Outdoor activities like hiking are fun and although these trips are filled with a joyous and adventurous time, you have to be careful about your safety. Accidents can happen and you should be prepared to deal with emergency situations, especially when you are out on a trip that spans over a few days.
When packing for activities like camping and hiking, you should always put a first aid kit in your backpack. A well-stocked first aid kit is essential on such trips because there is a lot that can go wrong. A first aid kit enables you to deal with minor hiking injuries such as scratches and some major ones too, such as a sprained ankle.
Contents of A First Aid Kit for Hiking
Depending on the hike duration, terrain and your physical ability, following are the first aid essentials that you need to consider:
- Skin rash cream
- Cream or spray for insect bites and stings
- Antiseptic cream
- Different sizes and varieties of plasters
- Sterile gauze dressings in small, medium, and large size
- Sterilized eye dressings, at least 2
- Triangular bandages
- Crêpe rolled bandages
- Safety pins
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Sticky tape
- Cleansing wipes
- Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Cough medicine
- Antihistamine tablets
- Distilled water to clean wounds
- Eyewash and eye bath
In addition to all these essentials, you can also put a basic first aid instructions manual to appropriately give first aid.
If you find preassembled first aid kits lacking, you can also create your own first aid kit for outdoor activities. Simply purchase all the first aid essentials we mentioned above and place them in a small bag or case that easily fits inside your hiking backpack. Be sure to arrange the contents in a way that you don’t have to dump them all in order to find what you need.
Choosing A First Aid Kit for Hiking
Before you set out to pick a first aid kit, ask yourself what makes one first aid kit for camping and hiking better than the other? It depends on where you are planning to hike or camp, as well as the size of the group accompanying you. But there are some things that you should consider when choosing a first aid kit for your trip.
Quantity and Variety of Supplies
The first thing that you should consider in a survival first aid kit is whether you want a greater variety of supplies or a larger quantity. An ideal hiking first aid kit contains enough supplies to treat your entire group for the duration of the trip.
True, there is no way of telling how many injuries your group members may sustain, as a precautionary measure be sure that the kit includes one of each item for treating common hiking ailments.
When choosing a first aid kit for hiking, you also have to pay close attention to how portable it is. You want to make sure that the kit you are taking is compact enough to fit inside your backpack and lightweight enough to not be a burden on your shoulders. This is especially important if you are planning a long trip.
While it is important to take what you might need to stay safe during an outdoor expedition, in most pre-assembled hiking first aid kits, there is a tradeoff between the quantity of supplies and weight. Most ultralight first aid kits for camping and hiking trips contain basic supplies to keep you safe, but it can be worth it to pack a more comprehensive kit if you are hiking to a remote location or with a big group.
When picking a first aid kit, you should look at how its contents are arranged. A well-organized first aid does not require you to dump the entire contents to access what you need. It makes it quick and easy for you to find the right supplies in a stressful situation. Look for features such as labeled separate compartments and labeled pockets.
These organization features are handy, but they can also increase the overall weight and bulk of the kit by incorporating elastic bands and zippers. That’s why some people find a simple pouch more convenient. Regardless of what you find suitable, make sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with the contents, so you know exactly what you are carrying and where you can find it.
Since you will be taking it outdoors with you, you’ll want a survival first aid kit that is durable enough to withstand harsh environmental elements. The first thing you should consider when evaluating a kit’s durability is its waterproofing. While you are most likely to place it inside your backpack, it might still get wet when rain downpours. A waterproof casing is more likely to keep the contents dry than a regular case.
Secondly, you also have to check the quality of materials used in its construction. A hard case should be durable enough to withstand bumping and jostling. While a soft case should be durably stitched so the seams don’t come apart.
You’ll also find first aid instructions very valuable when you meet with an accident at a remote location. So, when you are picking a first aid kit, make sure it contains a proper description of when and how to use the supplies.
The best emergency first aid kits include booklets that you might find useful when tending an injury during hiking. Some even include patient assessment forms that you can fill out and provide to the care providers or emergency respondents when the patient reaches a healthcare facility.
While you may be inclined to build your own hiking first aid kit from scratch, the cost can quickly add up because you might have to buy supplies in relatively large quantities. It’s better to purchase a pre-made kit because they contain a wider range of supplies in smaller quantities.
When picking a first aid kit for your hiking needs, make sure to compare its cost against value. Think about what supplies you are getting and how many of those you are actually going to need, then purchase accordingly.
Common Hiking Injuries and Ailments
Before you go any further about picking the first aid kit for hiking, camping, backpacking, and other outdoor activities, you should learn about a few ailments and injuries that you can encounter on your trip. Some common hiking injuries and ailments include:
If you are not careful about protecting your skin, sunburn is inevitable. Spending hour upon hour on the trail while exposed to the sun can easily burn unprotected skin. That’s why your first aid kit should include plenty of high-factor sun cream to protect your skin from sunburn and a pack of Aloe to soothe it if it gets burnt.
Blisters are the most common hiking injury. They develop when your skin rubs against your socks, shoes, or boots. To treat blisters, you need moleskin and adhesive bandages. If one bursts, you’ll also need some antiseptic cream.
Itching can be caused by skin chafing, allergic reaction, or bug bites. You can apply some calamine lotion to soothe itching.
Cuts and Scrapes
Hikers sustain cuts and scrapes when they trip or fall, or while hiking through rocky or bushy trails. You can treat these with antiseptic wipes, gauze, and adhesive bandages.
If you are not used to walking long distances, your muscles may start cramping. Muscle cramping can also happen when you are dehydrated. Take some time to stretch and make sure to pack plenty of water.
Even the most well-maintained trials have plenty of rocks that can cause you to trip and twist your ankle. If this happens, you should have an elastic bandage to wrap your ankle in.
Hiking is fun, but it often entails injuries and accidents. You should have a first aid kit ready for when this happens. There are many different hiking first aid kits available on the market. What you pick greatly depends on where you are going and with how many people you are going with. Still, you should prioritize features such as waterproofing, portability, and ease of usage to make sure you are picking the right emergency first aid kit for your hiking trip.