While the topic of first aid kits may seem boring at first, these survival packs can literally save your life when you’re out on the trail and help is far away. Knowing what to pack for the absolute essentials can be confusing, though, and if you’re looking to travel lightweight you certainly don’t want to be bogged down.
Here are just 10 essential items that every hiker should have in their first aid kit, but by no means is this list comprehensive. Depending on the area you’re hiking in, if you’re traveling with pets or family, and the weather conditions, you may need to adjust the items somewhat to suit.
A pair of disposable gloves might not seem like a medical necessity, but they’re absolutely imperative to stopping bacteria and preventing contamination and the transfer of bodily fluids. Since they’re so lightweight, it’s best to take a few pairs to keep yourself covered.
Being out in the wilderness can mean a lot of unwanted dirt, dust, and debris flying into our eyes. With some 10mL saline vials on hand, you can wash your eyes out quickly and easily in case something comes in contact with them. This works for bugs, dirt, tree sap, and more.
These small rolls of medical tape are easy enough to carry and have a range of useful purposes for your first aid kit. The medical tape should be waterproof and breathable, and is handy for treating blisters, cuts, and anything else you should require. Some people prefer to use tape with a backing and have it pre-cut into small strips to save room and time, and either works fine.
This one is a given, but often so simple that many hikers forget to bring them along. Have a variety of sizes available to treat different sized wounds and select a waterproof design that allows them to stay put even in bad weather conditions or when in contact with sweat. Band-Aids are great for small scratches, blisters, and keeping minor wounds protected from infection.
Butterfly closures are a simple way to treat wounds, made up of adhesive bandages that are applied across the laceration. They’re ideal for a hiker’s first aid kit thanks to their simplicity, and they allow for the skin to heal underneath as you continue your hike.
For larger wounds, you’ll need a sufficient amount of gauze to keep you covered. Gauze should be sterile, absorbent, and non-stick so that it doesn’t become attached to your wound and can be changed frequently to prevent infection.
Ibuprofen is the best choice for your first aid kit thanks to its anti-inflammatory abilities. Just a small packet is enough to keep you covered, and can be used to treat everything from headaches to sprained ankles. Always stick to the recommended dosage when hiking and ensure you have eaten recently before taking ibuprofen as it can upset your stomach.
Have at least three antiseptic wipes in your kit to keep wounds clean, and ensure your hands are clean and covered with gloves before attempting to use them. You’ll need to first wipe a wound before applying Band-Aids or bandages to prevent infection, so this is an absolute necessity.
Hiking can be seriously sweaty business, so having just a few electrolyte tablets on hand is important. If disaster strikes and you come down with a bacterial infection or food poisoning that causes vomiting and diarrhea, these tablets will ensure you don’t get dehydrated and become even iller.
Even if you aren’t prone to allergies, it’s essential to have a few antihistamines on hand. These can be used to treat reactions from spider and snake bites until you’re able to get back to civilization and reach medical assistance.
Just a little bit of preparation now can make a huge difference when trouble strikes. Whether you want to purchase a ready-made first aid kit for your hike or prepare one for yourself, this item is just as important as your food and shelter choices.
The best thing about your hiker’s first aid kit is that nothing needs to change, so once you’ve packed it, you’ll never need to touch it again until it’s time to head off on a hike. There really is no excuse not to be prepared, and your health will thank you for it later.