There are certain trends in the tactical world that get discussed over and over but end with no firm conclusion. One of this topics are EDC IFAKs. The question „Do I need an IFAK on person in EDC life“ is one of those. We can conclude that if you carry a gun you should have access to something to stop at least massive bleeding. Often a TQ on person and your general first aid kit in the car or in the backpack are enough. More important is your skill to work with those assets. A highly trained 18D is more likely to save a life with a „Home Depot“ type first aid kit than an untrained person with a high end trauma kit.
That being said, certain missions and areas demand you to carry more kit on person than usual. Remote areas are a good example. Usually I would advise people to just carry a small IFAK in their backpack or in their pants pockets. Now there is the narrow field of non permissive environments where this isnt possible. Non permissive environments, as their name imply dont allow you to carry your pockets full of obvious professional grade equipment. This is usually caused by social (dresscode, laws) and environmental (warmth) factors. And it is exactly where Six Echo Systems „The Kicker“ Ankle IFAK literally kicks in.
The realm of non-permissive (sometimes even „non-permit“) carry is the realm of „go subcompact or go home“, deep concealment and actual low-vis/ clandestine clothing. Every little details is crucial. Scenario: You are working in a hot, south american country. Dresscode is business casual, no one around you carries a backpack. Your shirt has to be tucked and there is no room in your clothing to store your medical equipment, bulky pockets would be a dead giveaway. While this scenario maybe far fetched for some, it is a possibility. The same factors can also apply in church or during a wedding. During entry controls a bunch of dressings in your pockets may also raise further questions, leading the security guards straight to your fancy, deep concealed subcompact handgun.
ENTER THE KICKER
Ankle IFAKs are nothing new, I used a lot of them before The Kicker and I always found them to be a horrible thing to carry. They either had been super bulky or tended to slip down your leg, exposing your whole IFAK when sitting on a chair. So I was pretty curious but also negatively biased when Six Echo Systems from the US tasked us with reviewing „The Kicker“. When it arrived I saw that it was actually made out of a neoprene like fabric, neoprene is very grippy, yet comfy and therefore I saw a lot of chances that this ankle IFAK wont sag, which is the most important factor for me when I have to carry this type of item.
CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN
As said earlier, the kicker is based on a wide strip of relatively thick neoprene. It closes by Velcro, just like a cummerbund. The pockets are basically a strip of elastic, divided into 5 segments. Each segment features a strip of velcro one wrap, which is sewn to the top with the loop side up, the velcro strip then goes inside the elastic pocket from the button up and than turns into a flap that fixes to itself. The fact that this strip of onewrap isnt sewn to the neoprene backer allows it to function as an extraction aid (basically pulling the pockets content out of it) but also as an adjustment option for the depth of the pocket. Each pulltab features a grippy laminate pull-tab.
There are three „big“ segments, each able to either pack two small packs of combat gauze, a small to medium emergency dressing or a „Control Wrap“ dressing. They are also able to pack a CAT style touniquet. Putting a folded Chestseal into them was also possible. One of the two smaller segments features a diagonal velcro closure. Its made to accept a pair of medical scissors or similar items. The other small pocket is obciously made to carry a decompression needle but will also fit chemlights or a sharpie.
Construction and fabric quality appears to be well made with a good stitch per inch count and quality fabrics. Although we have to add that an item based on elastic always has a limited lifespan.
As said before, ankle IFAKs have a relatively limited spectrum of useful applications. Which are either for civilians working within a dresscode or social environment that limits their preparedness or professional users that work in the narrow spectrum of covert/clandestine operations.
All have in common that concealment is their first priority. I have tested The kicker wearing jeans, chinos and suit pants. Jeans work best, the Kicker is only visible when you know its there when you go one size up in width, I suppose you already do this when you carry concealed. Even when you wear your true jeans size it literally dissapears. As long as you arent stupid. Dont think that you have to put everything The Kicker can carry inside of it. I limited its contents to two packs of Combat Gauze, one small emergency dressing, a decompression needle and surgical gloves. My TQ always is carried inside my waistband without any pouch, this way it even works when my shirt is tucked in due to certain dresscodes.
This brings us to the topic of suits, suits and ankle IFAKs usually dont work together as the pants are cut shorter and tighter. Going one size up isnt an issue for a good tailor, but going up further will make you look goofy. The kicker however is barely noticeable when wearing a suit. Just put it as low as possble towards your heel, get in your suits pants and after this, shift The Kicker up! This way it wont show up when you are sitting on a chair.
Chinos are a different topic, a lose cut works, a more modern cut will show the shilouette of the IFAK. While access to the IFAK is pretty quick when wearing jeans, chinos and suit pants will requir you to push the IFAK down before you pull the pants leg up.
Concealing something is one thing, keeping it concealed and non-obstructive is the other topic. This is the biggest advantage of The Kicker. Its really comfy and I actually forgot about carrying it after an hour every day. Due to the neoprene backer it not only provides cushion, but also has moisture wicking properties.
The next thing the neoprene padding provides are non-slip properties. Those properties arent to an extent that you feel like your legs hairs get torn out, just enough to eliminate the concerns of your IFAK sagging or dangling during running.
If you are looking for the best EDC IFAK out there, dont go for the Kicker. Spread your stuff among your pockets and you are good to go. But if you are carrying in a non-permissive environment, this product may be the best solution for you.
Six Echo Systems managed to address the issues of most IFAKs. I would clearly advise you to pack The Kicker consciously, I focused on massive bleeding to keep it as low profile as it intended to be. My decision to pack two bags of gauze instead of a chestseal is based on priorities and the fact that one bag of gauze wont be enough for most GSWs. I can still use the packaging of the gauze to build a chestseal if necessary. So really ask yourself if The Kicker, or ankle IFAKs in general serve any purpose for you. If the answer is „YES“ its a great choice and the best i have encountered so far.