One of the most important things to bring with you camping or backpacking is a first aid kit. Because this first aid kit is meant to be used in the field (such as on a day hike in less-than-sterile conditions), it is going to be quite different than the first aid kit you have at home. Here is a first aid checklist of the items you need to ensure you are covered in case an accident occurs while camping in the wild.
The First Aid Bag
Before I give you the checklist of first aid items to bring camping, let’s go over how you will carry them all. You really should get a good bag to hold all of your first aid items. By “good” bag, I mean that it is:
- Puncture proof
- Lightweight and compact
- Has lots of pockets for easily organizing items
I admittedly just used a ziplock bag to hold my first aid gear on my first few backpacking trips. This is fine if you have no budget. But baggies can easily be punctured and it is hard to find items in them quickly.
Here are just some of the first aid bags that I like and you can buy on Amazon for an okay price. You don’t really need anything larger than this to carry all the essential first aid items.
Coleman Outdoor First Aid Kit – $15.99 – Buy Here
Northbound Train First Aid Kit – $24.97 — Buy Here
Paladineer First Aid Kit — $21.99 — Buy Here
*Note: Most first aid bags come pre-loaded with items. First aid kits – even the ones advertised as for camping — are almost always incomplete!!! Make sure you add the first aid checklist items which are missing from the kit.
Camping First Aid Item Checklist
*I’m dividing the first aid items by the problem they solve to give you a better idea as to why they are included, though some of these items could be used in multiple ways.
Major Injury Items
- Plastic gloves
- Sterile heavy gauze (aka combine dressings or sterile dressing pads): Put this sterile gauze on the wound and apply pressure to stop bleeding. Usually about 4”x4”. You’ll need about 5-10 of them.
- Roller Bandages: These go over the heavy gauze to hold it in place.
- Blood clotting agent: I don’t actually have this in my first aid kit. If weight weren’t an issue, I would carry it.
- Butterfly bandages: Good for holding skin together on deep wounds, such as from knives
- Tourniquet: You could just use a bandana
- Burn salve
- Ace bandage: I let my 4-year old daughter play with the ace bandage. She had a blast wrapping my ankle, knee and arm, not even realizing that she was practicing valuable first aid skills!
Minor Wound Items
- Tweezers: Really useful for removing debris from a wound, or getting splints out
- Q-tips and cotton balls: For cleaning wounds
- Antiseptic wipes: Use for cleaning your hands before dressing a wound, and also for cleaning the actual wound
- Safety pins: Don’t forget these! They are good for lots of things, like removing splinters, holding dressings in place, or getting small debris out of wounds.
- Antibiotic ointment: Put on a wound before dressing it
- Adhesive bandages (band-aids) all various sizes
- Non-adhesive sterile dressings: These should be about 2”x2” and are used for slightly larger wounds, such as covering a burn. Use the gauze roll and medical tape to hold them in place.
- Skin glue: This can be used to seal two sides of a wound together. It is good for small, deep cuts. This is also something I don’t have in my kit but would like to include if weight weren’t an issue.
- Moleskin: This is put on top of blisters and is much better than a bandaid.
- Medical tape: For keeping dressings and bandages in place. I’ve also found many other non-medical uses for it while camping.
- Aloe vera gel packets
Medications and Treatments
- Antihistamine cream
- Epi Pen: If you have allergies
- Pain medicine: Such as aspirin or NSAID medications
- Insect bite treatment
- Rehydration salts (electrolytes): For treating dehydration
- Diarrhea treatment: Such as loperamide tablets
- Honey, sugar or glucose packets: For treating low blood sugar. Or just use the chocolate in your GORP.
- Personal medications
Other Camping First Aid Items
You probably won’t need to pack all of these items, especially if you are going lightweight. However, I’m including them here to cover all of the bases.
- Lip balm
- Insect repellent
- Small notepad + waterproof pen
- Medical waste bags
- Emergency mylar blanket
- Splints, including finger splint
- Magnifying glass
- Small mirror
- Triangle bandage
- Razor blade
- Irrigation syringe
- Antifungal cream