First aid kits should evolve as a hiker learns to backpack. These kits should reflect the risks (i.e., chance of mishap and impact of injury) of the trail.
There are numerous first aid kits available from retailers. These tend to be larger than needed and heavier than desired. Some believe these kits are more expensive than necessary. REI offers a first aid kit checklist. Outside Magazine describes first aid essentials. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) sells first aid kits.
A backpacker could build a first aid kit based on the injuries he or she typically suffers. When have you used items in your first aid kit? I’ve experienced many blisters, mild sunburn, attached ticks, and a dislocated fibula. My first aid kit should meet these needs.
After a good number of trips, I noted which first aid materials were used and which remained. Nearly all the first aid items remained unused. I vowed to take only what I expected to use. The rest of the items would be left behind.
This DIY first aid kid addresses the common injuries, as opposed to all possible contingencies. My backpacking first aid kit is now limited to the following:
- Moleskin (cut)
- Tick removal tool
- Assorted Band-aids (various sizes)
- Burn cream
- Razor for cutting
There’s no need to use a first aid container. Simply pack your material in a Ziploc bag.
Tip: A backpacker can remove a tick with tweezers, a special tick removal tool, or a credit card.
Which (unused) first aid items have you carried for years? Which items are missing from the list above?