An Example Lightweight First Aid Kit

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

Sample lightweight first aid kit.
Sample lightweight first aid kit.

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

Wound Care/Cleaning/Splinting
__ 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

Diagnostic/Medical Information
__ 1 – WFR Cheatsheet
__ 1 – SOAP Notes – All weather

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

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.

Other Lightweight First Aid Kits

Bryan Hansel is a Wilderness First Responder and found the training to be worth the week plus of vacation he took to get it.

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  • Have had a copy of this list pretty much since you posted it, and was just restocking my own kit, so referred to it as a reminder. One thing sorta stands out – why do you have the 10cc Syringe with 18 Gauge Tip? There aren’t any liquids to dose and no needle – are you using it to “hose out” wounds?

    • Yes, it’s an irrigation syringe for cleaning dirt out of wounds. I don’t carry any medication that requires a needle, but if I carried epinephrine, I’d carry it in ampules and inject instead of using the more expensive epipens. That requires training.

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