By Heather Madsen

One of the most important things to bring with you into the wilderness is a first aid kit. There’s no “fool proof” list of items that will cover you in every emergency situation, but you can tailor your kit to fit your particular activities. Keeping that in mind, here are a few key items that most, if not all, first aid kits should contain:

  • Assorted bandages
  • Wipes, sanitizer, alcohol pads, or other kind of cleansing agent
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Tools (tweezers, multitool, scissors, etc.)
  • Pain relievers

Obviously the most common kinds of minor injuries (cuts, scrapes, bruises, etc.) will generally only require cleaning and a band-aid. That’s why even the most basic of first aid kits will always have some sort of bandages. However, there’s always a possibility that you may inadvertently injure yourself more severely and need more advanced medical care. You should always see a doctor, as soon as you can, for more serious injuries, but there are some things you can bring with you, to help reduce the pain and severity of your injury, until you can receive professional medical care. Having items like a bandana to make a sling, or antihistamine medication to relieve allergic reactions, will help keep you more comfortable as you make your way back to populated areas and a doctor.

When choosing or building your own first aid kit, you should focus on making it fit you and your specific needs. If you take daily medication or have an allergy that requires an epi-pen, it would be smart to pack those things on your hike, even if you’re only going to be gone for a few hours. You should also take into account where you’re going and what potential hazards you might run into on the trail. For example, if you’re going to be snowshoeing, chances are your clothing and the weather will protect you from any bug bites, so bug spray wouldn’t be the most important item for you to pack, but hand warmers might. If you’re going to be hiking in the summer, however, bug bites would be a much more relevant concern, and it would probably be wise to pack bug spray and some sort of after-bite treatment.

Here is an example list of possible other items you might want to include in your own first aid kit:

  • Bandana
  • Insect repellent
  • Superglue
  • Compass
  • Fire starter
  • Second skin/blister care
  • Whistle
  • Pocket knife
  • Bear spray
  • CPR reference cards
  • Poncho
  • Mylar blanket
  • Gloves
  • Protein bars
  • Sunscreen

Another thing to keep in mind is that pre-assembled first aid kits come in a variety of weights and sizes. While you do want to be prepared for emergencies, you should also take into account how long your trip will be, and what the essentials you’ll need to prioritize. If you’re going on a day hike, you probably don’t want or need a 3 lb. kit weighing you down. A travel sized, or more basic kit would be more practical and easier to carry, while also providing you with the essentials. A bigger, 3 lb. kit would be ideal for a car or trailer trip though, especially if you plan on being outside for multiple days.

Whatever adventure you’re planning, it’s always smart to be prepared. You can shop our selection of kits and emergency/survival tools by clicking here.