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The Extra Things Trip Leaders Carry

I’m really getting into learning how to be a good hiking and backpacking leader. It’s a very different perspective than being a solo ultralight hiker, that’s for sure, but it’s very rewarding to be able to share my love of the outdoors with someone in person.

One area I’m coming to appreciate, especially in winter, is the need for leaders and group members to share out and carry additional group gear as a safety precaution. I had a liquid fuel stove conk out on me just last weekend (a first) and the only reason I got hot water was because we’d brought along an extra group stove.

This morning, I’m packing up my gear for the first winter trip I’ll be co-leading this winter with the Boston AMC’s Winter Hiking Program on Saturday. It’s a pretty low risk winter conditioning hike, but it’s a good opportunity for me to assemble some of the the extra gear I want to bring on future trips in case a hiker has a problem and I need to help them out.

I thought I’d list some of the extra things I plan on carrying as a group leader on day hikes and overnights. The list has been heavily influenced by my friend and Boston Leader, Mark Warren, but it provides some good food for thought.

  • Gear Repair
    • Copper Wire
    • Multi-tool with needle-nose pliers
    • Heavy duty safety pins
    • Duct tape
    • Extra shoe laces
    • Extra paracord
  • First Aid
    • Foam Pad
    • Purell
    • Hypothermia
      • White gas stove and 8 ounces of fuel
      • 3 or 4 liter cooking pot
      • Dipping cup
      • Finger saw for cutting wood
      • Drier Lint, for lighting fires
      • Strike anywhere matches
      • Hot cocoa mix
      • Gatorade
      • Jello (sugar drink)
      • Heavy space blanket
      • Bivy sack
      • Bread bags, as a vapor barrier for wet boots
    • Sprains and splints
      • Ace bandage
      • Cravats for splinting
    • Eyes/Contacts
      • Visine
      • Saline solution

If you have any other suggestions on useful things to add or want to comment on what I’ve listed here, I’d welcome your feedback.


  1. I have found that on group trips I do beef up my first aid kit slightly, but provided there was a good review of the people going on the trip I haven't needs to bring much "extra"

    I found that the things I removed on my solo trips are still removed… but the multiple people typically increases the safety margin. For example, I don't bother with emergency blanket because everyone is carrying a sleeping bag and we typically have more than one shelter. Even if more than one bag gets wet and we lose one shelter we can puppy pile. We won't be comfortable, but we will be safe.

    I think about group trips a bit like I do computing systems I design. I expect things will fail, so we need to have some redundancy to be sure we are safe, but safe is good enough in those situations… we don't need to be comfortable. The good news is that this redundancy doesn't have to add items that only get used if something breaks. If fact, the best way to be sure the alternative is working is by using it. For example, we will often bring multiple stoves, not because we are concerned that one will break, but cooking for 2-4 is much quicker and easier than doing a larger group. If one of the stoves falls, we can all share the remaining stove(s). Things will slow down in camp (less comfortable), but everything will get done (safe).

    One very important thing for a group leader is to be able to carry more than there personal load. If someone is injured to is exhausted, the leader should be able to set an example of lightening the load of the person having problems. The leader doesn't have to shoulder the entire load because others should also help… but you need enough be able to add some weight to your pack, or have a pack that is light enough that you can carry your pack AND the pack of the struggling member. I can speak from experience that a SMD Comet pack can work as a front pack on a JanSport D3 :-)



  2. I agree with Mark. Using the gear and insuring it is in good condition is nearly as important as selecting the gear. To continue the stove example that you and Mark gave: Having and carrying a gas stove is OK, but it is dead weight if you do not also use it. There needs to be a minimum of two *operating* stoves with 4 people. Prime and test them before leaving. Rather than simply carry one of them, use them both. If one dies, you *can* get by on the other as you found out. Perhaps a bit redundendent, but much faster, generally.

    With a group of non-family members, sanitation is quite important. As you know, a group of people can get a bit embarased about such things. In summer, a group trowel should be carried. In winter, I am sure your "cat hole digger", alias ice axe, can double as one. Don't worry…everyone will need it at least once. Even experienced people know to spread it around, well away from the trail and camp area. Paper should be packed out in later fall/winter. Groups are tough on the environment. In winter, most of the leavings will freeze and it will take a while to break down. It is even more important to bury leavings fairly deeply.

    Top off any liquids before leaving. A small bottle of alcohol for cuts, scrapes, nicks and pokes can prevent a lot of later infections. As can a few band aids. An old, tiny visene bottle works well for alcohol, but make sure it is labeled. TP soaked with a squirt of alcohol, and coverd with a length of 3/4"x3" duct tape makes a good bandaid for deeper crampon pokes. These need to be warmed before applying and the skin should be clean and dry…often alcohol can help dry things at the expense of some body heat. Maybe someone has brought a flask of brandy, but, don't count on it. ONE shot of alcohol is not bad for warmth. The alcohol will penetrate right through the stomach and begin being metabolized within a minute or two. The calming effect of the familiar act of swallowing, and the slight lessoning of tension by drinking a medicinal ammount of brandy can often outweigh it's actual effect.

    Perhaps the most important thing with any group, is to have them all start *functioning* as a team. Set the example. Climb a tough spot, stop and help the next guy up. Tell him to help the next guy up…walk on. A couple tough spots later, and everyone will be helping each other. Thank the guy that takes some weight off your back by pushing your pack up a notch. LOUDLY thank him…it is catching…and can be a but of a distration on a long grueling winter climb.

    All groups should be divided into pairs. One is designated cook for the morning, one packs up the tent. One carries the stove, one carries the fuel. And on it goes. Daily chores are alternated. Sometimes you will be solo, sometimes you will pick a less knowledgable member and make him your partner. Have a set of chores that can be alternated and tell everyone what they are. Some will forget, some will make up their own rules, but, at least everyone will know they *do* have chores.

    Anyway, I am sure you know more about it than I do. Kind'a like preaching to the minister.

  3. Guys – I really appreciate these comments. Reminders about things I know and good advice that I hadn't considered. As you can imagine, adding this extra gear and these supplies, is very foreign to me after years of taking them out! as a UL backpacker. That's why I am so fascinated with this process. It's so different from what I'm used to.

    I get to screen all trip applicants closely and verbally, but you can never be entirely certain what they'll show up with at the trailhead, so some leader redundancy is important.

    I really like the notion of "used redundancy" to remove the uncertainty of failure. That is a great principle to apply. Also the idea that leaders should be able to carry their own load, plus others. Delegation is important of course to spread it out across the group, but I also believe in leadership by example.

    Plus more sanitation options/stuff.

    All good, thanks.

  4. Scouts are tough on gear, so I tend to carry a larger repair kit. My extras include a clevis pin for external frame packs, a few zip ties, floss and needle, and a couple of extra straps. The multi-tool is a must, (and works great on fish hooks in skin, too).

    Medically, dealing with other people's children adds extra responsibility. My personal first aid kit fits in a small zip lock bag. However my troop kit is dry bag about the size of a football. For my own protection I carry latex gloves and a CPR shield. The single largest item is a SAM splint. Someone once said "you can improvise a lot things in the field, but sterile dressings are not one of them." So, a couple of large gauze pads and adhesive bandages are in there too. For legal and cost reasons, I don't carry an epi-pen, but the fast dissovling Benadryl tablets are a decent substitute. If the person can't swallow, they can be crushed and placed under the tongue and on the gums. A couple of hard candies can provide some extra sugar, plus work as a great distraction. Some extra electrolyte packets help with rehydration.

    The space blanket has been replaced by a SOL emergency bivy. And Aqua Mira backs up the group water filter. A large trash bag has many uses, but especially as a poncho, pack cover, or sleeping bag cover for those forgetful scouts.

  5. Glucose tablets are something you should carry. Eventually you will have a diabetic along with you. I have had diabetes for 16 years and I don't let it stop me. I bring everything I need and extra food.

    Some people are forgetful and might not bring all they need. These tablets are good if someone is starting to get low blood sugars as they are fast acting. They can chew these and then sit down rest and eat some other things. The tablets can prevent a "crash".

    Cake frosting in small tubes is also something to consider. If a person is so low they can't chew, you can just squeeze the frosting into their mouth so they can just swallow it.

    The tablets are cheap and can be bought in any pharmacy or even Walmart at the diabetes section.

    There are other alternatives out there like Glucagon kits but the diabetic should be carrying one him or herself. These require an injection and are usually used only when there is no other way to get sugars into the persons system (ie. they are unresponsive.)

    Someone would have to administer the injection but this is beyond what your looking for right now.

  6. Paracord can double as shoelaces, right? =) Just a thought. Enjoyed reading this, despite having never been on a leaded trip or having lead one.

  7. Cable ties are a good light weight repair item (instead of copper wire). I second carrying a sam splint (one of my favorite stories about this involves an incredulous ER Dr/nurse practitioner saying "you just happened to have that with you?") and fast-acting benadryl. Some people swear by superglue, which you can get in one-use packs, but my experience with it was sub-optimal. Gatoraide can be a bit strong mixed to directions, there are drinks like propell which are partially "sugarless" and closer to the correct strength.

    It's also a good idea to have a treat hidden away – either the graham cracker brownie mix or a bunch of candy (I wrap it in paper with the words – road flares for emergency use (or something equally misleading) on it). These can help with group morale when things get tough or make a fun celebration near the end of the trip.

  8. I bring my son and nephews with me a lot so I have some things I bring.

    + 1 for electrical cable ties and super glue

    I think duct tape, super glue, and electrical cable ties are good UL substitutes for the copper wire, shoe laces, and possibly the paracord. My bear bag kit in weather and my pulk in winter already have plenty of cordage so I never bring paracord as a separate item, couldn't the cordage from guylines be used instead?

    In addition to Benadryl, I always bring Imodium, Advil, Baby Aspirin, Jello, and a few hard candies. A few prescription-strength pain killers are nice too :p.

    I would cut up my CCF pad to improvise a sam splint.

    I understand the idea of the calming effect of a single shot of whiskey but I worry about alcohol sub-cooling in the winter and leading to frost burns in the throat; similar to white gas burns.

    I typical bring a sven saw which can really help process wood quickly and easily.

    Chocolate is effective in warding off the effects of an encounter with Dementors.

  9. Dementors – love it Tom. I may have to get one of those pulks at this rate.

  10. I just took an 8 and 14 year old grandson backpacking in the Caney Creek Wilderness in Arkansas. One thing I added to my repair kit was a half tube of Shoe Goo. Those kids are hard on their boots. Of course, their feet are so tough, they could have probably hiked out without boots. Grandpa can hardly make it across carpet barefoot.

  11. I forgot about the immodium – also vitamin I for the other adults ;-) and lots more leukotape, duct tape or moleskin than I usually use. Don't forget hand sanitizer.

    Wilderness first aid convinced me about the sam splint – we could make much better neck braces for spinal injury with it than with other methods. Other than that improvised splints work just as well if not better.

    The other thing I've found is that the minor injury rate is always highest on the first few days – so I often put in more bandaids than normal.

  12. More good advice – while I carry most of these extras in smaller solo quantities, it probably makes sense to just break everything out into separate leader-specific first aid and gear kits that I can throw into my pack for group trips. I was getting there already – you just pushed me over.

  13. I bought a Dixie padded aluminum splint (sort of a knock off of the SAM splint) on Amazon for about four bucks. It will go in the RV as part of its first aid supplies and I'll likely take it on the trail if I'm with a larger group. My brother, another friend, and I hauled a family friend with a broken leg three and a half miles on our backs some years ago. Although Rosie was quite a trooper, she'd have been more comfortable if we'd had a good splint.

    At one point when she was on my back, one of her sons came running up and said, "Mommy, put these pretty rocks in your pocket." I said, "Wait a minute! If I'm hauling your mother on my back, it's not with rocks in her pockets."

    The other major debilitating trail injury I dealt with was the broken back a friend suffered in a 22' fall. A SAM splint wouldn't have helped in that case. We left Vicki's husband to fend off the circling buzzards and returned with Rangers and a back board and hauled her a mile out of that canyon to an ambulance for her 130 mile ride to the hospital. Vicki had a full recovery but chooses not to visit Big Bend National Park any more. It might have been that T shirt her husband got her with the caption: "I had a spine tingling experience in Big Bend"

  14. I carry an elastic knee brace which has come to be used more than the Ace Bandage. For splinting I found knife smoothed downed wood works just as well and can be cut to the exact size your need. I've used my Knife to drill a couple of holes through the smoothed wood and threaded paracord through the holes to keep the splint in place…

    I also carry two sets of sutures with the needle included along with a small pair of Hemostats which lock in place making it easier for a nervous hand to do it's work unlike Pliers which you have to keep a steady grip on.. I have stitched myself up a couple of times over the years and on a friend who had a pretty deep puncture wood to the thigh when he tripped going over a log and had a broken piece embed itself into his leg. I would not recomend Purell for Wound care because of the fragance or scents they have added but it is good for clearning the "Doctors" hands prior to treating a wound. I carry a variety of wound cleaning pads for that part and some people are allergic to Iodine in some of those pads so keep that in mind..Like me. Iodine water purification tablets make me deathly ill as well.Found out the hard way on the PCT near Kitchen Creek. Thank the Lord a Border Patrol vehicle came by the campground and got me to some help…

    My Victorinox "Work Champ" with it's non-slip handle and locking main blade takes care of all my tool needs which replaces in one Unit the need to carry say a Multi-Tool. It has a Wood Saw, Metal File, Pliers, Phillips Head, Flat Head, eyeglass screw drives etc. etc. Well worth the $65. I paid for it and never leave home without it.

    I also use the Paracord in place of shoelaces which often is a better choice than what the manufacturer puts on their boots…

    My Afghanastan boys recomend the new "Blizzard Bags" which they used on long range patrols, which are just starting to show up on the Civilian market to replace a couple of items in your Hypothermia section or use one of the Mylar Bags which weighs about the same as the blanket.

    I've had "A LOT" of trouble with the quality fo the Strike Anywhere Matches and have complained to the Diamond Brand company twice now about them. They offer me a Coupon but I feel they could care less,

    I want and need a Dependable Strike Anywhere Match..So after this past summers problems I went to the REI Matches which includes a separate "Strike Bar" that actually works..Also the old Britsh Boat Matches are a good choice as well which are again similar to the UCO Stormproof Matches sold by Campmor..

    My former west coast hiking buddy also got fedup with the Strike anywhere matches and he says he now carries one of those Liquid Butane Candle or barbequeLighters which has not failed him on any occasion including pouring rain and snow in the Sierra's….I also recomend the Coglan Waterproof Matches. I had a box sitting in my fishing tackle box for at least ten years and the need arose last summer when the Strike Anywhere matches failed to live up to their name and it they lit on the first try…

  15. Grandpa – that was a funny one. What a story. You were a good friend to Vicki that day.

  16. "I want and need a Dependable Strike Anywhere Match"

    I finally broke down and bought a fire-steel and that has been a WONDER. I no longer bring matches and a tiny bic resides in the first aid kit only cause it is such cheap insurance.

    I have read a lot about blizzard bags on the Views from the Top site.

    I have often thought on buying a quick clot package but those types of impulse buys are why I have tons of gear I no longer bring with me.

  17. Tom, can you explain your experience with the fire steel in lighting a Cannister Stove or a White Gas stove..I've never tried it and wonder if their are any "tricks" or things I should "Beware of"….

    For those of you buying the "Quick Clot" Please read the FINE PRINT BEFORE you spend any Money on the new "Quick Clot" type Compresses or Bandages…Some can only be removed under the watchful eye of a Doctor in the Emergency Room.

    It has been experienced that untrained personal believing they are doing the right thing believe the bandage is saturated and then try to remove it to replace it with a new one only to have the patient "bleed out" before the new one can take effect…Rule of the thumb is if you should apply a "Quick Clot" Bandage do not remove it unless a Doctor approves it…..

    Your not the only one Tom, I have amassed and have a filled a Plastic Storage Bin (24×36) which is just crammed with Backpacking items I have bought and relegated to the pile that I have never used and not for the lack of trying, just that, well, I didn't find the need to use it on 5 trips so I put it in the Box.

    I'm smarter now and do not listen to the Latest Marketing speil and avoid at all costs "impulse buying" because the Marketing people convinced me that "I had to have it"..I now turn a very deaf ear to Marketing in the Backpacking and Outdoor areas…

    I have this fantasy someday of some young person finding it will be thinking they found a Treasure Trove of some kind..Lol's..

  18. Wow, all of these are great input so far.

    I worked last summer taking out volunteer trail crews of older boy scouts, building trail and backpacking in New Mexico.

    I would definitely have to second the SAM splint. It's a great resource, and even more comforting (to the participants involved) should it happen. Also:

    -I always brought extra water. While for me this was a necessity in New Mexican summers, it makes it easier for when someone does run out as opposed to stopping for one person to fill up. We asked the boys to carry 4-5 liters a day (and to drink that much daily at least). I personally was carrying 8 liters daily, and had an 10L MSR Dromedary bag to fill up on the longer days. This might have been a bit extreme, especially for you in New England, but a couple extra liters might make a difference.

    -I would also bring a library of sorts. Mainly consisting of a couple field books of flora and fauan, it allows us at breaks to answer questions and pique the curiosity of what they saw. I found it really neat to answer questions.

  19. Tom – a fire steel is a wonder. I always carry one but wonder if they work in cold temps. Do you know?

    I go back and forth on SAM splints for myself (alone), but it does make sense for a group first aid kit.

    Quickclot – never been tempted. Moreover, most injuries on the trail are ankle sprains and minor cuts and scrapes. You are very unlikely to ever need quickclot unless you are in Afghanistan and are better off bringing more electrolyte solution instead.

  20. I have another must have gear item – zip ties. They weight next to nothing and are great for a quick repair.

  21. Whenever I get a new backpack or fannypack I stab half a dozen safety pins somewhere non-critical. I've repaired several torn packs and straps over the years with a couple safety pins and a few turns of duct tape.

    Some vaseline is handy as well for chafing, wound protection, chapped lips and cheeks, etc…

    I'm going to have to throw some cable ties in the pack – I'm sure I can think of lots of uses for those. Might have to get them in the handcuff size… :)

  22. Great point about the Vaseline – I carry a tube of zinc oxide with me in my regular kit for chafing, but also an excellent item for a group – especially for less experienced hikers.

  23. I believe I mentioned this before but will again especially with all the ideas and suggestions as to what to bring or not bring. I cannot remember whose idea this was so I cannot give them credit for it. But I think it was one of Pack Mothers when we all groaning about our loads.

    When in the Boy Scouts and loading up for one of our monthy jaunts into the Adirondacks or Catskills or just attempting to follow many of the Indian made trails in our area, (Mohawk, Iroquis, Cree, etc. etc.) we would have a Patrol meeting where everyone would dump what they were going to bring into a pile in front of them and then as we packed our canvas bags the game was on as to who could come up with the most uses for any one item. Usually a Hersey Bar was suffiecent "bait: to get everyone to join in.. It also helped cut down on the duplication of gear and kept things such as a #10 can of Aspergras from coming along on the trip.

    As a Marine NCO I carried forward the same idea with my Squad when heading out on a Hump then as an older young man hiking the Adirondacks and then the Sierra's leading others when the Weather kepts us crowded up in a tent we played the same game and came up with some rather unusual suggestions for all kinds of items. Though we now graduated to a huge Snickers Bar as the "Bait". .In hindsight I/we should have kept a Journal of those suggestions for it would make a rather insteresting article for one of the current nearly Useless Backpacking Marketing onlyMagazines out there.

    You might try that with your groups as well…

  24. What a totally AWESOME idea! Great for creating group cohesion and a less threatening way of seeing what everyone is carrying (or shouldn't be). I may use this for my Scouts UL course in February in Texas. Our breakout sections will be by Patrol and this will be an excellent exercise – of course, we may need to substitute snickers bars with BBQ! See

  25. "Tom, can you explain your experience with the fire steel in lighting a Cannister Stove or a White Gas stove..I’ve never tried it and wonder if their are any “tricks” or things I should “Beware of” "

    I agree that normally you would have the flame from the bic lighter or matches present as the source of ignition energy prior to opening the main fuel valve. This is one of the core concepts used to prevent explosions in power plants. However since the canister is venting to the atmosphere the gas dissipates very quickly; unlike, say, a backyard grill that is closed.

    I get the fire steel key in one hand, open the fuel valve with the other, then use that same hand to hold the fire steel rod, and then I generate a spark. The trick is to pull back on the rod rather than scrap forward with the key. This way the front hand is stationary and the rear hand is moving away from the stove and the resulting flame. I also think this method generates sparks better than keeping the rod stationary.

    For my SVEA, I wrap a bit of tissue paper around the stem at the priming ring to hold the white gas and add more flammable material to heat up the fuel reservoir. I use two mouse pads [glued together] as a bottom insulator. I light off the priming cup with the fire steel without any issues. Then I am typically able light off the main burner with the residual flame from the priming. If not, I use the canister method described above to light the main burner.

    Propane, butane and white gas all have relative low requirements for ignition energy which means they are very easy to light off with a fire steel.

  26. Phil,

    Maybe you should start a separate post to capture everyone's mutli use suggestions.

    1. ccf pad cut up to improvise a sam splint

    2. duct tape can be used to make sun glasses or snow goggles

    2a rip two pieces of duct tape, one piece the width of your face and the other piece ~4 inches longer than the first one

    2b place the shorter piece back to back [adhesive side to adhesive side] centered on the longer piece so that there is exposed adhesive from the longer piece at each end

    2c cut notch for nose

    2d cut a very narrow horizontal slit for each eye

    2e place on face using the adhesive ends of the longer piece to attach the duct tape glasses to your face

    3 Fritoes are calorie dense which make them an ideal trail food AND they and can be ground up to make great tinder for starting a fire

  27. Fritos as tinder? Where do you come up with this stuff?

    I have a post on multi-use for first aid already:… , but I can see how it can be expanded to include more items. I'll put it in the queue. Thanks Tommy.

  28. Fritos, potatoe chips, most fried, greasy junk foods are about the same. Check the fat content on the labes…. Small ground stuff smoulders pretty good, larger pieces hold a flame like a small candle. Wax shavings on a pile of tinder works as well to hold a flame. A small tub candle is good. Often if someone is hurt badly, you need to keep him warm and quiet while one of the members (a pair if it is a larger group) hikes to meet/get the rescue squad. Up to a day in most areas, and a fire is most welcome for the stationary members.

  29. Judging from my experience, the extra thing trip leaders sometimes have to carry is…

    …trip members!

    (Usually after they become tripped members)

  30. To this fine list I would add a wad of lambswool (if you can find it). For me, there is nothing quite like it to pad the raw flesh of new blisters.

  31. You can buy Sheeps Wool on eBay, some Yardage Stores, and the last time I was in a National Chain Hobby store they had some….

  32. I believe AMC leaders should carry pocket radios. They are small, lightweight, battery powered. These are not for radioing out for rescue, but as a communication between leaders. Why?

    On two separate AMC hikes, one in the NH Whites, the other in Baxter SP, the group got separated, a leader with each group.

    A lot of time was lost trying to communicate and find what had happened to the other group.

    If the leaders had been able to communicate by these little pocket radios, there would have been no problems and a lot less worry and aggravation that might easily have led to an unnecessary emergency.

    There was no cell phone reception.

    Finger saw would only be useful as a method to keep someone warm who was sawing. Otherwise it would only be another way of cutting one' s self.

  33. Consider a wood stove, a bushbudy for example. They are lightweight, no need to carry fuel. It can be an easy wind protected way to start a fire that can last a long time using a small supply of small sticks.

  34. Several folks observed that even if you try to pre-screen folks, you don't know what they will forget. I try to do a gear check a week or so before the trip to give people time to pick up whatever they are missing and to get comfortable with leaving behind things we suggest they ditch. I also typically do a check at the trail head. I do bring extra gear to the trail head (some clothing, extra sleep pad, other misc item) because people do often forget things, even if they had them a week earlier. But any items people don't grab at the trailhead I leave in the car.

    There has been a lot of focus in this thread about first aid and repair items. Solo ultralight trips need these items as well. So what changes? Primarily the amount. The question is how much more do you need to bring. For example, on my solo trips I bring one mini container of super glue. Do I use it on every trip? Nope. So if I am with 10 people I don't need to bring 10 containers. How many is the right number? Experience so far says 2 because I have never used more than 1 on a trip, and a bit of redundancy when you are responsible for a bunch of people is good. My experience is that my personal first aid kit (the size of Adventure Medical .3) has adequately served a group of 4 on a 4 day trip, and than my .5 size kit has served groups of 8 on a 6 day trip. The other thing to keep in mind is the distributed first aid kit. I encourage everyone to carry a small personal first aid kit. So commonly used items like bandaids and blister pads will be well represented through the group and don't require the group kit to have lots of extras of these items.


  35. Just in case no one answered about the firesteel: They can be used in frozen temperatures. They were invented for the Swedish army as an emergency fire starter.

    Another vote for Vaseline, I use it all the time as a firestarter with cotton wool and my firesteel in all climates.

  36. Great suggestions here. I'm an REI Adventure guide in Yosemite. All my first aid kits have a small file I bought at the hardware store for cutting off rings. I've actually had to use it when a client got stung by a wasp on her finger and her finger started to swell. Prevented her from losing a finger.

  37. A file, never would have thought of that… .not sure I would bring one, but I am sure the client is grateful you had one.

    That reminds me though… there are two thing that lives in my group first aid kit which I don't carry in my personal kit… an epipen and an albuterol inhalator because having trouble breathing really sucks.


  38. An Epi-pen and albuterol are prescription medications. If you plan to administer, be aware that you are breaking the law. I'm not saying don't do it, just realize you've gone beyond your legal protection.

    I don't take most of that list.

    I never have needed a multi-tool, and I've had to reattach a hipbelt to an internal frame pack. We drilled holes with a knife and tied it back on with spectra cord. I'd take needle nose pliers if we were fishing.

    I take extra heavy safety pins, called diaper pins or skirt pins. They are perfect for hanging my socks on my pack to dry.

    Paracord is shoelaces, you don't need to take both.

    I've never needed duct tape. It is good for taking out prickly pear spines, but I already carry medical tape.

    Purell is a firestarter, try it. If you can find it, get the 63% alcohol stuff. It is a better disinfectant and a better firestarter. Don't tell the younger Scouts, though.

    I presume the stove is an extra for a dayhike, since a regular hike would have stoves. If I take a stove on a day hike, it is either a supercat or a 250g propane-butane canister. For a winter outing, an extra stove is basic risk management, not something extra for the leader to carry.

    I always carry a cup anyway.

    Finger saw? Have you ever tried using one of those things? They don't work, then they break. About the lightest saw you should ever bother with is a folding pruning saw.

    Cocoa and gatorade and jello? Glucose tablets (like diabetics carry) and some salt should be enough for an emergency. Mix and match as needed.

    Matches and a lighter. And a spare lighter in a ziplock.

    Why do you need a heavy space blanket? The first aid courses use them, but if you need to improvise a litter, you have someone's pack to cut apart. Maybe their tent, too. Sacrifice the injured person's gear first.

    I carry an ultralight bivy sack because I hate night breezes. I've fantasized about it as emergency gear, but never needed it.

    I carry small trash bags, those are for trash as well as for vapor barriers, occlusive dressings, etc.

    Saline solution? See "salt", above.

    You can get sterile wash by overdosing with the chlorine dioxide water treatment you are already carrying. An overdose will make it sterile in less than 15 minutes and you'll have extra ions left over for cleaning.

    Cravats? The person you splint will not be changing clothes, you can cut up their extras for cravats. Or use strips from their cut up pack. It is also OK to abandon stuff you can't carry out. This is an emergency and life is more important than property.

    What do I carry that you don't?

    I carry two Sam Splints. Those are danged hard to improvise in the wild.

    Chapstick is mostly petroleum jelly and is a good firestarter when rubbed on something to serve as a wick. I've used toilet paper, but a bandana would work, too.

    I've used Chapstick to treat chafing when I forgot the bodyglide. I was careful to keep the "crotchstick" in a different pocket, though.

    A properly stocked and replenished crew-sized first aid kit, with a small manual. This includes most of the non-prescription meds mentioned above.

    A small file is not a bad idea. I know someone who carries trauma shears and a ring cutter, but they carry a big first aid kit.

    Radio? I'm beginning to think a satellite phone is the minimum standard of care on an extended trip. You may need to deal with non-evacuation emergencies, like reporting a wildfire.

  39. I always carry dental floss and a couple of needles. A small needle and regular thread for more traditional repair sewing. A large needle for stitching with floss. It’s tough cord, so it can be used to repair all kinds of things. Plus you can clean your teeth!

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