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Another First Aid kit – suggestions?


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  • #3783085
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    When I started backpacking again after many years hiatus, I carried a fairly heavy 1st aid kit. Then after reading many threads on BPL I went a lot lighter for a few years. Now after several trips where injuries actually occurred, I’m heavier again.

    Last summer I developed awful blisters on my zero day in town, after a week on trail, because I foolishly wore my crocs barefoot while doing town chores, and my foot skin was very tender. Grrr, my feet were fine on trail! So when I started the 2nd leg of my hike,  I used every single bandaid, bit of tape, gauze – anything and everything in my kit to protect my wounds each day, which didn’t heal during hiking the next 7 days. I didn’t have enough supplies and begged some off some car campers en route. Without that, I’d have had raw flesh against my shoes, in sandy soil.

    A friend recently was trimming raspberry bushes and got a tiny thorn in his eye. It took a lot of rinsing to get it out. I could imagine getting a twig in one’s eye while out on trail. A tiny bottle of eyedrops would be entirely used. Might even need that eye patch that has been in my kit for at least 10 years!

    On my recent group trip a lady got injured and it took a lot of compresses to stop the bleeding from a large gash in her forehead. Again, first aid kits were plundered. Then the blood clean up from her face and hands – would have been nice to have more wet wipes. Finally she needed a splint. Those giving treatment used my Zlite sit pad as a makeshift splint until help could be had. But it wasn’t ideal. And I can envision needing more clean material to put pressure on a would to stop bleeding, not currently in my kit.

    I once stepped on a hornet’s nest when about 5 hard hiking miles from a highway. I was stung at least 11 times, mostly on my head, neck, chest and arms. Neither of my hiking buddies nor I had anything with us to treat the pain or the swelling. Thankfully, I didn’t have anaphylaxis, just the most intense adrenalin I’ve ever felt. I was shaking for about 1/2 hour before I could walk again.

    So now I’m at 7.3 ounces including the following (all in small sizes):

    • Bandaids: various sizes, butterfly bandages, gauze and tape, Leukotape, a maxi pad
    • Packets:  alcohol wipes, antibiotic, burn creme, itch creme, Tenacious tape for gear repair, Aquaphor (small tube)
    • Drugs: Loperamide, Benadryl, Sudafed, Aspirin, Tylenol, Tramadol
    • Misc: ear plugs, eye drops, bleach drops (backup water treatment), tweezers, spare bottle cap

    It seems like most of the time, I need almost none of it. But when it’s needed then a lot of whatever I need is needed, like bandaids, or eye drops, or Benadryl for an allergic reaction, or painkillers. Anyway, if anyone has thoughts or suggestions, I’d consider them. Maybe it’s good enough and I go with it.

    #3783089
    Matthew / BPL
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    I carry a similar amount of weight but somewhat different items. I bring ___ tablets as a water backup (I can’t remember which ones I arrived at, it’s what RJ advocates for) and an irrigation syringe. I bring a few strips of KTape to deal with some chronic injuries that flare up from time to time.

    I definitely agree on quantities. Bringing two Benadryl or ibuprofen is not enough.

    I don’t carry any Bandaids. I don’t find them durable enough for field use. I prefer Luekotape + a little gauze.

    I carry some Tegaderm as a wound dressing. It’s clear so you can monitor the wound without removing it.

    #3783091
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    I scale my kit up and down based on the length of the trip. I try to have enough there so that small cuts and wounds, blisters, etc. don’t turn into something that threatens the trip. More serious injuries usually require getting off trail anyway.

    Similar list of band-aids – although I don’t carry Leukotape. I have considered it though. I do carry a small roll of lightweight first-aid tape to use with gauze. I carry 2nd skin adhesive knit blister protection to cover hot spots.

    I don’t carry any creams other than antibiotic. Similar list of meds, except no Tramadol, and I add Loratadine – I normally don’t have pollen allergies around home, but occasionally have had a strong reaction when traveling to other areas. The sudafed will help get things under control, but then I want something I can take to keep things knocked down for the duration of the trip.

    I don’t bring eye-drops. For backup water treatment I have bring a few aquatabs of micropur tablets.

    One thing I do bring that I don’t see on your list is a small mirror to help see areas I otherwise would not be able to (face, head, back of thigh, etc).

    As far as repair items – on long trips I throw in a couple of good size tie wraps.

    #3783109
    DWR D
    BPL Member

    @dwr-2

    Much of the same for me… though I rarely need anything other than a band-aid or allergy pill… But for hikes that involve potential big falls, like the Grand Canyon, I  bring a QuikClot clotting sponge that stops bleeding… though have never had to use it. I don’t worry much about a broken leg as I have my inReach and know I would not be hiking out anyway. Many of the things mentioned are really just for comfort. Might be good to think of the life threatening things… like bleeding out. The small size clotting sponge is 1oz… the larger one is maybe twice that. Also good to have a way to apply a tourniquet… large bandana & stick… or one of the ones available on line… the Swiss Safe Compression Bandage weights about 4oz…. One approach might be to take things that can keep you alive until the rescue helicopter comes… Stop the big bleeds… and if you have a heart condition maybe some nitroglycerin tablets would be wise… just throwing out ideas…

    #3783116
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Maybe because it’s easy for me to score professional samples, I bring little 1/4-ounce tubes of antibiotic lotion (that’s available OTC in single-serving packets), an anti-inch steroid cream (bug bites, posion oak, etc), and an anti-fungal for athlete’s foot or other form of skin rot.

    I also recycle professional sample tubes of high-end sunscreen by using a marinade injector to refill multiple ones at once from a bulk store-bought sunscreen.  It’s especially nice for dayhikes and while traveling to leave the 4 or 12-ounce bottle behind.

    Asian hotels and airlines have smaller free toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes and combs than you can find as US travel sizes.  And the tubes can be refilled at home multiple times.

    #3783117
    Jacob
    BPL Member

    @jakeyjohn1

    I think we should have a first aid kit subforum in Gear. Its sincerely worth revisiting these conversations regularly and I’m grateful for longtime community members to be leading these conversations.

    I believe in the Risk=likelihood x severity model. Google for risk matrix if that picture doesn’t load.

    Getting something in your eye is easy to discount, but using the risk model I figure a medium likelihood and a high severity. What if you use too much water/run out? What if you actually can’t see? At a minimum getting something stuck in your eye would cut a trip short. Eye cups are small little plastic cups that help you rinse your eye and weigh about an ounce or less. There is an American company making one that attaches to a generic water bottle ala the bidets that are becoming popular. 3 Pack Wash+Out Portable Emergency Eyewash Cup, Flush Soothe Tired Strained Eyes, Construction, Landscaping, Athletics, Allergy Aid, First-Aid Kit, Water Plants https://a.co/d/j0oqPzO

    Quickloct bandages have drugs in them to help stop bleeding (like from head wounds) and come in two packs of indivual wrapped gauzes; you can carry just the bandages to save weight or keep them in their bag which has a ziplock closure useful for handling dirty bandages and packaging waste from other steril items.

    20% Benzocain is available is crush tabs that weigh a few grams each. These have never popped on me and I keep them in a generic zip lock freezer bag with the rest of my first aid kit (including shears) Dynarex Medicaine Sting & Bite Ampules – Bug Bite Itch Relief with 20% Benzocaine USP & 1% Menthol USP Liquid Formula for Pain, Itching, Irritation – .02 fl. oz. Each, Box of 10 https://a.co/d/8Of08PR

    I bet we have nurses, doctors, etc in our community that use stuff everyday that could make a huge difference in the back county that most of us have never heard of.  I’m excited to hear about what other first aid gear people use/ figured would work and still save weight.

    Im carrying  ‘surgical tape’ instead of bandaids for small scraps, cuts, and blister padding but after using it and experiencing fraying I still on the lookout for something better.

    #3783120
    Kelly C
    BPL Member

    @drsolarmolar-2

    Another good source for some information on this is Ryan did a podcast about first aid where he talks about most common injuries, most common reasons for evacuations, tailoring your first aid kit to what you are most likely to treat, and explains what’s in his kit.  Backpacking Light podcast episode 80.  (I shared this with a Wilderness Medicine group I’m on and it was received positively.  Ryan always does quality stuff.)

    #3783205
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    #3783216
    David D
    BPL Member

    @ddf

    A few items not mentioned, I like to carry a few anti-diarrheal pills, a couple single use eye lubes and a 35mm film canister containing suntan lotion.

    I prep Leukotape in strips per the Skurka method, and keep a long strip in my hip belt with 6g child scissors so I can quickly treat hot spots.  Having to dig into the pack for a med kit can be a disincentive and I find the reality is that this leads me to treating my feet earlier, before blisters can get serious.

    #3783231
    Matthew / BPL
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Ooooh that’s a good idea. I feel that way about snacks sometimes. I like the idea of keeping an item or two from the FAK on hand to eliminate the disincentive to dig.

    #3783421
    erez a
    BPL Member

    @erezavraham

    i added an unusual thing to my kit, Uber Lube (amazon), I do not use it for its original intended use though :)
    it is a silicon-based lube that works all day for chaffing-prone areas, and it works in hot sweaty days like magic

    #3783425
    David Gardner
    BPL Member

    @gearmaker

    Locale: Northern California

    One thing I do bring that I don’t see on your list is a small mirror to help see areas I otherwise would not be able to (face, head, back of thigh, etc).

    I always bring a small mirror. I hadn’t thought of it as being part of my FAK but that makes total sense. I bring it primarily as the ultimate solar-powered visual signalling device, aiming the reflected light between two fingers of the opposite hand while keeping the object you’re signalling to between the fingers like a gunsight. I might bring it for vanity too.

    Scrimping on the FAK for the sake of a couple ounces always seemed like a penny-wise but pound-foolish thing. Gashes like the head wound described by OP is why I also carry one of those tiny o.5 gm sewing kits they used to give away at hotels and a small curved needle, in case stitches are required.

    #3784010
    Mustard Tiger
    BPL Member

    @sbpark

    Locale: West Coast

    I’ve been an ER and ICU nurse for 18 years and only carry a very small kit. Super Glue, sterile-strips, a few alcohol preps, a packet of antibiotic ointment, a few Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Zofran, Imodium and a couple Compeed blister pads along with a Victorinix Swiss Army Classic. The scissors have proved invaluable and the tweezers are also very useful.

    Other than that, it’s all about what you’re comfortable with. I like to travel light, and if there’s anything that happens that serious, nothing I’m carrying is going to help, and just isn’t practical for me to carry those things. In m year I have a tourniquet, Narcan, trauma shears and a barrier device for giving rescue breaths. I have a full bleeder kit in my range bag when I attend firearms classes. When I’m out hiking and camping, it’s just the stuff listed above. I tailor what I bring based on the activity, how much I want to carry and what I’m comfortable with.

     

    The one thing I will be adding to my ditty bag (not really a first-aid item, but someone mentioned it in this thread and it caught my attention) is a spare bottle cap. Nothing worse than losing the cap to your water bottle!

    #3784014
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Why does one need a “full bleeder kit” for firearms training? Are people shooting each other? What is it anyway? Yikes

    #3784038
    Mustard Tiger
    BPL Member

    @sbpark

    Locale: West Coast

    Why does one need a “full bleeder kit” for firearms training? Are people shooting each other? What is it anyway? Yikes

    Was that a serious question or an attempt at a joke/sarcasm?! I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and go with you were being funny.

     

    #3784044
    Terran Terran
    BPL Member

    @terran

    Bottle caps seem to be the new thing. I’m biting my tongue, I’ve never lost one yet. I probably will now.

    #3784048
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Not meant as sarcasm at all. I have never heard of a “full bleeder kit.”

    #3784049
    Mustard Tiger
    BPL Member

    @sbpark

    Locale: West Coast

    Not meant as sarcasm at all. I have never heard of a “full bleeder kit.”

    I carry trauma shears, (2) TQ’S, chest seals, trauma gauze and a decompression needle (which I’m trained to use if needed). I[d never carry any of this stuff backpacking since the kit doesn’t suit the activity and is too heavy/bulky.

    No, we’re not shooting each other. Obviously firearms have the potential to be deadly and/or cause very serious injury (duh!). Although extremely rare, and in all the years I’ve been training (I usually take 4-6 multi-day classes every year for rifle, shotgun and handgun) I’ve never been in a class where there’s been a serious injury. Usually it’s minor stuff like blisters, sunburn, other burns (like having a spent case make its way down your shirt), cuts, scrapes, dehydration, etc. With that said, however, it does happen (and it’s usually self-inflicted and called a negligent discharge) and it takes time to get EMS on scene, and there are some pretty basic things you can do to save someone’s life with that bleeder kit while you’re waiting. If there ever is a serious injury, carrying that gear is of no inconvenience to me and can actually make a difference in saving someone’s life. I have the full kit in my range bag and then carry a TQ on my belt and folding shears in my pocket.

    Same reason I carry trauma shears, a TQ and Narcan in my glovebox, and that’s all I carry in my car as far as First-Aid supplies. Those are items that can actually save a persons life immediately when waiting minutes for EMS or police to arrive might be too long. All the other stuff isn’t necessary (band-aids, gauze, splints, blah, blah…) in saving a person’s life in a rather short period of time if needed.

    On the trail I hardly carry anything except the stuff I listed in my previous post, but that’s after I determine what I’m comfortable with carrying after doing a little risk vs. reward analysis.

    #3804374
    Thomas U
    BPL Member

    @tsupshaw

    I would add a SAM splint and would agree with the reader who suggested bringing a pack of Quikclot.  I’m an EM doctor and  I’ve had two instances of being able to help someone to safety with the use of a SAM splint.  In regards to Quikclot, we periodically use clotting agents in the ED (i.e. thrombin, Tranexamic acid, etc ) and I think they make it easier to control bleeding in the field.  Those two items add about 4 ounces of weight which may not be worth it some.

    #3804387
    Lowell k
    BPL Member

    @drk

    +1 on the SAM splint.

    I also bring a bladder catheter after I had a patient tell me about the time his prostate acted up in the backcountry. It weighs nothing and can be multi-purposed.

    #3804420
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    What size SAM splint do y’all take (4-5 sizes available)?

    #3804438
    Thomas U
    BPL Member

    @tsupshaw

    I use the large SAM splint (36 inches) just because it allows you to treat a wider variety of fractures. My other suggestion is to bring knowledge with you on backpacking trips.   I would recommend one of my favorite books which is Wilderness Medicine: What to do when you can’t call 911.

    I would also agree about tailoring your medical supplies to the group you are going with.

    #3804468
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    Thanks, Thomas. I was guessing that might be the size (36″ large, 4 oz). I typed in “wilderness medicine pdf” into a search engine and noticed alot of free stuff online, even older versions of Paul Auerbach (R.I.P.) and Eric Weiss books.

    https://archive.org/search?query=creator%3A%22Paul+S.+Auerbach%22

    https://www.awls.online/library

    https://aeriemedicine.com/textbook

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