Build Your Own Lightweight First Aid Kit

Build Your Own Lightweight First Aid Kit

Jake // May 1, 2019

There are plenty of pre built first aid kits on the market, they give you a nice fancy bag but not much else. They often contain unnecessary items and leave out the important stuff while often being really expensive. I build my own first aid kits, this guide covers the one I take with me for personal and small group use when out for day hikes and expeditions.

It may look small but there’s no point carrying equipment that you don’t know how to use or wouldn’t make a difference anyway. I’ve seen people whack out huge medical kits to deal with a small scrape. In an event such as a major fall which results in a head injury, all you could do is make them comfortable and seek professional help. This kit is designed around three core principles; lightweight, cost effective and the ability to deal with all common injuries.

The kit is capable of dealing with; broken ankles, blisters, cuts, open wounds, diarrhea, swelling, severe allergic reactions and heart attacks. Not bad for such a small kit weighing only 141g when full, most first aid bags weigh that empty! A lot of emergency care in the outdoors is about improvisation, I can also deal with broken arms and legs by utilising common items everyone carries in their rucksack. Here’s a breakdown of the contents and what each piece is useful for.

Zinc Oxide Tape & Small Dressings- I find regular plasters to be pretty much useless. They never stay on where you want them and you will never have the right size. I carry a roll of tape instead, it has many uses; taping up wounds, blister prevention, supporting wounded ankles and making splints. If you would like to learn how to utilise the tape effectively, I have numerous resources available on the site. For larger wounds I use small dressings using tape to keep them in place.

Antiseptic Cream & Gloves- You’re often dirty outdoors and keeping clean can be difficult especially on long expeditions, therefore it’s important to sterilise wounds to prevent infection. I use Germolene, on one expedition my skin cracked on my hands really badly, this cream kept me going and allowed them to heal. Gloves are useful when treating someone else to protect yourself from foreign bodily fluids.

Scissors & Tweezers- Tweezers are useful for removing foreign objects such as thorns and fragments of rock. Scissors are used to cut through clothing items, divide zinc tape and treat dodgy nails. 

Medication (Ibuprofen, Imodium, Aspirin, Antihistamine)- Ibuprofen is useful for minor injuries such as an ankle twist as it is often enough to allow you to carry on or at least make it back to safety. Imodium is vital especially for multi day trips, speak to any outdoorsman or guide and they will be able to tell you a nasty diarrhoea story. Aspirin is traditionally used as a painkiller but it’s carried in this kit for a different reason, heart attacks, a tablet under the tongue can save someone’s life. Antihistamines are carried for a similar reason, severe allergic reactions, when outdoors you will often be hours away from medical help, a bad reaction to a bee sting in those conditions will likely be fatal, an antihistamine under the tongue can buy those hours for professional help to arrive.

If you have any questions or a different point of view please comment below and start a discussion!

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