Ankle Medical Kit Comparison

I am a big believer in getting medical training and carrying trauma care equipment wherever you go. Thankfully, I can wear whatever I want at my job, so it’s easy for me to put a tourniquet, dressing, and gloves in a pocket.

However, sometimes I wear pants with fewer pockets. I also have friends who have to wear dressier pants.

Even when I can still “pocket carry,” using an ankle rig gives me another set of gear to treat a second person, or multiple injuries on a single person.

I started investigating ankle kits, and in March of 2015 I bought a cuff from TUFF Products. I didn’t care for it for various reasons, and I discarded the idea.

Ankle kits made a resurgence in 2016, with new options from different manufacturers.

I decided to revisit my TUFF cuff, and try out a few of the newcomers.

Testing Protocol and Environment

I wore each ankle rig for three weeks (except the Safer Faster Defense rig, which I wore for four weeks – more on that later). I wore each kit for 10 – 14 hours a day, including during workouts and force on force training. I wore the SFD Responder to the 2017 Rangemaster Polite Society Tactical Conference, and did some grappling and retention work while wearing it.

My physical activity included:

  • Jump rope
  • P90X3
  • Kettlebell swings and getups
  • Jumping
  • Running stairs
  • Sprinting
  • Wrasslin’ and tusslin’

I work from home, and frequently sit down and stand up. To my surprise, I had the most failures during this normal sequence of activity. While it may seem like sitting down would be a less strenuous activity for an ankle rig, there is quite a bit of flexion and motion that can slowly move a rig down to the top of the foot — especially if you have a “nervous leg” like I do.

Location

I wore each rig in the most comfortable place for me — left leg, positioned so that the gear was directly below the calf. Wrapping on the calf felt too restrictive. Putting it near the top of my ankle resulted in too much play and an eventual failure.

Depending on the design of the rig, that meant more or less of the wrap was over my calf.

Your body and comfort may dictate a different location, which may make some rigs better for you than others. I have a pretty significant taper between my calf and my ankle, so mounting lower wasn’t good for me. You might have some robust lower calves / cankles, so lower may be better for you.

Items

Some rigs have more storage space / options than others, so I went fairly light in order to get some consistency:

  • 4″ Israeli Battle Dressing
  • Flat-packed SOFT-T Wide tourniquet
  • 4″ x 4 yard roll of sterile gauze

Definition of failure

I considered the rig to “fail” if it slid down to the top of my foot. As long as it did not disturb my gait as I walked, jumped, or did other physical activity, a slight rotation or settling did not constitute a failure.

In no particular order:

TUFF Ankle Tourniquet Rig by TUFF Products

Pros

  • Inexpensive ($21 – 28)
  • Durable
  • Design potentially familiar to law enforcement officers

Cons

  • Uncomfortable / too rigid
  • Wrap may be too short for thicker legs
  • Pockets have a liner which complicates usage

Thoughts

TUFF Products makes a ton of things for law enforcement officers, and I have a feeling their Ankle Tourniquet Rig was based off of an ankle holster design.

The material is rigid — something that you may want in order to support a small handgun — but was the least comfortable to wear of all options I tested.

The ATR came with removable padding. This partially addressed the comfort issue, but added so much bulk to the rig I was unable to conceal it to my satisfaction. Not really a problem if you’re a cop, but I wasn’t interested in that kind of attention.

A major complaint about the ATR is that the pockets have a divider inside of them. This allows for more gear, but makes it difficult to insert bulkier items. My ITS Tactical “flat packed” SOFT-T Wide tourniquet doesn’t fit all the way in, leaving about a 1/8″ gap at the bottom.

I would have to readjust the ATR after about 3 hours of use. It was most likely to fall immediately after standing up / sitting down, or during running/jumping.

SFD Responder by Safer Faster Defense

Pros

  • Long, wide strap greatly aids in retention and stability
  • Many carry options for flexibility in gear selection and mounting
  • Textured padded strap helps with comfort and retention

Cons

  • Expensive ($58 – 68 depending on color)
  • Pockets had retention problems
  • Only available directly from SFD, although affiliates are starting to carry the Responder. Order processing / fulfillment was slower than other options.

Thoughts

I had high hopes for the Responder, as many people I trust wear it daily in active environments. Out of all of the kits, I found the Responder to have the best retention to my leg and had the best options for house different kinds of gear.

I got the Responder so tight that it left a Responder-shaped mark in my leg for 15 minutes. It could be used as the conforming wrap portion of a pressure dressing.

The Responder is my top recommendation. You can pack it up or pack it down, and with one notable exception I think it’s perfect.

The two larger compartments seemed great for my 4″ Israeli Battle Dressing. One day while running stairs I felt something hit my left foot. I looked down and saw the IBD trapped between my instep and my pant leg. About a week later, I checked the rig and noticed the IBD was about halfway out. I shoved the IBD in as far as I could, and kept going.

I went to Rangemaster the following week. I was eager to talk to people about ankle rigs, and compare our experiences. I had the chance to talk with one of our readers John about the Responder, and a few other onlookers.

I talked about how great the Responder was, pulled up my pant leg, and noticed that my IBD was gone!

At some point between all the sitting, standing up, running, grappling, and retention drills the dressing came loose. John looked at me and said he’d had something come loose on his Responder, too.

I wrote to SFD and they were awesome. They asked me questions, reviewed pictures of my rig, how I wore it, etc. They had some suggestions on how to orient the rig, and where they wear their Responders.

They made the recommendation to wrap a rubber band (or two) around the IBD below the tear line. This doesn’t interfere with opening the IBD packaging.

Since adding a rubber band, the IBD hasn’t moved at all. I extended the review another week, and I’m happy to recommend the Responder. If you don’t carry bulky items, such as a bandage, you may not need to worry about items popping out.

Hopefully a future version of the Responder will have a retention flap / loop similar to the Ricci Ankle Medical System below.

The Responder only fell three times during four weeks of testing. Twice was immediately after sitting. The other was while after about 90 minutes of driving.

The Responder is available directly from Safer Faster Defense. Availability is sometimes limited. Modify your expectations if you do most of your online shopping from Amazon.

Ricci Ankle Medical System by JTech Gear

Pros

  • Thoughtfully designed pockets
  • Best item retention
  • Textured section on the back may help the ankle kit stay for some

Cons

  • Failed repeatedly and quickly

Thoughts

The Ricci came highly recommended from some people I trust — including John Murphy of FPF Training. At $31 via Amazon, it is affordable and easily obtained. I tested the current, AMS v2 version.

Unfortunately I struggled to complete my three week test with the Ricci because it failed quickly and repeatedly. I could not do any activity that involved jumping or running without the rig coming down. It had the most failures while standing up, or even while sitting down rocking my feet on my Fellows Compact Foot Rocker.

I eventually had to remove the unit while doing exercise or driving because I was tired of it falling down and had safety concerns.

However, it obviously works for some people, so it may do great by you. Out of the wraps I evaluated, I liked the Ricci’s compartments the best, especially the one with the flap. I reviewed the Ricci last, and I was grateful to have a hook-and-loop flap that secured my IBD after my loss with the Responder.

Since the Ricci is available at Amazon, returning it will be easy if your leg isn’t well suited for the band’s retention design.

Missing In Action

The whole reason I wanted to do this comparison was because of the US Palm Ankle Cargo Cuff. A few readers own it, like it, and asked me for my opinion.

However, I was unable to order it. US Palm has ceased selling directly from their Web site, and I wasn’t able to find a reputable vendor during my evaluation period. US Palm stated they would have some sort of revamped business-to-consumer model in April, but they must still be working things out.

I had three readers offer to send me their Ankle Cargo Cuffs, but I was unwilling to evaluate (and potentially recommend) an item that couldn’t be readily purchased.

Recommendations

I think that you should wear an ankle medical kit. I also think that depending on your build, your activity level, and the gear you carry, what works for me may not work for you.

Above all, I recommend the Safer Faster Defense Responder.

It has the most flexibility in carrying / mounting options, the best retention, and was the most comfortable. I’m still wearing it daily, and I like it. Plus it has a spot for my Short Barrel Shepherd “Ranger Eye” glow in the dark morale patch. 😉

Please put rubber bands on anything that’s thicker than a tourniquet, and check your gear when you put the rig on in the morning.

If you want to buy something from Amazon, or if the Responder is out of your budget, I’d recommend getting both the Ricci and the TUFF kits and keeping the one you like the most.

From a product design standpoint, I like the Ricci better than the Ankle Tourniquet Rig, but it’s hard to make a personal recommendation when the Ricci fell down so frequently. The ATR wasn’t perfect either, but at least I could wear it during exercise.

Related posts:

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd

Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

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9 Comments on "Ankle Medical Kit Comparison"

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  1. Robert says:

    SBS,

    As you are aware, I’ve been testing out the US Palm Ankle Cargo Cuff you referenced in the article. I reviewed it after one month of use here:

    https://civiliangunfighter.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/equipment-review-us-palm-ankle-cargo-cuff/

    It’s okay. Unlike you, I didn’t compare it in use to others. With short legs and monster calf muscles, it gets pushed down to the top of my shoe/boot. My most common footwear, Merrill Moab Ventilators, are now showing wear at the foot opening at the padded collar just behind the tongue. Having said that, for my usage now over 4.5 months nearly every day, it’s worked for what I need it to do. I’ve run a bit while wearing it and haven’t lost any gear.

    I’m mainly commenting not about its utility, but that it does seem to still be available via the low pro gear website: https://lowprogear.org. The site at least allows me to add it to my shopping cart. So you may want to look into it, although I have a feeling it will fail your test criteria, being pretty rigid. When I ordered mine it was from US Palm, but I mentioned in my article that it actually seems to be a low pro gear item manufactured and/or marketed by US Palm.

    Just an FYI.

    –Robert

  2. TatendaZim says:

    Thanks for the article. No personal experience, but Rescue Essentials has their own reasonably priced ankle holster. https://www.rescue-essentials.com/rescue-essentials-ankle-medical-holster/

    As for contents for the ankle holster, if you want a compact pressure dressing then consider the WoundStop WS-01. It is made by the same company that makes the IBD. It is the same bandage, just with a thinner and shorter leader along with a thinner pad making it very compact. It has, however, been discontinued but Botach has some in stock. https://www.botach.com/persys-medical-woundstop-first-aid-dressing-off-white/ Another discontinued bandage (larger than the WS-01, but a bit smaller than the standard green 4″ IBD) is the WoundStop WS-02. Also currently in stock at Botach https://www.botach.com/persys-medical-woundstop-pro-trauma-dressing-4-off-white/

  3. kyliewyotie says:

    Thanks for the review.

    The concept of an ankle med kit is something I have been using for about 2 years now. I wear shorts most of the time, but at work I wear it under my pants.

    I have been using a Rouge gunfighter no vis ankle kit. I really love the concept, and mostly happy with the item. I would point out thou, it was possibly the worst customer service I have ever dealt with. Long story, but had to get credit card company involved, canceled my order, and then one showed up almost 6 months later….

    I did just order one from Safer Faster Defense, after seeing it online. I very much look forward to getting it.

  4. John says:

    I’ve been wearing the Ricci v2 kit for about 3 years now. I had to have it modified to shorten the overall length; it’s made to be long enough to wrap over high-top boots, and that, together with my chicken legs, meant that it was so long there was excess velcro overlap when I put it on. I also had the elastic pockets adjusted so that one was wide enough to fit a flat-packed SOFT-T Wide. I carry the SOFT-T Wide, a triangle bandage, shears, a mini Sharpie, gloves, and a Spyderco Delica4, and I forget I’m even wearing it most days. I wear it fairly low and snug, and don’t have a problem with it moving or slipping.

    I was going to ask if you were aware of the Rescue Essentials ankle kit, but I see TatendaZim already mentioned it. This is the wrap that Caleb Causey was wearing at the 2016 Rangemaster Conference, and he spoke very highly of it. It’s on my list to try.

    I also like Greg Ellifritz’s suggestion of the DeSantis Double Ankle Mag Pouch for medical gear. https://www.amazon.com/Desantis-Double-Ankle-Mag-Pouch/dp/B0048KMHVS

  5. Derek says:

    Have been using the Ryker Nylon Gear AFAK for a couple years now. Zero complaints. I usually forget it’s there so comfort is great. Never lost anything from the pockets. Currently carrying in it:

    1) Gloves
    2) QuickClot
    3) SWAT-T
    4) SOF-T-W
    5) Chest Seal
    6) Mini shears

    https://www.rykernylongear.com/product-page/afak-ankle-first-aid-kit-1

  6. DavidY says:

    I know this is sort of old news, but I saw a link to this post on Grant Cunningham’s Hump Day Reading list recently and wanted to mention that the old US Palm ankle cargo cuff is now being sold by Wilderness Tactical as the 5″ Ankle Cuff/Ankle IFak ($40 MSRP). I saw it there and bought one on a recent visit (https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/wilderness-tactical-products-overkill-never-fails/). The one pictured on display is co-branded US Palm/Wilderness but the one I bought was Wilderness only. Every product sewn by real human beings, including the founder of the company, in Phoenix, AZ.

    FWIW.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Thanks for letting us know! I saw them when you posted your visit to Wilderness Tactical, but wasn’t sure if they bought remaining stock or took over the design. Thanks for the comment!

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