DTL Gear Outdoorsman First Aid Kit
The Medic vs The Kitchen Sink
I have too many IFAKs. I have too many medical backpacks. I have more car-kits than I have cars. The struggle to have a kitchen sink with you at all times is the dilemma of the medic, and is a natural side-effect of having a role that hinges your entire existence on “What if this happened?”
For some qualifying background, in my career as a combat medic I was lucky enough to have instructed Combat Lifesaver courses and Combat Medic Recertification courses; and likewise in my unit roles I have mentored a few dozen medics. I have seen them all wrestle with this problem over time and have seen the many ways they dealt with it. While your average shooter wonders what would happen on the range if some poor fellow were accidentally shot, the medic wonders what would happen to him if he also had diabetes and fell onto an exposed powerline. Suddenly one wonders if they can fit thick insulated gloves in a pouch behind a tourniquet. The packing list only snowballs from there.
Of course, a balance exists. Finding it is often a journey and takes some time in the field to experiment and try things out. Many medical packs have purposes that are woefully mundane, or entirely too specific. That bleeder kit on your battle belt won’t help when you sprain your ankle, but that little first aid kit in your car won’t do you any better. So how do pack for the average shooter who also gets the occasional splinter?
DTL Gear aims to answer that question.
[Full Disclosure; DTL Gear provided me their Outdoorsman First Aid Kit free of charge. They’re even paying for the return postage (which is pretty cool!). Additionally, they’re cool with me opening things up to check them out and use (which is also pretty cool!).]
The Outdoorsman First Aid Kit:
The Outdoorsman FAK came about from the frustrations of the company president, an EMT and sportsman himself. To borrow their own words, “The start of our first aid kits began when our company’s president was handed an ‘off the shelf’ first aid kit during an emergency while fishing. He found the first aid kit to be severely lacking. Researching for a quality first aid kit, he found a vast majority being sold had one or more of three issues 1) Dangerous items were included 2) They didn’t include items which should be included 3) The included items were of low quality. When he couldn’t find a quality kit that matched the needs of outdoorsmen, he decided to create his own.”
There are three levels to the kit, on which I have the Basic, which runs you $100. Another fifteen bucks gets the SWAT-T replaced with a SOFTT-W (a much, much better tourniquet), and another twelve bucks on top of that will replace the compressed gauze with Quickclot Combat Gauze, which is real-deal great stuff. While it’s possible to get Combat Gauze for about that cash on your own, the SOFTT-W cost is easily half of what you’d have to pay out of pocket if you wanted to source one yourself. For the person that considers them more of a shooter than a hunter the upgrades are easily a very economical choice compared to the component costs.
The bag itself measures 8” x 6” x 4.25” and weighs just over a pound. The cloth construction reminds me of cordura but isn’t. I’m not familiar with the material but it does boast a reduced ultraviolet signature to keep a reduced profile against being spotted by wildlife. I got mine in Tactical Black, but there are options for the familiar blaze orange for hunters or red for the familiar “first aid” feel. The molle loops on the outside allow you to attach other pouches if you, for whatever reason, wanted to do that. For those with tactical medical experience it may serve as an opportunity to pre-stage things like NPAs and NCDs.
The basic construction is a rectangular bag with a fold out bag. There are many, many little loops and sections to keep things all tucked away, which is a good thing, because there is quite a lot packed into this bag.
The included items in this kit are numerous. Your staple emergency items such as a tourniquet, occlusive dressing, packing gauze, and trauma shears are present as they should be, but the real differentiating characteristic of this kit are the other included items with a less emergent purpose.
Two of my favorite inclusions were the Mylar emergency blanket and the CPR mask. Hypothermia is a consideration of any wilderness or emergency medical situation and is often overlooked by the majority of the ‘tactical’ industry. Likewise, this is the only kit I’ve seen that can fit on your belt that addresses delivering air to a patient. I know from the fast food wrappers in the trash can of my local range that the likelihood of a heart attack is far greater than a gunshot wound, and there isn’t a whole lot of good my IFAK is going to do with me when confronted with some elderly man’s Burger King lips. Aside from thrombolytics, the CPR mask is about the most useful thing you could carry for that.
Also included are useful items such as splinter kits, tweezers, eye wash, and other cures for small ailments we’ve all encountered while fishing or camping. The inclusion of a few pharmaceutical items is also welcome. Especially the loperamide, considering this is meant for outdoorsy folks.
Having all these bits and pieces is good, but what is great is the quality of the provided items. The chest seals are of Hyfin brand, which are among my favorites (and I have tried many several). The SWAT-T isn’t my first choice of tourniquet, but for the compact size and cost, it is a very serviceable choice. The clippers and tweezers are stainless steel and the tape is a medical cloth tape.
The choice of items, and more importantly, which brand and quality of items, makes it very apparent that this was a kit put together by someone with medical experience. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming and needless.
For a full list of all the contents, you can find it on the DTL Gear website: http://www.dtlgear.com/outdoorsman-first-aid-kit/
Is This For You?
That really depends.
I wouldn’t consider this an IFAK replacement for anyone who to place on their battle belt, chest rig, or plate carrier. I placed this pouch on three different locations on my Eagle Industries chest rig and just couldn’t find a comfortable spot that I could reach with both hands that wasn’t directly where I placed my ammunition.
Likewise I don’t think the retention and storage infrastructure of the bag lends itself to having clear and quick access to all your emergency items should the situation arise. It does sit nicely on a belt, but for someone anticipating the injuries that come with gunfights, I wouldn’t recommend this.
However, it certainly is a great fit for just about everything else. With the addition of a couple SAM splints in the trunk, this is a phenomenal car kit. It would be great on the back of your hunting pack, or in the boat next to your tackle box with the available water resistant box. Keep it next to the ammo can on the range, or in the tent while you’re camping. For the Benjamin it costs to get it, you will get a kit that addresses 90% of the injuries typically encountered by the shooter, hunter, fisherman, or general sportsman. If you’ve ever been out in the bush and got a cut or poke that your military-focused IFAK just couldn’t take care of, this is likely the answer for filling that hole in your capabilities. That’s the point, it’s not a military IFAK, it’s a medical do-it-all for anything that can be done outdoors.
- The cloth material seems fine. However, side by side to pouches I have from Blue Force Gear, Eagle Industries, 5.11, HSGI, etc. the DTL bag doesn’t seem like it as the rugged nature I’ve grown accustomed to from combat oriented brands. That said, this isn’t a combat oriented product, but still…
- I would definitely prefer to see 2” tape over the 1” tape provided. Good medical tape is prison currency for medics. A 3” roll of 3M Durapore is preferable to sex to the majority of medics polled in a recent fictitious study.
- I prefer my emergency kits to be quick-detach. Meaning, I can quickly rip them off my rig if I need to toss it to someone, or so it doesn’t get lost in the jumble. I prefer my patients to have quick detach pouches as I will be removing their gear in an emergency to expose all wounds, and would prefer to keep the medical gear next to me rather than fumbling with their entire kit. This is a preference thing and not a design flaw, I’ll admit, but I did say “gripes.”
- It may seem like a large pouch, but for what you’re getting, it really is compact. And for most outdoor situations, you’ll have a pack anyway. This would tuck neatly in any hiking or hunting ruck I’ve ever encountered. With a good belt I hardly even noticed the weight, and completely forgot it once I also put on my holster and carry gun.
- The materials included are quality. No dollar store items included. Much of what I had in my provided kit were brands or items I recognized from military issue or hospital shifts.
- The choice of included items was well thought-out and very tailored to the intended application. No need for the kitchen sink, it has no use in the woods.
- The price comes in well under what one could expect to source all these items for individually. Much of what is included is only available in bulk for purchase, anyway. Unless you were willing to buy a few hundred cotton swabs just to put a couple in a bag, something like the DTL kit is a much more feasible option.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) I didn’t encounter any injuries on my hikes and range trips with this kit. I’ve used all the included items before, though, and this isn’t an article on my ability to patch up skinned elbows and boo-boos. I’m glad for this, as it means the company won’t be paying to replace all the little bits someone decided to monkey with arbitrarily.
The best praise I can give to the DTL Gear Outdoorsman First Aid Kit is this: It accomplishes the goal. A comprehensive, quality, affordable kit to act as the everything-you-may-reasonably-need medical pouch for shooters, outdoorsmen, and hell, even medical professionals who want something to keep in their camping bag.
Here at the Kommando Blog we certainly have a tactical perspective. We are a gun blog. However, I was glad to have the opportunity to spend some time with DTL’s offering. I’ve had my frustrations with pre-made kits before, and I’m glad that other medics are out there righting the wrongs of the pre-packaged world.
Can you pack your own? Yeah, sure. And I recommend that often. However, if you want to spend your cash on one first aid kit that was arranged according to experience, knowledge, and purpose, while also avoiding the time sink of having to try out all the combinations for yourself… I can safely and confidently recommend the Outdoorsman FAK.