The Must-Have First Aid Kit Checklist

Whenever you head outdoors, it pays to be prepared. Planning ahead and carrying the Ten Essentials is a start, but it also pays to carry extra items and a complete first-aid kit to tend to injuries and any accidents that occur on the trail or even at the site. While a flashlight can alert search and rescue or nearby hikers for help, you will need to secure the injured person first.

While you can find many prepackaged first-aid kits available, sometimes they don’t have everything you need. That’s why we suggest creating your own! Below, you will find an extensive list of items to pack in a first-aid kit, from the basics to specific gauze, splints and other useful tools. Of course, you should always add your own prescription medications, asthma inhalers or Epipens, as needed by anyone in your party.

Ready to create your first aid kit? We’ve broken down everything you need right here! Just remember to practice first-aid steps and know how to handle serious injuries, dress wounds and more. You never know — in the wilderness, it could save a life or limb!

The Complete First-Aid Kit List

Here’s a basic first aid kit list to stay prepared in the great outdoors.

Must-Have First-Aid List

  • Basic first-aid manual or information cards
  • Antiseptic wipes (use BZK-based wipes if possible)
  • Antibacterial ointment (bacitracin, for example)
  • Compound tincture of benzoin (bandage adhesive)
  • Blister treatment
  • Pain-relief medication (Ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Insect sting / anti-itch treatment
  • Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions
  • Fine-point tweezers (for splinters, thorns, etc.)
  • Safety pins

Gauze, Wraps and Splints

  • Assorted adhesive bandages (fabric preferred)
  • Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
  • Gauze (various pad sizes)
  • Non-stick sterile pads
  • Medical-grade adhesive tape (1-inch width, 10-yard roll)
  • Elastic wrap
  • Triangular cravat bandage
  • Finger splints
  • SAM splints
  • Rolled gauze
  • Rolled, stretch-to-conform bandages
  • Hydrogel-based pads
  • First-aid cleansing pads with topical anesthetic
  • Hemostatic gauze (for stopping blood)
  • Liquid bandage

Other Tools and Supplies

  • Multi-tool knife
  • Paramedic shears/blunt-tip scissors
  • Safety razor blade or scalpel
  • Q-tips/cotton-tipped swabs
  • Standard oral thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
  • Nitrile medical or surgical gloves
  • CPR mask
  • Small, waterproof notepad with pencil or pen
  • Bag for medical waste
  • Box for sharp items like needles
  • Heat-reflecting blanket
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Prescription medications (antibiotics, etc.)
  • Sunburn relief (both gel or spray types available)
  • Glucose or other sugar (to treat blood and hypoglycemia)
  • Injectable epinephrine (for life-threatening allergic reactions)
  • Aspirin (less for pain medication, more for heart attacks)
  • Throat lozenges
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Antacids or calcium carbonates (Tums tablets, Alternagel)
  • Oral rehydration salts

Protect Your First-Aid Kit

Remember to keep everything protected from the elements and store your first-aid supplies in a watertight case. Like the bright red first-aid kits you find in stores, make sure to choose a bright color, such as red or yellow, to be able to find it quickly in the event of an emergency. It also might be a good idea to keep equipment secure, such as cell phones or a GPS communicator, allowing you to contact help if needed. For these items, consider a hard case with foam to keep it protected in a fall or in wet snowy terrains.

Practice Your First-Aid Skills

items to pack in a first aid kit

Creating a DIY first-aid kit is just the beginning. You need to know what to do with these items too. At the minimum, learn basic first aid. But also aim to take a wilderness survival class.

Like many activities, prevention is key to safety. Whether you are backcountry camping or skiing in avalanche-prone terrains, you need to know your environment — and what to do in an emergency! Accidents can happen even to the most experienced hiker or outdoorsman. You can break an ankle tripping on a rock or cut a finger on a can of beans making dinner. The trick is knowing how to stay calm and address the injury.

Be sure to take a Wilderness First Aid class if you plan to venture out in the great outdoors for days at a time. These classes will teach you how to handle cuts, sprains and broken bones while out in nature. You will also learn tips on surviving hypothermia and how to build a litter to carry someone. It also pays to be prepared in bear country, learning how to use bear spray to protect yourself should you ever encounter one.

Inspect and Replenish as Needed

With this first-aid kit list, you should be on your way to a safe outing! Customize and add to it as needed, and remember to replenish items too. Inspect it once a year to ensure medications are unexpired and that items are stocked.

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