How to Build a First Aid/Emergency Kit for Camping, Hiking, and Beyond

Guest Contributing Writer: Jamie Strand

Intro: Brock Butterfield

One of the worst feelings in the world in my opinion is being unprepared for an emergency or first aid situation. I've made it a habit now to carry a first aid kit and some emergency supplies in my school bus conversion as well as my hiking backpack, work backpack and our additional car that travels with the bus. I've been lucky enough to provide supplies to exhausted and lost hikers, gauze and other medical material to a dog that got clipped by a truck as well as extra food for myself when I thought I had packed enough and found myself out in the woods much longer.

Contributing guest writer Jamie Strand reached out to me and asked if he could submit an article on First Aid/Emergency Kits for camping, hiking and beyond. It's a good read and gentle reminder that "chance favors the prepared mind." Give it a read.

Whether you’re taking the kids out for a hiking adventure, heading out for a romantic night in the woods with someone special, or taking your beloved dog fishing, you need to know how to keep yourself (and the people you love) happy and safe. While modern conveniences have made camping a mostly safe activity, there are still dangers lurking in the woods. Here is how to build a first aid/emergency kit that can handle whatever comes your way - from camping and hiking to road trips and even long traffic jams

First Aid Emergency Kit

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

First and foremost: Essential medical supplies

A good first aid kit needs to be able to handle anything from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries that require a doctor. Many times, a first aid kit is the stopgap between wherever you are and the hospital. With that in mind, here are the Essential Medical Supplies any good kit should have:

  • Adhesive bandages (standard and triangular), compression dressings, medical gauze, and medical tape
  • Scissors, tweezers, and small pocket knife
  • Antiseptic wipes and ointment
  • An instant cold compress
  • Breathing barrier (mask)
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen

Emergency hydration and food supply

Dehydration is a real concern if you get lost camping, hiking, or are stranded in a car for a long time. Your kit should include enough food and emergency water rations to last at least two days (three or four is better). For proper hydration, make sure to drink water every 15-30 minutes during physical activity. But in a survival scenario where you are dipping into an emergency kit, drinking at least a liter of water per day should work in normal circumstances.

Your food kit should include easy-to-eat, easy-to-store, non perishable items like protein or fruit bars, cereal or granola, peanut butter, beef jerky, and dried fruit. If you want to pack a larger kit, canned meat, fruits, and veggies and a can opener can also work.

Remember, you’re not the only hungry animal out there. Proper storage of food at all times may be all that stands between you and a bear, aggressive raccoon, or a plague of insects. The KOA blog suggests “packing your food in tight, waterproof containers and storing them in an insulated cooler.” Don’t forget to hang your trash on a tree far away from wherever you sleep. With this in mind, one-pot camping meals are also a good idea for an emergency kit. They are really easy to clean up because you grill everything in the same pot. A cleaner area means less chance of unwanted visitors.

First aid for animal encounters

If you’re out in the woods the chances of interacting with a bug, spider, or snake are pretty high. Your first aid kit should include medicines and remedies for interactions with animals and insects -- think hydrocortisone, calamine lotion and antiseptic spray Pack a high-quality insect repellant (bugs like ticks aren’t just annoying, they can carry diseases). And don’t forget an EpiPen - you never know who in your party will be deathly allergic to bees or other stings.

Don’t skimp on the other essentials

When you’re out in the wilderness, the only barrier between you and anything ranging from a rotten time to severe injury is a solid first aid/emergency kit. Apart from the aforementioned (extra supply of emergency water and food, first aid kit), make sure your kit includes: a flashlight, extra batteries, whistle, all-purpose camp tool, poncho, waterproof matches, zip ties, and a crank-powered radio/battery.

A solid essentials kit isn’t just good for camping. You should keep one in your car at all times - especially on longer road trips. You never know when the need will arise. You’ve heard the motto “Be Prepared” your whole life, and it’s cliche for a reason. Because it’s important!

Online First Aid / Emergency Kits to explore