Best Tourniquets of 2019 – Must Know Buyer’s Guide

No one wants to think about the kind of situation where you might need a tourniquet – but the truth is, in today’s increasingly volatile world, it would be a good idea for us all to carry tourniquets in case we have to help ourselves or someone else with a gunshot wound. Read on to hear about the most reliable tourniquets for lifesaving situations.

Best Tourniquets Comparison Chart

Product

Rating

Price

SOFTT-W Tourniquet

Recon Medical BLK-1Pak-FBA Tourniquet

North American Rescue

SWAT-T

CAT Gen 7

What are Tourniquets?

Unless you are a trained law enforcement officer or first-responder, or you are active military personnel, you may not know what a tourniquet is offhand. 

A tourniquet is a device that is intended to halt blood flow to an area of the body. It may seem counter intuitive to actually want blood to stop flowing, but if someone has a severe injury where a major artery has been cut into, there is a much higher probability of them dying from blood loss than dying from the impact of the wound itself.

Tourniquets are essentially straps which can be tied extremely tightly around someone’s limb to cut off blood flow to a wound which may be gushing blood.

How to Choose a Tourniquet

Because tourniquets can literally mean the difference between life and death, you want to make sure you get a good one. Here are things to take into consideration when choosing a tourniquet:

Ease of use

Tourniquets are not instinctive, and can be difficult to figure out how to use. You want a tourniquet without any unnecessary complications that anyone, even a random person on the street, could hypothetically figure out.

Tourniquet First Aid Technique (Source)

Tightening Capability

The most essential quality of a tourniquet is its ability to stop blood flow, which in large part depends on how tight the user can make it. The last thing you want is a tourniquet that can stretch out and begin letting blood back through.

Durability

Similar to tightening capability, you do not want a tourniquet that will begin to fray or tear after a couple uses. You want one that you can train yourself on and still rely on to work well in an emergency situation.

Quick Take | Best Tourniquets

Before diving into our review of the best tourniquets, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Tourniquets

Check out some of the best tourniquets in the business:

Pros

  • Military personnel rely on the SofTT brand for tourniquets
  • Tourniquet folds down to a super small size for easy packing
  • Tried and tested by both first responders and regular civilians
  • Quick to adjust and cinch, in a situation where seconds count

Cons

  • Fastener and rod can wear down after extended use

The SofTT-W Tourniquet is the industry standard for a good, reliable tourniquet that you will hopefully never need to actually use. Users who have employed the SofTT in emergency situations report that it has saved real lives.

The big difference between the SofTT and a lot of other tourniquet brands out there on the market is the quality material: the SofTT tightening rod is made of actual solid metal, and it comes with a tightening screw for the strap latch to prevent the tourniquet from slipping or coming loose after it is initially tightened.

This tourniquet is also designed to be effectively used with just one hand, which can be a lifesaver in serious situations. The diamond patterned texture on the tourniquet grip allows for quick and easy winding, even if you only have one hand functioning. All in all, this is a high quality tourniquet that has been proven to save lives.

Bottom Line

The SofTT-W Tourniquet is the ideal tourniquet for emergency preparedness. It has been field tested by some of the most experienced first responders and military personnel, and it is guaranteed to assist in saving lives.

Its only drawback is that the rod and fastener, while made of high quality metal, do tend to wear down a bit after extended use. However, no tourniquet is exactly designed for excessive use, so the SofTT will definitely be able to perform when you need it.

Pros

  • Recon team provides great customer service
  • Can fit into an area as small as a radio pouch
  • Endorsed by first responders and combat veterans
  • Velcro sticks together well even when compromised by dirt and/or blood
  • Users report they have used it to effectively stop bleeding in life saving situations

Cons

  • Not designed for use on larger people

The Recon Medical BLK 1Pak FBA Tourniquet is a dependable tourniquet that will get the job done in an emergency situation. The Recon is tried and tested by both users that have experience with tourniquet application and users that do not. In situations where people have actually been hemorrhaging, the Recon has saved lives.

There are several details on this tourniquet that speak to the quality of the Recon brand and their attention to even the most minor aspects of tourniquet application. The stitching on this device uses high quality Kevlar thread, so you know it is durable and will last.

Additionally, the windlass has specially designed texturing that allows users to grip it easily even when it is wet, which is likely in a severe bleeding situation. Similarly, the Velcro on this tool will still stick even if it is coated in blood, dirt, or another substance. The hardiness of this tourniquet alone makes it an awesome choice – the reliability reported by users is just the icing on the cake.

Bottom Line

The Recon Medical BLK 1Pak FBA Tourniquet is a fantastic tourniquet that will get the job done for you in intense emergency situations. Its only drawback is that it is not designed to be used on people who may be larger or overweight.

Pros

  • Can be applied with one hand
  • Includes flag for recording the time of placement
  • Used in actual law enforcement situations to save lives
  • Velcro straps allow for tying this tourniquet as tight as possible

Cons

  • Made of plastic, so some quality is compromised as opposed to others with tightening rods made of metal

The North American Rescue is a good, reliable tourniquet you can depend on to save your life and the lives of other people. It has a number of qualities that are unique from other tourniquets on this list.

North American Rescue has pioneered something called “red tip technology,” which helps tourniquet users in threading the tourniquet through when tying, because the red tip is more visible than your traditional black material, particularly in situations where the whole tourniquet may be covered in dirt or blood. 

The Velcro straps of this tourniquet make it easy to tie with just one hand, so you could potentially apply it to yourself if necessary (knock on wood that it will never ever be necessary!). Additionally, this tourniquet provides a security tap or “flag” near the tightening rod/windlass.

This tab is intended for the person applying the tourniquet to write down the time the tourniquet was put on, so that emergency responders will know how long the person has been wearing a tourniquet when they arrive with more advanced lifesaving capabilities. All in all, the North American Rescue takes a basic tourniquet to the next level.

Bottom Line

The North American Rescue is a good tourniquet for stopping the bleed in lifesaving situations, with a few extra features to make it even more helpful. Because the tightening rod/windlass is made of plastic, it will likely require more personal strength to tighten this tourniquet than others with rods made of metal.

Pros

  • Has more applications than the typical tourniquet
  • Easy to apply and to reposition once applied if necessary
  • Compacts down to a size smaller than a cell phone for easy carrying
  • Instructions for use are printed on the tourniquet itself, so you never have to worry about losing a separate instruction booklet

Cons

  • Requires two hands to apply, so not a tourniquet you could apply to yourself if one of your arms was wounded

The SWAT-T tourniquet is probably the most versatile tourniquet on this entire list, which is a big plus. Unlike the other tourniquets described here, this tourniquet does not require a tightening rod/windlass to work, which is one of the biggest areas of misuse for those who are unfamiliar with tourniquets or who become flustered in the intensity of the lifesaving situation where they are using them.

This tourniquet simply requires users to wind it tightly all the way around the wound and tuck the edge under to secure. Its simple application process allows for this tourniquet to provide a myriad of uses: because it does not have a windlass, it could hypothetically be cut into smaller strips for use as tourniquets for children, while most other tourniquets cannot be adjusted down from their initial size. So if you have kids, this tourniquet is the choice for you.

It can also be used to hold pressure bandages in place, or as a sling if necessary. Its distinctive bright orange color makes it easy for users to ascertain if the tourniquet is still in place from a quick glance at the bleeding victim, and also allows first responders to quickly identify the location of the most serious wound.

Bottom Line

The SWAT-T’s versatility and ease of use make it one of the most awesome tourniquets on this whole list. The only thing to consider is that its lack of a windlass makes it impossible to apply with one hand.

Pros

  • Feels sturdy
  • Easy to learn how to use
  • Made of high quality material
  • Can be used with just one hand
  • Doesn’t require any serious fine motor skills to apply

Cons

  • Not the most compact tourniquet available

The CAT Gen 7 is an awesome example of a strong, dependable tourniquet from the reliable CAT brand, a company who is probably the most well known manufacturer of tourniquets out there. And for good reason – CAT stands for Combat Application Tourniquet, also known as tourniquets that are the preferred choice for use by military personnel.

The CAT Gen 7 is the newest release from CAT’s tourniquet line, and it is one of the best in the business. It comes in three different colors – the black is intended to be used in tactical situations, the orange is intended to be used by first responders, and the blue is intended to be used for training. But no matter what you are using the CAT Gen 7 for, it will deliver.

Military personnel, first responders, and untrained individuals who were simply taking a hike when tragedy struck have all reported that this tourniquet is easy to use and efficient in an emergency situation. It is proven to have saved lives.

Bottom Line

The CAT Gen 7 is one of the leaders in the industry when it comes to strong, reliable tourniquets that will be able to save lives in a high intensity situation. It is one of the bulkier tourniquets on the market, although size should hardly be a consideration when you are talking about something that could easily prevent you or someone else from bleeding to death in minutes.

Conclusion

Tourniquets can mean the difference between life and death in a shooting situation, a car accident, a hiking fall, or any incident that involves copious blood loss. Find yourself a tourniquet that’s easy to use, will last a long time, and can effectively stop blood, and you can be confident about saving your life – or someone else’s if necessary. It is a survival tool that you definitely hope you will never have to use, but the last thing you want is to be in a situation where you need it, and you do not have it.

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