Top 5 Tourniquets. Which Is Best for You? Part 2. SOF-T


There are lots of options out there for tourniquets and I’m often asked which I think is the best. I also hear lots of opinions about which tourniquet is on top and why, and which TQ’s suck and why.

Over the next few weeks we’ll investigate each TQ in depth to help you decide on which is the right one for you. This week we're looking at the SOF-T which has a lot of pros and not that many cons.

We've already looked at the CAT by North American Rescue, so if you would like to read that, click here.

Next week we'll be examining the TMT Tourniquet. When available, a link will be posted HERE.

Every TQ has its pros and cons, it’s strengths and weaknesses that make it better in some circumstances than in others. Each of these tourniquets approach the problem of bleeding control in similar methods, but in slightly different ways.

A tourniquet works by wrapping around the limb and clamping down major arteries to long bones and preventing blood loss, hemorrhagic shock, and death. A Windlass Tourniquet is tightened by turning a stick which tightens a strap and constricts blood vessels, preventing the flow of blood past the strap.

An Elastic Tourniquet is a stretchy band wrapped tightly around the limb and constricting blood flow past the band(s). To be considered for this list, each of these TQs must be approved by the Committee of TCCC. (Except for 2, one I love, and the other I hate…) Let’s break down em down and help you pick the right tool for the job.

The SOF-T is available in the Yellowstone Trauma Kit

The SOF-T by Tac Med Solutions

Hands down one of my favorite tourniquets on the market, this one was developed in 2003 by a Special Forces medic who came up with it during the War on Terrorism. These elite soldiers were not yet being issued tourniquets for combat, so to make up for the needed life saving tool, they went to a home improvement store to buy straps, buckles and PVC pipe that would act as the windlass.

After 5 different generations adjusting the materials, the SOF-T is considered to be the best TQ on the market, surpassed in popularity only by the CAT. Because of this, it’s often compared to the CAT and many people prefer it for a few reasons that may apply to you.



7 Reasons Why YOU May Love It:

  1. Used over and over again in some of the most arduous environments to protect our toughest warriors, the SOF-T has shown that it’s effective at preventing death from uncontrolled extremity bleeding.
  2. Quick Disconnect. The SOF-T has the easiest quick disconnect than any other TQ. This is important for getting the TQ around a limb that may be trapped. Such as in a car wreck where the occupant’s limb is pinched in the metal of the vehicle, preventing you from looping the TQ around the limb.
  3. My preferred TQ for applying to other people. While I like the CAT for the ease of one-handed self-application, the SOT-T is what I like to have on hand when I need to take care of someone else because of its ease and speed of use.
  4. Packs Flat. The SOF-T packs flatter (if you know the method) than the CAT and carries a little easier. This is beneficial when space is limited and you need to carry more TQs, or need to fit one into a compact carrier, such as a Mountain Man Medical Ankle IFAK Trauma Kit.
  5. No Velcro. There have been some warriors I’ve encountered who will only use the SOF-T because they say the Velcro on the CAT can become clogged with sand and or mud and fail to secure properly. This is of course, not ideal for bleeding control. I’ve never encountered this myself but trust the opinions of those I’ve heard it from.
  6. Metal windlass. The plastic windlass of the CAT gets a bad rap. Earlier generations of the CAT had the possibility of the windlass breaking during application. This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard about it on many occasions. The latest Generation (Gen 7) has a much-improved windlass that is more stoutly built to prevent this from happening and I have not yet heard of any breakages when applying the CAT. This may deter you however, and the metal windlass of the SOF-T may be what you’re more comfortable with.
  7. Can be used as a Pelvic Binder. When used with the RISE Splint, (also made by Tac Med Solutions) the TQ can be used to treat pelvic fractures, extending the usefulness of the SOF-T.

Why You May Hate It.

  1. Harder to self-apply. The Velcro on the CAT, while frowned upon by some, is still the easiest method for securing a TQ, especially when you're attempting to apply it one handed. The technique for self-application isn’t hard to learn and is still very quick and effective, but many people learned how to first apply a TQ with a CAT and prefer to maintain continuity and use what they know. There’s nothing wrong with this. The best TQ you have for saving your life is the one you know how to use and have with you.

Next week we'll be examining the TMT Tourniquet. When available, a link will be posted HERE.

If you would like to see a more direct comparison between the SOF-T and the CAT, below is a video I did for the Mountain Man Medical YouTube Channel, discussing those differences.

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