Tuesday, March 8, 2011

5 Must Have Items in a First Aid Kit

The most important item in my first aid kit isn't a snake bite kit, or heavy gauss, or hospital strength antibacterial wipes or even band-aids. It's Advil, at least for dayhikes. Muscle soreness is far and away my most common ailment. Commercially available kits tend to be overstocked and include items most wilderness novices do not even know how to use. For simple dayhikes I feel only the bare bones of a first aid kit are necessary to treat the common ailments. I simply stash this kit in my daypack and leave it there so I never make the mistake of leaving home without it.

Must Have's

  • Advil (x6) - Advil reduces swelling which is valuable for a number of problems, including plain old muscle soreness. I've used Advil on many hikes to keep my legs from feeling the pain of the hard miles I've put them through. On a couple of occasions I've used it to reduce the swelling after rolling an ankle while crossing rough ground.
  • Blister Pads (x4) - Blisters happen, even with good shoes, good socks, good insoles and a light load eventually they'll pop up from dirt that gets in your shoe, or simply from extended mileage. Keeping a few pads on hand allows you to treat the problem area as you feel the blister starting to form rather than just deal with it after it's already swolen.
  • Neosporin (x1) - Most bandages actually come with neosporin in the pad, still I usually carry a little extra. Preventing a bacterial infection is one area where I'm tempted to apply overkill.
  • Band-Aids (x4) - Nothing says "hi, i'm a first aid kit" like bandages. In truth I think I've only used a couple of them and mostly due to self-inflicted camp injuries not anything from the trail. Quite honestly you'll use these less than you think but often enough that you should consider bringing a few.
  • Sports Tape (x1) - Twisting or rolling an ankle traversing tough ground is not uncommon. It's fully treatable and should not be a significant setback for most hikers.Take your Advil to reduce swelling and tape to keep the ankle from rolling around much more.

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