Wilderness First Aid - Quick Guide For Camping and Hiking Safety
How to Create Your Own First Aid Kit for Camping and Hiking, Where to Buy a Pre-Made First Aid Kit, and How to Use Your First Aid Equipment Properly
Sunset hiking at Bryce Canyon: 90 miles from the closest hospital - Photo Credit
Wintertime may not leave you feeling inspired to get outdoors to go hiking, camping, or trail running, but it's the perfect time to start planning trips for the warmer months! Pathloom is here to help - Use our All-in-One outdoor adventure travel planning app to discover new hiking trails leading to new developed and dispersed campsites throughout the entire country! Click the link to join thousands in our open BETA testing today!
Accidents happen. We all know this, we are all fully willing to accept that even the most experienced hikers and campers can sometimes fall victim to unforeseen circumstances leading to injury. We all know we SHOULD carry a first aid kit in our backpacks for just such an occasion.
But do we?
How many of you - hikers, thruhikers, backpackers, wilderness explorers of all shapes and sizes - how many of you actually carry a fully equipped first aid kit with you when you embark on your outdoor adventures? How often are vital first aid staples removed from your pack when looking to reduce weight or bulkiness?
Even for those of you who do indeed go exploring with a first aid kit: ask yourselves - is it good enough? Am I prepared for the majority of injury situations that may befall me or my companions?
First Aid is indeed a topic that often falls by the wayside for many in our outdoor community - especially the beginners. But ask any experienced hiker or camper who has met with an unfortunate accident while out on the trail, and they will be quick to tell you how important it is to carry basic first aid essentials with you at all times.
Once again, Pathloom is here to help! We want your outdoor adventures to be as safe as they are fun, so read on for a quick list of camping and hiking First Aid essentials to help you put your kit together for the trail. We’re also linking a number of excellent resources that can help you learn effective Wilderness First Aid skills - we hope you never need to use this knowledge, but we want you to be prepared in the event that you do!
Also, if you’d prefer to just purchase a kit - and this may indeed be your best option - we’ve included a few good recommendations below. Just make sure any kit you purchase contains all the basics at the very least!
If you do already have a First Aid kit that you take with you on every outdoor expedition, go pull it out, pop it open, and check on the inventory levels and expiration dates of the supplies and medicine contained inside. These things can get used up, expire, and/or lose efficacy as the years go by. Empty band-aid wrappers, an ointment that has hardened over time or sterile wipe that disintegrates into dust when you try to use it isn’t going to be very helpful out on the trail.
Focus on essentials or your pack could end up like this! Photo Credit: Steve Edgerton
Essential Wilderness First Aid Equipment:
Antibacterial Ointment (like Neosporin or Bacitracin)
Bandages and/or Band-Aids
Gauze & Tape
Ibuprofin and/or other OTC pain medication
Rubber gloves (avoid latex in case of allergy)
Water purification tablets/device
Additional Wilderness First Aid Equipment to Consider:
Aloe-based gel/lotion for sunburns
Shears (we’re assuming you were already carrying a knife)
Bear in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list - medical needs vary from person to person, environment to environment. You may want to tailor your kit to suit the region you’ll be camping or hiking in. For example, if you’re camping in the desert you may want to bring some anti-venom for snake bites or scorpion stings - whereas you wouldn’t necessarily need these taking up room in your pack if you were hiking up a mountain where poisonous snakes are rare. And if you have severe allergies, you don’t need a website to tell you to always have your Epi-pen on you.
Resources for Learning Wilderness First Aid Skills
Even if you DO have all the equipment you should be carrying in your outdoors First Aid kit - do you know how to properly utilize everything?
The Wilderness Medical Training Center offers a digital version of their Wilderness Medicine Handbook you can download on phone or tablet - an amazing comprehensive resource for outdoor First Aid techniques - as long as your device remains charged!
Wilderness First Aid Training in Bear Creek Lake State Park - Photo Credit
Wilderness First Aid Classes
Interested in taking a course on Wilderness First Aid or receiving certification? NOLS offers in-personclasses around the country and the world. They’ve partnered with REI to offer these, and enrollment in one of these 16-hour hands-on courses includes a kit of your own with the price of admission. Find a class close to you here! Some are even eligible for college credit!
The Wilderness Medicine Training Center offers hybrid classes that combine online instruction with in-person training modules. Check out their full list of offerings here.
Some First Aid retailers, such as My Medic, even offer online-only First Aid classes to help improve your survival skills from the comfort of your own home! While this is certainly convenient, and you can learn quite a lot in this format - bear in mind that classes like these will not give you the vital hands-on learning experience offered by NOLS and REI.
And not that we’re biased or anything, but there are some great articles on the Pathloom blog that can help round out your knowledge for all things outdoor-related. Check out this piece on dealing with allergies, or this one on bushcraft basics.
Wilderness First Aid Kits Available For Purchase
NOLS Med Kit 1.0 - for day trips and short overnight adventures
NOLS Med Kit 4.0 - a bigger, more comprehensive option for multi-day, multi-person safety
My Medic Hiker Kit - a small pack with disposable First Aid essentials you can just throw in your backpack
My Medic 20L Survival Kit - this waterproof dry bag is packed with all sorts of First Aid gear, but admittedly may be a bit on the overkill side
Adventure Medical Kit Day Tripper - a basic, ultralight First Aid solution for short hikes
Adventure Medical Kit Family Kit - everything you need to provide children with emergency care in the outdoors
For those with furry friends, Adventure Medical Kits also makes a series of equipment designed specifically for caring for your dog in the wild, as well as a guidebook that helps teach you how to properly do so.
Stay safe out there!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission . This comes at no extra cost to you, and helps us pay our bills without cluttering up our content with ads.
Get the latest outdoors content and try the Pathloom App - your all-in-one adventure app!