If you like tactical gear and shooting there’s a good chance that, like most of us, you have made large investments in your equipment. Looking back, I don’t even want to know the dollar amount between ammo, gear, and equipment I have invested. Talking to many people about tactical gear, I noticed one vital area often overlooked by people who are new, or more focused on guns and armor. 

I am guilty of this myself as I didn’t keep medical equipment on my gear for years. In part, this was because it wasn’t ‘sexy’ like a fluted barrel LWRCI AR with the EOTech. Medical also didn’t seem as essential to me (I say this being grateful I didn’t need it while I had this mindset).

Medical gear, like IFAK pouches, are not sexy, they aren’t catchy, they cost money, and frankly they aren’t “fun”. I mean who gets super excited “Oh awesome! My new IFAK pouch just arrived, I’m gonna call Joe and tell him.”

Despite that they may be boring, they are one of the most important pieces of gear you can have. IFAKs (Individual first aid kits) are life-saving emergency medical kits, that are applicable to a variety of emergency situations.

Don’t be like I was and say they are too expensive while a $2,500.00+ rifle sits on your shooting table. Don’t assume you won’t need one or turn away because there are more exciting things.

In all reality, IFAKs are very affordable, versatile, and straightforward. It is more likely you will use your IFAK for real world purposes than your firearm. We will discuss common contents, sizes, and their importance.

What is an IFAK Pouch? 

IFAK pouches large, midsized, and small - Tacticon Armament.
IFAK Pouches

IFAK pouches are a compact and portable collection of essential medical supplies and equipment designed to address immediate life-threatening injuries. -kinda sexy right?

These are not your standard first aid kit for boo-boos, IFAKs are meant to provide critical care until professional medical help arrives. IFAK pouches originated in the military, but their usefulness has expanded to civilians, law enforcement, and outdoor enthusiasts.

What Should Be In a Trauma IFAK Kit 

IFAK contents may vary depending on the specific needs of the user, size of the pouch, etc. There are many standard items that are essential.

IFAK pouches contents, 32 items, 82 total pieces - Tacticon Armament
IFAK Contents
  • Tourniquets are an essential component to stop major bleeding and prevent someone from dying of blood loss from an extremity wound. Larger IFAKs typically contain one combat tourniquet, but it is advised to keep additional tourniquets on your plate carrier.
  • Pressure bandages are used to apply direct pressure on a wound to control bleeding. IFAKs generally have a few of these, as they may need to be changed.
  • Hemostatic gauze is specialized gauze that promotes blood clotting for faster bleeding control.
  • Chest seals are a device used to cover penetrating chest wounds, preventing the development of tension pneumothorax.
  • A Nasopharyngeal airway is a flexible tube used to maintain an open airway in an unconscious or semi-conscious person.
  • Gloves, it’s super important to protect yourself from biohazards. Think about it, nobody wants hepatitis, don’t skip this step.
  • Trauma shears are specialized scissors to cut through clothing and expose wounds, limiting the risk to the patient.
  • Medical tape is used to secure bandages, dressings, and other medical devices, as well as a host of other potential uses.
  • Reflective blankets are used to keep a patient warm and from going into shock following an injury
  • Alcohol prep pads for clearing and sanitizing the injured area and tools to prevent infection. We learned a lot from wars of the past where more soldiers died of wound treatment than the wounds themselves. 

Why You Should Carry an IFAK Pouch

Having an IFAK pouch on hand can be crucial in various situations and can be the difference between life and death.

I keep a Tacticon Armament IFAK V3 in my vehicle in case I am ever around an accident, or a situation happens where quick administration of medical care will be the difference maker. Remember, sometimes things just happen. Car accidents happen every day, we have earthquakes, and parts of the country are faced with tornadoes and tsunamis. I could go on, but the point is everyday emergencies may require a medical response before paramedics can get there.

Camping, hiking and wilderness survival also mandate an IFAK. In these situations, you are removed from immediate medical care. Someone could fall and cut themselves deeply, or use a knife improperly and slice their hand or arm.

IFAK pouches come down to the old saying, it’s better to have and not need than need and not have. I take comfort in being capable to respond to an emergency if one arises, and I am grateful nothing has come up yet, especially before I made the investments to be prepared.

What Is The Best Size For The IFAK?

IFAK pouches come in different sizes to accommodate various needs and preferences. The size you choose will depend on factors such as portability, storage space, and the range of supplies you want to include.

Smaller IFAKs are ideal for personal use or when space and weight are critical considerations, such as backpacking or traveling. They typically contain essential items to address life-threatening injuries but may not include items for less severe or specific injuries.

Larger IFAKs are suited for those who want a more comprehensive first aid kit or need to provide care to multiple people and may include additional items.

Tacticon Armament sells three different sizes of IFAK pouches.

The V1 Compact IFAK is designed to be worn on a tactical belt. It is a more portable IFAK, and has only the essentials to keep it lightweight and out of the way.

The V2 Standard IFAK is larger and can be worn on a plate carrier. It carries more equipment and takes up more space.

The V3 Extensive IFAK is our largest IFAK, it has the most equipment and is designed to be a comprehensive IFAK.

Tacticon Armament offers a variety of medical supplies to accompany your IFAK such as empty IFAK pouches and IFAK refill kits so you can customize your own kits.

Common IFAK Questions

In the world of firearms and tactical gear, it’s essential to be prepared for any situation, especially when it comes to emergencies. One of the most important items you can have in your gear is an Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK. But with so many different options and variables, it can be challenging which is why we’ll be answering some of the most common questions about IFAKs.

Does IFAK stop bleeding?

Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) is designed to help stop bleeding and provide initial medical treatment in emergency situations. IFAKs typically contain pressure bandages, gauze, and tourniquets to stop bleeding respective to the area affected by the injury. 

What is the difference between AFAK and IFAK?

The difference between AFAK and IFAK lies in their intended use and contents. AFAK (Advanced First Aid Kit) is a more comprehensive first aid kit that includes a wider range of medical supplies and equipment. It is typically used in professional medical settings, emergency response teams, and ambulances.

While both kits serve the purpose of providing medical assistance, IFAK is more focused on immediate lifesaving interventions in potentially dangerous situations, while AFAK provides a broader range of medical supplies for more extensive medical care.

What is the best size for the IFAK?

This entirely depends on user preference and available space. As I stated earlier I keep a large IFAK in my truck for emergencies, but on my person, I keep the smallest one made by Tacticon. In general, bigger is better but having the necessary equipment and the ability to use that equipment is paramount. 

How many tourniquets should you carry?

Carry several. I keep 2-3 on my kit, and more in an IFAK. You should have two at a bare minimum, why skimp when they weigh nothing and are easily stored? You never know when someone(s) around you may need one. 

Does the IFAK go on the right or left side?

Are you right or left-handed? It is advised to keep your IFAK on the opposite side as your pistol to prevent interference while drawing. 

Does IFAK go on chest rig or belt?

This comes down to personal preference and what will be out of the way but still accessible. I like using smaller IFAKs like our IFAK V1 on the rear of my belt because it is made for belt use and inherently out of the way. 

What is the shelf life of IFAK?

It is generally advised to replace all perishable aspects of an IFAK (alcohol, medicines, chemical-based components) before their expiration date. There is little to no concrete information on this, so follow the manufacturer’s protocols, item expiration date, and replace items as often as needed. 

Should you carry an IFAK?

Yes, this world is unpredictable and you never know when you or someone else may need immediate first aid. IFAKs come in all sizes, you can keep one in your vehicle, backpack or just about anywhere, so why not? 

Parting thoughts

An IFAK is a crucial tool for emergency preparedness, providing essential medical supplies to address life-threatening injuries until professional help arrives. By selecting the appropriate size and contents for your needs, you can ensure that you’re well-equipped to handle emergencies and potentially save lives.

You are making an ill-informed assessment if you believe that because you may be in shape, have the training, body armor, expensive gear, and/or are a good shot that you won’t need an IFAK. Training is accessible, many people spent their COVID stimulus on firearms, and modern weapons are easy to use. There is always a bigger fish and many other competent fish. If you own a firearm for self-defense and train or wish to, investing in medical gear is important. As the other old saying goes, “it” happens, don’t rely on not needing first aid, why skimp on something that could save your life?

Get training on how to use your IFAK. Some pieces of equipment are straightforward, but do you know how to use a tourniquet proficiently? While there may be a lack of available training in your area, we live in the digital age and YouTube is a great resource to familiarize yourself with your equipment. It’s not the end all be all, but it gives you a place to start and get familiar.

Media and films often show medical personnel improvising with household items. In reality, this happens rarely, but when it does it’s because they are out of first aid equipment in a massive emergency. The real difference is medical personnel have years of knowledge and training allowing them to improvise proficiently. Don’t rely on a belt tourniquet when professional ones are affordable. 

Invest in good equipment and knowledge, take care!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Tacticon Armament.