Reviews

LAST UPDATED: December 19, 2019

Best Tourniquets: Stop Arterial Blood Loss Effectively

A quality tourniquet can stop the bleeding of an injured limb in just seconds

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PUBLISHED ON December 19, 2019

Studies have shown that most deaths caused by accidents are a result of hemorrhaging or excessive bleeding. This is because bare hand pressure and bandaging can only prevent superficial capillary bleeding. When the bleeding is from the main artery, the victim will lose too much blood in a very short time and might die before the ambulance arrives. That’s why you need an effective kit that can stop severe main artery bleeding—the tourniquet. In this guide, we review the best three tourniquets on the market.

  • Best Overall
    North American Rescue Military Issue
    Summary
    Summary

    This is the official U.S. military kit, and it is effective in stopping blood flow in the upper and lower extremities. It features a windlass clip for an enhanced bleeding stoppage. Its security tab has a writeable area to record the time of application.

    Pros
    Pros

    This kit is lightweight and easy to use. It is proven and certified by the military and medics. It is made of quality material to enhance its durability

    Cons
    Cons

    Its hardware is made of breakable plastic instead of metal. Some users claim that there is a counterfeit version that breaks easily.

  • Best Overall
    North American Rescue Military Issue
  • Best Value
    Cardinal Health Disposable Tourniquet
    Summary
    Summary
    This is a latex-free tourniquet specifically designed for those who have latex allergies. It measures 1 x 18 inches and is designed for medical use. It is lightweight, weighing only 1 ounce, a feature that increases its portability.
    Pros
    Pros

    It's comfortable and holds the limb firmly, reducing blood loss effortlessly.
    It’s easy to pack and carry. It comes in a pack of 10, giving you value for the money.

    Cons
    Cons
    It is not very elastic or flexible. The rubber the tourniquet is made from is stiff. The tourniquet may loosen easily, slip off, or come undone.
  • Best Value
    Cardinal Health Disposable Tourniquet
  • Honorable Mention
    ASA Techmed One Hand Tourniquet
    Summary
    Summary
    This tourniquet is compact and durable. It’s easy to use and can rapidly stop hemorrhaging in emergencies or traumas. It comes with a windlass and a pre-marked time stamp. It is adjustable and can suit a range of people. 
    Pros
    Pros
    You can use this tourniquet without any help. It’s light in weight and compact enough to be carried everywhere. Having the shears and tourniquet in one pouch is convenient.
    Cons
    Cons
    The pouch is not very durable and falls apart with regular use. It can also be bulky. The trauma shears in the kit are standard shears.
  • Honorable Mention
    ASA Techmed One Hand Tourniquet

    Studies have shown that most deaths caused by accidents are a result of hemorrhaging or excessive bleeding. This is because bare hand pressure and bandaging can only prevent superficial capillary bleeding. When the bleeding is from the main artery, the victim will lose too much blood in a very short time and might die before the ambulance arrives. That’s why you need an effective kit that can stop severe main artery bleeding—the tourniquet. In this guide, we review the best three tourniquets on the market.

    Best Tourniquet Reviews & Recommendations 2020 

    Best Overall

    The U.S. Army considers this one-handed Combat Application Tourniquet its official tourniquet. And according to the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research, it is 100 percent effective. It successfully occludes blood flow in both the upper and lower extremities when there’s significant hemorrhage. The tourniquet is usable in all weather conditions. Its stabilization plate has a beveled contact bar that helps it work better.


    The kit is lightweight and easy to use. For faster application, it has a single routing buckle to enable effective slack removal and fewer windlass turns. This tourniquet comes with a reinforced windlass rod and windlass clip. The clip is bilateral to allow for rapid locking and features a buttress for added strength. The rod has a larger diameter and is aggressively ribbed for improved grip. The tourniquet is equipped with a clearly visible security tab that has a writeable area where you can record the time you applied the tourniquet. 


    Unfortunately, the tourniquet’s hardware is made using breakable plastic instead of metal. It may not stop bleeding when you need it to; some users believe it’s a counterfeit.

    Best Value

    A latex-free tourniquet, this Cardinal Health product is ideal for those with latex allergies. It is designed specifically for medical professionals and is 18 inches long and 1 inch wide. Its length allows it to comfortably fit people of all ages and sizes. One of the features we love about it is it weighs only 1 ounce. Since it takes up little space, it is easy to carry around. 


    The manufacturer, in an effort to offer great value for the money, sells 10 tourniquets in a single pack. Each is designed for comfort and firmly secures the injured limb, minimizing blood loss instantly. Each tourniquet is wound around a circular object and takes time to straighten. You can reuse each numerous times. 


    The downside is that the tourniquet is not as flexible or as elastic as it looks. The rubber used to make it is stiff, making it difficult to use. It is also slippery. After application, it can loosen and open up.

    Honorable Mention

    This survival tourniquet is lightweight and compact. It is one of the most portable we’ve seen. You can easily carry the kit around, as the pouch has MOLLE and belt loop straps. It makes a perfect addition to motorcycle and car emergency kits, hunting or hiking packs, and home first aid kits. It prevents rapid blood loss by compressing the limb. 


    Manufactured to be applied using one hand, the tourniquet comes with a one-hand windlass clip. If the situation calls for it, you can put it on your limb and have one free hand to help another injured person. Putting the tourniquet and shears in the same pouch is also very thoughtful of ASA Techmed. It is adjustable and can fit a wide range of people. The tourniquet has a pre-marked timestamp that helps you to note the time you applied it. 


    The major drawback is the pouch is not strong and gets damaged easily. Additionally, the trauma shears provided are nothing out of the ordinary. They are only standard shears.

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    Benefits of Tourniquets 

    • Can be used on amputated limbs. You can use a tourniquet on an amputated limb when there is an increased risk of bleeding. Amputations may be caused by explosions, motor vehicle accidents, or other trauma. A tourniquet lowers the chances of hypovolemic shock, a condition that occurs when you lose more than 20 percent of your blood.
    • Treats multiple casualties. Tourniquets may be used as the first response treatment when there are mass casualties, like during terrorist attacks or industrial accidents. They quickly stop or slow down bleeding in people with serious limb injuries. This gives first responders more time to treat critical cases, secure airways, or perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 
    • Great alternative to applying direct pressure. A tourniquet can be applied to prevent bleeding on an affected limb when you can’t reach it to apply direct pressure. It may be the only method to control the bleeding. It is highly useful when someone is trapped under a boulder with a badly injured limb and they are unable to get out. 

    Types of Tourniquets 

    Military Emergency Tourniquet (MET)

    This lightweight tourniquet is made of an aluminum windlass and a strong strap. It opens up completely for placement around a limb. It doesn’t need to be totally cinched before you engage the windlass. When you need to tie it loosely, turning the windlass can loosen it. The tourniquet has two tightening features for locking the windlass after use. One has Velcro while the other is adjustable. 

    Emergency Medical Tourniquet (EMT)

    This is a pneumatic tourniquet that resembles a blood pressure cuff. However, the tourniquet has a stronger securing mechanism and a reinforced pneumatic bladder that prevents air loss when it inflates. These maintain pressure on the limb once the tourniquet is applied. The EMT is an easy-to-use, open-loop tourniquet that compresses even when loosely applied. It is larger and costlier than many windlass tourniquets.

    Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)

    This is one of the oldest tourniquets in existence and is commonly used by the military. It comes in different models. However, it’s important to use the most recent model as it is more effective. The tourniquet features a closed-loop system limited to a 3-inch uptake. The windlass only has one locking point and the strap is secured with Velcro. The strap is routed through the buckle differently; it all depends on whether the tourniquet is used on a lower or upper extremity.

    Mechanical Advantage Tourniquet (MAT)

    This tourniquet is made from plastic shaped like a “C” for easy application around the limb. It is manufactured in two sizes: one for the leg and the other for the arm. It utilizes a closed-loop system and its strap can be quickly attached and detached. The tourniquet’s internal tightening mechanism is a plastic dial that can be turned. This tourniquet has a lower uptake because the strap must be secured before the internal system is engaged.

    Top Brands

    ASA Techmed

    This company manufactures and distributes sports and emergency medical products. It is based in Deer Park, New York, and its products include stethoscopes, bandages, splints, kinesiology tapes, and blood pressure monitors. It also makes a variety of tourniquets, but the 10-Pack Medical Tourniquet Emergency Survival Kit is one of its very best.

    Recon Medical

    This company is committed to developing top-notch medical products that don’t cost an arm and a leg. It uses higher-quality materials to create its products, materials that stand the test of time. Most of its products come with a lifetime guarantee, like the Gen 4 Black Tourniquet. No wonder it’s so well-rated.

    North American Rescue

    This company’s motto is “Products with a Mission.'' Each of its products is an inventive, life-saving solution that’s specially designed for the unique challenges that crop up during casualty care in difficult environments and situations. We love its 2-Pack CAT Tourniquet, as it’s very easy to use.

    Tourniquet Pricing 

    • $5-$10: A majority of the tourniquets here are disposable and made from latex-free material. The tourniquet may be one continuous roll or they may be sold as a pack.  
    • $15-$20: This range features a mix of disposable tourniquets and those that have a windlass. The disposable ones come in packs of up to 100 pieces. 
    • $25-$30: These tourniquets usually have an aluminum or metal windlass. They may be sold as singles or as a pack.  

    Key Features 

    Cuff Width

    A cuff that has a wider bladder blocks blood flow with less pressure compared to a cuff with a smaller bladder. The lower pressure decreases the chances of pressure-related injuries. A wider cuff efficiently transmits blood to the deeper tissues. To minimize the risk of nerve injury, ensure the cuff edges are not close to the joints of the affected limb.

    Quality

    The best tourniquet can withstand pressure and stays firm after repeated use. In the USA, the FDA requires all tourniquet manufacturers to have a quality management system. The minimum standard is the ISO 9001 certification. Additionally, the best tourniquets meet the standards set by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC). This is an independent organization endorsed by the National Association of EMTs and the American College of Surgeons.

    Tourniquet and Cuff Length

    A good tourniquet should be 3 feet (1 meter) long so as to fit people of different dimensions. If you are small-bodied, a shorter tourniquet is best for you. A military tourniquet spans at least 3.13 feet and is the standard most manufacturers use. The cuff length is usually determined by the limb size. The cuff should overlap at least 3 inches (6 inches maximum). A cuff that is too long doesn’t fit snugly and is unstable. A short cuff will put uneven pressure on the limb. 

    Other Considerations 

    • Windlass: Tourniquets featuring a windlass are better because they are the most effective and fastest to use. They can be comfortably applied with one hand. The windlass helps tighten the tourniquet. Avoid tourniquets with cheaply-made windlasses because they bend easily under pressure. 
    • Environment: The kind of environment you plan to use the tourniquet in is important. Tourniquets come with diverse features, hence the need to identify the setting before buying one. There are emergency tourniquets, surgical tourniquets, and rehabilitation tourniquets. Choose the one that’s best for you.

    Best Tourniquet Reviews & Recommendations 2020 

    Best Overall

    The U.S. Army considers this one-handed Combat Application Tourniquet its official tourniquet. And according to the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research, it is 100 percent effective. It successfully occludes blood flow in both the upper and lower extremities when there’s significant hemorrhage. The tourniquet is usable in all weather conditions. Its stabilization plate has a beveled contact bar that helps it work better.


    The kit is lightweight and easy to use. For faster application, it has a single routing buckle to enable effective slack removal and fewer windlass turns. This tourniquet comes with a reinforced windlass rod and windlass clip. The clip is bilateral to allow for rapid locking and features a buttress for added strength. The rod has a larger diameter and is aggressively ribbed for improved grip. The tourniquet is equipped with a clearly visible security tab that has a writeable area where you can record the time you applied the tourniquet. 


    Unfortunately, the tourniquet’s hardware is made using breakable plastic instead of metal. It may not stop bleeding when you need it to; some users believe it’s a counterfeit.

    Best Value

    A latex-free tourniquet, this Cardinal Health product is ideal for those with latex allergies. It is designed specifically for medical professionals and is 18 inches long and 1 inch wide. Its length allows it to comfortably fit people of all ages and sizes. One of the features we love about it is it weighs only 1 ounce. Since it takes up little space, it is easy to carry around. 


    The manufacturer, in an effort to offer great value for the money, sells 10 tourniquets in a single pack. Each is designed for comfort and firmly secures the injured limb, minimizing blood loss instantly. Each tourniquet is wound around a circular object and takes time to straighten. You can reuse each numerous times. 


    The downside is that the tourniquet is not as flexible or as elastic as it looks. The rubber used to make it is stiff, making it difficult to use. It is also slippery. After application, it can loosen and open up.

    Honorable Mention

    This survival tourniquet is lightweight and compact. It is one of the most portable we’ve seen. You can easily carry the kit around, as the pouch has MOLLE and belt loop straps. It makes a perfect addition to motorcycle and car emergency kits, hunting or hiking packs, and home first aid kits. It prevents rapid blood loss by compressing the limb. 


    Manufactured to be applied using one hand, the tourniquet comes with a one-hand windlass clip. If the situation calls for it, you can put it on your limb and have one free hand to help another injured person. Putting the tourniquet and shears in the same pouch is also very thoughtful of ASA Techmed. It is adjustable and can fit a wide range of people. The tourniquet has a pre-marked timestamp that helps you to note the time you applied it. 


    The major drawback is the pouch is not strong and gets damaged easily. Additionally, the trauma shears provided are nothing out of the ordinary. They are only standard shears.

    Tips

    • When buying a tourniquet, its length, width, size, and material are all necessary considerations. Always try to choose a convenient size that can fit into your emergency kit. 
    • A kit with a wider cuff surface area is recommended. This is because narrow straps can cause a lot of pain or tissue damage.
    • There are four main types of tourniquet: windlass, elastic band, pneumatic, and ratcheting. The windlass design is military approved because it features a solid stick that can be twisted to create pressure.

    FAQs

    Q: Are tourniquets safe?

    A: Yes. Some people have concerns that using a tourniquet will only make matters worse. However, research has shown that only 0.4 percent of patients who applied a tourniquet underwent limb amputation, and it had nothing to do with the kit. Also, only 1.5 percent of these patients suffered severe nerve damage. Therefore, a tourniquet is the safest way to stop severe bleeding.

    Q: When should I use a tourniquet?

    A: Use a tourniquet when the hemorrhage is life-threatening and cannot be stopped by direct pressure. However, if the bleeding can be controlled by hand pressure or bandaging, then a tourniquet is not necessary.

    Q: How should I use a tourniquet?

    A: It is recommended that the tourniquet is placed directly on the skin several inches above the wound. However, avoid placing it on the joint, since it might not be as effective and can also cause damage to the joint.

    Final Thoughts

    Our top pick for the best tourniquet is the North American Rescue Military Issue. It’s effective, durable, easy to use, and portable.

    If you are on a budget, we recommend the Cardinal Health Disposable Tourniquet. It’s very efficient, easy to carry, and military-proven.