Hiking First Aid Kit
When going Hiking it is a must to carry a hiking first aid kit designed for the type of trek and the number of people in your group.
You will want to make sure your hiking first aid kit is lightweight but do not be fooled into not packing one to save space. Everyone should have a small personal first aid kit and there should be one more complete kit for the group.
It is important that you know the purpose of and how to use every item in your kit - otherwise it's just extra weight.
We suggest you carry a few Band aids where they can be easily reached, like your pocket, and carry some pain relievers and medications may need quickly in a small container around your neck or attached to your pack via a carabiner or similar.
We've created a list of some important safety items to consider when putting together your own hiking first aid kit. You may need to add more items depending on your hiking groups needs.
OK let's look at what could be in a Hiking First Aid Kit:-
- Waterproof container - a strong zip-lock bag or plastic-lined kit bag. If it isn't waterproof, it will be a mess.
- A good compact wilderness first aid book.
Over counter medications.
- Your preferred pain relief tablets or capsules.
- Antiseptic wipes or gel - for cleaning your hands before touching open wounds (or after going to the loo probably best to have a separate bottle for this).
- Antibiotic Ointment or powder.
- Antihistamine to control mild allergic reactions.
- Antiseptic - like Betadine individually wrapped swabs as you can either wipe a wound over or squeeze the swab so droplets can be applied to a wound and they take up such little space.
- Hydro-cortisone cream for skin inflammation and rashes.
- Burn gel with Aloe vera is our preference. Aloe Vera aids in healing, pain relief, has anti-inflammatory properties, help prevent blistering and scarring.
- Stings and Bites cream - We prefer one with a local anaesthetic which helps reduce scratching and therefore reduce the likelihood of breaking the skin open and introducing infection.
- Cold sore cream - if you are prone to cold sores sunlight and sunburn can trigger them so take some cold sore cream. Zorvirax is our preference.
- Electrolyte replacement powder or dissolvable tablets - for when you are walking in humid temperatures and sweating out your bodies salts and minerals. Or if you suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea.
- CPR face shield.
- Vinyl gloves - couple of pairs. They do not take up much room in the first aid kit.
- Band Aids - a variety of shapes and sizes for cuts and scrapes. We find the longer strips of fabric tape with the padding already in place is great because you can cut it to any length then seal it down with adhesive tape if needed.
- Adhesive Tape - I prefer paper tape as you do not have to have scissors to cut it as it will tear by just using your fingers - Get a good quality tape that will not get brittle with age or lose it's stickiness. It is useless when that occurs.
- Steri-strips (Butter-fly sutures, Adhesive Sutures, Adhesive Closures) - used to pull a small gapping cut together. I have also used adhesive tape for the same purpose as it is clean when it comes off the roll.
- Gauze and non-adherent dressing pads - preferably sterile. They come in all sizes. One option if you are trying to save space is to get a bigger size dressing as you can cut to size as needed. It will save space
- Elastic and crepe bandages - a few different widths.
- Triangular Bandage - For slings, padding, strapping limbs to splints if fractures are suspected.
- Two tongue depressors or ice block sticks for finger splints.
- Normal saline 10ml vials for the double use as an eye wash or wound cleansing.
- Tweezers - A good pair of tweezers has easy-to-grip handles and can be used for splinter removal and other first aid procedures. Do not waste your time with a cheap pair. It will just cause frustration.
- Curved Scissors - Scissors come in handy and have many uses. Curved medical ones are great as they don't have sharp points. In an emergency you might need to cut clothes away from an injury site and it is easy to poke through something and cause further injury when you are in a hurry or under stress.
- Instant Cold Pack/s - These are so useful with bruising, swelling and sprains. They are single use, so if you have space grab a couple for your kit.
- Emergency blanket - for use in an emergency to reduce heat loss from a person's body.
- Torch - wind up or the shake type so you do not need to carry batteries.
- Knife - A multi-purpose must-have tool that serves so many uses.
- Insect repellent.
- Safety Pins - We use tape to do most of the jobs that safety pins do - although tape fails if your pants zipper breaks, tape just does not hold it together. Safety pins win here. So good idea to pack a few.
- Duct tape - this has many uses. The standard roll of duck tape takes up a lot of room in a pack so find something small to re-wrap it onto like a pen but be careful, if the edges roll up and stick to the next layer it will be very difficult to unwrap when you need it.
- Moleskin - great for blisters and chaffing skin. Moleskins are artificial skin that you can cut to shape and stick to your own skin. Moleskin can be purchased in most drug stores/pharmacies in a variety of brands and features.
- Snake Bite Kit - This is only necessary if the location to which you are going to has venomous snakes. There are different schools of thought about snake kit contents. So check out where you are going and what snakes are present there. If you take one know how to use it. Also check out our Snake Bite pages.
- Sunscreen - prevention of sunburn and long term skin damage.
- Lip protector - to provide moisture and protection from chapped lips.
- Clip-lock bags - I like these as they come in different sizes and take up such little room but can be used for carrying so many things from wet swimmers to a few band aids on the outside pocket of your backpack for easy access.
- Mobile phone - charged. You will also need to check whether service will be available in the area you are going to be in.
- Signal Flares - With a life-threatening injury, nothing is more important than getting the victim out of the wilderness fast. This need alone may justify also carrying signal flares in your backpack.
Other things to consider when putting together a Hiking First Aid Kit:
Be sure to take any personal medication.
Before you go, learn about any possible hazards at your destination, such as poisonous plants, snakes, spiders and insects.
Be sure the comprehensive hiking first aid kit is easily accessible and everyone in the group knows who has it.
Many hiking first aid kits may include splints in the event of a broken bone, but experienced wilderness hikers forego carrying them, as a couple of branches can serve the same purpose if they are needed.
Inspect your kit before every hike and make sure the gear is clean and supplies are in good condition. Replace expired medications and add items that would have been helpful on your last trip.
You may not have much time to read a manual while trying to give first aid to an injured person. We at FirstAidanywhere.com recommend you do a Hiking First Aid or Wilderness First Aid Training Course to learn what first aid challenges you may encounter and how to treat them.
The course you choose should include recognition of hypothermia and hyperthermia, dehydration, fever, infection and shock as well as how to stabilise a fractured limb, how to stop bleeding, and how to treat burns, snake, spider, and other insect bites as well as how to treat other injuries.
Never be complacent and always take a hiking first aid kit with you. The one time you don't will be the time you need it.
After reading about what to put in you hiking first aid kit you may like to learn about:
First Aid for Bleeding
First Aid for Cuts and Scrapes
First Aid for Fractures
First Aid for Shock
Photo for Hiking First Aid Kit courtesy of Rob & Jules Hiking Fox Glacier
Hiking First Aid Kit