Updated: Jan 3
What do you think? Especially if you are only going out for a short hike, scouting trip, a couple of hours bank fishing, etc... Why pack a first aid kit when you'll only be gone a few hours and won't ever be more than a mile away from your car? The plain hard truth is that you never know what can happen. You could accidentally get a hook through your finger. You could trip and scrape or cut something on a branch or root. You could cut yourself while scaling or cleaning a fish. These are just a few reasons to carry at least a small kit with you at all times in the wilderness. It is even more important if you plan on any longer-term adventures.
So what is a first aid kit
Merriam-Webster defines a first aid kit as a set of materials or tools used for giving emergency treatment to a sick or injured person, a basic and nutshell definition that most anyone can understand. A first aid kit can be just about as small or as large as you want or need it to be. Much of the calculation for the size and required essential first aid items will be dictated by the type of trip you are taking and the number of people going. The most important thing to remember with any first aid kit is for everyone in the group to be familiar with its contents and how to use them. The perfect first aid kit with everything you will ever need does absolutely no good if whoever is delivering first aid doesn't know what is in the kit or how to use it.
First aid equipment list
For a start, you can keep a few basic items in a small tin like the one pictured above. My younger brother showed me this trick when we were teenagers. Back then we also included $.50 to use in a payphone if we needed it. That's not nearly as much of an issue today though. This tin is the perfect size to put in an ammo pouch, cargo pocket, fanny pack, or tackle box for example. I like this type of metal container for several reasons. First, it's the perfect size to carry and still hold a small first aid kit. Second, since it is metal in a serious emergency it can be used to carry or boil water. Of course, that is assuming you do enough research to make sure whatever kind of metal box you buy is a safe metal to carry or boil water without contaminating it. Also, remember to review the contents periodically to keep them fresh and safe to use and make sure to clean out any rust from the container. Below is what I keep inside my first aid kit.
1. Sterile bandages
2. Medical tape
3. A piece of folded aluminum foil
4. A small tube of antibiotic ointment
5. A small assortment of different sized Band-Aids
6. A small amount of toilet paper
7. Some beef and chicken-flavored bouillon cubes
8. A small lighter
This kind of kit can usually deal with most small first aid emergencies, but as you build a larger kit one might get out of control. You can buy first aid kits at most major stores such as Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens. Or you can go to a considerable number of websites specifically devoted to first aid kits like this one. But if you're like me you might not have enough cash lying around for something like that. So over time, you can build your larger first aid kit item by item.
Essential first aid items
Now different people will have a vastly different list of what is essential and what is not. Some of that variation is influenced by each person's experiences and knowledge base. Some of it can also be indicative of the environment in which each person is most used to spending time outdoors. People who predominantly spend their time in Alaska or Antarctica may not think a snake bite kit is all that important, but those of us who live in areas with a wide variety of venomous snakes might think a little differently. It is important to note also that most of the time the items in your first aid kit should be separate and independent from any items you want in your survival kit. If one or more of the items can serve multiple purposes that is great but don't rob Peter to pay Paul as they say.
As for my recommendations for building your kit, these would be the bare minimum I would suggest before going on even an overnight adventure. It should go without saying that this will not be an all-encompassing list nor am I claiming to be some expert. I'm only recommending what I think are the things that will be needed based on my experiences camping, fishing, and hiking while growing up, in Scouts, as a leader in Scouting, and combat first aid taught to the U.S. Army Infantry. I encourage everyone to do further research, seek regular American Red Cross CPR certification, and as always comment below or in the groups with any mistakes I have made or suggestions for improvement.
First Aid Equipment list
1. A plastic or environmentally friendly alternative container about the size of a small tackle
box. Even better if it's waterproof and floats.
2. Medical tape
3. Sterile gauze of various sizes
4. Medical scissors
5. Padded metal finger splints
6. A penlight or a strap-on headlamp
7. A good quality pair of tweezers
8. An assortment of small stitching needles
9. A package of assorted Band-Aids
10. 2 to 3 ace bandages
11. At least one large ORANGE bandana special note not a standard size but large enough to
use as a sling for a broken arm!
12. Dental floss for emergency stitching. ONLY if it is essential and you are trained in how to
stitch a wound.
13. A small lighter
15. Disposable Non-Latex exam gloves
16. Duct Tape
17. Hand Sanitizer
18. Cotton Swabs preferably with wood or cardboard instead of plastic
20. Antiseptic solution or towelettes
21. A syringe
22. Medical mask
First aid medicine list
1. Pain reliever/Fever reducer
a. Tylenol/Acetaminophen/Paracetamol (in Europe)
2. Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories/NSAIDs
b. Naproxen Sodium/Aleve
3. Aloe Vera
4. Calamine Lotion
5. Antibiotic ointment
6. Hydrocortisone crème
10. Dramamine or motion sickness medication
11. Antihistamine or allergy medication
12. Auto-injector epinephrine pen Only if trained in its use
13. Hydrogen Peroxide
14. 2 to 3 packets of blood clot powder/styptic
15. Styptic pencil
16. Water purification tablets
I say again this is not an exhaustive list nor am I claiming to be any kind of expert in anything. And you really must be familiar with and trained in the use of all items in your first aid kit. But I would like to note a few things that may confuse some people. For example, why did I separate the pain reliever and the NSAIDs? It is because they are indeed separate. NSAIDs are labeled and marketed as pain relievers and in a sense it is accurate, but they are not designed for that purpose. You see a pain reliever such as Tylenol treats the pain directly while the NSAIDs treat the inflammation or what is causing the pain. One treats the symptom while the other treats the cause. With all medication read the labeled instructions carefully and ensure to never deviate from the recommended dosage unless specifically advised by a medical professional to do so.
If you don't buy a readymade first aid kit and build your own you will most likely find yourself constantly tinkering with and improving it. You will add things to it from time to time or take an item or two out as you realize they don't work for your needs. And as a reminder always review the items in your first aid kit in advance of any adventure, whether hunting, fishing, camping, boating, or anything else in the great outdoors, to ensure nothing inside is expired and in need of replacement.
I hope the information here is helpful to you and aids you in being fully prepared to enjoy the wonderful world we have at our disposal. Always keep safety and observing the laws and regulations of whatever piece of nature you plan to enjoy so that we will always leave the treasure we all enjoy so much for the next generations. And thank you for taking the time to read my posts and perhaps sharing them with others who may learn or add to the conversation they start!