Surely you've heard the saying "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst". While typically referring to an urgent event or crisis that is going on in one's life, this saying can also be applied when prepping for any adventure into the outdoors. The best way to "prepare for the worst" when going camping or hiking, is to bring a long a first aid kit.
A first aid kit is listed as one of the "10 Essentials" to bring on camping or hiking trips. At minimum, it should contain everything needed to treat minor injuries and illnesses that you may experience along the way. However, it never hurts to be overprepared and bring a more comprehensive kit along.
Obviously we can't put together a list that covers every single scenario, but you can at least use this list as a starting point to ensure your kit covers the basics. Once you understand what should go in a quality first aid kit, you can then decide whether to purchase a pre-made first aid kit or put together a DIY kit. At the end of this post, we will provide links to some of our favorite pre-made kits. If you'd like to skip ahead, then check out our collection of premium pre-made first aid kits.
Basic First Aid Care Supplies
- Personal Hygiene Supplies (e.g. tampons, pads, etc.)
- Prescription Medication (e.g. epi-pen or other items specific to your personal needs)
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Antidiarrheal Medication
- Antihistamine/Allergy Medication
- Antiseptic wipes (ideally a BZK based wipe as you won't get a burning sensation like alcohol, however an alcohol based wipe will work)
- Assorted Adhesive Bandages
- Blister Treatment
- Burn Dressing
- Butterfly Bandages/Wound Closure Bandages
- First Aid Manual/Guide
- Gauze Pads (various sizes)
- Insect Sting Treatment
- Rehydration Salts/Electrolytes
- Water Disinfection Tablets (in case you run out of water and need to grab some from a local stream/lake)
Comprehensive First Aid Care Supplies
In addition to the basic first aid care items listed above, consider the following items when looking to buy/build a more comprehensive first aid kit for your outdoor adventures.
Additional Medications & Treatments
- Aloe Vera
- Antacid Tablets
- Cough Drops and Throat Lozenges
- Extra Sunscreen
- Glucose or Other Quick Absorbing Sugary Drinks/Snacks (useful when treating low blood sugar)
- Irrigation Liquid/Saline Wash for Wounds and Eyes
- Hand Sanitizer
Tools & Supplies
- CPR Mask
- EMT Shears
- Heat Reflecting Blanket
- Knife or Mutli-Tool w/ Knife
- Medical Gloves
- Medical Waste Bag
- Small Notepad & Pen or Pencil
- Waterproof Container/Bag
Wraps, Splints, & Wound Coverings
- Cloth Surgical Tape
- Elastic Wrap
- Finger Splints
- Hemostatic (blood-stopping) Gauze
- Liquid Bandage/Wound Closure
- Rolled Krinkle Gauze
Other First Aid Supplies Considerations
Size of Your Group
- Will this first aid kit be used for a solo hike, or a family camping trip? Group size will ultimately determine the number of supplies that you will need.
Length of Your Trip
- The longer your trip, the more supplies you will need. When you are out on a multi-day trip you will likely not have close access to a pharmacy or hospital.
- Will your hike be out in the open exposed to the sun with no tree cover (think Delicate Arch)? You probably will need more sunscreen/sunburn treatment, extra water/electrolytes, etc. Will you be hiking in the winter or summer? Will it be a flat hike, or a more rugged/mountainous one? Are you in an area prone to ticks or poison ivy? Is there a chance you will encounter bears? Depending on the situation, you will need to plan your supplies accordingly. Some supplies might be overkill depending on the situation.
- Regardless of any of the factors above, we each have our own unique needs that we must plan for/attend to when we venture into the backcountry. Think of your personal health, prescription medications, allergies, etc. Be sure to bring enough (plus more) of whatever you know that you personally need for your situation.
First Aid Training
Now you could be 100% prepared and bring every single one of the supplies we discussed in this article, but if you don't know how to use them properly - then you could be in trouble. That's why we believe that anyone looking to go on an adventure could benefit from some basic medical/first aid training to help with any initial shock of a medical emergency and be more prepared to act. A simple Google search will show you there are a ton of courses on first aid training. Some of our favorites are from My Medic and REI Outdoor School.
Our Favorite First Aid Kits - My Medic
We would be lying if we said we were not a little biased when it came to our preferred first aid kit manufacturer. That said, My Medic has really proven itself as the leader in American Made first aid kits - so we have no shame in promoting them. Not only do they have a few "Universal" first aid kits to choose from, they also have "Specialty" first aid kits tailored to unique scenarios or professions. All of their first aid kits are modular, and you can mix and match many of their supplies to your liking using their color coated "MOD Packs". But don't take our word for it, check them out via our recommendations below:
- Best Kit for 1-2 People: My Medic "MyFAK" First Aid Kit
- Best Kit for Longer Trips: My Medic "MyFAK" Large First Aid Kit
- Best Kit for a Family or Large Group: My Medic "The Medic" First Aid Kit
- Best Lightweight/Barebones Kit: My Medic "Hiker Medic" Med Pack
Is there anything you feel that is missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!