To stop a serious bleed in an emergency, a tourniquet can be a life-saver. A lot of hunters and hikers will keep a tourniquet available just in case, and it is especially important if you are far away from help. An accident can happen at any time, be it a car accident or anywhere else. But when you are in the great outdoors they can be particularly bad and help can be far away.
Applying pressure onto a wound isn’t always enough but to be sure that you have the best tourniquet that pinches the artery to stop the blood loss but you have to make sure it is made by a reputable brand. The last thing you want is a faulty product that doesn’t work when you need it to. This is why we have created a list of the best tourniquets available.
Quick Summary of the Best Tourniquets
- Editor’s Choice: North American Rescue Military Issue, Black (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value: Recon Medical BLK-1PAK-FBA Tourniquet (Amazon) – Review
- Best Weather Resistant: SAM XT Extremity Tourniquet, Blue 1/EA (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable: SOFTT-W Tourniquet 1.5 – Black (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Practice: M2 Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet (RMT) – Paramedic (Amazon) – Review
- Best Elastic Bandage : SWAT-T Tourniquet, Orange (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: North American Rescue Military Issue, Black
When it comes to life-saving equipment, quality is everything and that’s exactly what this quality tourniquet gives you. Otherwise known as CAT, it is the official tourniquet of the U.S Army so you know it has been the subject of rigorous testing. They say it is 100% proven to occlude blood flow and this is for both upper and lower extremities.
This is popular with preppers and easy to use thanks to the sturdy buckles and thick straps that make it easy to attach. The red tip at the top of the strap makes it easy to locate to make the whole process of fixing it faster and a quality windlass twist handle is made from polymer. Be wary of fakes as anything under $25 is likely to be.
Best Value: Recon Medical BLK-1PAK-FBA Tourniquet
Reasonably priced but still made of materials sturdy enough to save a life you can use it for self-application as it has been designed so you can apply it with one hand. The buckle features non-slip teeth to help prevent any slack and the windlass is made from aluminum making it both light and strong.
There is a large time strap that makes it easy to record the precise application and the strap has a finger hole that makes it easier to pull and create tension then there is mud, rain, or even blood causing your hands to slip. Another neat feature is the kevlar stitching that keeps everything in place when you pull and the affordable price makes it great for keeping more than one tourniquet available.
Best Weather Resistant: SAM XT Extremity Tourniquet, Blue 1/EA
Another quality option and one of the best tourniquets for those looking to spend around $30. The strap is made from single-layer nylon webbing to make sure it does not fail you in adverse weather because certain types of velcro can be less effective when dirty or wet.
The windlass rod is strong and sturdy thanks to its aluminum construction which also allows it to be lightweight enough to carry in comfort. It auto-locks to stop any slack and maintain the pressure which is a useful feature since slack is what causes a tourniquet to fail. As with a lot of models in the world of tourniquets, it features a time band so you can record when it was applied and will click when everything is tight enough.
Best Affordable: SOFTT-W Tourniquet 1.5 – Black
The buckle on this sturdy tourniquet has been amended to make sure it is easier to use for a faster application. The 1.5″ band allows you to apply consistent pressure and is broad which makes it as comfortable as can be expected for the patient. The snap-lock buckle allows you to adjust the strap and move it without undoing the whole thing so you can move to place it where it needs to go with speed.
This model is known for being sturdy but light enough to carry easily and the strong handle works to ensure the product doesn’t fail. There is plenty of room for it to fit around large limps but it doesn’t take long to tighten it in an emergency and ensure there is no slack.
Best For Practice: M2 Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet (RMT) – Paramedic
Many people regard the ratcheting medical tourniquets as being the easiest to use and are ideal for practicing before you encounter an emergency. They require just a couple of steps to operate and the ratcheting system is self-locking making it one of the best tourniquets for single-hand use.
The downside is that it doesn’t always fit in a holster so you will either have to find another way to carry or store it, or try and find a holster large enough. This tourniquet is good for applying precise pressure and when you know how to use it, you’ll see why this is one of the fastest products in our list to fix into place and tighten to stop the blood flow in an emergency.
Best Elastic Bandage : SWAT-T Tourniquet, Orange
This is a little different to the rest but the convenient size makes it a good addition to your first-aid kit. To use it as a tourniquet the user must wrap it around the limb and pull to create tension before tucking it to secure. The latex-free materials are strong yet stretchy but also doubles up as an elastic bandage or pressure dressing in an emergency.
One of the best things about using this product is that it is so easy to use and takes seconds to apply. The name SWAT stands for stretch, wrap, and tuck which is exactly what the company advises you to do when using it. The design is simple, but that’s the best thing about it.
Stopping an artery from bleeding can be the difference between life and death which is why so many people make sure their first-aid kit has a tourniquet handy. The best tourniquets are easy to use but made of durable, strong materials so you can produce enough tension for them to be effective.
The problem is, there are a lot of flimsy products out there and you won’t find out that they aren’t able to help in the way they should until the crucial moment. To make sure you or a victim you are trying to help get the best possible assistance, we have created our guide to tourniquets.
What To Look For In A Tourniquet
Whether this is in the form of an auto-lock or another method, the tourniquet you choose needs to be able to reduce or eliminate slack. If there is room for movement then the device might fail to apply adequate pressure which is why slack is the main reason why a tourniquet can fail. The quality products will be able to work against this, to ensure their model works.
This is to show the emergency services the length of time a tourniquet has been attached for. The better products will have a thick space that makes it easy for you to record the time of application and will let them know how much longer it can be safely used. the longer the tourniquet is left on, the higher the risk of lasting damage will be so it is an important bit of information to know and record.
This is only necessary if you are buying a windlass tourniquet but the ‘stick’ instrument that should be turned to increase tension and reduce slack needs to be made from sturdy materials. Aluminum is a common material used because it is strong and lightweight.
The hope is that you never have to use the tourniquet once you buy it but if the time comes when you will be thankful for opting for a quality product and not trying to buy a product that us cheap and known for being flimsy. This is certainly a case for quality over quantity so it is better to buy one reputable product than two sub-par tourniquets.
A Wide Cuff
The better products have this covered but a wide cuff ensures that the tourniquet is going to be more comfortable when in use and is less likely to cause tissue damage than something with thin straps.
When faced with a perilous situation you don’t want the items in your first aid kit to fail you. The best tourniquets won’t start to fray or become difficult to use after the first use although it is always a good idea to keep a second around just in case.
This is more than just being resistant to rain but consider the fact that there might be blood present or even mud. This shouldn’t effect the performance of the tourniquet but in some cases, it can. Velcro can become less reliable under certain conditions so be sure that the brand you are looking at is made from quality materials and if it uses velcro, it is known for being durable and still capable of working in adverse conditions.
Common Types of Tourniquets
Once the constricting band has been tightened over the limb, a windlass can be turned to apply added tension until the bleeding stops. A common method and one that has historical roots.
These feature a closed loop and a self-locking buckle that tightens as you pull. As you increase the pressure the buckle continues to lock and when you need to release the tourniquet, there is usually a simple release mechanism.
These are popular with the police and have the benefit of packing down well and being easy to use. Being able to wrap the elasticated material and stretch it to cause tension is a fast way of stopping the bleeding from a severe wound although other methods tend to be seen as more effective.
Are Tourniquets Dangerous?
This is a question that many people ask and although they need to be treated with caution, a tourniquet is not dangerous when used properly. Although a tourniquet can lead to nerve damage if left on for too long, the better products will come with a time band to ensure the emergency services can see how long it has been on for, and act accordingly.
Preventing rapid blood loss is a matter of survival and a tourniquet can help.
Are There Fake Tourniquets?
This should be a concern for anyone looking for a tourniquet so only buy one from a reputable seller and read the reviews. When someone’s life is at stake you don’t want to rely on cheaply made survival equipment.
One of the most common products to replicate is the CAT design so be wary of cheap imitators and if it seems too good to be true ($15 for a CAT for example) then chances it is.
How To Store A Tourniquet
Many people store their tourniquet in a tailor-made pouch or holder and this can allow for easy access when you keep it nearby. Others will put it in their first aid kit but remember you don’t have to conceal a tourniquet even though it can be sensible to keep one in the trunk of your vehicle.
How To Learn To Use A Tourniquet
Although the best tourniquets will be pretty simple to use and should all come with easy to follow instructions, nothing can replace practicing for yourself. There might be a time where the seconds all matter so knowing what you are doing in advance can make a big difference.
The method will be different on each type of tourniquet so when you find a model or brand that you like make sure you learn how to use it. this can be via practicing on yourself or watching a video online. Because a tourniquet can wear out under the repeated tension and pressure you to create during practice, it is often a good idea to buy a second that you use for emergencies and another for practice.