The knowledge of wilderness medicine is a primary skill for wilderness travel and once trained in wilderness medicine, you can start to put together a First Aid kit that will meet your needs. Below is the list that I’ve come up with for my needs when out on trips with 2 to 4 people and up to 10 days.
Anyone traveling into the outdoors on day trips or multiple day trips should at a minimum have first aid training. Most basic first aid training is designed to keep a person alive until an ambulance arrives or until a hospital is reached. In the wilderness, an ambulance or hospital may be much further if not days away, so when seeking out first aid training consider a Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Advanced First Aid, or a Wilderness First Responder course. In these courses, first aid is taught with more in-depth and hands-on methods, and these courses emphasize patient assessment, prevention, risk management, emergency care, environmental medicine, wounds management, backcountry medicine, and teach the practical skills for treating medical emergencies while in the woods and away from an easy to reach 911 call.
These courses range in hourly commitment from 16 to 70 hours of classroom time plus additional studying outside of the classroom. Wilderness Medical Associates offers classes throughout the country at reasonable prices.
First Aid Kits
The following is an example of a first aid kit that I’ve come up with to meet my needs when out on trips with 2 to 4 people and up to 10 days. Depending on the products and supplies that I have on hand when I resupply, I vary the list, so that everything is about the same. In the event of a major injury, I count on being able to evac within a day or two. On more remote trips, I’ll bulk up the supplies and add additional medicine.
__ 4 – Ibuprofen (200 mg) Pkg/2
__ 2 – Acetaminophen (500mg) (Tylenol) Pkg/2
__ 2 – Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25mg)
__ 6 – Diamode (Loperamide HCI 2mg), Pkg/1
__ 1 – Instructions for each medicine
__ 1 – Tweezers
__ 3 – Safety Pins
__ 1 – Trauma Pad, 5″x9″
__ 4 – Gauze Dressing, Sterile, 3″x3″, Pkg/2
__ 1 – Syringe with 18 Gauge Tip, 10cc
__ 2 – Xeroform Dressing
__ 5 – Steri-Strip Adhesive Skin Closures (1/4″x4″)
__ 1 – Tincture of Benzoin Topical Adhesive, Vial
__ 4 – Benzalkonium Chloride Towelettes
__ 2 – Povidone Iodine Prep Pads
__ 1 – Tape, 1″x 10 yards
__ 3 – Triple Antibiotic Ointment, 1/32 oz packs
__ 2 – Co-hesive, Elastic Vet Wrap, 2″ (Warning: Latex)
__ 1 – Triangular Bandage
__ 5 – Nexcare Waterproof Bandages (1-1/16 x 2-1/4 in. & 1-1/4 x 2-1/2 in.) 3M
__ 2 – Cotton Tip Applicators
__ 2 – Nitrile Gloves (Pair)
__ 2 – Hydrocortisone Cream 1%1/31 oz packs
__ 1 – Burn Gel (3.5g packets) Burnaid
__ 1 – Moleskin, 4″x7″
__ 1 – Nu-Mask
Emergency Supplies/Gear Repair
__ 1 – Duct Tape, 2″x3yards
__ 1 – ACR Signal Mirror with Foam Float
__ 1 – Emergency Key Chain Light (Battery taped off)
__ 4 – 9″ Zip Ties bound together with a garbage bag closure
__ 1 – Box of waterproof/windproof matches
__ 2 – Sewing Needles
__ 1 – Bobbin of thread
__ 1 – 2″x6″ Zipstop Nylon Tape
Weight of the First Aid Kit
My standard first aid kit weighs a little more than a standard lightweight kit, but I think that it packs what I’ll want on hand to treat the situations that I think I’ll run into. Remember, your needs may differ from mine, so get the training and knowledge to create your own.
- 8.3 ounces – First Aid supplies and Medicine
- 4.3 ounces – Emergency and Repair Supplies
- 3.6 ounce – Waterproof Bag
- 1.1 ounce – NuMask
Additional Items that I Sometimes Carry
- 4.6 ounces – SAM Splint
- 1.3 ounces – EMT sheers
- 2.1 ounces – Emergency Blanket
- 8.5 ounce – 2 person Bothy Bag
Commercial First Aid Kits that I Like
Because I often buy my supplies in bulk, I don’t like to purchase a pre-made first aid kit, but if you don’t need to buy first aid in bulk, these are some great first aid kits. Regardless, of how you buy your first aid, REI often has the best prices and selection. They offer some great kits and smaller bulk 5 packs of hard-to-find medicine and ointments, like this Water-Jel Burn Jel – 5 Pack.
- Adventure Medical Ultralight .9 First Aid Kit – A well stocked lightweight kit. Has almost the same amount of supplies as the more expensive Ultralight Pro.
- Adventure Medical Mountain Fundamentals First Aid Kit -This commonly found in the equipment of guides. It’s an easy way to know you’re covered with a good amount of first aid supplies.
- The Field Guide of Wilderness and Rescue Medicine – This waterproof/tearproof guide is used and raved about by groups as diverse as Outward Bound, the FBI, and SAR groups worlwide. This is a clear and concise guide to be used as a reference for trained personnel. Contains charts, bullets, diagrams, and illustrations. It is a must for your pack and first aid kit.
Other Lightweight First Aid Kits
- Sectionhiker.com has a two small and compact kits. Zinc oxide could be handy.
- Noc’s Boater’s First Aid Kit
Bryan Hansel is a Wilderness First Responder and found the training to be worth the week plus of vacation he took to get it.