Medical kits are like wet wipes in the woods. They aren’t glamorous, but if you don’t have one when you need it, things can get messy. Since med kits don’t have the same level of “tacticool” that firearms and other accessories have, they often don’t get the attention they deserve.
Everyone understands why medical kits are important, so they do their duty and pick up the cheapest and most convenient one to throw in their bag. While this is certainly better than no medical supplies at all, not all medical kits were created equally.
Quality medical equipment isn’t economical, it can get expensive. But if you are willing to shell out a few hundred bucks for a quality CCW pistol, why not drop a hundred on a good medical kit which you are more likely to use? Both you and your family deserve worthwhile supplies.
In my opinion, the DTL Sportsman First Aid Kit is worthy of a look and should provide you with most of the items you need for basic medical problems in the field.
Included with the kit is a SWAT-T tourniquet, but if you would like a more substantial tourniquet, DTL gives the option to include a SOF-T tourniquet and Quick Clot Gauze for an additional cost. I’d recommend adding these items since both these are good to have on hand when you need it most.
What's in it:
- 1x Durable cloth bag with carry handle, quick release belt loops and D-rings
- 1x SWAT-T or SOFTT-W Tourniquet
- 1x Choice of compressed gauze or QuickClot gauze
- 2x Chest Seals with one-way valves
- 1x Tourniquet marking sticks for use with all complexions
- 1x 5.5” EMT Shears/scissors
- 1x CPR Mask with one-way valve
- 2x Extra thick heavy duty nitrile gloves – Medium
- 2x Extra thick heavy duty nitrile gloves – Extra Large
- 4x Purell hand sanitizing wipes
- 1x Mylar emergency blanket
- 4 x 6” sterile cotton swabs
- 1x Stainless steel tweezers
- 10x Splinter Out’s splinter removal tools
- 1x 1oz bottle of eyewash
- 4x Safety pins
- 2x Triangular bandages
- 2x 4”x4” moleskin for blisters
- 8x 1”x 3” fabric adhesive bandages
- 2x Fabric knuckle adhesive bandages
- 2x Fabric fingertip adhesive bandages
- 2x 4” x 4” sterile gauze pads
- 1x 5” x 9” sterile gauze pad
- 1x 3” x 5’ elastic compression bandage
- 1x 1” roll of UV reducing cloth bandage tape
- 1x 2” roll of UV reducing cohesive bandage
- 1x Nail clippers
- 2x Packs of First Aid & Burn Cream (antibiotic and lidocaine. Used for burns, cuts, and insect bites/stings)
- 2x Loperamide tablets (equivalent to Imodium)
- 2x Diphenhydramine HCL tablets (equivalent to Benadryl)
- 2x Packs of two Ibuprofen tablets each
- 2x Packs of neomycin antibiotic ointment
Up for discussion first is the medical pouch. I like it. It’s large enough to hold the essentials with a little room left over for anything else that you want to add.
While the zippers are not the industry standard of quality (YKK), they seem like they’ll get the job done. Zippers are more important then you might think. I’ve had many a med bag zipper fail after hard use and it can reduce the kit’s effectiveness until you can buy a new bag.
The zippers don’t seal, and the bag doesn’t appear to be water resistant. But if you are worried about a risk of your medical supplies getting wet, DTL offers a water-resistant box instead of the pouch.
There is adequate MOLLE on the outside of the bag which is great for beefing up your kit with more tourniquets and chest seals or anything else you can dream up. The back of the pouch also has MOLLE so you can secure it to another bag, and straps so you can stick it on your war belt.
The snaps on the straps came loose after a few sets of burpees, so I'd recommend securing it in place with some zip ties.
The interior of the bag has an appropriate number of pockets and elastic webbing for keeping things organized. I’d feel better about it if there was more robust stitching and thicker nylon on the inside to make this a battle worthy bag.
But time will tell if this minor nitpick is justified. The straps on the outside of the bag has some of the stitching pulling free, and there were loose threads in a few places. I plan on hitting these threads with a Bic lighter later.
Two features I appreciate are:
- D-rings on the top so the bag can be mounted or hung up.
- A grab handle. This is nice for a firm grip when pulling it out of the depths of another bag, or running to the scene of an emergency.
For the most part, the DTLGear Sportsman First Aid Kit does a reasonable job at including useful items in their kit. But since a majority of my expertise is in outdoors emergency medicine, my opinion varies.
Below is a list of everything I had an opinion about. Not all of my opinions are negative, and I’ll make sure to include some logic behind my thought process.
The small pair of shears seem to be perfectly capable of doing the job. You could swap these out for a larger pair if you wanted as they aren’t terribly expensive for a basic model.
The two pair of gloves in the kit are size medium and XL, so if you are an XL person, you might want to throw in an extra pair. The gloves themselves look like a high quality that aren’t as easy to rip. I have torn many pairs of nitrile gloves during an emergency and the word “frustrated” doesn’t even approach my level of rage when that happens.
I understand the purpose of the eye wash is to flush a wound or your eye, but this doesn’t seem necessary since I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have drinking water nearby. A water bottle with a hole punched in the lid would work just as well, but it’s there if you want to keep it in.
The kit comes with a SWAT-T tourniquet which I have very little experience with. It is essentially a wide elastic band that is wrapped around a limb and tucked under to secure. As a corpsman who spent a majority of my time in the military in austere environments, this method of securing the tourniquet worries me.
If you are carried out of the mountains after a bear attack, you don’t want that tourniquet coming loose.
So, if you do use the SWAT-T, be doubly sure to check it frequently to confirm it’s still doing the job every time you're moved. The instructions located on the package says to, “Apply between the wound and the heart,” which is outdated advice.
Now combat medics are taught to tie the tourniquet as high on the extremity as possible. So, as near to the groin or armpit as you can get.
While this would not be my tourniquet of choice, it’s better than nothing and certainly not worthless. It has one advantage over more traditional tourniquets like the CAT, or the SOF-T. These more popular tourniquets might not work well on patients with small limbs (children) or on animals like dogs who have limbs that don’t work well with tourniquets.
The SWAT-T is a good alternative for this situation and can also serve as a sports wrap or pressure dressing. Use this tourniquet in addition to a combat tested one like the CAT and SOF-T.
The CPR mask included with the kit was a little difficult to get out of the pouch. But if you squeeze the bottom like a tube of toothpaste it will pop out.
I plan on adding extra meds to my bag. There is only 800 mg of ibuprofen (Motrin) provided which isn’t enough in my opinion. I’ll also add some acetaminophen (Tylenol) and baby aspirin. If you plan on using this medical kit with your range bag, I’d also throw in some additional burn cream for when you do the hot brass dance.
I couldn’t think of a good reason to have the nail clippers included in this kit. I plan on taking it out a replacing it with a small pair of needle point scissors and hemostats which would be more versatile.
Splinter Removal Tools
I like the idea of the Splinter Out! in the kit, but since it comes with ten in the little case I plan on taking out half of them and throwing in some actual sewing needles for a little more versatility. While I do have experience stitching wounds, I don’t plan on using the needles for this.
Having treated patients in some of the worst environments and situations, a flashlight can make a world of difference. This medical kit doesn’t come with one, but I recommend adding a flashlight of some sort. Preferably a head lamp so you won’t have to hold it in your teeth while you work.
Adhesive Bandages (Band-Aids)
Band-Aids are by far the most used item in any medical kit. This kit comes with 8 good ones, but it’s not nearly enough. I recommend beefing this part of the kit up and throwing in some extra antibiotic ointment while you’re at it.
The Take Away
In my opinion, the DTL Sportsman First Aid Kit is a great resource that will get the job done in an emergency. There is plenty of room in the kit for adding those things you think are important but comes with everything you should need.
While gear is important, knowing how to use that gear should be a top priority. Skills weigh less than gear. Find somewhere to get training and update that training every so often since medical skills, like all skills, are perishable.