The Perfect First Aid Kit

By: Sean Harrison

Creating the perfect first aid kit is not only important, it’s also pretty easy. It just takes a little thought. The way I start a first aid kit is to first think about potential injuries. Some other considerations: will this kit be for you only? How many people will be in the group? Will you be the person responsible for first aid in the group? Kits can be as simple as a small bag or as big as a suitcase; it all depends on what you are doing and what you will need.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, it’s best to establish there are some basics that should always be planned for:

  • Minor cuts = band-aids
  • Little bit bigger cuts = gauze 3x3in/7.6×7.6cm or 4x4in/10x10cm
  • Antibiotic ointment or cream
  • Pain reliever and/or anti-inflammatory with pain reliever
  • Pocket mask or barrier device
  • Latex/nitrile gloves
  • Alcohol swabs 

Common injuries based on activity 

Now…how do you add to the basics, well here’s how I do it. As I mentioned in the intro, I think of what potential or common injuries could be. As an example, if you were going out for a day hike, you should plan on chafing, especially if someone has new shoes/boots. Add some moleskin or Leuko tape to your kit. If you’re at a sporting event, muscle injuries are common, put some ice packs in your kit. Not sure what are common injuries? Go to your favorite search engine and type in “common injuries in (fill in the blank)” and you will get a list of the most common injuries. Some of these, unless you’re a doctor, you won’t be able to be prepared for, but there are many that are easy to fix in the field.

So what items do we add to our slightly more advanced kit:

  • Chafing material
  • Ice packs
  • Medical tape (adhesive or self-sticking)
  • Ace wrap
  • Finger splint

Let’s go for an adventure! 

Take it up a couple of notches and deal with a little more adventure. With more adventure, comes more potential injuries. Let’s say it’s not just you who may need the first aid and…maybe you’re a little further from help than you would normally be. Let’s explain “further from help”. In very basic terms (which there can be many variations of), there are four of what we will call zones: normal response time by professionals 10-15 minutes, slightly longer response time 20-35 minutes, wilderness 1-2 hours, and remote 4 plus hours. The first two kits outlined would take care of most situations, keeping in mind, these are intended for lay rescuers. When the response times increase and the conditions get more challenging, not only do you need more supplies, you also need more training.

So, what else do you need:

  • Sam splint
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Tourniquet

You may find over time, if you’re anything like me, that you will have several first aid kits ready to go, each set up a little differently depending on what you’re doing. Some will be very small to fit in your car or rucksack. Others will be a little larger and strap on to the outside of your rucksack. For the more wilderness or remote locations and for larger groups, mine are rather large. I add additional supplies for each item, which takes up space. The items also get a little bigger and I put them in a protective waterproof case/bag.

Finally make sure if you use something out of your kit, replace as soon as you get home. Also make it a habit to check anything with expiration dates at least once a year and replace anything that is expired.

When it comes to first aid kits I use what I call the umbrella theory (pretty sure this is not an original theory of mine, I stole it from someone). If you have an umbrella, it won’t rain, but if it does, you’re prepared. First aid kits work the same for me. I have been on countless outings and adventures and haven’t had to use them, but when I did need them… It’s great peace of mind and easy.

Need one today?  Check out our variety of First Aid Kits from our online store.

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