Traumatic injuries can happen in an instant. Soldiers, law enforcement and other first responders have long carried something called an individual first aid kit (IFAK). This is a small medical pouch designed to carry the essential tools needed to save a life in an emergency. Today we’ll be covering several different types of first aid kits to help you find the best IFAK pouch for your needs.

Best IFAK Pouch

Best IFAK Pouch

Like many field tools and outdoor equipment IFAK pouches originated with the military. They were designed to give individual soldiers the ability to perform basic life saving first aid without having to wait for a medic.

Because of this focus on saving a life IFAK pouches contain much more trauma focused gear than your standard bandage and ointment home first aid kit. When you’re picking one out for yourself it’s important you decide just what you’re preparing for.

You can get a quality pre-made kit that includes a carry pouch and all the contents. You can also buy just a medic’s pouch and pick out the individual gear you want to carry.

Our review today will cover a range of different pouches, complete kits, and a guide to the gear most commonly included in an IFAK.

Condor Rip-Away EMT Pouch

Condor Rip Away EMT Pouch

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The Condor Rip-Away EMT Pouch is a multi-pocket IFAK pouch designed to hold all your first aid gear. It uses a tri-fold design with built-in elastic loops to make organizing and accessing your gear quick and easy.

It’s designed to attach to a MOLLE pack or webbing system with the included platform attachment. The straps hold it in place with small buttons so it can easily be ripped away without having to fiddle with clips or straps.

This makes it much easier to access in an emergency. It also has a pair of D-rings on the back for attaching shoulder carry straps.

The Condor Rip-Away is a sturdy first aid pouch with enough space to hold all the essentials. It offers several convenient carry options and is easy to access when you need it.

USMC Molle Pouch

USMC Molle Pouch

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The USMC Molle Pouch is an actual US Marine Corp issue MOLLE compatible pouch. It’s made to military specifications and is large enough to hold all your IFAK gear without issue.

It uses a side release buckle system to stay locked down when not in use. While it doesn’t have any internal organizing system it’s a sturdy, substantial pouch that has stood up to military use all over the world.

Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit

Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit

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The Trauma Kit from Blue Force Gear is a multipart IFAK pouch system designed to be rapidly accessible. It’s made up of a Cordura nylon pouch plus a removable gear organizer made from ULTRAcomp.

This reduces the overall weight of the pouch and makes it incredibly easy to access all your gear when you need it. The internal organizer folds out into a flat pack system.

Individual pieces of first aid gear are held in place by elastic straps and small pockets. This allows you to find exactly what you need without fumbling through the rest of your gear.

The Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit is a rugged and well organized IFAK pouch. Its multipart system makes it easier to access your gear when you need it and put it away when you’re done.

Maxpedition FR1 Combat Medical Pouch

Maxpedition Combat Medical Pouch

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The Maxpedition FR1 Combat Medical Pouch is a smaller and lighter weight IFAK pouch designed to carry the essentials. It measures just 6 x 7 inches and is designed to fold open for easy access to you supplies.

It uses an elastic drawbridge opening with a cord lock to limit how much it can open. This prevents it from flopping open and spilling out your gear when not in use.

Inside are zippered pockets, small straps and elastic bands to help you organize your gear. It has a top mounted carry strap and MOLLE compatible webbing on both sides of the pouch.

If you’re looking for a smaller IFAK pouch to carry just the essentials the Maxpedition FR1 is a great option.

Lightning X Spread Eagle Complete Tactical Gunshot & Trauma IFAK Kit

Lightning X Spread Eagle IFAK Kit

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The Lightning X Spread Eagle IFAK kit is designed to offer comprehensive treatment options to the medic on site. It comes in an innovative quick access pouch that zips totally open and allows two flip out wings to deploy.

This gives you a substantial amount of first aid gear in a very compact package. Every piece of kit has its own specific strap, pouch or pocket to help you instantly find what you need in the heat of the moment.

The Spread Eagle comes with the full range of IFAK components, including:

  • NAR Hyfin Vent Chest Seal
  • NAR C-A-T Tourniquet Gen 7
  • Black Nitrile Tactical Gloves
  • Israeli Military Pressure Bandage
  • Burn Dressing
  • Nasal Airway 28FR
  • Several Varieties of Gauze

The Lightning X Spread Eagle gives you all the first aid gear you need for an IFAK in a durable and highly accessible pouch. It’s a bit on the pricey side but it’s comprehensively designed, with every included tool coming from a reputable manufacturer.

Lightning X Products Outdoor Enthusiasts IFAK

Lightning X IFAK Trauma Pouch

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The Lightning X Outdoor Enthusiasts IFAK is a smaller and more compact version of their full size IFAK products. It’s designed to be easy to carry while out hiking, camping or sport shooting without getting in the way.

It’s packed in a nylon pouch with MOLLE webbing on every side. The pouch is made to fold out 90° to give you full access to the needed gear without spilling from your belt or bag. It’s available in black, medical red, and a classic desert tan.

It includes gear such as:

  • Gen II R.A.T.S. Tourniquet
  • Trauma Shears
  • Israeli Pressure Bandage
  • Black Nitrile Gloves
  • Several Types of Gauze
  • Basic First Aid Supplies
  • Quick Clotting Hemostatic Gauze Pad
  • ABD Pad
  • NPA Nasal Airway
  • Triangle Bandage

This gives you everything you need to treat the vast majority of traumatic injuries in the field. Overall the Outdoor Enthusiasts kit provides you with excellent first response equipment at a reasonable price.

North American Rescue Squad Medics Kit

North American Rescue Medics Kit

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The North American Rescue Squad Medic’s Kit is a very large and fully loaded IFAK kit. It really skirts the line of what an IFAK is versus a full squad medics kit.

It comes in a large 500D nylon pouch with an outside accessible holster for trauma shears. It has full MOLLE capabilities and a strap that allows you to wear it as a shoulder bag or fanny pack.

It includes multiple units of all the most important IFAK components, including:

  • Combat Casualty Reference Card
  • Trauma Shears
  • BOA IV Constricting Band
  • SAM Splint II
  • Nasopharyngeal Airway 28F
  • Black Talon Nitrile Trauma Gloves
  • HyFin Chest Seal
  • ARS Needle Decompression Kit
  • NAR C-A-T Tourniquet Gen 7
  • Several Varieties of Gauze

With that much equipment the Squad Medics Kit prepares you to deal with just about any injury you might see in the field. On the other hand, it’s larger, heavier, and a lot more expensive than many less comprehensive kits.

Gunfighters Trauma Kit

Gunfighters Trauma Kit

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The Gunfighters Trauma Kit is a sealed IFAK designed to treat gunshot wounds. It doesn’t include a carry pouch, instead providing you with all the needed equipment to fill your own pouch.

It provides you with all the necessary supplies to treat gunshot wounds, including:

  • NAR C-A-T Tourniquet Gen 7
  • Hyfin Chest Seals
  • Hemostatic Gauze
  • Nitrile Gloves
  • Needle Decompression Kit
  • ETD Bandage

Most outdoorsman aren’t going to encounter many gunshot wounds while out exploring. If you’re a hunter or sports shooter though you know that accidents can happen, and happen fast.

Having the Gunfighters Trauma Kit in your range or hunting bag can be the difference between life and death if you experience a catastrophic misfire or negligent discharge.

Buyers Guide to Buying IFAK Component Supplies

If you’re more of a DIYer you might want to try putting together your own personalized IFAK pouch. It allows you to get all the specific types of gear you think you’ll need the most and choose just how much stuff you want to carry around.

As a kit designed to treat an individual an IFAK doesn’t contain as much stuff as a medic’s kit or a comprehensive field kit. When you’re picking out the supplies for your kit keep that in mind to keep yourself from getting overloaded.

One piece of advice we think is crucial when building this kind of kit is to always check the brands you’re buying. With most products buying generic isn’t that big of a deal.

With trauma equipment you just shouldn’t risk it. You have no idea what kind of quality control those cheaper supplies went through. When you’re buying something designed to save a life it’s not worth the risk to try and save a little money.

Tourniquets

The number one cause of preventable traumatic death is compressible hemorrhaging. The human body relies on blood for survival but we only have about a gallon to a gallon and a half of blood.

Wounds to the extremities can quickly lead to fatal massive blood loss if not immediately stopped. One of the best ways to do this is with a tourniquet. These are basically just compressible straps that wrap around your limb above the wound and stop the flow of blood to that part of your body.

Different tourniquets do this in different ways but for a IFAK it’s important you be able to self apply it. Look for ones that are easy to use, have a tensioning method, and that are from a reputable manufacturer.

We recommend:

Combat Application Tourniquet C.A.T. Gen 7
RATS GEN 2 Rapid Application Tourniquet
SWAT-T Tourniquet

Hemostatic Agents

Hemostatic agents are designed to cause rapid blood clotting to stop bleeding as fast as possible. There have been powdered clotting agents for decades but recent developments by companies like QuikClot have produced new and less painful solutions.

These include things like gauze and sponges designed to soak up blood and cause rapid clotting. These are designed for arterial bleeds where tourniqueting isn’t possible or needed.

The US military has completely switched from powdered clotting agents to the new gauze/sponge systems.

We recommend:

QuikClot Advanced Clotting Sponge and Gauze
Celox Hemostatic Granules

Israeli Bandage

The Israeli bandage is legendary in military and first responder circles. Originally developed in conjunction with the Israeli Defense Forces by former medic Bernard Bar-Natan, it has since become one of the most widely used emergency bandages in the world.

Unlike past bandages that were difficult to apply constant compression with the Israeli bandage is designed around an elastic non-adhesive bandage with a built in pressure bar. This allows you to quickly wrap a major wound with the bandage, apply substantial pressure to it, and then clip it in place around the wound to stop the bleeding.

We recommend you only purchase the original Israeli bandage, as there are lots of imitators and copycats out there making lower quality products.

Surgical Gloves

Surgical gloves are an essential part of protecting a medic from possible bloodborne contagions. Make sure you only purchase latex- and powder-free gloves to prevent allergic reactions and wound contamination.

We recommend:

MedPride Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves

Modular Bandage

Modular bandages are very similar to Israeli bandages but from a different source. They’re designed to make applying a compressive bandage faster and easier than ever before.

They include added features like an occlusive dressing and a plastic pressure cup to focus compression on the wound itself. Some people prefer the modular bandage to the Israeli but they’ll both get the job done.

Try out each of them and see which one you like more.

We recommend:
Pretrada OLAES Modular Bandage

Chest Seal

Another common cause of death with traumatic injuries are sucking chest wounds. These allow air into the body and can lead to a condition called a tension pneumothorax.

Chest seals are basically just super strong adhesive patches that prevent air from entering your body. They’re designed to go onto wet, hairy, sweaty, and dirty skin without any problems.

We recommend:

FOX Chest Seal
Progressive Medical Halo Chest Seals
North American Rescue Hyfin Vent Chest Seal

Trauma Shears

It’s always a good idea to keep a pair of trauma shears in your IFAK. They allow you to cut through clothes, belts, bandages, and just about anything else.

We’ve already gone in depth on this topic in our best trauma shears article so I’ll be brief here. If you’re a military medic or first responder you should definitely check out the Leatherman Raptor.

It’s robust, versatile, and made with all the care that Leatherman is famous for. If you’re just throwing together a basic ‘just in case’ kit to keep in your car it’s not really worth it to spend $100+ on a pair of trauma shears.

Check out something like the Madison Supply or XShears.

Waterproof Medical Tape

Waterproof medical tape has tons of uses in a triage and first response situation. You can add extra strength to bandages, hold gauze in place and do all kinds of other things.

We recommend:
Nexcare Absolute Waterproof First Aid Tape

Compressed Gauze

The most important part of battlefield medical care is to stop the bleeding. Gauze is one of the most important tools a medic has to do this. Any IFAK has to contain a good supply of gauze plus wrappings and cinches.

You should try and put several different varieties of gauze in your IFAK. Compressed gauze is the best place to start but you should also consider rolled gauze, gauze pads and gauze sheets.

We recommend:
H&H Primed Compressed Gauze
NAR Compressed Gauze

Burn Dressing

One of the most common minor injuries people experience are burns. Larger burns can be serious health risks but even small burns hurt a lot.

One of the best ways to limit the damage and pain of a burn is with burn gel. It instantly stops the burn itself and helps soothe the damaged skin. Burn dressings combine high-quality burn gel with nonadhesive dressing.

We recommend:
Water-Jel Burn Dressing
Water-Jel Burn Gel

Tactical Flashlight

Injuries don’t only happen in brightly lit conditions. A small but powerful tactical flashlight should always be included in your IFAK.

Check out our in-depth review of various tactical flashlights to find the best one for your needs. You might also consider a headlamp instead. This gives you all the light of a flashlight while keeping your hands free.

Small Injuries Kit

Thankfully most of life’s injuries are minor and more of an annoyance than a danger. The best IFAK pouches will always include a small injuries kit containing things like:

  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic Wipes
  • Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
  • Insect Sting Relief
  • Antibacterial Ointment

We recommend:

Coleman All Purpose 27 Piece Mini Kit
I Go Compact First Aid Kit
Lifeline Waterproof First-Aid Kit

Final Thoughts

Individual first aid kits are designed around the needs and situation of the person carrying them. You can get a great commercially made kit that covers the basics or build your own.

Whichever path you choose to go down, make sure you know how to use the gear in your IFAK pouch correctly.

Even the best IFAK pouch in the world isn’t going to be much help if you haven’t regularly practiced with your equipment.