When you plan a hiking or snowshoe trip it’s natural to want to carry as little as possible with you and not be weighed down unnecessarily. You probably throw a basic first aid kit in with your supplies, but you may not have ever thought about what you actually need to have on hand in the event of a true emergency. Here are the most important items to have with you for every trip.
While you may not consider training part of your kit, it’s the one item that doesn’t weigh you down and is absolutely essential to effectively use the rest of your first aid items. Wilderness first aid courses are worth the investment if you enjoy hiking and snowshoeing and hope to do it frequently. Even basic CPR and first aid training (how to wrap broken bones, how to stop bleeding, basic wound care) would be beneficial and may save your life.
It is also wise to have a guidebook of basic skills along with you. Many pre-packaged first aid kits include a book, but you may also find one you prefer because it addresses the types of issues most likely to come up when out hiking or snowshoeing. Familiarize yourself with the book beforehand but have it along as reference in case something happens.
Paper & Pencil or Pen
You may already have these for journaling, but make sure they are easy to access or you keep some right in your first aid kit to be used to record body temperature, when and what medications were administered, when symptoms began and tracking of them, etc.
Pocketknives are useful for so many things. A good multi-tool knife should include a knife blade, scalpel and tweezers at the least. When selecting a knife consider how it feels in your hand so you can make the most of it comfortably if you have to use it. Also make sure you understand the intended function of each tool included and have a chance to practice using each of them.
The Basic First Aid Kit
When it comes to your first aid kit itself, there are a lot of options for things you might fill it with, but there are 10 categories of absolute essentials, including
- Bandages in assorted sizes, also Ace bandages for wrapping
- Butterfly closures, sterile dressing pads and dressings, gauze and adhesive tape
- Tweezers and scissors
- Cotton swabs, antiseptic towelettes, lidocaine cleansing cloths
- Plastic sealable bags, nitrile gloves (non-latex), micro shield mask for giving CPR
- Burn ointment, triple antibiotic ointment, PVD iodine 10 percent solution , aloe vera gel, hydrocortisone cream
- Oral rehydration salts, antihistamines, pain relievers (both ibuprofen and aspirin), antacids, upset stomach and anti-diarrheal medications
- Duct tape or moleskin (for placement over blisters as soon as they start)
- Thermometer, irrigation and suction syringes.
- Malleable splint
Besides these items you should also have a good light source, extra batteries, a space blanket and safety pins that can come in handy in so many ways including fastening an arm sling, making precise holes in a plastic bag and more. You should also ensure your first aid kit is in a sturdy container, preferably one that is also waterproof.
Many first aid kits are available pre-made with all the items above. Whether buying pre-made or putting together your own you will want to make sure to check dates on medications and replace anything outdated or used before each trip.
While these may seem like a lot of items that are difficult to keep track of and add weight to your pack when you are trying to carry as little as possible the importance of each of these items is well proven. With quality training and tools you are able to go out into the wilderness prepared for anything.
FREE DOWNLOADABLE CHECKLIST
Gear up for your next backcountry excursion with this free downloadable checklist of First Aid Essentials.