We pack our fears, as the saying goes.

And that statement has never been more true than when it comes to first aid kits.

Will you ever need one? Probably not. But if you don’t have one and suddenly need it, things could get ugly in a hurry.

So, if nothing else, it’s good for your peace of mind.

Me? I bought an empty first aid pouch at ShopRite several years ago and then filled it up with band-aids and bandages and Neosporin and all manner of things that I already had around the house. I bring it along on every single hiking trip – and have never, ever used it.)

Actually I have TWO first aid kits and they permanently reside in the two backpacks that I own. Which is a little obsessive, I know. But like they saying goes: We pack our fears.

And with two first aid kits I don’t have to think about bringing one along because it is already in there. Even though most all of my hikes are day hikes.

This is what is in my first aid kit: Bandages, ibuprofen, alcohol swaps, neosporin, burn ointment and wraps. (Way too much stuff!)

But a first aid kit becomes especially important on an overnight backpacking trip. Some of the stuff inside you’ll use fairly regularly and should replace often (moleskin for blisters, bandages, or aspirin), while others are rarely used but are critical in an emergency.

Each person’s kit should vary depending on the medical conditions of the hikers in the party, the length and duration of the trip, and the area you’ll be hiking into.

You can purchase prepackaged kits, but you will want to add any prescription medications you’re taking and medications for conditions specific to the hikers in your group (epinephrine pen for those allergic to bee stings, for example).

Organize and waterproof your kit with small resealable bags and plastic bottles. Label medications. You can also include other commonly used items in your first aid kit: lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, multi-use tool, and a small roll of duct tape (which is extremely handy for any and all repairs).

I bought an empty first aid pouch at ShopRite for $1.99 and filled it with my own bandages and wraps.

Volunteer Work on the AT!

This checklist is by no means comprehensive, but a basic overnight first aid kit should include the following items:

+ Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.

+ 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.

+ 4-inch by 4-inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding

+ Non-adherent sterile dressing (2-inch by 2-inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns or lacerations.

+ Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.

+ Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.

Because I am insulin-dependent, it makes sense for me to bring testing equipment, alcohol pads, needles and insulin pens with me when I hike. You should consider bringing your own medications.

+ Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.

+ Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.

+ Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.

+ Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.

+ Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter. For treating hypothermia victims.


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