a visual reminder to collect the information.
Get a Metal Windlass
Effective application of a tourniquet can require a surprising amount of pressure. You are dealing with much more than a bandaid. Rather, it is crucial to apply enough force to constrict the arteries and slow the stream of blood internally. Thus, applying enough force manually can be a challenging job, especially under pressure.
To make this easier, the best tourniquets use a windlass to provide additional leverage.
Just like a windlass on a sailboat, a tourniquet windlass is a small stick that increases the leverage that can be applied to the wrapping. Cheaper tourniquets often use flimsy plastic windlasses. These are prone to cracking in use, especially after age has made the plastic brittle.
To avoid this potential disaster, I always look for a tourniquet with a metal windlass. The best models often feature hollow windlasses made of aircraft-grade aluminum.
Make Sure It’s Big Enough
Injuries are not often predictable events. Thus, when the time comes to need a tourniquet, it is hard to predict which limb will be affected. Further still, it is hard to predict what size of person will need assistance. For this reason, it is crucial to err on the side of caution when selecting a length of a tourniquet.
To make sure that even the largest legs can be restricted, look for a tourniquet that is at least twenty-four inches in length. Keep in mind that the design of most tourniquets requires the band to overlap, so the tourniquet itself must be longer than the circumference of the limb in question.
When you need a stop the bleed tourniquet, you do not want to find out yours is too small.
Easy Routing and Anti-Curl Stitching Is Key
Despite needing to be used in stressful scenarios, many tourniquets seem to put surprisingly little emphasis on being easy to use. In my experience training for first aid, two primary limitations prevent the quick application of a tourniquet.
The first issue is an overly difficult routing path. Ideally, a tourniquet should require little more than a single loop and a simple pull. Any further complication is simply asking for issues when the stakes are high.
Another obstacle to quick application is a curled or frayed edge. When a tourniquet becomes worn with age, the edges can break down which makes the strap difficult to loop properly. The best models combat this with stitching in a cross-hatch pattern that keeps the band tight and flat. Even with these precautions, it is good practice to replace your tourniquet on a regular schedule. However, the proper design can delay the need for replacement significantly.
Regarding organization, a tourniquet holder can be a very helpful accessory to find. With a tourniquet holder or tourniquet holster, the likelihood of being able to locate the device quickly is much higher.
Reviewing the myriad of models on the market, it is clear that some companies know how to make a tourniquet much better than others. Sure, any basic stop the bleed tourniquet may do the job, but this is an area where quality can matter.
Once you know how to apply a tourniquet, the nuanced details of each model become readily apparent.
When all factors are considered, the best tourniquet we tested was the C-A-T RESOURCES CAT Combat Application Tourniquet. Its combination of value, quality, and ease of use won us over quickly.
Not only is it the best model we tested, but it is the one that is going in my personal gear and emergency kit bags.
- Official Tourniquet of the U.S. Army.
- Dimensions: Packaged: L 6.5 in. x W 2.4 in. x D 1.5 in. Open Length: 37.5 in. Weight: 2.7 oz.
- Reinforced windlass clip & highly visible security tab includes a writeable area to record the time of application.
- U.S. Patent Nos. 7,842,067 and 7,892,253.
Last update on 2020-06-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API