In my article on my EDC gear, I included a flat-folded SOFTT-W tourniquet that I had been carrying for quite a while. Part of that time I had rubber-banded some flat folded duct tape and a package of Quik Clot Combat Gauze to it for a nice, compact blow-out kit I could carry virtually anywhere in the cargo pocket of my pants. However, after a while the bulk of this setup bothered me and I switched to just the tourniquet.
I am a big fan of carrying medical gear on me, and I wanted to find a way to carry more. I had seen various ankle carry medical kits, and even saw one carried by John Murphy of FPF Training during the classes (AARs here and here) I attended with him in 2016. I never asked him which ankle kit he uses, but he definitely wears one regularly, citing the Washington Navy Yard shooting as his primary motivation for wanting medical gear carried on his body at all times.
I did a little bit of online research and came to see there were only about 3-4 different companies producing ankle blow out kits. At the time I researched, I found the Rescue Essentials kit, the US Palm cuff/full kit option, the Tactical Medical Solutions kit, and the now out-of-production Ricci Ankle Medical System. I read all the written and video reviews I could find over a period of about two weeks before making my selection.
In doing my research, I discovered that the US Palm Ankle Cargo Cuff (which is sold individually, without any medical gear, or with the option to have US Palm supply the medical supplies for you) was designed collaboratively between US Palm and Low Pro Gear. I visited the Low Pro Gear website in search of any testimonials (the US Palm site had none), and saw that the price was lower on their site. I used the contact form to see if this was correct, and received a prompt reply (within a day) that the listed price was in error and should be $40, just like on the US Palm site. So I sent a reply thanking them and said that I was in search of testimonials. The owner of the company replied and said that their Ankle Cargo Cuffs are in use by low-vis operators globally and that such people tend to not post reviews. This sounded warning bells in my mind (“we can tell you who uses them, but then we’d have to kill you” kind of thing, which I find off-putting), but the owner said that I could buy one and try it out and that if I was not satisfied I could return it in 30 days for my money back. I want to point out that at no time did I mention that I help run a blog that sometimes reviews gear. I paid the $40 plus shipping and had the Ankle Cargo Cuff in hand within a week (I should note that I chose the cuff without the medical gear because I already had plenty of bits of medical gear on hand to equip my cuff as I saw fit. The US Palm version with the medical gear costs another $45, for a total of $85).
Regular readers of this blog should know that I am “vertically challenged”. My inseam rivals that of Danny DeVito. Accordingly, I don’t have a lot of lower leg with which to work for items like ankle rigs for pistols or, in this case, ankle cargo cuffs for medical gear. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that I have ridiculously large calf muscles (heredity combined with years of mountain biking). The large calves and the limited distance between that meat and my ankle really limit my options for gear like this. Because of all of this, I am not used to having any gear on my ankles. However, one thought that I had was that my large calves might work to conceal ankle gear in the same way that an individual’s large shoulders or pectoral muscles can help to conceal items worn on the belt. Time would tell. Clearly I had at least a few concerns.
As noted above, the package arrived within a week. Upon opening the package and inspecting the cuff, I saw that it seemed to be robustly constructed, with quality stitching, etc. It is made of a stretchy, neoprene material and contains 4 larger pockets and 1 smaller pocket. The pockets are open at the top and lack any sort of flap/strap for retention of gear within. The cuff is secured around the leg by hook and loop fasteners (Velcro), with the hooks pointed toward the leg and the loop portion facing away from the leg. There are two “sections” of the loop portion so that there is plenty of adjustability available, allowing the user to make it as tight or loose as he or she wishes, and only someone with “cankles” would be unable to secure the cuff around the ankle.
On the inside of the cuff is a single “panel” of loop fastening, which the description said is to help the cuff grip the sock of the user to limit shifting. More on this later.
I decided to start simple and loaded 3 of the pockets with just a few pieces of gear: the combat gauze, the tourniquet, and flat folded duct tape (I wrap duct tape around an old hotel room key card). I put on the cuff as tight as I could, pulled my pant leg down, and started strolling around. Right away, the cuff slid down my leg and only stopped when it met the top of my shoe (Merrill low cut hikers). Once down there, I felt a bit like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, as articulation of my ankle joint was suddenly somewhat compromised. Hmmm. I also found that the whole cuff would rotate around my ankle.
Within a day, I figured out a useful hack that has made a great deal of difference. The “loop” panel on the inner side of the cuff was clearly doing nothing to anchor the cuff to my sock. Why they put “loop” there instead of “hook” is beyond me. But, being a teacher, I always have plenty of Velcro around, so I added my own wide strip of “hook” fastener to this inner side. Once attached, the rotation of the cuff around my ankle never happened again, and it felt MUCH more secure. I also found that, although I had thought that I had the cuff around my leg as tight as I could, the fact was I did not. There was more stretchiness available to tap into, so that once I tightened it more it felt much more secure. Once I had the security I desired, I added a 4 inch Israeli style pressure bandage and a pair of Nitrile gloves.
My arrangement now is to wear it around my right ankle. I wear it with the Israeli bandage toward the back, underneath my ridiculous calf. On the inner side is the tourniquet, and toward the front is the pocket with the combat gauze, tape, and gloves. One of the pockets, the one that tends to be toward the outside of my leg, continues to remain empty.
Although to date I have not had any of these items fall out of the cuff, I do feel like that potential is there. Accordingly, in addition to the positioning of the Velcro hook panel on the inner side of the cuff to prevent movement, I may add some homemade retention straps to the tops of each of the pockets on the cuff to prevent any chance of the items falling out. I should note that, while I haven’t worn the cuff on any multi-mile runs, I have chased after students at work and my children around and outside the home without any issues.
Comfort and Other Thoughts
I have worn this cuff whenever I have left the house for the last six weeks, including work (only exceptions, as noted above, were my multi-mile runs). I typically wear cargo pants to work (many of my fellow teachers and aides do as well, so I do not stand out as “tacticool”, I assure you), and have had no issues keeping the kit concealed. I did take it off once to show to my assistant, and she was amazed and had had no idea I had been wearing it for a week right in front of her. Under tighter pants, the cuff will no doubt “print”. However, I did wear it a few times with Eddie Bauer khaki pants with no issues (though those khakis are also a little baggy). Wearing the cuff under jeans would, for the most part, be a no-go, at least on my legs.
I would hesitate to call the ankle cuff “comfortable”. Much like a pistol worn on the belt, it is one of those things that you realize is there, but is something that you can get used to. Indeed, I usually remove it when I arrive at home, and then my leg feels strange without it. I wish I could get it to ride a bit higher on my calf so that it doesn’t rub at the top of my shoes, as it is prone to do sometimes. I also think the modifications I outlined above (“hook” panel on the inside of the cuff to interface with the wearer’s socks to prevent shifting, and then some straps on top of each pocket for gear retention) would be worthwhile for the end-user to make or for US Palm/Low Pro Gear to look into if they someday make a second generation version. For what I need it to do, it works. I can also envisage other uses for such a cuff, such as a place to hide money or other small valuables when travelling to places where pickpockets thrive. Also, if one carries a pistol on the opposite ankle, a spare magazine could easily be carried in one of the pockets on the ankle cuff. In short, the wearer is really only limited by his or her imagination.
With the relatively minor issues outlined above (which are easily mitigated), I would recommend this piece of gear (the reader should keep in mind that I have not tried any other brand of ankle blow-out kit, so I have nothing to compare it to), and I look forward to continuing to utilize it as part of my EDC. As time passes, if other issues arise (such as the cuff falling apart, getting overstretched, etc.), I will come back and edit the review as necessary.
I am not affiliated with US Palm or Low Pro Gear except as a full-price paying customer, and I am not being compensated in any way for this review. As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or ask questions below or on our Facebook page.