The concept of first aid on the trail is fairly straightforward, it’s a good idea to be prepared. It’s also tricky because there are many options and various needs that can pop up while in the backcountry.
I am not a medical expert, but we have plenty of experience to know what works for us. We encourage you to think about what would work for you based on these suggested ideas. And everything that I have packed is either because I have researched suggestions that outline the recommended pieces or we have experienced an issue on the trail. But that’s what we’re all really packing for on the trail, the off chance issue or a cut or scrape. Let’s hope for the latter.
Determining What You Need for First Aid While Hiking
When I first started research, there were a host of questions:
How many first aid items should be packed for a hiking trip?
What is the right amount of first aid items so it’s not bulky or heavy?
Should I bring first aid items for my dog? And what do vets recommend for first aid for dogs?
Should I buy a first aid kit or attempt to put one together?
For us, we decided on a hybrid of first aid items. Part kit, part additions that were recommended by experts. Since it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen on the trail, you have to temper it by what is your intended outdoor activity. If you climbing, the items you need will probably vary from if you just doing a 5-mile quick hike through the woods. Additionally, the number of people is something to consider.
Identifying the Key Elements You’ll Need for First Aid During Hiking Trips
A quick search on the internet for first aid kits will pop up a host of recommendations, I immediately gravitate towards the tried and true.
Some quick and established suppliers have some great options, but buyers beware, some are expensive.
Adventure Medical Kits: Ranging in price, size, and capabilities. These packs seem to be easy to store and some are made of a flexible ripstop material.
Picture 1. Variety of Options from REI for Adventure Medical Kits
MyMedic MYFAK Standard: While an expensive option, it seems to have all the basics. Your trade-off is a bulky pack and you’ll have to supplement for your dog if fido will be joining you on the trail.
Picture 2. MyMedic MYFAK Standard Components
And the other option is to build your own kit for hiking. For us, we build 2 kits for our packs and purchased a larger full kit for the vehicle. There is no telling what can happen and we feel better prepared.
Key Components We Include in Our First Aid Kit
For the kit that we carry on the trail, we have the following:
Quick Clot Advanced Clotting Sponge
Petrolatum Skin Protector (Vaseline)
Hydrogen Peroxide packet
Liquid Skin (glue)
First Aid Burn Cream
Bacitracin Zinc Ointment
Antimicrobial Hand Wipes
Sting Relief Insect Bite
Gauze, Pads, Bandaids
Tape / Medical Tape
Leatherman Raptor Shears
Duct tape (unroll it onto itself for smaller storage)
Reflective Blanket for signaling and warmth if needed
Cotton balls in Vaseline to start a fire (burns slow)
Ankle support sleeve
For the dog:
Clot It - clotting powder for the dog
Honey - for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) Stored in small travel pouch: https://www.rei.com/product/147920/kavu-pixie-travel-pouch-special-edition
There are plenty of options, buy a prebuilt kit, buy the kit and add to it, or simply google search for first aid kit refills to build your own. The most important part is to ensure you are prepared in some way for your trek.