Ever been on a hike without your Hiking First Aid Kit? I know I have. Would not say I regret it, but nowadays I will never leave without at least my Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK).
It happens, although it shouldn’t. Forgetting one of the 10 essentials; the Hiking First Aid Kit. This important must-have item is often neglected and overlooked, especially on the shorter hikes. If you are a beginning hiker/backpacker you might not know what you need to put in your personal first aid kit. This should help you out.
Do I need a first aid kit?
Yes! If you are going for a short walk in the park you can leave your home without one, for hikes however you should always carry a basic first aid kit with you. There is a reason it is part of the 10 Hiking Essentials.
Accidents do happen, and when you are on a hike, chances are you have to rely on yourself or your fellow hikers. Subsequently, you need to have the proper equipment to help yourself in the unlucky cases of emergency. In the worst cases, it can even save your life, so you should definitely bring a first aid kit.
TIP! : Write your blood type, allergies and other important information on your IFAK. In critical situations this can be useful information for the people helping you.
What should I know about First Aid Kits?
Before assembling your hiking first aid kit, you should know the basics of outdoor first aid. If you do not know how to apply and use several first aid appliances, than there is no need to bring your first aid kit anyway. There are plenty of resources out there to educate yourself with the basics. Try an online course, a local class, or order a(n) (e-)book.
Some resources to help you out:
- Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid
- Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to First Aid and Medical Emergencies
- Mountaineering First Aid: A Guide to Accident Response and First Aid Care
Note: these are NOT affiliate links. If you contemplate on purchasing, and find a cheaper copy elsewhere, please go for that option.
Which Hiking First Aid Kit should I buy?
When it comes to hiking, there is hardly a one fits all solution. Same goes for a first aid kit. So deciding on which first aid kit to buy depends on your needs.
Can I not just buy a complete Hiking first aid kit on Amazon?
You could buy a pre-assembled one, which might sound convenient, but I would recommend assembling one yourself.
It might be a hassle to gather all the separate items, but this will help you in knowing where in your first aid kit everything is. Moreso, you know what and how to use the different things in your first aid kit.
What should be in my Hiking First Aid Kit?
When you have acquired the basic knowledge of outdoor first aid, and bought an empty first aid kit, you should collect the separate items that go into the med kit. As said before, there is no one fits all, but we will go through the basics that will fit most, and consecutively mention the more specific items you might want to carry, depending on your needs.
The General First Aid products
- Adhesive bandages
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Adhesive moleskin
- Antiseptic spray or wipes
- Antibiotic ointment or cream
- Skin closures (e.g. super glue)
Cleaning and hygiene:
- Latex gloves
- Hand sanitizer / Soap and water
- Eye wash
- Razor blade
- Tweezers (removing splinters)
- Safety pins
- Duct tape (Handy for lots of things, even for blisters)
- Zip-lock bags (waste, keeping things dry and sterile after opening)
Musculoskeletal (strains, sprains, bones, muscles, tendons) injuries :
- Elastic bandage
- SAM Splint (several sizes)
- Rolled gauze
- Elastic bandage
- Cold compression
Critical injuries / Emergencies:
- EpiPen (severe allergic reaction from insect stings or bites, food, or drugs)
- Space blanket (in case of hypothermia)
- Israeli bandage
- Hemostatic agents (severe bleedings)
- Pain reliever
- Aspirin (heart attack prevention)
Specific First Aid products
Medication and drugs:
- Personal prescribed meds
- CPR Mask
- Insect repellant
- Malaria prevention tablets
NOTE: Keep in mind that you should assemble your hiking first aid kit, so do not just “copy-paste” the list, even the general items are a sum of possible products for your hiking first aid kit. The headings (wound care, cleaning and hygiene, etc.) are situations you want to be prepared for, the items depend on your knowledge and capability of usage.
Where should I keep my Hiking First Aid Kit?
Easy to access
When packing your backpack, make sure your first aid kit is easily accessible. The more critical the situation, the more important it is to have the required equipment within arms reach. Keep this in mind also when packing your first aid kit. You will have time to open up your med kit to search for an adhesive moleskin, but cardinal bleeding requires you to act fast.
Keep it dry
Your first aid kit should be kept dry and sterile. This might be obvious, but can be overlooked at times. As a lot of people carry their first aid kit in the top compartment of their bag, sudden rain can wetten your kit. Keeping your kit or separate items in zip lock bags can help prevent them from getting wet. Vacuum sealing items is also an option.
Final thoughts and tips
Practice at home
The theory is very important, having read the instructions is something I certainly would recommend. However, if you have never used something before, try it out as well. When ordering equipment for the first time, order extra so you can practice at home. Get familiar with the tools you carry, so you feel comfortable using them in the unfortunate circumstances when you need to.
Know your capabilities
In line with the practice at home tips, you should know your limits. Don’t bring anything you do not know how to use. It can sometimes do more harm than good when using a tool in the wrong way.
If you have read any of our blogs, you know by now we believe in proper preparation for any scenario. Try to go through all kinds of possible scenarios in which you might need your first aid kit. In this way you know what you might have overlooked. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
Before going hiking, double check your equipment. Check the expiry dates on drugs, check if everything is still in working order. Moreover, check your stuff every now and then, to evaluate if there might be something that you can change, add or leave out of your first aid kit. Especially the individual first aid kits are tailored to you as a person, so it should be a work in progress. You will grow more confident with the equipment you are carrying over time.
Finally, just go out there and hike. Accidents might happen, and the reason you carry a first aid kit is to help you in most scenarios. Yet, there is no way that you will be prepared for literally everything. Also, nobody expects you to be a medical professional overnight, so if you lack knowledge in outdoor first aid, don’t let it prevent you to go on a hike. Know the basics, and the extra’s to the point which you find comfortable.
Disclaimer: We are no medical professionals either, so please use this article as a guide, but for more detailed/advanced information use a professional source. This article is written to help beginning hikers out in assembling their first aid kit. If there is anything you are missing, or that you would change in our listings, please let us know!
Enjoy your hike, and hike on with the secure feeling of having a first aid kit with you which you know how to use.
Read More: Hiking Blogs
Stefan is a design thinker, with a passion for photography and the outdoors. Just like most designers, he is a life-long learner, interested in everything that moves the world. He's driven when it comes to research, branding, writing, travel, strategy, psychology, and entrepreneurship.