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Best Tourniquets for Survival

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: July 1, 2019
Best Tourniquets for Survival

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There are a lot of things missing in a lot of the premade medical kits you get out there. For major trauma you are usually on your own to add these items. Besides bloodstop powder and clotting bandages, every major medical kit should have a tourniquet.

If you like to go into the back country or plan on bugging out then having a tourniquet in a holster that is easy to get to could save your life. There are a lot of quality premade tourniquets out there to choose from.

Tourniquets need to be able to be applied with one hand and as quickly as possible. When you buy a premade one you are getting something that is going to be much easier to use and that has been tested for keeping tight until help can get to you.

tourniquet black

Although these tourniquets vary a lot in price, like any medical device, you probably don’t want to buy the most basic or inexpensive option. This is an item that is made for major life threatening trauma and heavy blood loss or the potential for it.

Make sure you know how to use it the right way. You need to get familiar with how whatever tourniquet you buy works so that you can react correctly and quickly during a traumatic injury when it might be hard to think clearly.

Have more than one

Tourniquets are something that it is worth it to have two of. They don’t go back and when you really need them you can’t wait. Seconds count when it comes to major trauma. A major arterial bleeding situation can be controlled more with two tourniquets.

Recon Medical Tourniquet

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This tourniquet is made of Kevlar and has a sturdy aluminum windlass and a finger hole that helps you operate it under dire circumstances and when hands are slippery.

Teeth dig into the strap to help hold it and prevent pealing even on larger people. It is advised that you have two of these and use a second if there is heavy arterial bleeding to control.

HEPHEAS Black Combat Tourniquet amazon product

This two pack offers you quality tourniquets. So that you have them close at hand you can purchase and optional 2 pack of holsters that allow you to keep these on your belt or pack.

For those out in the serious back country or that work using a lot of power tools, having these where you can reach them in an instant could make a major difference in your chances of survival and recovery. These tourniquets are made for a one hand application and a magic stick that can be turned to adjust pressure until bleeding stops.

Hepheas Tourniquet Holster Tactical Holder

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Combat Application Tourniquet – GEN 7 amazon product

The Gen 7 tourniquet has the distinction of being the choice of the US Army. It is more costly than any tourniquet on the list but it is made to some very strict standards. The durable windlass system and a patented free moving internal band applies even pressure. 

The windlass hook and loop retention strap allows for easy locking into place so you can get out and get to the help you need. This tourniquet was designed to accommodate the fact that fine motor skills and be limited in a survival situation and complicated designs can slow things down. There are no screws or complicated clips to mess with when seconds count.

Disposable Tourniquet

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These latex free tourniquets are inexpensive and very similar to the typical tourniquets used at hospitals and other medical facilities when you have blood work done. These will work in an emergency but they are nowhere near as rugged as the nylon tourniquets mentioned in this post.

They are also excellent for use as a secondary tourniquet if you have already used your more rugged one but need some extra pressure for a serious injury.

Latex Free Tourniquet 2 Pack – Orange

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For those that want an easy to use wrap system that is wide, there is this tourniquet system. The SWAT system stands for stretch, wrap, and tuck. This simple design is approachable for those that are having trouble with the thought process.

There are no buckles or screws to deal with. At a great price for a 2 pack, this offers a good value and would also be a good addition to trauma kit that already has one or two of the more rugged tourniquets on this list. This tourniquet is designed to be able to be placed higher up in the groin area to control arterial bleeding.

Rapid Application Tourniquet Systemamazon product

The Rapid Application Tourniquet System or R.A.T.S. system is simple to learn to use and made for one handed operation. These tourniquets are small enough to stash almost anywhere and they can be adjusted down to a small enough size to be useful on smaller people and pets.

Many people praise this style of tourniquet over all others simply because even a completely inexperienced person in a fragile state can deploy it without having to fool with any confusing straps, buckles, etc.

Holster Choices

There are a ton of different holsters made to fit all types of tourniquets. From a basic nylon holster to a major trauma combat holster, the choice is yours.

The heavier duty holsters costs as much or more than some tourniquets because they are made to protect the integrity of your tourniquet in major combat or survival situations. Hopefully this is not a situation you are ever in. Most regular people go for a nylon holster that offers basic protection and good accessibility.

RIGID TQ Case for Generation 7 C-A-T Tourniquet

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Alternative Tourniquets

It is good to know what you can utilize when a tourniquet is not available or if you are in a situation where you have one but need a secondary one for major trauma. Here are a few common things that can be used.


While it may take a few wraps to stop the slow, paracord can be used in an emergency. The high strength ratio of the cord means it will hold up to a lot of pressure.

Electrical Cord

Coated metal wires can definitely be utilized in a survival situation. My father mentioned to me that a piece of fence wire could be used in an emergency but one had to be careful because it could cut into the skin too much. A covered wire would be better overall.

Velcro Tapes

You can get some velcro tapes that velcro into themselves. If done tighly this could be a workable makeshift tourniquet but you may find that you need to use several in order to completely stop flow.

The T-Shirt Method: The Reality Versus The Fiction

After talking with my Vietnam Veteran father that saw a lot of heavy combat, he did assure me that you could use a shirt as a tourniquet but you were going to have to wrap it twice for effectiveness. That is something that is good to know before hand.

tshirt on table wood white

Dealing With A Bleeding Injury

  1. Remain calm. This is hard to do but panic or anything that increases heart rate and pumping action is not working in your favor.
  2. React quickly. Tourniquets are great but having blood clotting gauze or bandages is going to be a big help too.
  3. Get to a medical facility if possible. If not then stabilize as best you can. Keep hydrated and fed as well as possible.

Vitamin K Can Really Help. Keep A Bottle In Your Trauma Kit!

Taking a large dose of Vitamin K can help a lot with clotting. This is actually what they gave our dog that found some rat poison that mice had scattered and we were unaware of since we had totally stopped using anything like that for over a year.

A big shot of Vitamin K and a sedative and then Vitamin K pills and she got over it but before that she was hemorrhaging out her nose a lot. It was awful and I will never forget that something as simple as Vitamin K caused her to stop the hemorrhaging and heal from the poison. It is cheap stuff but it sure works and it is something I think every prepper should have

Blood Stop Powderamazon product

This comes in small packets. You can get different sizes and I will say that we keep all types of blood stoppers around. We have band aids, bandages, Full Combat Trauma Sponge, the small plastic tubes of bloodstop, and the packets that have a lot in them.

I like the band aids and bandages for the small stuff. If you are out in the elements some then the plastic tubes are alright because you don’t have to worry about them getting exposed to moisture. Also you are not opening a large container when it is not needed. This is part of the reason we have a variety of blood stop on hand.


If you can keep it together with Steri-Strips stitches should be a last resort. While it is good to have some sutures on hand just in case, wounds should only get them if really needed.

steri strip nexcare

You also need to know what you are doing. Practicing before it is ever an issue can be helpful. There are a ton of videos out there that offer excellent instruction. It is better to learn something before you need it.

Sutures are something that are usually done within an hour of an injury as well. After that time it is questionable if it should be done. I am not a doctor in any way but I do know that all situations are not the same and under trying circumstances it can be hard to make decisions that could have such a huge impact on someones healing and recovery.

Medical Guide

The value of a detailed medical guide and studying it ahead of time to be prepared cannot be stressed enough. I am not saying you need to sit down and dwell on it but occasionally studying up on some of the more common injuries and situations and learning how to treat them is not a bad idea.

The folks at Doom and Bloom have a very popular guide that is recommended and a part of many a prepper’s library for SHTF.

The Survival Medicine Handbook

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So how long can a tourniquet be left in place?

After 2 hours in place, you can start to suffer from neurovascular and tissue damage. The greater the length of time the tourniquet is left in place, the more the risk of permanent damage. Hopefully you are never in a situation where you suffer and injury where help cannot be reached within two hours.

According to a study by the study “Tourniquet use in the civilian prehospital setting” after 6 hours muscle damage is complete and amputation of an area is likely. The bottom line is that tourniquets are highly effective at reducing death due to bleeding but they need to be applied with care and removed as fast as medically possible.

The Bottom Line: Be Prepared But Be Careful Out There

Prepping and survival situations can mean some dangers. Try to give yourself enough time to do things without rushing too much if possible, especially if you are doing something a bit risky that you are knew to do doing or haven’t in a long time.

Taking on risky activities earlier in the day when you are fresh and rested and there is adequate light to see by can also help avoid injuries. On the other hand, sometimes things just happen even if you are careful, and that is why it is good to be careful but also be prepared for unforeseen happenings. Tourniquets really are a must have for any prepping trauma kit.

Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them. She an be reached at [email protected]

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4 Responses to “Best Tourniquets for Survival”

  1. I did a lot of internet research on tourniquets and talking to former military medics. Best TQ seems to be SOFF-T Wide, followed by genuine North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT). Beware, there are lot of knock-offs. Medic didn’t like CAT because several windlasses had broken. The SOFF-T has a windlass of aircraft aluminum. Good luck breaking that!
    The RATS TQ did not fare as well. It is like a thin rope and is much more painful than the wider tourniquets.
    The elastic SWAT-T is small, about 1/3 the price of CAT and Soff-T, and it folds flat, so it carries well. Can be very difficult to apply on one’s own arm. Best suited to legs. Good as a backup TQ or can be used to apply pressure dressings.
    To be clear, to be effective, they are going to hurt. Paramedics will give pain meds upon arriving if casualty has TQ on. They can stay on up to about 6 hours and still save a limb & a life. Do not loosen a TQ after application. Best to carry at least two. One may not be enough to stop a bleed or there may be multiple needs (wounds or people). You need to practice with anything you carry. Do not expect to get the TQ back after use.

  2. I read the actual account when googling ‘natural treatment for deep cut’ after I nearly cut off my finger: a rock climber limped into camp and his friends immediately started packing after looking at the deep gash on his calf. He asked for someone to give him the cayenne pepper, then they watched him pack it into the cut. The writer said had he not seen it, he would never have believed it. Next morning he said there was a slight wound but nothing like the day prior. Well… i was afraid to pack it in my cut but sprinkled it on. It stopped the bleeding almost immediately and the next morning, I could see the slice but was amazed at how it had closed. I carry cayenne in my travel and hiking bags. Off to put some in my emergency bag in the car. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Yet another great article! I had no idea that there were pre-made tourniquets out there available for purchase. Thank you once again.

  4. You forgot the trusty ubiquitous Triangular Bandage/Cravat (wrap, tie an overhand knot, insert long stiff object, tie another overhand knot twist long stiff object (like a propeller), tie in place when blood flow stops)

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