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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: What to Pack

Construct a solid emergency kit with these medical must-haves.

by: Buck Tilton

Basic Kit (Genny Fullerton)
Basic Kit (Genny Fullerton)
Group Kit (Genny Fullerton)
Group Kit (Genny Fullerton)

Basic Kit
Suitable for two people on a weekend trip

  • 4 sterile, 3x3-inch or 2x2-inch gauze pads to clean and cover wounds
  • 5 1x3-inch adhesive strips to cover cleaned wounds
  • 2 blister dressings or moleskin
  • 1 roll tape (1/2 inch x 5 yards) to hold dressings on wounds
  • 6 200mg tablets ibuprofen for pain, inflammation, and fever
  • 2 packets antibiotic ointment to cover wounds before dressings
  • 1 swab tincture of benzoin to make adhesive bandages stickier or hold wound closure strips in place
  • 3 antimicrobial hand wipes to clean hands and around wounds
  • 2 safety pins

Group Kit
Suitable for four people on a weeklong hike

  • 4 sterile, 3x3-inch or 2x2-inch gauze pads
  • 1 sterile, 3-inch roll of gauze to cover cleaned wounds or hold larger dressings or splints in place
  • 1 3-inch roll of elastic wrap (such as an ACE bandage) to compress sprains or hold splints in place
  • 8 1x3-inch adhesive strips
  • 2 blister dressings or moleskin
  • 1 roll of tape (1/2 inch x 10 yards)
  • 8 200mg tablets ibuprofen
  • 4 tablets aspirin
  • 2 antihistamines for allergies, swelling, or stuffiness of a minor cold
  • 4 tablets antidiarrheal medication (such as Imodium AD)
  • 1 irrigation syringe to clean wounds
  • 3 packets antibiotic ointment
  • 3 swabs tincture of benzoin
  • 1 pair tweezers for removing splinters and ticks
  • 1 pair medical gloves to protect you and the patient from contamination
  • 6 antimicrobial hand wipes
  • 2 safety pins
LEARN MORE
The Ultimate First-Aid Manual
Wilderness Medicine Institute cofounder Buck Tilton boils down a lifetime's worth of experience into 62 tips

Photo Tutorials: First Aid Center
From splinting a broken leg to duct taping a bloody wound, the BACKPACKER First Aid Center is an invaluable resource for backcountry first aid.


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READERS COMMENTS

unseenat17
Feb 21, 2011

Oh, yeah...I forgot to add. The article says ultimate first aid GUIDE...NOT ultimate first aid kit!

Unseenat17
Feb 21, 2011

I like the marines IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)
(Minor FA Kit)
10 bandaids
5 2x4 bandaids
triangular bandage
bottle of 10% iodine
water treatment
sutures (butterfly or sinew)
hemostatic powder
Quik Clot Gauss

(Trauma Kit)
CAT Turnoquet
2 Cinch tight trauma bandages
Nasopharyngeal Airway
Decompression Sryinge

This is off the top of my mind...I think its pretty close. Jus tweak a bit to fit your needs (add meds, scalpal blades, or whatever) and your good!

Geoff
Jan 04, 2011

More antihistamines! Add that to your basic kit. There are very few things on this list that can save someone's life, but an antihistamine can, in the case of a bee sting gone wrong. A bad reaction will need an epi pen, to be sure, but either way you'll need benadryl or similar.

You don't need syringes. Just use a squeezy water bottle.

army medic
Oct 16, 2010

if you have a broken bone you are better off using tylonal not motrin as motrin (ibuprofen) stunts new bone growth and is counteridicated

wanderer
Sep 30, 2010

2x36" OR lashing straps, 1 roll athletic tape, 1 roll ace wrap, couple pads of gauze, moleskin, closure strips, 1 bottle iodine tabs, small used container of ibuprofen, aspirin, acetominophen, and psueudo ephedrine, 1 small used container of water proof strike anywhere matches and steel wool, 1 medium swiss army knife, ball of fishing line and hooks, small container of hand sanitizer. All weighs less than 9oz and fits in a quart ziploc heavy duty freezer bag, with room to spare for the TOOB and a regular lighter for everyday use. Duct tape and 40 feet of 300lb line goes in bottom of pack. This should all keep anyone healthy in the wilderness. A plastic flask of good whiskey makes for great first aid too, but it's usually gone after 1 night and I can never remember where it went.

Sarah
Sep 17, 2010

Relax, people. This is clearly an "ultimate" kit for people with first aid training, but not health care providers (although it's a good start!). It also depends how light you're determined to pack. I absolutely agree that at least one (I'd argue two) triangle bandages should be added - small, very light, about 8,000 uses. The heavier drugs should only be used by people who really know what they're doing - the last thing you want is to use it when you didn't need it, and end up treating horrible side effects or, God forbid, anaphylaxis.
Believe it or not, the more training you have, the less you need the "fancy" stuff. Syringes are vital for wound irrigation (use boiled water). I'd probably add some skin glue rather than steri strips and Friar's balsam. I'd consider some larger sutures for when glue/steris won't cut it (use the pliers on your multi tool as a needle driver), depending on the location & length of the trip. Lots of your basic splinting material can come from the world around you!

Dexamethasone and diuretics? There are very few instances I'd consider carrying these. I doubt this kit is supposed to be considered "all-inclusive" for physicians leading long-term expeditions. Most of them won't be looking at backpacker.com to see what to pack! :)

lis
Sep 17, 2010

I just take duct tape, an ace bandage, and a few drugs. The duct tape can be used for wound closure, slings, splinting, etc.

Jason
Sep 17, 2010

@ Migs
I agree, syringes are incredibly important as wound irrigation tools. Easier than filling a ziplock and poking a hole in it. The big list has one btw, just not the small list. Why, i don't know.

Dexamethasone is useful against anaphylactic shock, which almost killed a girl i was dating one time.

I am an EMT/nurse with wilderness training and I would also add a few tablets of Cipro to this list. But that one may be a little excessive unless you're going out of the country. Then again it has saved me a few times.

Matt
May 21, 2010

@Migs
No syringes?
Are you serious? Most people are not trained in that kind of medicine. And even an EMT Paramedic with wilderness training would not tote that kind of stuff except on a rescue. It isn't day packing fare.

Matt
May 21, 2010

I would put at least one antihistamine in the basic kit. It is one of those things that is light and can prevent complete misery.

Mark
Apr 14, 2010

I'd add one item, a 1 36x 36x 56 Triangular Bandage. As a former U.S. Army medic this thing has a multitude of uses from a head dressing to an improvised sling.It's probably the most used and abused part of our aid kit. It's compact and light so should not be too much of an issue to add it to your kit.

Anonymous
Apr 12, 2010

I believe this kit is for a light hiking weekend. What kind of outdoor activities are you doing if you need syringes and dexamethazone? I guess you can pack the ambulance in your pack if you really need too...

Migs
Nov 22, 2009

I wonder why you call it "ultimate"?
Where are the strong anti-inflamatories, the dexamethazone? Many of the important medicines are missing ? No syringes? Diuretic? No powerful analgesics? How is ibuprofen going to help a broken bone?

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