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Homemade Ultralight First Aid Kit

Homemade Ultralight First Aid Kit
Homemade Ultralight First Aid Kit

While it’s tempting to buy a commercial first aid kit for hiking and backpacking, they’re often overpriced ($30 for Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight and Watertight .7 Medical Kit) incomplete, heavy, and expensive to refill with the tiny packets of medicine that they try to sell you. I’ve found it to be much less expensive and convenient to pack my own first aid kit with pills, lotions, bandages and miscellaneous supplies that I buy in larger quantities for home use and can resupply from my bathroom cabinet.

Weighing 3.4 ounces and packed in a sandwich bag, my homemade first aid kit contains all of the pills, lotions, tape, and bandages that I use on my trips, some more often than not, as well as a few supplies that I’ve used to help other hikers in need that I come across on the trail. I bring more first aid supplies when I guide trips, but this is all I’ve ever needed for my personal day hiking and overnight trips.

I like buying big band aids, like the one shown above, and then cutting them down to the size I need. I can usually cut a couple of smaller bandages out of the big ones instead of bringing lots of different sized bandages that I may never need.

 QuantityPurpose
Primarily for Personal Use
Ibuprofen25Pain reliever
Immodium8Stool thickener
Benedryl10Allergic reaction relief, sleep aid
Antiseptic wipes2Wound sterilzation
Antibiotic cream2Small packets, mainly for popped blister treatment
Assorted bandages6Large ones that can be cut to size
Pre-cut Leukotape Strips6Very sticky blister prevention tape
Container of zinc oxide10.5 ounces for chafing relief
Primarily for Treating Others
Nitrile gloves2Body fluid barrier for treating other people
Aspirin8Blood thinner (for heart attack victims)
Locking safety pins2Good for improvised splints

A couple of notes:

My first aid kit is broken down into personal supplies for my own use and first-aid supplies that I use to treat other people I might encounter on the trail who need help. My Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications are always up to date because I need them to guide hiking trips for the Appalachian Mountain Club and the other organizations I work with.

I’ve been using EZ Pill Pouches to repackage my medicines for a few years and find that they’re perfect for holding pills or packing refills in resupply boxes.

I pre-cut strips of Leuktotape (blister prevention) and stick them on the waxy paper backing that comes with address labels or adhesive name tags. This keeps the tape sticky for use.

I repackage my zinc oxide into little plastic cosmetic containers with flip lids that are good for holding lotions. These stay reliably closed in my pack and can also be used to store pills.

What’s in your first-aid kit?

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6 comments

  1. Thanks for all the input. I am in process of updating and reducing by weight my backpacking kit. Read all the comments and ready to “Be Prepared,” thanks again -data

  2. Bismuth subsalicylate tablets (Pepto Bismol). Not needed often but greatly appreciated when you do

    Nail nippers & mosquito hemostat are great tools for debridement

    I carry a Rx supply of Doxycycline to forestall a delay in treating a tick bite & very glad to not need it yet

    Calmoseptine is a calamine paste with 20% zinc oxide & menthol. Prefer to take this for heat rash, minor dermatoses, chafing, and trouble spot sunscreen rather than plain zinc oxide. Comes in various sizes, but the 2.5 oz jar is handy, and a little goes a long way

  3. Chewable, low-dosage (aka “baby”) aspirin for suspected heart attack or stoke victims. Three weeks ago, aspirin and the up-to-date CPR skills of a fellow hiker probably saved the life of a guy in one of my hiking groups. A reminder to renew CPR certification.

    I’ve never tried quick clot. I’ll have to think about that.

  4. As I come off the trail with one good eye. Eye drops are a good thing to have, apparently.
    About halfway up a trail a gnat decided to fly directly into my eye. Thankfully I was only about 20 minutes away from a place where I could carefully remove the suicidal gnat from my eye but if I was further out, a small issue could become a big issue in a hurry.

    I also like the irrigation syringe idea but for eyes nothing soothes like actual eye drops.

  5. Great article! I also recommend adding eye drops. If you’re unwilling to carry a small bottle like they sell at the dollar store, you can also buy boxes of single use eyedrops. Just stick to the moisturizing/saline types, not the medicated type for removing redness. Your eyes are too important to take chances!

    Another thing I recommend adding to every first aid kit: a hair elastic or two, even if you don’t have long hair. If you’re injured and someone else needs to work on you, you want to make sure they can pull their hair back if necessary. Besides, they weigh almost nothing and have other uses.

    • I keep a few hair elastic bands. They don’t deteriorate as quickly as rubber bands and don’t snap if slightly overloaded.

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