Your Must Have Backpacking First Aid Kit

When thinking about gathering your gear you pay most attention to our clothing, shoes, backpack, sleeping bag etc. Even smallest accessories sometimes get more attention than what you really should be thinking about - your backpacking first aid kit.

​There are many reasons you kind of skip on that part - you buy a “ready made” kits which suppose to be especially designed for your outdoor adventures or you think “I’m just walking, what can possibly go wrong?”.

​While it might be true that major accidents rarely happen while hiking you’re still exposed to multiple minor “threats” and misadventures. This is when your backpacking first aid kit comes into play.

​In today’s post I’m showing you what to think about when creating your own set. I will also provide you with an extended backpacking first aid kit checklist to make your planning and preparation much easier.

Get the FREE Extended
First Aid Kit Checklist!


Backpacking-First-Aid-Kit-Checklist

Learn how to quickly and effectively create
your own backpacking first aid kit!

Backpacking first aid kit - Preparation tips

When creating your own set there are numbers of things you need to take into consideration.

One size does not fit all

What you carry will differ from what others take. As with all hiking gear, your first aid kit has to be adjusted to your personal needs. You might take special medications, be allergic to specific things as well as have other physical requirements. Make sure that your kit supports all your needs in those departments.

Stay safe - be prepared

​Before you go check all the environmental requirements of your trip. Make sure you know of any possibly dangerous plants, snakes, insects, animals etc. Check the weather forecasts as well as trail conditions. Make sure you have all the information you need to successfully manage possible risks. The best way is to avoid getting into a situation where you’ll need your backpacking first aid kit at all.

Group or solo hike?

When hiking with a group make sure that every person has their own, personalized medical kit (with prescribed medication etc.). In addition to that consider preparing a group kit containing bigger amounts of the common things like bandages, gloves etc. You won’t know your group as well as you know yourself and that’s why group backpacking first aid kit should be slightly “richer”.

Inspect before you go

Before embarking on your adventure take a look into your first aid kit. Make sure all medication have good dates, no supplies are damaged or running out. Make sure to keep your set fresh and complete. Also make sure your kit is easily accessible and you can grab it fast when in need. One more thing to remember is to pack your supplies into a water resistant bag - can be a Ziploc bag, dry sack or any other watertight container.

Get the FREE Extended
First Aid Kit Checklist!


Backpacking-First-Aid-Kit-Checklist

Learn how to quickly and effectively create
your own backpacking first aid kit!

Weight doesn’t matter

If you’re looking into reducing overall load of your gear first aid kit is not a place to look for weight savings. Typically it won’t be a massive package so leave the thoughts of reducing it’s size. The most important thing is that you feel safe and comfortable with the kit you’re taking - it’s weight is irrelevant.

Know How

​It doesn’t matter how good your first aid kit is and what you carry with you if you don’t know what to do in case of emergency. You should posses at least a basic knowledge on outdoor first aid. There are number of courses ( https://www.nols.edu, http://www.wildmedcenter.com/ ) one can take but, let’s be honest, not everyone is in a position to do so. There are however a number of books you can study to be prepared. The best among them are:

Always have it with you

​Backpacking first aid kit is an integral part of your ten essentials which means it should be in your pack at all times. You know how it is - when you have it you don’t really need it but once you leave it you’ll need it.

​Backpacking First Aid Kit - Extended Checklist

Backpacking First Aid Kit Supplies

​As I mentioned your kit should be highly personalized. However thinking what you might really need might be slightly overwhelming.

​To help you design your own kit I created an extended checklist of the most often used supplies. Just go through it and choose the items you know are essential for you.

Medication​

    • Your prefered pain relief pills (also anti-inflammatory)

    • Antidiarrheal (can really save your trip)

    • Antihistamine (against allergic reactions)

    • Laxative (can be as useful as antidiarrheal medications)

    • Aspirin (heart attack prevention)

    • Your prescribed medications

Wound care

    • Bandages ( assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.)

    • Sterile dressing pads ( to stop bleeding )

    • Gauze roll ( holds dressing in place )

    • Elastic roll bandage ( good for e.x. Knee stabilisation )

    • Triangular bandage

    • Non-stick sterile pads

    • Medical adhesive tape (e.x. Leukotape P or Fixomul )

    • Moleskin ( for blisters )

    • Antiseptic wipes ( to clean the wounds )

    • Triple Antibiotic Ointment (in single, squeeze tubes for difficult wounds )

    • Skin closures ( on the go stitches )

Tools

    • Small scissors ( to cut tape, bandages etc. )

    • Your regular knife

    • Tweezers ( removing splinters )

    • Safety pins ( to treat blisters, create arm sling )

Others

    • Nitrile gloves

    • CPR mask

    • Space blanket/bag ( in case of hypothermia or emergency night stay )

    • Duct tape ( all rounder )

    • Plastic bags ( use as for cleaning wounds, storing waste )

    • Electrolytes ( during diarrhea, heat exhaustion, vomiting etc. )

    • Hydrocortisone cream ( relieves skin irritations )

    • Cotton-tip swabs ( applying antibiotic ointment, removing objects from the eyes )

Get the FREE Extended
First Aid Kit Checklist!


Backpacking-First-Aid-Kit-Checklist

Learn how to quickly and effectively create
your own backpacking first aid kit!

Remember no matter if you create your kit yourself or upgrade a commercial one always make sure your personal needs are covered. With every trip you will learn more about your body and what it needs. Each trip will bring an update to your first aid kit.

OVER TO YOU - TELL ME WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ALWAYS HAVE IN YOUR FIRST AID KIT?LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS, TWEET ME OR WRITE ME ON FACEBOOK!

When thinking about gathering your gear you pay most attention to our clothing, shoes, backpack, sleeping bag etc. Even smallest accessories sometimes get more attention than what you really should be thinking about – your backpacking first aid kit. […]

Meet the Author

Trail Maiden i.e. Karo is an optimistic outdoor fanatic. She has founded trailmaiden.com to share her knowledge and experiences with all the nature loving hikers out there. When not hiking she's planning her next trip or her next tattoo but knowing her it's probably both ;)

4 comments… add one
  • Jovan Obrenovic Jan 26, 2017, 11:24 am

    Excellent article, especially part “KNOW HOW”. Everyone (hikers) must be prepared to use emergency kit. Before start hiking have to read attached instructions and manuals and teach how to use it.
    You should be add on list anti-allergic pills and set against the bites of poisonous snakes.
    Best regard Karo.

    • Trail Maiden Jan 30, 2017, 6:15 pm

      Thank you Jovan! The anti-allergic is under “Medicine” as Antihistamine.

      As for the snake bites – you’re right. I just don’t live in an area where there are snakes so I didn’t think about it. Thanks for the addition! :)

  • Willem Jan 26, 2017, 6:54 am

    Another good article as usual! Just remember, pack only what you know how to use. Also remember multi-use items- like a bandana can meet a vareity of needs- bandage etc. Be creative! Keep it up Karo and well done on this good article.

    • Trail Maiden Jan 30, 2017, 6:26 pm

      Hi Willem – thank you so much! And I’m with you when it comes to multi-use items – there’s no need to double up your gear.

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