Unlike in daily life where you have multiple challenges thrown at you, the experience of hiking simplifies your existence to a single task: putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. While the overall mission is to reach the top or the end of the trail, the vision involved could significantly vary from improving one’s exercise regime, improving social relationships or just simply – for the view. For those planning on finding those views through hikes or camping, then a backpacking first aid kit is one of the most important necessities for your trip.
It’s safe to say, one would want to vanquish the course with the least amount of risk and discomfort involved in the process. However, we adrenaline junkies let ourselves be carried away by our fearlessness leading to our lack of planning for the worst. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty.
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Backpacking First Aid Kit Essentials
Whether you’re backpacking for a month or camping for a weekend, a first aid kit is one of the first things you should pack. No matter what type of terrain or weather you’re expecting, you need to be prepared for emergencies. When you need to reach for it, you’ll be grateful for the time you took to ensure it’s up for the task. Buy the essentials mentioned below to make your own DIY first aid kit!
The Big Picture
Choosing which backpacking first aid kit will be best for you can be difficult. You need to balance being prepared for every possible situation against the weight, bulk, and cost of these supplies. Factors you should consider include:
The Group size:
Odds of needing your first aid kit increases with the increase in the number of people involved. Also, keep in mind the quantities you’ll need will be greater. Use the lists provided for a great backpacking first aid kit for soloists & groups alike.
You want to ensure your supplies are equivalent to the length of the trip. There are multiple items in the first aid kit which will face a more frequent use such as band-aids, gauze, moleskin, etc.
A wider array of supplies may also be needed to account for allergies or certain health conditions. Thoroughly researching the area you’re heading is critical in selecting the crucial components for your backpacking first aid kit. Mostly because your needs will differ greatly for a trip to the Amazon rain forest, versus a trip up Mt. Rainier, versus a day hike with the family.
Sense and Simplicity – Keep it Basic
For starters, make sure your backpacking first aid kit is straight up tough and waterproof. Always go for items of a good standard and within expiration dates. The following comprise what should be in a first aid kit:
- Wraps, Splints and Wound Coverings Items: Make sure you have a large supply of bandages, gauze, dressing pads, wound-closure strips Having a range on hand will enable you to treat different situations.
- Ace wrap: Can be used for wrapping sprained ankles, splinting an arm or leg, or keeping an ice pack in place.
- Ointments & alcohol/antiseptic wipes: Critical for cleaning wounds and preventing infection.
- Tweezers, scissors or knife: Valuable for cleaning debris out of wounds, removing splinters, and for cutting down pieces of gauze or even articles of clothing if needed.
- Tape/safety pins: Use to secure bandages, wraps, and splints in place.
- Medications/Treatment Items: Painkillers, antacid tablets, and anti-inflammatories are just some of the basic medications that everyone should try and have in their kit.
- Topical Antibiotics: These ointments can be applied to wounds.
- Antifungal powder: This powder can be applied to the foot.
- Antihistamines and Injectable Epinephrine: Important if you or anyone in your group has serious, even potentially fatal, allergies.
- Electrolytes and Glucose: The salts are for dehydration, heat stroke, or nutrient loss from diarrhea or vomiting. Sugars are for Hypoglycemia.
- Personal Care Items: Packing items like lip balm and sunscreen can go a long way. In addition to being painful, sunburn can lead to dehydration. Sunburn occurs faster at altitude or on snow/water or while out all day.
- Emergency space blanket: Can be used to keep you warm, build an emergency shelter, and shelter you from the rain, and the fluorescent shine can help attract attention….just in case.
Moving to the Specifics
When you’re hiking the most vital supplies are those to treat a blister or hot spots where rubbing occurs. Besides a properly fitted boot, having supplies on hand in your kit is the best way to prevent a blister. If a blister pops, infection is a risk so it’s crucial to address hot spots as soon as they surface.
Another critical piece recommend is hand repair balm. Climbing is hard on skin, and the recovery process for skin takes time. Having hand repair balm readily available will help speed up healing. Other things to have handy are:
- Burn kit: Burns can be fairly common around campfires and camp stoves. Having a burn kit handy is critical to caring for a recent burn.
- Sling: A sling is a versatile piece for not only aiding injured elbows or shoulders, but for other situations such as splinting a leg.
- Instant ice pack: After an injury, swelling can occur rapidly and this may prevent you from putting a foot back into your footwear. Having an ice pack handy will help to decrease swelling.
- Thermometer: Thermometers can be incredibly useful in determining whether someone in your group is in need of immediate medical attention.
- Insect repellent: Not only makes your trip more pleasant, but can protect against disease-carrying insects.
- Irrigation syringe: Flushing a wound out with sterile water is critical to prevent infection.
- Gloves: Nitrile or Latex gloves not only protect you from communicable diseases from the person you are treating, but they protect your patient as well.
These are optional, but add to the effectiveness. Another aspect of first aid is being prepared in case you or your group is lost/stranded particularly when injured at the same time.
- Whistle/signaling mirror: When you’re lost or off-trail, being able to signal for help is one of the best methods to being located.
- Emergency poncho: Staying dry is crucial. Being wet can decrease morale and create foot issues from continual exposure to moisture. It could even take you to the beginning stages of hypothermia. This poncho can also be modified for use as a survival shelter.
- Lighter or matches: Starting a fire can be key to survival. Fire allows you to treat water, cook food, stay warm and signal for help.
- Compass: So you can navigate to safety if you lose the trail or your bearings, or the cloud cover rolls in.
- Flashlight: In case of an injury precurred in the dark, a flashlight comes in handy.
- Tablets or Chemicals: These are to treat water and make it drinkable.
- Easy Care guide/Instruction manual for basic first aid: There are booklets available that have information for a variety of emergency situations when you do not have immediate access to medical care; sometimes they’re even included with a pre-made kit. Keep in mind that these instruction manuals are not a substitute for professional medical training.
Cut to the Chase
Apart from the list of items one must have for the backpacking first aid kit, it would be futile if the importance of first aid training isn’t stressed. While prevention is always better than cure it’s best to be forearmed with as much knowledge as possible. Being trained will reduce your reaction time of fear and shock, and enable you to act quickly and appropriately. Being fully prepared can make all the difference. Having this knowledge not only helps in unexpected situations but also helps you plan your trips. Remember to think about the risks associated with what you are hoping to do.
With these essentials and a certain level of preparedness, you have truly made a survival upgrade!
We hope you add first aid to your trip and also do check the essentials that you will need for your backpacking gear!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, but lead to the most amazing view.