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Should You Carry a Tourniquet on Your Battle Belt?

Designing and putting together a quality battle belt to use in the field can feel like a daunting task. There are so many gadgets, gizmos, and accessories available on the market for battle belts. We might question exactly what is necessary and what is not necessary. Some things might feel like they are overkill. Other items feel like must-have essentials. So, where do tourniquets fall in this line of questioning?

We believe that without a doubt a tourniquet should be a part of your battle belt setup. Two would be even better! Tourniquets are vital pieces of equipment that are small, light, and easy to use. In an emergency situation when a life depends on it you want it. No battle belt should be without one!

Let’s take a look at the different ways to carry a tourniquet and the different options that are out there for this vital piece of first-aid equipment.

Types of Tourniquets

Since we are at this point of battle belt build, there is a good chance you know what a tourniquet is and how it works. As a refresher though, a tourniquet is a device for stopping blood flow through a vein or artery, typically by compressing a limb with a cord or tight bandage. 

Tourniquets have come a long way and are now very easy to use on another person or even on yourself in desperate times of emergency. There are multiple types of tourniquets but the two popular ones that we highly recommend for battle belts are the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) and the SOF-T (Special Operation Forces Tourniquet).

We will touch on each one briefly to give a glimpse of what is on the market to carry on a battle belt.

CAT – Combat Application Tourniquet

The CAT was designed to be a first-person, first-aid device that can be applied by the injured person in case of an emergency. It is easily used with one hand and can be put on in a matter of seconds if need be. 

It uses a long strap that goes over the limb, is pulled tight, and has a built in turning rod that is twisted to add more pressure. It has a locking feature to keep the windlass rod in place once the pressure is set and a tag that can be written on to indicate what time the tourniquet was applied. 

This very simple style of tourniquet is lightweight and easy to use by an injured person. It has one of the most secure retention straps that keep pressure on the wound from beginning to end. It will stay on even if the person moves. There is no special training needed for using this type of tourniquet. 

To check out more about the CAT, watch this video for more details.

SOF-T – Special Operation Forces Tourniquet

The SOF-T is a very similar style to the CAT. The clip, to lock it in, is a bit different than the CAT. The SOF-T can be used with one hand, which makes it great for personal carry in the case of an emergency. 

It is made out of a synthetic webbing that allows for maximum tightening to restrict blood flow to the injured area. It also has features like the slack indicator wedge. This ensures all the slack is pulled out of the tourniquet to guarantee that it is being used effectively. 

The SOF-T operates as an adjustable strap that goes around the injured limb easily with one or two hands. Pull the strap tight and check the slack indicator wedge to ensure that it is tight. Finally, use the attached windlass to tighten the tourniquet in order to restrict blood flow and stop bleeding. The windlass rod then hooks into a very simple clip attached to the tourniquet.

Again, this is a very popular and easy to use tourniquet that doesn’t need any special training. Check out more about the SOF-T in this video detailing its use. 

Carrying A Tourniquet on Your Battle Belt

When designing a battle belt, make sure all the essential equipment you need is on that belt. That should include a tourniquet. Many think that a tourniquet is not needed because the chances of losing an arm or a leg might be very minuscule. Accidents happen though, and it is better to be over prepared than under prepared.

With the size and lightweight build of today’s new tourniquets, they are a must have on any battle belt. Most of these tourniquets are very small, compact, and weigh four ounces or less! It will be one of the lightest pieces of equipment on your battle belt but it could end up saving your life in a moment of need.

First Aid Kit With a Tourniquet

Most people will consider equipping their battle belt with an IFAK or Individual First Aid Kit. This is a small pouch that has the most basic and needed first-aid accessories to help with wounds and injuries in the field. Most will either come equipped with or have room for a tourniquet inside of them. So, if an IFAK is already on the list of equipment, be sure to add a tourniquet to it.

Keep Your Tourniquet Accessible

Due to the nature of an injury that might require the use of a tourniquet, (quick and ugly loss of blood in a short period) we highly suggest that the tourniquet be easily accessible by either hand. If the individual were to injure an arm, it needs to be easily accessible by either hand so that they can administer first aid to themselves quickly and easily. 

Having a tourniquet mounted directly to a battle belt can solve this problem. Just ensure that it is located in a position on the belt that can be accessed by both hands. A popular place for it is directly on the back of the belt so that it can be reached by either hand, yet is out of the way of other important equipment that will more than likely be accessed more frequently. 

These tourniquets are made to be durable and have few parts that can be broken. There is no need to worry that it will be destroyed by bouncing around on the battle belt. This should ease the mind about how simple and easy a tourniquet can be carried and positioned on a battle belt without it getting in the way or becoming cumbersome.

Carry Multiples

As we stated in the previous section, tourniquets today are quite compact and lightweight. Therefore, we highly suggest carrying more than one. Even if it is just two, that is less than a half pound of extra weight. In case of emergencies, carrying two has some very practical applications for an individual. 

One tourniquet can be used for another person while not worrying about not having one for yourself in the future. Or, if injuries are serious enough, multiple tourniquets might be necessary to ensure survival.

For this, we highly encourage that one tourniquet is placed in an easily accessible position on the battle belt. The other tourniquet, or two, would be well positioned inside an IFAK, also located on the battle belt. This would serve any carrier with more than enough emergency first-aid options when the occasion calls for it.

Mounting a Tourniquet to the Battle Belt

Most tourniquets are sold with just the tourniquet apparatus itself, but cannot attach and carry it directly on a battle belt. We highly suggest the Tourniquet Holder from Blue Alpha. This simple holder allows the user to attach their tourniquet to the belt vertically or horizontally. It is compatible with both CAT and SOF-T tourniquets.

It is made with Squadron, Tegris, and elastic materials for durability and security to ensure that the tourniquet stays protected and in place. It also has a slot for carrying a sharpie to indicate the time the tourniquet was administered. It is easy to mount, having a one-inch hook and loop for attaching it to the belt or it can be mounted via MOLLE to any compatible belt or bag

The design also makes it extremely easy for the carrier to access their tourniquet when the time comes. The elastic strap of the holder keeps the tourniquet secure and easily accessed from either end of the holder. This makes it an easy, no brainer way to attach a tourniquet to a battle belt.

The price starts at just under $30 for the holder, and additional features are also available. For $5 more, there is a dangler panel attachment for additional mounting options. This allows the user to mount it to their chest plate carrier. For another $29.97, the tourniquet holder can be purchased with a CAT tourniquet and sharpie. Blue Alpha makes one stop shopping possible when equipping a battle belt with a tourniquet.

Placement and Practice

Once you are setting up your battle belt, be sure to try different positioning of all your battle belt accessories to find the best fit for you. Remember, the tourniquet should be positioned where it is out of the way of regularly needed accessories, but also easily accessible by either hand in the case of an emergency. 

It may take multiple attempts and uses to find the right combination of accessory placement on the battle belt. Once that perfect combination is found you will be extremely happy.

Don’t neglect to practice with your tourniquet. Don’t let an emergency field use be the first time you have ever laid hands on the tourniquet to apply it. When the time comes, fastening a tourniquet properly can be the difference between life and death.

Practice accessing the tourniquet with both hands and applying the tourniquet to any limb. That includes practicing administration of the tourniquet with a single hand. Prepare for the worst case scenario so that if the occasion ever arises you are prepared for it. 

Take a Tourniquet

We highly suggest carrying at least one if not two or more tourniquets on your battle belt setup. It might seem like a piece of extra equipment that will seldom be used, but if and when the time comes that a tourniquet is needed, you won’t be sorry that you have one. 

Don’t neglect this simple and possibly life saving piece of equipment. Get at least one mounted to your battle belt and have at least one more in your IFAK. We sincerely hope that you will be over prepared with a tourniquet on your battle belt. We also hope that it will never have to be used at any point in your lifetime. Be prepared and be safe.