What Should Be in a First Aid Kit for Backpackers?

What Should Be in a First Aid Kit for Backpackers?
The spirit of backpacking is synonymous with venturing into the wilderness and getting far from civilization. Although no one wants to get hurt, it pays to be prepared for the worst. And backpackers typically have a strong do-it-yourself spirit and take the idea getting the most out of the lightest possible package very seriously. So a group on a backpacking trip usually takes at least one first aid kit, and that kit is often tailored to meet their specific requirements.


One thing every backpacker should have among their bandages are moleskins to prevent blisters. Band-aids for basic nicks, cuts and scrapes are also a good idea. Take along gauze and tape for more serious injuries. A compression bandage for a bad cut or penetration wound should be included in the kit. The tape is also useful for improvising a support for sprains or securing splints for a broken bone. A Swiss Army knife is useful for cutting gauze and tape.

Cleansers and Disinfectants

Just because you are out roughing it is no reason to forget about basic sanitation. A good way to avoid contracting a digestive bug, for example, is to wash your hands thoroughly before eating. So, a good bar of anti-bacterial soap should be packed into your gear. Also take a disinfecting agent such as rubbing alcohol, iodine wipes or hydrogen peroxide. Even small wounds can become quickly and seriously infected if they are not properly treated before they are bandaged.

Digestive Treatments

Backpackers often need to draw water from local, untreated sources and are supposed to exercise proper purification measures for their drinking water. However, this is not always done properly, which can result in diarrhea. Also, eating the wrong wild plant or food that is a bit rotten or undercooked can easily lead to food poisoning. Pack an anti-diarrhea agent (Kaopectate or something similar) as well as a few packets of diarrhea restoration powder. The latter is stirred into water to rapidly restore the nutrients and minerals lost during a bad case of diarrhea, which is essential to a rapid recovery on a still-weak stomach.

Other Items

A thermometer is always a good idea. If someone in your group has a fever, it is good to know how bad it is. Include mild, over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

A snake bite kit is optional. But it is not uncommon for people to misidentify a snake as poisonous and then compound the error by making a panicky incision in the bite wound that nicks an artery. Given that venomous snake bites in America are rarely fatal, snake bite kits should only be used by people who know what they are doing and will remain calm in a crisis.

A stitching kit should be considered. A surgical needle and thread don't weigh much, and a temporary suture of a bad cut can be very useful. Once again, this is something that should only be done by someone who knows what they are doing. Attempting to stitch someone up for the first time in the field, and without supervision, is a sure way to do more harm than good.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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