First Aid Kit for the Trails

What’s in your first aid kit? It might vary based on your health, your concerns and your hiking location.

first aid kit

Your kit might look nothing like mine. You might be prepared for things that I am not and vice versa. The group of things here are meant to make you think about trail emergencies and the items you might use to handle them. Some people are comfortable sewing up a gaping wound with used fishing line and a fish hook. Others might lose their cookies at the sight of blood. Whatever you decide to pack, pay attention the terrain you will be travelling in, the weather, and how near (or far) you will be from help, should you need it. If you are out overnight and slice  yourself open so you can’t walk, it may be 24 hours or more before Search and Rescue can get to you.  These are merely suggestions.

17) (not numbered on photo) The blue cloth is a quick dry towel that I always take with me. It dries me off in the rain and is long and thin so it could work to tie a splint in a pinch.

16) Medical tape for use with gauze or directly on ripped skin, this holds things in place even wet but allows moisture through.

15) Duct tape is my MacGyver item of life. Anything that is broken, can usually be fixed in large part with duct tape. It also is a great item to put over hotspots that would be come blisters, as it sticks even in wet boots. On my last backpacking trip I used it to hold the sole onto a hiking boot that came open. Most of it’s uses are non medical, but where a band-aid won’t stick, duct tape usually will. I wrapped this length around a cardboard slice to keep it thin and easy to handle. It’ s about 2-3  feet of  tape total.

first aid 5

14) Pills in aluminum foil. Ibuprofen, allergy pills, medications. Foil is the lightest container that will keep them together and it will get smaller when you take some pills out. Also, you never know when the foil itself might be handy – reflecting small bits of heat, covering your fingers, or holding something else.

13) Bandages. I used to carry an assortment, but I always only use the largest, 1″ variety. The stretchy fabric ones work best and often stay on when wet.

12) Moleskin for blister prevention. Learn how to apply this for best effects – work around the hotspot, raising an area around the blister rather than covering the blister.

11) Gauze for soaking up blood, covering larger wounds and as a barrier between tape and skin

10) Liquid bandage (optional) I’ve never used it, but some people swear by it. I’ve never used it and should probably pull it in the interest of space and weight.

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9) Antacid. If you never use these, take only 2-3 pills and wrap them in you tin foil with your other pills.

8) Antiseptic wipe for cleaning wounds

7) Rope or fat twine. This would serve to fasten a splint, tie clothing together or tie a tourniquet. It’s in addition to my regular supply of rope for hanging bear cans, drying clothing, etc.

6) Emergency blanket and 2 rubber bands. There are about a  million uses for emergency blankets so I always have one, even on short day hikes. Sometimes I carry two or three. Works well with duct tape. The rubber bands hold things together in a pinch – tent stakes, to flyaway hair, but they also keep my emergency blanket from taking over the first aid kit.

5) Eye drops to wash out and sterilize eyes when stuff gets in there. Also, some eye drops are sterile and could be used to wash debris out of a small wound (instead of digging with dirty fingers) in a pinch.

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4) Antibiotic ointment. Good stuff for dirty places like the woods or anywhere else outdoors. Which is usually where you are when you’re hiking. I usually have this in single-use packets. It saves space and weight.

3) Needle and thread – this is just the regular sewing variety. When you’re out there and need to sew a person up, you aren’t picky. The thread is heavy duty nylon, untearable thread, and I’d use it to mend my gear if I didn’t  need it to sew up a person first. If you don’t have the stomach for things like, this, carry it anyway – someone in your group could use it on you.

2) Whistle because the one built onto my backpack is for calling marmots, not really for help. This one really works and is light enough that I don’t mind carrying it. Also, some of my backpacks don’t have a whistle built in, and if I had to call for help, it would most likely be in conjunction with a first aid situation.

1) Light, fold-up knife for cutting any of the other stuff here. I have it in addition to my regular camp knife. This would not cut an apple or be used for any serious cutting work, but it is super sharp and can cut duct tape, gauze, band-aids and rope. It could also punch holes if needed.

The whole thing weighs about 10 ounces.

Of course it’s always to your benefit to travel with an EMT certified hiking partner, but if you don’t happen to have one of those handy, it’s up to you to educate  yourself about the kinds of tools you need in your kit. Hike safely and hike happy.

 
 
 

About the author

A native of Minnesota, Erika moved to Seattle in the late 90s and immediately fell in love with the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. She is a photographer, specializing in landscapes, though she enjoys capturing people as well. Her travels have taken her from Newfoundland to Belize, From Paris to Nepal. She has written a book about her trek through Nepal and is the editor of SBM. Erika currently resides in Kirkland with her husband and two sons.

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