Does the Brand of Tourniquet Matter?

Dietrich Easter

If you've done any research into tourniquets, you've probably become overwhelmed by all the options. Today we're answering the question: does the brand of tourniquet matter? Here's a quick answer: Yes. Yes, it does. 

The brand of tourniquet you choose to buy does matter. Not all tourniquets have been tested to the same standards. The best brands for a professional tourniquet include Tac-Med Solutions SOF-T, North American Rescue's CAT tourniquet, and SAM Medical SAM-XT. There are a few other accepted tourniquets on the market, but in general, those three brands will give you everything you'll need. 

There are more nuances to this topic, and we'll get into as many of them as we possibly can in the next few sections. Keep in mind: this is not a topic to brush over! Fake knock-off tourniquets can fail when you need them most, leading to grave consequences. 

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What are the Best Tourniquets to Buy? 

The best tourniquet to buy depends on your situation. Several great brands offer top-of-the-line tourniquets. We'll start by discussing which tourniquets you should buy, and then we'll give you more information on the pros and cons of each one. 

Keep in mind: we will not be discussing the tourniquets you shouldn't buy. If you don't see a tourniquet on this list, it's probably because you shouldn't buy it. And it's not because we don't know about them - we do - we just don't want to draw attention to bad tourniquets any more than we have to. 

Later on in the article, we'll discuss how to avoid fake tourniquets. Without further ado, here's a list of the best tourniquet brands. 

Best tourniquet brands: 

  • North American Rescue's Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) 
  • Tac-Med Solutions SOF-T Tourniquet 
  • SAM Medical SAM XT Tourniquet 
  • SWAT-T tourniquet*
  • Snakestaff Systems ETQ - Every Day Carry Tourniquet

  • Yeah, the list isn't that long, but as you'll see, this selection of tourniquets offers just about everything you need. Let's talk about each of them in detail. 

    North American Rescue's Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) 

    The CAT tourniquet (price $31) by North American Rescue is, by most standards, the top brand of tourniquet you can buy. Why is the CAT tourniquet such a good tourniquet? A few reasons. 

    First, the CAT tourniquet has been around for a while. While longevity doesn't always equal high quality, in the case of the CAT, it certainly does. The CAT tourniquet has been deployed all over the military, and it's commonly placed on ambulances around the world. If you're looking for a standard, strong, reliable tourniquet, then you couldn't do much better than the CAT by north American rescue. 

    Note: The fact that the CAT tourniquet has been around for so long turns out to be an advantage in one specific way: it's the tourniquet that people are most likely to know how to use. This may not seem like a big deal, but there may come a time when you need someone else to apply a tourniquet to you, and the CAT tourniquet is straightforward in its application. 

    Now let's talk about probably the second most common tourniquet in use. 

    Tac-Med Solutions SOF-T Tourniquet 

    The SOF-T Tourniquet (Price $34) by Tac-med Solutions is also a heavyweight in the tourniquet world. This tourniquet has also seen action in the military and is very popular among civilians. Also, the SOF-T is currently the official tourniquet of the Red Cross! 

    But what makes the SOF-T so popular? 

    SOF-T tourniquets are known for their durability and ease of use. One nice feature about the SOF-T is the lack of any Velcro, so you don't need to worry about it becoming gummed up with mud and you don't need to worry about it sticking to any of your gear. The SOF-T is the typical windlass style, and it comes in a package that folds down a little smaller than the CAT. 

    Let's talk about the SAM XT.

    SAM Medical SAM XT Tourniquet 

    The SAM XT (Price $37) is a little newer, but it's quickly become a very reputable tourniquet. Like the CAT and the SOF-T, the SAM XT uses a durable windlass design that can stop an arterial bleed in its tracks. While the SAM XT is similar to the CAT, it isn't exactly the same. 

    The SAM XT solves one of the common problems faced when applying a tourniquet. What's that problem? The problem is knowing how tight should you get the tourniquet before you start spinning the windlass. With the CAT, you more or less need to go by feel. With the SOF-T, they have a small indicator on the strap, but it's only sometimes set up to work (depending on how you store your tourniquets). 

    However, with the SAM XT, you don't need to worry about any of that. If you look closely at the SAM XT strap, you'll see holes running the entire length. When you apply the tourniquet and begin to pull it tight, these holes will "snap" into place, indicating that it's time to start turning the windlass. 

    So, in a way, the SAM XT makes things easier, and it does this without compromising durability. 

    SWAT-T tourniquet

    The SWAT-T (price $18) is a great tourniquet. With that said, I should say up front that I wouldn't rely on this as your primary tourniquet (I'll explain why in a second). The SWAT-T is essentially a wide strip of rubber. What makes the SWAT-T nice comes down to two main things. 

    First, the SWAT-T can stop a bleed and can do it without causing more damage, as the wide print of the rubber distributes the pressure more evenly. Second, the SWAT-T has a lot of different uses. You can use the SWAT-T for splints and bandaging, not to mention creating a big sling shot if you're into that sort of thing! 

    The SWAT-T is also easy to carry, as it packs down a little easier than other brands. With all this said, the SWAT-T shouldn't be your only tourniquet. It's a little more difficult to apply with one hand, and it's not as well known as some of the other types of tourniquets. 

    If you're looking for another EDC tourniquet, then look no further than the next section of this article. 

    Snakestaff Systems ETQ - Every Day Carry Tourniquet

    The Snakestaff Systems ETQ (price $31) Every Day Carry tourniquet has been growing in popularity in recent years. Why? Because it does what the name says - it's built for EDC. It's much smaller than something like the CAT, but it tries not to compromise on the effectiveness of the tourniquet. 

    The Snakestaff ETQ tourniquet also has some neat features, such as a light tube that can be activated, as well as a wide version if you want something with a larger footprint. If you're looking for a solid brand for a backup tourniquet, this is the way to go. 

    Now, let's talk about different brands for different uses for different brands. 

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    Which Tourniquet Brand Should You Buy for Different Uses? 

    Yes, all these tourniquets perform well, but that doesn't mean that they are all created equal. Some of these tourniquets will perform better than others at different things. In this section, we'll talk about some different scenarios and then discuss which tourniquet is right for you. 


    Here are a few times you should consider different tourniquet brands: 

    • Which Brand of Tourniquet is Best for EDC? For EDC, the SOF-T and the ETQ tourniquet are probably going to be your best bet. You could also include a SWAT-T tourniquet as a backup. 
    • Which Tourniquet Brand is Best for Tactical Situations? For tactical situations, the tried and true CAT tourniquet is a great option. Its larger design makes it easy to handle while wearing gloves. 
    • Which Tourniquet Brand is Best for Hunting? For hunting our hiking, the CAT tourniquet and the SOF-T tourniquet are great options. Also, the SAM XT would work well. If you're not worried about concealment, then going with a full-sized tourniquet is probably wise. 
    • Which Tourniquet Brand is Best for Kids? Most bleeds to a child’s limb can be stopped with firm direct pressure - also, you can usually wrap your fingers around the arm or leg and squeeze really hard, creating a tourniquet with your hands. However, sometimes you might need a real tourniquet. For small children, the SWAT-T will be your best option. For larger kids, the CAT or SOF-T should fit. 
    • Which Tourniquet Brand is Best for Pets and K9? For any kind of dog, your best bet is probably going to be the SWAT-T. This will be more comfortable for the animal and easier to apply on the relatively smaller legs of a K9.

    Now let's go over a few final words (and words of warning!)

    Conclusion: Should I Pay the Money for a Name Brand Tourniquet? 

    The brand of a tourniquet matters. Never settle for fake off-brand tourniquets. If the tourniquet wasn't on this list, be sure you do some more research.  

    How do you make sure that you don't buy a knockoff tourniquet? First, look at the price. We listed all the common prices for these tourniquets in this article - if you find a price that is significantly lower than these prices, then there's a good chance it's a fake. Second, try to buy from reputable sellers. 

    All of these tourniquets are available from Medical Gear Outfitters. You can browse our tourniquet selection here. When you buy from Medical Gear Outfitters, you can be certain that you're getting the real thing! 

    Finally, don't just buy a tourniquet - take time to train! Here's a video showing you how to apply a tourniquet.