Christmas is coming, and no doubt you will be asked for what you want or need because someone wants to get you something useful. This article will be the first in a series on gear for you, the individual, with the holidays in mind.

Medical –

The Wilderness’ Ankle IFAK and their Cuff Duffle to carry it when not on your ankle.

The Wilderness is one of my favorite companies. I’ve bought two of their Ankle medical kits and stocked them with medical supplies. I have worn these (and their ankle holsters) working or not, when teaching on the range, and in other places.

Mine has latex gloves, HyFin chest seals, a 4″ trauma dressing, Z-fold Combat Gauze, and another SOF-T Wide tourniquet.



Recently, Sam at The Wilderness sent me another one with the medical supplies refill to set it up. The refill kit includes a current generation SOF-T tourniquet from TacMed Solutions; ChitoGauze OTC Dressing 3″ x 48″, Z-folded hemostatic gauze from HemCon; H&H’s Mini Compression Bandage; North a two-pack of American Rescue’s HyFin Vent Compact Chest Seals; Compact medical shears with a blunt tip; and a pair of 5 mil thick, heavy-duty nitrile gloves.

But that wasn’t the best part; her crew up there designed and is producing The Cuff Duffle, a red zippered bag that holds a fully loaded Ankle IFAK while keeping everything protected and in good condition when it is not on your leg. I picked up my Cuff Duffle from the Gunsite Alumni Shoot prize table when those of us that worked the match were able to visit it.

The Ankle IFAK is $45.00, their IFAK trauma refill kit is $88.00, and the Cuff Duffle goes for $39.95

Headlamp –

Streamlight’s PocketMate attached to a ball cap. A solid choice for low-light work or training.

You can wear a good quality headlamp as designed, clipped to a ball cap, or hang it around your neck when you need light, but you also need both hands free.

Streamlight’s PocketMate LED utility light is another excellent choice. It has a hook and a reduced-sized pocket clip that is damn near perfect for attaching to the bill of your ball cap. It recharges via a mini-USB connection.

If you cannot find a PocketMate, then the traditional headlamps will work too.


While I’ve got higher-end models from Petzl and Black Diamond, less expensive ones from your local hardware store can fill the need in a pinch. You can get models that run off AA, AAA, and CR123 batteries.

Energizer’s headlamp down in a basement.

It’s a utility light for hanging or taping targets, loading your vehicle, or – unfortunately – providing medical aid in low light; it is not a fighting or tactical light. I have several of them – in my truck, on my medical gear, and in my range bags. They range from $14.95 to $59.95.

Boots –

Yes, footwear is generally a personal choice, but if you live and work in a higher temperature environment (like roadways, range, paved urban areas), 5.11Tactical has a new boot for you.

5.11 Tactical’s AT / HD boots before being used. The perforated tongue vents off heat, making them quite comfortable on a hot day.

It is their A/T HD model. The company’s description mentions a perforated tongue for better airflow. An inner sock reflects heat from the concrete and pavement back through the sole. The leather upper does the same with infrared, radiant heat in the rest of the environment.

And they come in black and black coffee, a very dark brown.

I was sent a pair by 5.11 and had them for an all-day range session on the hottest day of the year here in northern California, 115-120degrees Fahrenheit, which was hotter than the July and August days I enjoyed at Gunsite.

The AT/ HD boots after the class – dirty and a bit scuffed up but definitely serviceable.

I wore these with synthetic, moisture-wicking socks. They were true to size for me and size 11W Flintstone feet. I did not feel any indication of the heat through the soles, nor did I ever feel that my feet were hot.

Cost: $185

What are your suggestions for practical Christmas gifts for officers, other first responders, and the armed, prepared citizen? These recommendations are based on items I have been sent and used over the last year. Please send those suggestions and recommendations to us.