View Full Version : A "Roll Your Own" first aid kit for the backpacker

03-08-2008, 08:05 PM
Once apon a time I had a web site, part of which was devoted to backpacking. Since then the web site has come down, and my knees have about given up the sport. Nice long day hikes are the way to go now.

I have cut & pasted the part about making your own first aid kit here. I found the ready made variety too expesive, too heavy for backpacking and didn't contain what I thought I needed.

Now remember this kit is for the backpacker and so is meant to be light weight. Add to this list as you see fit. Boondockers and day hikers will find this kit about right. Mine travels in a zip lock bag inside a nylon draw string pouch. A Tupperware or similar container would work well for kits that never left the RV.

NOTE: You will want to adjust the contents of your kit to your personal needs. For example a diabetic or people allergic to bee sting (who, of course, always seem to get stung) will want to adjust their kit to meet their specific needs. Here is a starting point. Several people working together, sharing the contents of retail packages (like a box of 30 band-aids) and perhaps with the aid of a doctor or paramedic, can assemble an adequate low cost emergency first aid kit.

[] 1 roll of breathable bandage adhesive tape. Discard the outer cover to save weight.

[] 1 roll "Cling" 3 inch gauze bandage

[] 2 or 3 3x3 inch gauze compresses

[] 12 band-aids

[] small tube antibiotic ointment (for cuts and burns, check the exp. date now and then)

[] 2 or 3 alcohol 'prep' towellettes

[] 6 to 10 headache / pain pills (ibuprofen is good for inflammation, also)

[] mild laxative squares or pills

[] motion sickness pills (they stop vomiting)

[] 6 antihistamine tables

[] 4 or 5 butterfly closures

[] 3 or 4 needles (for dislodging thorns, breaking blisters)

[] mole skin or other blister kit

[] snake bite kit (the kind with suction cups)

[] tick removal tool

[] INSTRUCTION SHEET (an emergency situation is not the time to be learning new skills. Outfitters and the Red Cross will have condensed information sheets. Dig it out and read the thing now and then.)

For extended hikes away from civilization, see if your doctor or pharmacist will supply you with the following medicines. Ask to be educated in their use. Write down instructions and descriptions of what the pill looks like and keep in your kit. I store all my pills in a 35mm film can with a cotton ball to keep them from grinding into a "cure all fine powder."

[] broad-spectrum antibiotic tablets

[] pills for major pain (sprains, broken bones)

[] pills for diarrhea. In the wilderness this condition could dehydrate and kill you. Get something that works fast.

The most important thing is to know exactly what you are doing. The outfitter shops are full of good wilderness first aid books. The Red Cross offers classes in first aid, often for free, and often begging people to go. Get educated before you go.

Remember: A Wilderness Emergency is NOT the Time to Learn New Skills. Educate Yourself.

And with some common sense and good luck, you might not need any of this.


PS: It has been pointed out to me the list lacks "ACE" bandages, slpints and a cutting tool such as sissors or knife. As a backpacker, we carried ACE bandages outside the first aid kit, and would wrap a knee at the first sign of trouble before it progressed to something severe. I carried a Swiss Army knife outside the kit. And if your in the woods and can't find something to make a splint from, well, just go home.

03-09-2008, 01:37 AM
Thank you for posting this. We care a couple of first aid kits. When I got from the Red Cross and a couple we have bought from other places.

03-09-2008, 10:29 AM
I have ben reading some very interesting book on this subject, the last one was Mountaineering Medicine. The last couple of books were very advanced but got me to thinking that while it sounds insane to have to perform advanced life saving medicine in the field, you may not have an alternative. I carry a small kit in the pack, more advanced in the toad and much more advanced gear in the RV.

Be prepared before an emergency!

03-09-2008, 01:28 PM
I fully agree... I would also suggest two other things, One, Like the song says "You Never Walk Alone", in other words, Always hike with a friend (Buddy) and make sure said buddy knows how to use any comm gear you haul along (IE: In my case a Yesau FT-51R and a cell phone) at least enough to call for HELP... FCC rules require users of a radio such as mine to be licensed, however the FCC will normally only issue a warning if it's a matter of LIFE and Death. They are one federal agency that does, in fact, have a heart. Most of the time at least.

Another thing is that both of you may wish to consider CPR training, CPR Training is very light weight (At most one sheet of typing or printer paper goes in your kit) but I've talked to folks who ... Well, let's just say if not for CPR I'd not have talked to them. I've never had to perform CPR myself, but I have (finally 5 years into retirement) talked someone through it (25 years as a dispatcher and not once did I ever do that, 5 years into retirement I was very glad to have the training)

Oh, and if you are wondering how it turned out.. I think CPR was started too late.. But,the victim's wife is better off for the attempt and that is important too.

03-09-2008, 08:36 PM
Alcohol "prep" towlettes also expire. Thye actually evaporate over time. I have had this happen a few time, because of the large quantity I buy.