In 2015, PHLster was approached by some individual Philadelphia PD plain-clothes officers (independent of the department, seeking custom work) to develop a solution for the pocket carry of their department-issued SOFTT-Wide tourniquets. The criteria for the device was that it should add no substantial additional bulk to the profile of a flat-folded tourniquet, keep the tourniquet flat and compact, and facilitate the easy one-handed deployment of the SOFTT-Wide. Pursuing our core design philosophies of simplicity and minimalism, we devised a solution which consisted of using shock cord to strap the flat-folded tourniquet to a trimmed piece of flat Kydex stock. As we began the process of making these into a production item, I contracted some of the CNC parts trimming out to my friend and colleague, Andrew Henry of Henry Holsters. (Henry Holsters makes a variety of high quality IWB holsters as well as offers OEM and tooling solutions to many other holster businesses, including PHLster). We subsequently collaborated on some additional design work, fleshing this prototype out into a fully developed product and the Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier was born, with features like adjustable retention and multiple mounting and carry options. The Flatpack quickly evolved from a CNC trimmed flat sheet stock Kydex piece into an injection molded product, increasing durability and efficiency of production.
For those unfamiliar with the Flatpack, it consists of an injection molded plastic backing plate, a length of elastic shock cord, and two biothane soft loops. It’s universal, accommodating both CAT and SOFTT tourniquets. The shock cord loops over two sets of retaining tabs, clearanced for easy access, allowing the tourniquet to be deployed from the carrier with one hand. Notches in the backing plate provide adjustable retention. The soft loops are spaced to allow for horizontal mounting on MOLLE or PALS webbing. With the loops, the Flatpack can be carried horizontally on a belt up to 1.75 inches wide. With the loops removed, the Flatpack can be carried in a pocket and additional holes in the backing plate accommodate MALICE clips or Blade Tech MOLLE locks for vertical carry on a duty belt or on web gear.
Rather than re-hash the basics of the Flatpack, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some tips, tricks, and advice about the Flatpack, gleaned from the Flatpack Users Group where we consolidate customer experiences and feedback.
The Flatpack will never replace an enclosed tourniquet pouch or carrier. If you have the space on your rig and your working environment could potentially damage your tourniquet through exposure or contamination, use a pouch, case, or carrier. However, if you’re already rubber-banding or zip-tying extra tourniquets to anywhere they might fit or if your alternative to the bulky case is to go without, the Flatpack offers a superior alternative to both situations. The concept of the Flatpack does rely on the cover garments or pockets of the plainclothes user to provide the requisite protection absent in overt duty carry. That being said, most of the challenges we solve in the Users Group do tend to relate to overt use. My first piece of advice is to avoid the use of the Flatpack on a drop leg rig, especially on the leading edge of the rig, forward of the gun, where it will take a greater amount of abuse. If you must install it in that position, be sure that the loop release tabs are not exposed at the leading edge of the carrier. Try and locate the tabs on the gun side so they’re more protected from snags, like getting in and out of vehicles or moving through a structure. If the release tabs become less accessible as a result of this, we offer bright red hypalon pull tabs which you can install which will make it easier to deploy the tourniquet when it’s installed in a tight space on your gear.
Beyond the adjustable retention feature of the Flatpack, you can increase the security of the elastic cord when your Flatpack is exposed to overt duty use. As you can see in Figure 1, twisting the shock cord into an X not only gives additional tightness, but it pulls the cord into the notch of the release tabs, gripping more tenaciously. Also, be sure that your windlass, with CAT or SOFTT, is offset to the side such that the cord always lays flat across the tourniquet, eliminated gaps which increase the risk of snagging.
In addition to providing horizontal belt or gear carry capability, the soft loops can be reconfigured for additional functionality. One off-menu feature is that you can use them to create a vertical pull for easier deployment from a pocket or pouch. (Figure 2)
In loopless pocket carry configuration, I use mine as a backup pocket organizer, using a ranger band to carry my lock picking tools. (Figure 3)
Due to the dimensions of the rigid windlass retaining mechanism of the CAT, it will never be as slim or low profile as a SOFTT wide. You could flat fold it perfectly and still have half and inch of essentially dead space in the total package. Given that, when carrying a CAT (I mount this setup to my vehicle visor) I tuck a Celox Rapid small into the package, eliminating the size inefficiency of using the CAT and adding to the medical capability I have immediately on hand. (Figure 4)
I hope this provides a helpful overview of the purpose of the Flatpack, it’s origins, and its strengths relative to existing tourniquet carry strategies. As always, I’m happy to field questions about the device at firstname.lastname@example.org and you’re welcome to join us in the Flatpack Users Group on Facebook where I’ll spam you with news stories about tourniquet use and TCCC memes about bungee cords. The Flatpack can be obtained at www.PHLsterHolsters.com and through our dealer network, including several dedicated medical gear providers, should additional medical components need to be obtained simultaneously.