If you're going to be spending any amount of time hiking or backpacking, you'll want to carry a first aid kit with you. Always. Just in case.
But, first aid kits come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.
So, how do you know which one's best for you?
Well, that depends on a few things:
- Are you going out for a day hike? Or a multi-day backpacking trip?
- Are you carrying first aid supplies only for yourself? Or for multiple people?
- Do you, or anyone traveling with you, have any health conditions that require specific medical equipment or supplies?
- Would you like to build your first aid kit totally from scratch, or customize a pre-made kit?
Keep these questions in mind as you search for supplies and know that the longer you'll be in the woods, the more supplies you will need. For example, if at any point in your trip you'll could be a 4 days hike from the nearest road or town, you should have enough first aid supplies to treat an injury or illness for at least 4 days, just in case.
Whether you buy a pre-made kit or are creating your own from scratch, you're going to want these
17 basic, but essential first aid supplies.
- Pain reliever and fever reducer like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
- Digestive upset treatments like Tums, diamode, gas-x, and peptobismol
- Allergy meds like Diphenhydramine or another anti-histamine
- After Bite Sting and Bite relief wipes
Cuts and Scrapes:
- Assorted bandaids
- Alcohol swabs
- Anti-septic wipes
- Triple Anti-biotic Ointment
Wound and blister care:
- Large gauze pads
- Small gauze pads
- Non-adherent dressings
- Latex Gloves
- Medical tape
- Tweezers for splinters and ticks
- 2 hot hands hand warmers - optional but great to have on scary cold night to put in your sleeping bag
- 1 Jello packet - optional but great to have to mix into hot water and drink on an even scarier, colder night
- Electrolytes - optional but can be a life saver
- Small Glide anti-chaffing stick - optional
- Any additional, personal Rx medications, epi-pens, etc.
If you're building your own kit, I recommend organizing it by the categories listed above. Create a small/medium ziploc bag, labelled 'Meds' and put all your medicine and pills in there. Create another bag labelled 'Cuts and Scrapes' and put all your bandaids and cleaning ointments in there. Create another bag labelled 'Wounds and Blisters' and one 'Misc.' Then put all the small baggies into one gallon size Ziploc. This will keep everything neat, organized, ready to use, and dry.
This also makes it convenient for someone else to help you if you are injured! They should be able to easily access your first aid kit and find what they need in there.
I know your first aid kit may seem a little bulky with all these items in it, but it so worth it! You'll be so glad to have these things if you, or someone hiking with you, gets sick or injured on your next backpacking trip.
If you love nerding out about backpacking gear, check out these other posts, too:
- Which Is Better For You? Down or Synthetic?
- Take Care Of Your Gear And Your Gear Will Take Care Of You
- What Are The Best Hiking Shoes For You? Part 1 and Part 2
Have you ever wished you had a certain first aid item with you on the trail, but didn't? What was it? Let me know in the comments!
*Please keep in mind - I am not a doctor and I am not giving you medical advice. I do recommend that you go through either first aid and CPR, wilderness first aid, or wilderness first responder training. Also, if you have any medical conditions, check with your doctor before you head out, so you know how to better keep yourself safe. *
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