When you prepare your backpack to head out hiking, no matter the difficulty of the trail, a hiking first aid kit is always a top priority. Some of the items in your kit may need to be replaced frequently, while others can just stay in there long-term in case of an emergency. The contents of your first aid kit will also depend on any pre-existing medical conditions you have and where exactly you intend to hike. Let’s take a look at some factors to consider and items you need to make sure are in your hiking first aid kit.
First Things First
What kind of hiking do you intend to do? It’s helpful to be familiar with the type of geography of your hiking locations. If you love to do long backcountry hikes, having the right tools for injury prevention is better than carrying around every item you might need for treatment, since that would get heavy and bulky fast. If you prefer short hikes that stick close to the car, you probably only need some barebones first aid necessities. Your hiking location will dictate what needs to be in your first aid kit, so it’s a good habit to make sure that you take inventory and update your kit with every hiking trip you take.
Pre-Made Kit or Build Your Own?
You can buy a pre-made hiking first aid kit from the store, but you are likely going to need to add or remove some supplies to make it perfect for your situation. When you have your list ready go, price buying everything individually, and then look at the pre-made kits. Putting the kit together yourself could ultimately save you money, and leave you with some extra supplies for the future. Make sure that what you buy is the appropriate size for travel and that your kit doesn’t weigh too much or take up too much space.
Hiking First Aid Kit Necessities
Here are some hiking first aid kit basics to consider packing in your bag:
- Micro-medical tape is lightweight, breathable, and versatile, and can be used for blisters or cuts.
- Medical gloves help prevent cross contamination if you need to help someone else out on the trail. They need to be latex-free, since that’s a common allergy.
- Antiseptic or alcohol wipes to clean wounds or scrapes.
- Antibiotic ointment to protect the wound before you bandage it up.
- Bandages of several types, so you can protect any type of minor wound that could occur out on the trail.
- Hand sanitizer to keep your skin and materials clean. You can repackage this into a smaller container to use up less space in your kit.
- Ibuprofen to help with aches and use as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Emergency fire starter kits can be made with dryer lint and placed in a small sealable plastic bag to keep it dry.
- Zinc oxide helps with chafing on your skin for those longer hikes.
This is a small list of what you might need on any kind of trip. You may choose to bring more or less, depending on your preferences, your medical conditions, or the type of hiking you’re doing.
Amount of Items in Your Hiking First Aid Kit
There’s a fine line between lugging around everything you might ever need and having a reckless “it’ll be okay” attitude. You’ll need to make sure that you have a waterproof container to store your first aid kit supplies. You’ll need to determine what size of container will work best for you. Then take an inventory of what you think you may need (see above). If it won’t all fit in your container, you must ask yourself if you really need each item, or if something is redundant or unnecessary except in extremely rare circumstances. Some items can be split into smaller portions and put into smaller containers, like plastic baggies or eyedroppers, instead of leaving them in their original boxes. This will help with both space and weight. Just make sure any medication has its label and instructions included. If it all still won’t fit, you’ll either need a bigger container or to split the supply carrying duty with other people.
Be aware of how long your backpacking trip will last and how many people will attend, and make sure you have the right quantity of the items in your kit. If it’s a longer trip or you have more people than usual in your group, you may want to double the amount of supplies. You need to make sure you have enough of everything to get through until you reach a location to seek more help if necessary.
Hiking First Aid Kit Weight
Once you have your kit ready and assembled, you need to check its total weight. For your own sake, the kit should not weigh a ton, nor should it take up a lot of space in your backpack. However, there’s no set weight that it should be – it depends on your own strength and stamina. If you’re unsure, carry your full pack around for a while in a safe environment to see if it seems fine for you over time.
Making sure you have everything you need to be prepared for an emergency on your hike is just as important as carrying enough water. You never know what can happen out on the trails, and it’s safer (and less stressful) to be fully prepared with a well-stocked hiking first aid kit!
If you want more hiking tips from Ranger Mac, check out this blog about the important “leave no trace” policy for hiking and camping!