The wilderness favors the prepared. Here are 15 essential items to add to your hiking first aid kit.
In this article:
- Planning a Backpacking First Aid Kit
- For Wounds and Injuries
- Basic Medical Tools
- Over-the-Counter Medications
- Miscellaneous Items
19 Hiking First Aid Kit Essentials
Planning a Backpacking First Aid Kit
When hiking, it’s important to find the balance between bringing just enough supplies to have a light pack, but also to make sure you have everything you’ll need in case of an emergency. Additionally, hikers should be able to use the items included with little to zero training at all – or else the item is completely useless.
For Wounds and Injuries
1. Antiseptic Wipes
Wounds and the wild don’t really go together. If you don’t want a simple cut to progress into a gnarly infection, you better clean and sanitize before dressing a wound.
A well-prepped first aid kit should have a handful of antiseptic wipes. Don’t go overboard, you want to make room for other medical essentials.
You think of first aid, you picture an adhesive bandage. Well, at least you did when you were a kid.
Now, all grown and planning hiking trips, you have to prepare for more than just minor cuts and grazes—worse kinds of boo-boos can happen. It’s best to carry different types of bandages to be prepared.
Call gauze the jack-of-all-trades of medical supplies, you can use this versatile bandage to:
- Clean an injury
- Apply pressure to a wound
- Help stop bleeding
- Soak up blood
- Dress small to medium wounds
For hiking first aid kits, you want to bring gauzes individually packed in sterile squares. You won’t have to cut them to size so you’ll save valuable time in cases you need them quickly.
4. Elastic Bandages
Elastic bandages are ideal for bigger cuts and wounds. Use them to keep small dressings in place and clean until medical help arrives.
These bandages are used more often in emergencies while waiting for professional help so just bring one or two at most.
5. SAM Splint
What is a SAM Splint? An aluminum malleable splint used to stabilize broken bones
Having a SAM splint in your kit is extremely helpful when tending to fractures and other more severe injuries. Splints can temporarily immobilize fractures, sprains, and dislocations, help with the pain, and prevent the injury from getting worse while you wait for medical help.
6. Blister Plasters
To cover all bases, bringing some blister plaster won’t hurt, especially if you’re not used to a lot of trekking or hiking.
Basic Medical Tools
7. Surgical Tape
Surgical tapes are pressure-sensitive making them useful when applying and securing bandage or gauze to a wound.
8. Small Scissors
Commercially available first aid kits usually come with medical scissors, but you can also buy this separately. They’re used to trim bandages and gauze to size.
Tweezers are also pretty standard in most first aid kits. They’re handy for pulling out splinters and removing bits of dirt and stone when tending to a wound.
10. Pain Relievers
From mild headaches to pain caused by major injuries, bringing at least a small pack of paracetamol, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can be a total life (and trip) saver.
The outdoors can surprise you with allergy attacks. If you’re particularly prone to allergic rhinitis and other allergies, add some non-drowsy antihistamine meds to your stash.
Indigestion, heartburn, and/or an upset stomach can ruin a trip. Packing some antacids can come in handy in times you need to tame your digestive system.
When in the wild, there’s no telling what may trigger a severe allergic reaction. Bringing an epi-pen can save a life. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
15. Antibiotic Ointment
Having a tube of antibiotic ointment like Neosporin within reach can provide you temporary relief from pain and discomfort from minor cuts and scrapes.
These ointments can also reduce the risk of a wound getting infected.
16. Anti-fungal Ointment
Fungi thrive in warm, dark, and damp places. When hiking, they can grow between the toes inside hiking boots and under wet, not-so-clean clothing.
Bring a small tube of anti-fungal ointment like Miconazole to protect yourself from nasty fungal infestation.
17. Hand Sanitizer
Aside from contaminated water, hand-to-mouth infection is also a frequent culprit that can hit hikers. When out in the wild, washing your hands with water and soap isn’t always possible.
Hand sanitizers are a blessing to hikers. To avoid contracting any illnesses while on the wild, it’s best to squirt some Purell or any brand of your choice to your hands after going to the bathroom and before and after preparing and eating your food.
18. Bug Repellent
Bugs aren’t only annoying. Some can also bring serious diseases, too.
Keep them away by using commercial bug repellents.
19. Iodine Tablets
There’s always the risk of getting dehydrated during a hike. Carrying the necessary amount of water can be heavy and tiring, so hikers can resort to water filtration and purification techniques to fuel their supply.
Using iodine tablets is a convenient and affordable water purification method. This can kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (except Cryptosporidium).
This technique is easy to use and lightweight. However, drawbacks include:
- 20- to 30-minute waiting time before drinking
- Can have a strong aftertaste that some might dislike
When deciding what items to include in your emergency kit list, you have to factor your individual needs and the conditions of the area you are going to. The goal is to cover all the hiking first aid kit essentials and be well-stocked without going overboard.
Did we miss anything important? Share your hiking first aid kit essentials in the comments section below.