U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Several years ago, someone said something to me that was pretty profound. While I’ve since forgotten where I first heard the phrase, it went something like, “if you’re going to carry something to cause bleeding, you better carry something to stop it.” That, combined with witnessing a car wreck during my daily commute, illuminated a little lightbulb in my head that maybe carrying some sort of medical equipment on my person might be a good idea. Fast forward several years, and I’ve had the chance to try out several methods, with one of my favorites being a tourniquet worn inside the waistband (IWB). There are a few methods of doing this, with repurposed M4 magazine pouches having a firm hold on the market. The PHLster Flex Utility Pouch is one of those which leads the pack.
Design of the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch
There’s not much to the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch. You have an elastic pouch sized to accept a 30-round AR15 magazine. But we’re talking about medical; why do I care about an IWB AR mag? Good question. As it turns out, when properly folded, a SOFTT-W fits just about perfectly in an AR magazine pouch, which makes the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch a perfect home for your tourniquet. Throw a couple of strong rubber bands around the TQ to help keep it in place as you slide it into the pouch, and you’re golden. As an added bonus, almost the entire SOFTT-W is covered by the pouch, aiding in comfort when worn IWB. I recommend keeping the windlass on the side further from your pistol when carrying AIWB to avoid unnecessarily scratching your slide or optic.
The bottom edges of the pouch are angled to reduce discomfort over long periods of wear. The bottom portion of the pouch is also covered in material to help repel moisture. Despite its name, the pouch works without the use of the PHLster Flex and has spent the majority of its life directly attached to my belt. This is done via two straps that connect to each other via velcro on either side, making a solidly attached loop. You can play around a bit with ride height by adjusting the size of your velcro loop, which also helps improve comfort. Those using the PHLster Enigma or Comfort Concealment Belt are in luck, as the Flex Utility Pouch works perfectly with both products for ultra discrete medical carry.
Real World Use
I started carrying with the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch in late December of 2019. It rode in my waistband every time I left the house throughout 2020 and roughly half of 2021. Outside of some weakening of the velcro belt loop, the pouch is no worse for wear. The tourniquet rides below my muffin top, avoiding printing or discomfort even during more strenuous activity. With a 36-inch waist, there’s plenty of room for my full-size pistol with optic, a spare magazine, and the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch from the 11 to 1 o’clock positions, keeping everything easily accessible with both hands.
Thanks to the belt attachment, the Flex Utility Pouch is able to flex with your body. Moving side to side, up and down, keeping up with your movements instead of remaining rigid, jabbing into legs and other bits. This means that sitting, climbing, running, and more pose no challenge to your tourniquet, keeping you comfortable all day long. On top of this, the pouch keeps a firm hold of the tourniquet during your activity. To date, I have had no issues with the tourniquet, with it staying solidly in the pouch until directly removed by the wearer.
Some Mild Criticisms
It can be a little challenging to remove the SOFTT-W from the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch when still worn. I recommend removing the pouch and then taking the tourniquet out, one hand on each item. Of course, you can still remove and apply with a single hand if necessary, but it is a little more complicated.
I’ve touched on this above, but consider these consumable items. In my experience, the velcro loops last roughly 18 months if you attach and detach them daily. Keeping the loops fixed, then threading your belt through will help increase their longevity. Additionally, the pouch itself is made of elastic. If you make a habit of regularly inserting and removing your tourniquet, you’ll probably wear the pouch out over time. If you want to practice, consider buying a spare pouch and tourniquet to keep your EDC gear in tip-top shape. Luckily the price point is low enough that burning through a pouch every year or two likely will not break the bank. This level of durability is on par with similar products I’ve tried from other companies.
Final Thoughts on the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch
If you’ve been considering adding medical to your everyday carry, this might be your solution. Most people don’t consider throwing a tourniquet inside their waistband. It’s been a great option for me, both with the PHLster pouch and others having a place in my pants for nearly five years. They work great with a variety of outfits and keep my equipment where I can easily access it. You might not need your gear for a gunfight, but accidents happen every day. Are you ready if your time comes?
As of the time of this writing, the MSRP for the PHLster Flex Utility Pouch is $20.00 on PHLster’s website.
About Dan Reedy
Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.