First Aid Kit

By Matt Pritchard

Nothing in this kit is going to save your life. Understand that up front. The single most important piece of first aid "gear" is knowledge. All of the first aid goodies in the world aren't going to do squat for you if you don't know how to use them effectively. Don't let a well-stocked first aid kit give you a false sense of security. Arm yourself with a good understanding of common backcountry illnesses and injuries and how best to treat them. Take a first aid course. Read as many books on the subject as possible - see our Recommended Reading Section. Better yet, become a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT. If you spend enough time in the backcountry, you will need to use this knowledge at some point. All of that being said, a well-planned First Aid Kit can make you or someone in your party more comfortable in the event of illness or injury. Many of the items in this list can be added or subtracted, depending on your knowledge or the level of exposure on your trip. If you don't know how to use something, don't bring it.

  • 6 adhesive bandages - various sizes
  • 6 4"x4" sterile dressing - general wound dressing
  • 4 butterfly bandages - lacerations
  • 2 roller bandages - holds sterile dressings in place
  • 1 packet of Quickclot - miracle product that can stop severe venous and arterial bleeding
  • Moleskin - blister relief
  • Thermometer - estimating body temperature
  • Alcohol wipes - for cleansing skin
  • Povidone/Iodine wipes - antiseptic
  • Triangular bandage - sling
  • Adhesive tape - several uses
  • 3" elastic bandage (ace bandage)
  • Tweezers
  • Small scissors
  • 2 large safety pins
  • Latex gloves
  • Ziploc bag - disposal of contaminated bandages
  • Ibuprofen - general pain relief, controls swelling
  • Aspirin - general pain relief
  • Antacid - heartburn
  • Anti-diarrheal
  • 1 Packet of GU - for blood sugar emergencies
  • 4 salt packets - for creating saline irrigation solution
  • Emergency use prescription drugs (e.g. asthma inhaler, Ana-Kit/Epipen, Nitro Pills) - only your own, no playing doctor with prescription meds
  • Sunscreen - in addition to normal supply
  • Zinc Oxide - absolute sun protection
  • Pencil and notepad - for recording vital signs
  • Small first aid book - or copy of the LifeCard for well-trained individuals

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