First Aid Kits

by Richard Munn|Published 07-14-2006

There's no doubt that a well-equipped first aid kit is an absolute necessity on a trip. Medical help is obviously not just a phone call away when we're out paddling, and the more remote our trip, the more we have to think about our first aid kit.

It's also worth remembering that a good first aid kit isn't of much use unless we're qualified to administer first aid. A sound knowledge of wilderness first aid and a cool head are far more important that what we're carrying in the kit. One or more of the participants in a trip should be trained in first aid and CPR.

Most of the people we paddle with carry a small "ouch kit" that can be used for the day-to-day bumps, slivers, aches and blisters that inevitably occur during a trip. It's rare that we would take out our main first aid kit.


first aid kitThis is the contents of our main first aid kit. First aid kit inventory is as personal as any other gear list, and you're not likely to find agreement among any group as to the "proper" list of items. There are bound to be items that people will add to this list. There are probably items listed here that others would leave at home.

In particular, this list would have to be modified to include medications related to the personal needs of members on the trip. For example, anyone with allergies to specific foods or insect stings would need to bring their own treatment like EpiPen injectors, etc. Asthma inhalers would be another specialty item that may be needed. If special needs dictate the addition of these items, other members of the group should be aware of the condition and have some knowledge of when and how to administer them.

On very remote, long trips paddlers may wish to consult with their physician to discuss prescription mediations like antibiotics.

Consider this a starting point, and customize based on personal preference and the remoteness of your trip.



Use For...

Alcohol Swabs 6 Cleaning and disinfecting wounds
Roll Adhesive Tape 1 Closing open wounds and fastening bandages
Gauze pads 4" square 4 Wound dressings
Gauze roll 1" wide 1 Wound dressings
Elastic (Tensor) bandage 1 Dressing for sprains
Bandaids 12 Dressings for small cuts, blisters, etc.
Moleskin 1 Blister prevention and treatment
Latex Exam Gloves 1 pr. Handling patients with open wounds
Q-Tips 6 Applying antiseptic, cleaning wounds
Safety Pins 4 Fastening dressings
Thermometer 1 Checking for fever or hypothermia
Scalpel blade or razor blade 1 Cutting
Fine Point Tweezers 1 Sliver removal
Small flashlight 1 Treatment at night
Lighter or matches 1 For quick access - if required to start fire, etc.
Liquid Soap 1 Cleaning and disinfecting
Polysporin 1 Wound dressing
Pain Killer - Tylenol or Motrin 1 Minor aches and pains
Antihistamine Cream 1 Treatment of insect bites, poison ivy
Dental Analgesic (Orajel) 1 Minor tooth pain
Laxative 1 Treatment of Constipation
Kaopectate or Immodium 1 Treatment of diarrhea
Pepto Bismol Tablets 1 Upset stomach or heartburn
Antacid Tables (Rolaids or Tums 1 Treatment of heartburn and indigestion
Cough / Cold Treatment 1 Cold symptoms, sinus congestion
Strong Pain Reliever (with codeine) 1 Serious pain management
Dental Repair Kit 1 Emergency filling replacement, broken teeth