It’s kind of official. The self-aid buddy care is more than just a necessity and a critical skill, it’s a fashion statement. Years ago when we were preaching Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC/TECC), to convince an average professional or 2A proponent to be properly prepared, it was tough. But as anything goes, the free market and wealth of ideas has flooded the tac med arena. In design of the Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) and everyday carry (EDC) approach, a lot of the new designs became mediocre.
The drive toward a more slimline and compact products resulted in a lot IFAKs and IFAK look-alikes a lot of which were simply impractical. What use does one have for a bandaid-sized kit, able to carry one or two things? Or on the other hand, if someone truly loves a particular product but can’t put the essential components in it, the application and price tag become nothing but a company advertisement. The cool factor of a product should not dictate its application to the user.
The team at Spotter Up has worked with High Speed Gear Inc. (HSGI) for years. But when I was sent the HSGI ReFlex IFAK system, I was cautious for a detailed and impartial evaluation. I did not want another low profile kit. I was not disappointed. HSGI designers considered first hand operational input, and produced a functional, unique and attractive piece of med kit.
For some time, the move in IFAK design has been to reduce signature and number of zippers in accessing the contents rapidly. To that end, the ReFlex is a two piece IFAK system. It has an inside roll-up style container, and an external carrier. The move to access the contents is ambidextrous and instinctive, allowing an almost infinite number of kit mounting possibilities, without altering the main kit or duty/battle belt component. The ReFlex also utilizes modern neoprene, nylon and Kevlar materials, which were put to the outmost testing for this write-up.
I have carried the HSGI ReFlex System for almost a year, and used it for work, climbing mountains, hiking, swift water, sports and recreational, and mounted on kit, in vehicle and bike. I have gotten it wet, full of range dust and sand. It has been thrown, kicked, laced on, and hung out to dry. Through all the beating I put this IFAK through, not one stitch came loose, and not one loop or bungee has degraded.
The two piece ReFlex IFAK truly is a system, consisting of two working parts. As described, the exterior of the ReFlex IFAK is a shell, into which the roll-up container of med supplies fits. The exterior allows for multiple items to be stowed and secured for faster access. The primary of these, is your choice of TCCC/TECC approved tourniquet. Additional options include shears, light sticks, pens/markers, or decompression needles. An exterior hook and loop allows for proper designation as a med kit, IR, or your favorite cool guy insignia.
The interior roll of the ReFlex is accessed by pulling a large grab handle through either side of the external carrier. Depending on how full the roll is, you may have to give a strong tug, which is actually my preference. Regardless of how I packed the ReFlex it has never come loose. The interior neoprene and exterior bungees allow for solid retention regardless of the type of activity. The handles are always properly accessible, extending outward on either side, and are easy to grab in gloves, while moving/running, and under stress. I found that occasionally securing just the interior roll for certain applications is just as useful. Such as having several IFAKs mounted inside a vehicle or room, where faster access might be needed. The ReFlex allows this without the whole kit flopping open, as the roll is secured by it’s own bungees.
The roll-up portion of the ReFlex is also my favorite part, and one where some manufacturers have opted to pay less attention to detail, in lieu of external appearance. Not so with HSGI. The roll up reminds me of a larger roll kits we used on MEDEVAC platforms and inside operating rooms. Once exposed, the user has an option to again have the contents secure with an external bungee, or skip the bungees altogether and have the kit open upon exposure. But my favorite feature of the design, is that it allows for carrying of everything I need, and everything recommended to be carried by TCCC and DOD doctrine. The loops and bungees on the inside of the roll provide for multiple carry configurations of components. The corners of the roll can be exposed, tucked, or secured via hook and loop corners. I almost missed this feature initially, but the more you add to the kit, the more you see how handy this becomes. This flexibility is critical. A center button-down strap nicely secures the interior of the roll, and allows for additional items to be properly secured. The design of this portion is so simple that its perfect. Overall the ReFlex still allows for a clean, low key and low profile presentation, while being able to accommodate anyone from a top of the line medic, to a prepared citizen.
On the rear of the external carrier, multiple rows of laser-cute “mini MOLLE” enhance the carry platform and mounting options. In that regard, the user has to consider the application of the ReFlex. In situations where confined environment and external features are likely to snag on the user’s kit, the best position for the ReFlex might be closer to the user, or within view. On the other hand, most will find that the rear-mounting, high speed low drag option will still be suitable. From a practical battle environment approach this is beneficial for several reasons. While this is your IFAK, someone can readily see and access it for you, if needed. You can instantly grab it with either hand. It allows to free room on the front and side of your kit. With the rear-mounted option and even when full, the ReFlex does not typically extend past the user’s rear plate, so there is no additional bulk there. As popular as this mounting option may be, some consideration should be given to possibility that the user – as always depending on specific application, may end up on his back. If up close physical alternatives are a possibility, typically falling or laying on belt components in the small of your back is undesirable. The one plus for the IFAK, is that most of those components are soft, and can be compressed by the user’s weight. As much as I was hesitant to try another low profile IFAK, the ReFlex has become my go-to med kit.
HSGI quality is well known, as is their lifetime warranty. At $100 you’re are not paying for a name. You’re getting a solid-built, USA made kit, which will stand up to the toughest of use. The ReFlex is available in 7 colors, including Multicam and Multicam Black.
This products was provided by the manufacturer for a mutual project, and an honest, unbiased reviews. The author is not bound by any written, verbal, or implied agreement regarding the review and content. All options are based on the author’s experience with the product described, and are not subject to liability in use or misuse by the reader.
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