Carrying the Blow Out Kit

In recent years as we’ve seen a rise in widespread study and application of tactical medicine, we’ve seen a trickle down of those concepts to the armed citizen. There has been a corresponding rise in people carrying blow-out kits. But for every one who is aware of this need and acts accordingly, there remain a handful that are aware yet carry nothing.
There will always be the willfully ignorant, who want to deny the need for medical skills in the arena of violence, but worse yet are those who are aware and yet carry nothing. Particularly they who have at least a modicum of skill for managing life threatening penetrating injury, and yet still do not carry a blow-out-kit. Their reasoning often involves a certain degree of the aforementioned willful stupidity, but it is mostly complacency. They didn’t need a blow-out kit yesterday, the gear takes up a lot of space, and they’re only going out for a little bit, and so on and so on.
In my experience personally, and with students and friends, this type of “reasoning” is pervasive, and it almost always revolves around a single point: The gear is bulky, and takes up a lot of real estate.
While true, realistically, this is a cop out. A handgun and two reloads are bulky and take up a lot of space to carry too. I think if medical gear had as ego boosting an image as a handgun, perhaps more people would carry it – A bad guy full of smoking holes will however always be a more appealing mental image than you full of smoking holes.
That said, yes, a blow-out kit can be a hassle to carry, but it can be done.

Full Sized Blow Out Kits and Load Bearing Equipment:
The standard means for carrying a blow-out kit, is a blow-out kit pouch designed to be carried on some type of load bearing equipment, a pack, assault vest, chest rig, battle belt, what have you. There are some really great designs out there for this type of pouch which allow rapid, un-encumbered, access to the needed contents of the pouch without spilling the rest of it all over the ground. The best of these, in my opinion, are either the clam-shell type or the tear-away/pull-out type (or combos there-of).
The clam-shell design, particularly those like the Emdom BOMB that feature draw-cords allowing “shelving” and rapid closure, are a giant step up from the open top bucket-type pouches. The clam shell actually lets you see, and access, gear without pulling half the contents out. The draw-cord designs allow the clam-shell to be only half opened, creating a small shelf to prevent dumping gear all over hell and gone.
The tear-away and pull-out designs, while using the same principle are actually two different approaches, each using a two component design. The tear-away designs feature a standard, usually clam-shell, type pouch, mounted onto a MOLLE compatible panel. The panel uses Velcro and straps fastened by a side-release buckle to hold the pouch. The panel attaches to the vest, chest rig, etcetera. To use the pouch, pop the side-release buckle, rip it off the Velcro and open it up on the ground in-front of you. Similarly, the pull-out designs allow the gear to be laid out while remaining somewhat contained and organized. Pull-outs use a standard type pouch with a removable insert. Most pull-outs use a fold-over design insert, usually either a tri or bi fold, which fold around the gear within (ala the US Army IFAK pouch, or the Blue Force Gear Trauma Kit Now pouch). The pull-out is contained in the pouch that mounts to gear. When needed the lid is opened via pull-tab or side-release buckle, and the pull-out is withdrawn. Some pull-outs allow for dummy cording of the insert to the pouch, ala theArmy IFAK pouch with pull-out tri-fold.
The advantage of being able to quickly access and position needed supplies in a more readily usable location makes these types of pouches far superior to those that must remain fixed on gear. As a care provider, it enables you to rip the injured party’s personal blow-out kit off their gear and treat them with ease. When providing self care, it enables you to access your own kit with a minimum of contortions and increased speed of being able to put it right in front of you and visualize what you’re grabbing at.

Left to Right: Patriot Performance Materials Medical/Utility Pouch, US Army IFAK Pouch and OSOE Small Blow-Out Kit pouch (older style). For reference: IFAK Pouch is 7″ tall, 5″ wide and 4″ thick.

Opened, you can see the different levels of accessibility presented by different pouch options.

Bags, Packs and Belts:
The problem with these standard types of blow-out kit pouches is that they are designed to be a functional element of a complete fighting loadout. They are not practical for every day carry in street clothes, or even in most cases in uniform that doesn’t involve extensive load-bearing equipment.
The closest that these types of pouches come to working for those not utilizing load-bearing equipment is when placed inside, or attached to, an every day carry backpack or shoulder bag.
Many people utilize backpacks, or at least shoulder bags such as Maxpedition’s Versipack type, on a daily basis. This can be an effective means of carrying a blow-out kit, particularly in a pouch.
My personal blow-out kit is staged inside my daily carry bag, which is either a Lowe Alpine Mountain Contour backpack, or a Maratac Extreme Force-Multiplier briefcase. The kit itself is placed inside an Original-S.O.E. clam-shell, and simply placed loose in the bag. Loose isn’t to imply just tossed in, it’s always near the top of any load, in roughly the same position so it’s the first thing I access when opening the bag. If it’s needed, it’s going to be needed in a hurry, after all.
Given the popularity of MOLLE type attachment systems, it’s also possible to mount a pouch or tear-away on the outside of a bag or pack. Not just military gear uses MOLLE type attachments anymore. Maxpedition and several other “crossover” gear builders make MOLLE compatible gear, but companies such as Oakley are producing consumer bags and packs with very similar webbing type attachments that can be pressed into service. Personally, I prefer to use MOLLE type gear, built to spec, and simply ride on the image created by Oakley and others of such gear being “faux-military” cool, to not attract undue attention. Attaching a pouch to the outside of the bag does not draw that much added attention, in my experience, and makes it much more accessible.
The key to making this type of carry, in a pack, work (and conversely, the problem with it) is having the pack with you at all times. The blow-out kit you have to run out to the car park to get will do you no good. For most people, in daily life, managing a small shoulder bag or day pack isn’t really that big of a problem. It is somewhat unconventional, at least for men, but that’s also environmentally dependent as well. Around a university, for example, it is rare to see people out and about without some form of pack, messenger bag, etc. Always having a backpack or bag with you only becomes a problem for some in the professional environment. You just can’t carry a backpack around with you everywhere in some environments, and it will get left in the office, or at your desk. While having a blow-out kit staged in your office/desk is a good idea, that being your only blow-out kit is not.
Then there is simply the convenience issue. It is not always convenient to lug around a bag or a pack. Some of us simply deal with it and march on, but plenty of people will fall victim to the “quick trip” mentality, or the “Fuck it, its heavy” mentality and not bring the damn thing. The best solution, to avoid these problems and the issues of not always being able to hump a ruck around, is carrying on your person.
For some this is going to be possible with a belt mounted version of the regular blow-out kit. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of blow-out kit specific pouches (or even workable alternatives) designed for simple belt attachment. There is no one, that we’re aware of, making a blow-out pouch specifically for mounting on a duty belt, for example. That’s not to say that there is no hope, there are alternatives – Not ideal, not yet anyway, but workable solutions.
Several companies, Maxpedition and Triple Aught Design Gear for example, who make pouches for the “crossover” market (civilian/military alike), which feature attachments designed for belt mounting, or both belt and MOLLE mounting. These are mostly in the category of general utility or administrative type pouches, but have been made to work by those in need.
Belt mounting for the most part is going to be workable for those already mounting a “bat-belt”, i.e. uniformed security, law enforcement, etc. Most civilians aren’t going to choose a belt mounted pouch – Its annoying enough having an extra pager or phone on your belt, much less a large nylon pouch.
Eliminating LBE carry, pack carry and belt pouch options leaves us with very few places to turn other than pocket carry.
If you wear a jacket or a vest all the time, you probably have ample room for a blow-out kit. However most people only wear jackets or vests seasonally, or when outdoors, rather than year round indoors or out. In the interest of establishing a habitual placement and carriage of the blow-out kit, we’re left with carrying it in our pants pockets.
Pocket carry isn’t so daunting a concept in the world of 5.11’s/BDU pants/”britches with leg pockets” of some fashion. Plenty of people can, and do, wear that type of clothing daily, be it “tactical” pants, mountaineering pants, or some other type of BwLP. Having the increased room of leg pockets makes carrying a blow-out kit in your pocket(s) much easier. Many pre-stocked kits on the market are designed to fit into a BDU pocket. You can also build your own to fit the space available to you, as some pockets are slightly different sizes and you may want to balance gear evenly across both legs if you’re doing a lot of walking.
Of course, in the blue jeans and slacks world, pocket carry is a different story. Most people who do so end up using multiple pockets, and carrying a less stocked blow-out kit. This isn’t so great a loss, provided the items carried are selected wisely. First priority for a blow-out kit should always be care for yourself, and the room afforded in normal pocket carry is about ideal for the level of minimization.

Minimizing Kits:
It is possible to minimize the effective blow-out kit. For personal, self-care use the realistic gear needs can be reduced to tourniquet, hemostatic, gauze, pressure dressing, occlusive dressing and tape. Packed right, using the right tools, this is no more than an inch thick by four inches square bundle of goods. A perfect fit for the hip pocket. As indicated by the phrase “right tools”, there are several products on the market that are ideally suited for this type of kit.
Most tourniquets suitable for the tactical environment, i.e. rugged and allowing one handed operation, are bulky. The standard military issue tourniquet, the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT), when folded up is an inch thick, three or four inches long, and over an inch wide with obtrusive plastic parts. Others are even bulkier. These are not ideal tools for pocket carry. There are, however, a few compact tourniquet options out there that meet the needs of a pocket kit. One such product is the TourniKwik4 (or TK4) from CinchTight/H&H Medical – This is an elastic type band, with hooks on either end to allow fastening, that when wrapped tightly provides a high level of tourniquation. The hooks do add a small amount of bulk, but it is manageable. Another such product, and our preferred tool, is the SWAT-Tourniquet from TEMS Solutions. The SWAT (Stretch, Wrap And Tuck) tourniquet is a simple rubber band, four inches wide and three feet long. The rubber is highly durable, latex-free, and extremely stretchy. When wrapped under tension, the rubber stretches a great deal, and then begins to contract, creating further tension once the free-running end has been tucked under and secured. They work extremely well, weigh almost nothing, and when folded are about half an inch thick, by a couple inches wide, by four inches tall – Extremely pocketable. The SWAT-T is also a multi-purpose tool, and can be used to improvise a pressure dressing as well using slightly less pressure. Its compactness and multi-purpose nature make it an ideal tool for any minimized kit.
Similarly bulky are many of the hemostatic options available. Full sized packs of Quick-Clot, Celox, etc. are a little large for pocketing. However, the QuickClot sponges are available in compact, pressure sealed, packs that are ideal for pocket carry. The sponge also makes applying the QuickClot much easier. Another QuickClot option, the Combat Gauze, reduces kit size by taking away the need for carrying additional wound-packing gauze. The gauze roll is, unfortunately, somewhat bulky. However, it could be re-sealed using a vacuum sealer to suck it down to a more manageable size without damaging the product. This would be an ideal tool for any compact kit as well.
On the gauze front, packages of roller gauze are large and bulky affairs, while most gauze sponges lack the volume to be effective wound packing materials, or even to soak up blood from a wound to clear it for hemostatic application. H&H Medical, makers of CinchTight, also make a product called PriMED Gauze. It is a full size pack of roller gauze that has been vacuum sealed down into a little cube less than an inch thick, and less than two inches square. It’s a slightly odd shape for pocket carry, but allows a great deal of gauze to be carried without using up too much space. Another option is carrying one or two abdominal pads, in lieu of gauze. While less voluminous, abd. pads are capable of soaking up a great deal of fluid, and can provide effective packing for wounds, or material to soak up excess blood. They are quite thin, and pocket easily.
Another tool to consider for kit minimization is the tried and true triangular bandage. A large triangular swatch of cotton fabric, you can do a wide variety of things with a triangular bandage from splinting limbs to improvising a pressure dressing. You can also use a triangular bandage to improvise a tourniquet, but given flat, compact, options like the SWAT-T, and the immediate need of a tourniquet, I would rather carry a ready made tourniquet. Sacrificing speed and potential efficacy with Care Under Fire tools just doesn’t work for me unless absolutely pressed. I would rather take bulk out of my pocket by removing the pressure dressing, replacing it with a triangular bandage and abdominal pad.

The OSOE BOK Pouch is roughly 6″ tall, 5″ wide and 4.5″ thick. Note the contents displayed above, Israeli Dressing, PriMED, Pet. Gauze, Duct Tape Fold, SWAT-T, and 25 gram QuickClot ACS, are roughly an inch thinner, and lack the overall bulk. Replacing the Israeli Bandage with a cravat/triangular bandage and an abdominal pad.

With a proper education on using the full range of tools, not just the latest high speed widgets, you can successfully minimize a blow-out kit for easier pocket carry, without losing capability. Some of the tools may be less ideal, but they will work.
This type of minimization is always an excellent way to add layers of redundancy without adding a lot of extra bulk. In addition to the blow-out kit I carry in my bag, I almost always have a SWAT-T in my hip pocket, if not additional items. Redundancy never hurts, and should be practiced when possible.
Any blow-out kit has a burden of responsibility to practice with it, and none more so than a minimized kit. If you’re carrying gear specifically to improvise a piece of gear, get in a lot of practice. The time to learn how to use any of this is not when you’re bleeding to death.

Staging Kits:
Staged kits will always be a secondary option to a blow-out kit carried on your person. The only kit you’re guaranteed to be able to reach when you need it is the one on you, not the one in your trunk, desk or safe-room. That said it is prudent to stock a blow-out kit in routinely occupied locations, i.e. your home, office and vehicle. If nothing else, this is a second layer of tools you can have available when acting as a provider.
For the home and family vehicles, the kit(s) should be kept in an easily accessible, common, location that all members of your family are aware of. If (as you should) you have a larger first-aid/emergency set-up in your home, putting a blow-out kit with that would be reasonable. Personally, I keep a couple blow-out kits in my home ready to go. One is kept with my larger aid bag, in an attached pouch only for blow-out kit items. Another is kept with my bump-in-the-night gear (flashlight, long-gun, long-gun support bag). The third is my daily carry full-sized blow-out kit, which remains in my daily carry bag usually next to my home-office desk where I’ve dropped it.
If only keeping one blow-out kit in the home, the one place to have it is on the “bump-in-the-night gear”. Whether you use a support bag, a chest-harness, or a fast-donning MOLLE belt replete with holstered handgun, tac-light, and magazines, a blow-out kit is an essential ingredient for any BitN rig. If you are roused from bed and forced to deal with an intruder in nothing but your skivvies and quickly donned boots, you’re response will benefit from having one rig at your bedside that can be quickly donned and contains all needed materiel for a potential confrontation. Fortunately several designs on the market for rapid donning chest harnesses, or support bags, feature a pouch or a MOLLE mounting space specifically for a blow-out kit. My preference is to use something with MOLLE compatibility and mount a pouch of good design as discussed in the first section.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that they cannot carry a blow-out kit. Particularly folks who don’t spend much time in battle rattle. This is patently bullshit. You can carry a blow-out kit. You can carry a compact tourniquet like the SWAT-T, a QuickClot sponge, and a pressure dressing in a jacket pocket. There is no excuse for not carrying some type of blow-out kit. There is stupidity, and complacency, but those will never be valid excuses, much less reasons.
There remain multiple ways and means of doing things – Different people have different preferences on pouch designs, and methods for carrying. I’ve tried to present a variety of possible methods here, focusing on what has and does work for me, and those I associate with, in varying circumstances.
Take what I’ve given you, and start playing with it. Train, practice, and find out what works for you and do it.

Good luck!

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7 responses to “Carrying the Blow Out Kit”

  1. Tony says:

    "It is possible to minimize the effective blow-out kit. For personal, self-care use the realistic gear needs can be reduced to tourniquet, hemostatic, gauze, pressure dressing, occlusive dressing and tape. Packed right, using the right tools, this is no more than an inch thick by four inches square bundle of goods. A perfect fit for the hip pocket."You seem to have given this topic much more careful, well informed thought than most. Which got me to think: might there be a readymade BFE Labs Pocket BOK for sale sometime in the future? 🙂 A product like that might have quite a few interested buyers…

  2. BFE Labs says:

    Tony – Yes'sir. At some point, hopefully not too far in the future, there will be several different BFE Lab's blow-out and medical kits available. At this point, we can build a custom kit for just about any need, though we don't have the number of items on hand we'd like so are holding off on advertising that widely. Soon. Stay tuned!

  3. Donald says:

    How do the Israeli Bandages in the IFAK work?

  4. BFE Labs says:

    Donald – I'm not sure what you mean by “how”, so I'll answer both ways I can interpret it.If you mean how, as in how are they applied, there is a complete set of instructions available from the distributor, here:'s a .pdf file, so Adobe or another pdf reader will be required to view it.Their instructions are good to go – I give that sheet to everyone in the Tactical Self-Care class along with our original material. If you mean how, as in how well do they work – They work as well any other pressure dressing on the market. There seems to be no significant difference in performance between “The Emergency Bandage” (the proper name for the Izzy-D) and similar products such as those from Cinch-Tight. Real world experiences with them indicate that there is no greater difference made by choosing one over the other, so long as it's used properly (which is, IMO, on top of wound packing and probably hemostatics).There exist some size and feature differences between the various manufacturers, and one may suit your purposes better than the other. For example, Cinch-Tight (Made by H&H Medical) offers several different sizes, including an extra thin model for easy carry. First-Care offers a version of the Izzy-D which features attached Quick-Clot “sponges” for packing the wound. TacMed Solutions makes the Olaes Dressing, which features an integral roll of kerlix (roller gauze) for wound packing. Most of these are commonly available in 4”, 6” and a wider width for abdominal injuries. It is a matter of need and expected applications which you'll want to pack in your kits. Beyond that, it's really a matter of personal preference. A lot of people don't like the Israeli dressings, while others don't like the Cinch-Tights… If you're not sure, they aren't too expensive, get a few and test them out.I hope that helps. Please don't hesitate to ask more questions, and let us know if we can assist with any needs you may have.Morgan.

  5. […] you have the skills, setting up a blow-out-kit for your daily carry bag is pretty […]

  6. Ed says:

    For bare bone basics on a belt system:
    HSGI Bleeder/Blowout pouch
    ATS Small medical pouch
    DS Tactical Blowout pouch

    • BFE Labs says:

      Ed – Thanks for sharing those suggestions. I’m unclear though, by belt do you mean “everyday belt”, “duty belt” or “war belt”? Might you be able to tell us how you’re setting those up, what you’re carrying and how those set-ups have worked out for you? If you had to pick just one of the three, which one would it be and why?

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