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First Aid Kits 

You hiked the trails leading to Mt. Assiniboine and now you’re camping at night under a canopy of stars. You feel free and alive – you feel like you’re part of something greater than yourself, that your life has meaning.

As you sit around the campfire with friends, eating powdered mashed potatoes mixed with water from the nearest stream, someone finds a tick on their arm. You look closer and realize it’s actually a bit covered with dirt, the result of a slip and fall earlier in the day.

Everyone is grossed out, but you’re the only one that has any sort of a first aid kit, just a premade little thing you bought at REI or MEC or somewhere similar for $35.

You pull out the little package of antibiotic cream and carefully squeeze it onto the infected area, followed by a generous smearing of hydrocortisone cream to ease inflammation and itching. Your friends tell you how cool this is, and go back to enjoying their dinner.

Everyone has a story like this, and everyone’s first aid kits are only as good as the knowledge and understanding of what they contain and how to use it. This article is designed to give you a foundation of knowledge so that your first aid kit becomes something more than random odds and ends thrown into a backpack.

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First Aid Kits

“FAKs”, contain a collection of items designed to help prevent infection and/or treat illness and injury until professional medical care can be obtained.

They vary in quality and contents from place to place, but the basic idea is there, have something readily available for use so that you can save yourself or someone else in your group from having to wait an indeterminate amount of time for treatment.

The main key here is to not ever need to use your First Aid Kit, but to be fully prepared if you do. In a perfect backpacking world, there will be no need to open the kit. Afterall, what can go wrong?

Well, things can go bad real fast if circumstances suddenly change while your on a high alpine trail. I’m not going to start listing all kinds of crazy scenarios. You get the point.

Be prepared with the right Wilderness Survival Essentials and your journey through the backcountry can be the most amazing experience of your life.

FAKs should contain:

·          Adhesive bandages (various sizes)

·          Non-adherent sterile pads (3″x4″, 4″x4″, etc.)

·          Adhesive tape (various sizes)

·          Gauze roller bandages (3″ and 4″)

·          Alcohol wipes

·          Antibiotic ointment packets (Neosporin, Triple Antibiotic, etc.)

·          Anti-diarrheal medication (Loperamide, Immodium AD)

·          Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25mg tablets or Benadryl liquid)

·          Hydrocortisone cream (tube or 0.5% – 1%)

·            Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

·          Duct tape

·          Nitrile gloves (pair or 3 pack)

·          Sunscreen (SPF ~30+)

·          Medical grade alcohol wipes

·          Tweezers and safety pins

·          Hand sanitizer gel (alcohol base)

Other items you might want to consider are:

·        Rolled gauze

·        Trauma shears or EMT scissors

·        SAM splint or Cleanstrips non-adherent wrap

·        Ibuprofen packets, acetaminophen packets, or aspirin

·        Blood stopper kit

Every person should have their own first aid kit, which is kept readily available in their backpack or duffel bag. You can keep your FAK with you at all times by putting it in a large stuff sack and attaching it to the outside of your pack – you don’t want to be caught without it when you need it!

Remember to resupply your pack every year as medications have expiry dates for a reason.

Consider taking a first aid training course and be prepared if an emergency does occur in the backcountry. 



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