After reviewing dozens of first aid kits, I found that The “Yellowstone” Trauma Kit by Mountain Man Medical is the best IFAK available.
This Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) contains the necessary items for treating life-threatening injuries while eliminating unnecessary items. It includes a certified and tested CAT tourniquet, hemostatic dressing, HyFin chest seals and is priced significantly lower than comparable kits.
My team and I evaluated numerous IFAKs, but surprisingly, many didn’t meet our standards. To ensure a well-rounded evaluation, I also sought the opinions of our team members. This includes Blake, an Army veteran trained in battlefield medicine, and Jennifer, a nurse with emergency room experience.
I also discussed with Brian McLaughlin, Director of Training at Mountain Man Medical, and asked him some of the more pressing first aid questions we had.
Together, we chose the five best IFAKs that we’d trust with our life with.
Choosing the best IFAK for you can be the difference between life and death, so getting it right is important. What works for one person may not be the best for another, but I feel confident that one of the five below will suit everyone’s needs.
For my complete review of these IFAKs, keep reading.
The 5 Best IFAKs
The “Yellowstone” Trauma Kit by Mountain Man Medical – Best Overall
- Tourniquet Type: CAT, SWAT, or SOFT-T
- Weight: 15.1 oz
- Dimensions: 7″ tall x 5″ wide x 4″ deep
- MSRP: $108.99 – $120.99
The “Yellowstone” Trauma Kit by Mountain Man Medical is easily the best IFAK on the market. Most importantly, it comes with all the primary components I need to treat trauma: a tourniquet, homeostatic gauze, and chest seals. Plus, it also comes with some very helpful extras – like compression bandages, small shears, and gloves.
That said, it isn’t a booboo pouch. It doesn’t come with band-aids, first-aid ointment, or other gear to treat minor injuries. In an emergency, I don’t want to fumble around with band-aids trying to find my pressure bandage. An IFAK should only include emergency gear – just like the Yellowstone does.
When I ordered it, I could choose from three quality tourniquets. I’d recommend the CAT or SOFT-T, as they are the most effective, according to a military medicine study.
Brian McLaughlin recommends: “The CAT is the one I generally recommend because it’s the most popular. If they happen to find a TQ anywhere, it will probably be the CAT, so I want everyone familiar with how to use one. The SOF is my personal favorite to apply to other people, however. Both are incredibly good options.”
I found that everything is neatly packed and ready to go. The bag opens like a book so items I am looking for are easy to find, and it has Molle Straps on the back. The CAT tourniquet comes properly staged, and I found the gear well organized. There is absolutely nothing I would trade out of this pack. In my opinion, it’s pretty perfect.
I also love that this kit is inexpensive compared to comparable IFAKs. It’s one of the cheapest on this list. You can’t get much more bang for your buck!
Some people complained about the lack of a CPR mask. However, the American Heart Association no longer recommends average citizens do rescue breaths during CPR in most situations. There is conflicting research on this, but it does seem that a CPR mask isn’t necessary in an IFAK.
That said, I have noticed that Mountain Man Medical is more affected by recent stocking issues than other first aid suppliers. Therefore, you may have to wait a bit to receive your kit (though I absolutely recommend back-ordering it, anyway.)
The Mountain Man Medical Yellowstone Trauma kit is for Everyone. It’s easily the best IFAK on the market. Very few people need to look elsewhere.
Everything you need
No booboo gear
Compact for easy storage
Quality tourniquet options
Some stock issues
Video of the Yellowstone Kit
Dark Angel Medical EDC Trauma Kit
- Tourniquet Type: CAT or SOFTT-W
- Weight: 10.9 oz
- Dimensions: 4.5” H x 3.25” W x 1.25” D
- MSRP: $99.99 – $143.97
The Dark Angel Medical EDC Trauma Kit is very similar to the Yellowstone we reviewed above. However, it is slightly more expensive with the CAT tourniquet and includes less. That said, some people like the simplicity of this kit.
It includes only what you absolutely need, including hemostatic gauze, nitrile gloves, a mini compression bandage, and a pair of HyFin chest seals. I highly recommend adding the optional tourniquet, preferably the CAT tourniquet.
That said, this kit doesn’t include any extra gauze, bandages, or anything of that sort. It’s very bare-bones and can only treat one person. While I’m a big fan of IFAKs being very simple, this one is too simple for my tastes. It does weigh a lot less than the Yellowstone above, though. So, it may work in situations where you need something lighter.
I like that the bag is compact and I can get to the shears and the CAT without opening it. The bag opens from the top and all of the items inside are vacuum sealed in a pouch. This protects the items from getting wet and makes it nice and compact.
The back of the bag has two plastic straps that I used to attach it to my pack. However, the securing tabs that lock the straps in place are somewhat of a pain to use. If I was in a hurry, there would be no way to release them, I would just have to take the items out of the bag which is not ideal. I would have rather had snaps here.
The Dark Angel Medica EDC Trauma Kit is for anyone who is looking for a bare-bones, compact and lightweight IFAK. Be sure to include the optional tourniquet, and you’ll be all set!
Quality tourniquet included
Everything you need
Very simplified and easy to use
No extra gauze or wraps
Dark Angel Medical “Blue Line” Trauma Kit
- Tourniquet Type: None
- Weight: 9 oz
- Dimensions: 4.5″ W x 6″ L x 0.5″ D
- MSRP: $89.99
The Dark Angel Medical “Blue Line” Trauma Kit is exceptionally small. I like that it will fit in my pocket. Of course, because it is so small, it includes just the basic items and no tourniquet – not even a SOFT-T. But, it does have quick clot gauze, a compression bandage, and chest seals.
That said, sometimes smaller is better. I find that very often out in public I am not going to carry one of the larger options I reviewed above, and I can just stick this one in my pocket. After all, a smaller IFAK is better than nothing.
I like that everything is in a vacuum sealed pouch inside the small bag. It is very discrete and almost looks like a wallet from a distance.
However, I’d still highly recommend keeping a larger IFAK in your car or range bag. This small trauma kit may work in very immediate situations, but you’ll want something more extensive as soon as possible.
I see this as more of an EDC kit than a true IFAK, since it’s mostly designed to be small and concealable. It’s one of the better EDC kits, but it’s still not a complete IFAK.
The Dark Angel Medical Blue Line Kit is for someone that needs a small, compact kit that will fit in a pocket. It is a great complement to one of the larger kits above.
Everything you need for trauma
Easy to fit into your back pocket
Doesn’t include a tourniquet
Only enough for one injury
Save 15% off your order with code “SURVIVALSTOIC15”
- Tourniquet Type: RATS
- Weight: 17.7 oz
- Dimensions: 8” H x 5” W x 4” D
- MSRP: $169.95
The MyMedic TFAK is built solely for trauma. Unlike other kits sold by MyMedic, there aren’t any excessive band-aids or gear for minor injuries. In my opinion, it’s pretty similar to other IFAKs I’ve reviewed thus far, though it is much more expensive. Luckily we have a discount code that saves you 15%!
It includes a tourniquet, chest seals, QuikClot, extra gauze, and tons of bandages. It also includes potentially useful items I rarely find in IFAKs, like a space blanket and an NPA. That said, it also includes some unnecessary items, like tweezers and saline wash.
To use this kit, you’d also need extra training. Not everyone can use an NPA, and most first-aid courses don’t cover this.
However, the biggest downside is that this kit has a RATS tourniquet. I do not recommend this tourniquet for an IFAK, as it isn’t nearly as effective as I would like. There is a reason the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) doesn’t recommend it.
If you go for this kit, I absolutely recommend switching the RATS tourniquet out for a different tourniquet, though this will amp up the price even more.
I do like the bag, though. It has Molle straps with snaps on the back, and the front totally unzips, so I can easily find everything that I need.
The MyMedic Tfak is for those who have some extra money to spend and want something with a wider variety of supplies than you may find in a standard IFAK. However, it’s important to realize that more doesn’t typically mean better.
Wide variety of trauma gear
Tons of bandages and gauze
Small and compact
No unnecessary items
My Medic Sidekick Pro
Save 15% off your order with code “SURVIVALSTOIC15”
- Tourniquet Type: RATS
- Weight: 14.2 oz
- Dimensions: 7.5” H x 5.5” W x 1” D
- MSRP: $119.95
The My Medic Sidekick Pro is often billed as an IFAK. It is true that it’s small – about the same size as other IFAKs on this list.
It includes all the basic supplies you need to treat trauma, like a tourniquet and compressed gauze. However, it also includes a lot of items not for serious injuries, like moleskin and band-aids. While these items are useful, I prefer them not to be mixed in with my trauma gear.
In an emergency, I don’t want to be fumbling with packets of Tylenol trying to get to my tourniquet. Medication and sunscreen are important, but they aren’t necessary for a trauma situation and should be kept separate.
I do not like the tourniquet that is included in this kit. RATS tourniquets do not have the same effectiveness as other tourniquets, as I mentioned above. But it is compact and better than nothing. If I had space, I would absolutely switch it out for a CAT tourniquet.
But there is some value here. If you are looking for a first aid kit for camping or hiking that includes some trauma items, this fits perfectly. The bag opens like a book and includes a nice Molle panel on the back that separates with Velcro exposing a shoulder strap.
We have an entire My Medic Review that includes this kit, so head there if you want more information.
The My Medic Sidekick Pro is for someone who needs more of an outdoor kit with some trauma items. It is not the best for treating gunshot wounds but will get you by in a pinch.
Similarly sized to other IFAKs
Can treat minor and major injuries
Minor gear also included
What Do You Need in an IFAK?
At the very least, an IFAK should include these things:
- Nitrile Gloves
- Chest seals
- Pressure dressing
- QuikClot gauze
That said, I highly recommend having a tourniquet, as well. Tourniquets have been shown to be exceptionally effective. If you get the right tourniquet and use it correctly, it can stop bleeding over 95% of the time.
Studies have shown they even work on children with about the same amount of effectiveness. There is no reason to use a special tourniquet for children. A regular CAT tourniquet works just fine.
Some sort of hemostatic gauze is important. There are two main options on the market: QuikClot and ChitoGuaze. Brian McLaughlin explains the differences: “Quick Clot uses a mineral called Kaolin, whereas Chitogauze uses Chitosan, which is derived from the exoskeletons from shellfish like shrimp. (But don’t worry. There is no chance of shellfish allergy reaction.) Both are great and recognized to work by professionals around the world, but Chito Gauze is my choice because it also has anti-microbial properties which may improve infection reduction.”
Extra gauze and bandages are always an added bonus. With extras, I can treat other injuries instead of just one. That’s why I like the “Yellowstone” IFAK, which includes a reasonable amount of extras.
Shears can also be exceptionally helpful for removing clothing so that I can get to the wound. Otherwise, I may not really know what I’m dealing with and may waste precious seconds trying to rip through clothing.
A survival blanket can be a good item as well since anyone who loses a lot of blood will have a hard time maintaining their body temperature. You can always use clothing and coats as well.
Below, Brian McLaughlin discusses his top 6 items for an IFAK.
What Should an IFAK Not Include?
I do not recommend having gear to treat minor injuries in an IFAK. Your IFAK should be designed for very serious trauma, not minor injuries. If you fill it with tons of gear, you may have difficulty finding what you need in an emergency.
Brian McLaughlin agrees: “Separate pockets would be ideal so that you aren’t sorting through a big mess of items trying to locate your life-saving gear.” However, he also specifies that putting everything in one bag is okay as long as it is big enough and you keep it well-organized.
Don’t underestimate how flustered you’ll get in a true emergency. An adult can bleed out of an artery in under 2.5 minutes, so every second counts. I don’t want to be digging through packages of band-aids and burn gel while trying to find a chest seal.
Also, be sure to include real, trusted gear. There is a huge issue with counterfeit CAT tourniquets being made and sold on marketplaces like Amazon. In an emergency situation, having a fake tourniquet can lead to death. I only trust verified sellers, like Mountain Man Medical and Dark Angel Medical.
“It looks good” is not enough when purchasing emergency gear.
Where Do You Carry Your IFAK?
Your IFAK should be kept as close to your body as possible. However, IFAKs are often larger than EDC kits, which are explicitly designed to be carried every day. An IFAK is more designed to treat serious trauma, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be on your person to do so!
You don’t want it sitting underneath your bathroom sink, though. It won’t do you much good there if you’re in a car accident.
I’d recommend keeping an IFAK in you range bag anytime you are shooting or around an area where others are shooting. Women can keep one in their purses if they carry a larger purse. Diaper bags are a great choice, too.
If you aren’t carrying a bag or a purse, your car is the next best option. You should outfit every car in your family with an IFAK, preferably all within the same location. If you decide to store it in the glove compartment, put an IFAK in the glove compartment of every car.
Make sure everyone knows where your IFAK is. Your children should know. Even a 4-year-old can retrieve the emergency bag if they’re taught and practice regularly. As your kids get older, you can reduce the amount of review you have to do. My 7-year-old now needs much less review than she did when she was younger.
Having more than one IFAK is a great option. Many people pair their IFAK with a smaller EDC kit, which includes fewer items but is easy to fit into a back pocket. This way, you can ensure that you have at least some gear on you at all times – hopefully enough to get you back to the car for your larger IFAK.
Which IFAK Should I Purchase?
I highly recommend the “Yellowstone” Trauma Kit by Mountain Man Medical. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s loaded with quality gear from the most trusted retailers, and there isn’t anything about it that I would change.
For a small EDC kit, I recommend the Dark Angel Blue Line Trauma Kit.
Of course, all the gear in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the proper training. It’s vital that you take a course over using your medical gear so that you’re prepared for an emergency. Mountain Man Medical has a completely free course that I highly recommend. There are also some other courses and training below:
If you are looking for a more comprehensive first aid kit to go with your IFAK, check out our How to Choose a First Aid Kit guide as well as our Redi Roadie Emergency Kit review. It has one of the best first aid kits for traveling that we have found.
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