A 21-Piece First Aid Kit

January 24, 2013

First Aid, Survival Kits, Training

20-Piece First Aid Kit

I spend a fair amount of time in the woods hiking, camping, and practicing survival skills. It’s nice to get out of doors and experience God’s creation first hand.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate during my outings; I haven’t experienced a serious injury or illness while in the bush. Still, I’m well aware that it could happen at anytime without notice. One misplaced step and an ankle is twisted or broken. One slip and a cut or puncture wound will hamper the outdoor experience. One allergic reaction and the trip becomes difficult at best. A lot of things can go wrong in the bush, especially if it’s an outing for you rather than a lifestyle.

I’ve always carried a First Aid kit in the woods with me. And thus far it’s been sufficient. Thank goodness.

First Aid Training

I recently attended a Wilderness First Aid course taught by doctors and nurses. It was a great course. It complemented the Medical Corp training that Laura and I took a couple of years ago. I’ll review the materials and syllabus in another post.

The difference in First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, the Medical Corp training? In short: First Aid assumes that help is 15 to 60 minutes away; Wilderness First Aid assumes that you are 2 hours to 4 days away from help; the Medical Corp training assumes that you are the help and no more is available.

After the Wilderness First Aid course, I quickly realized just how lacking in medical supplies my 72-hour pack was. I had some band-aids, ibuprofen, and tweezers, but that was about it. I was ill-equipped to handle anything more than a headache or minor cut. My supplies and my knowledge were extremely limited.

my wilderness first aid kitThe course helped with the knowledge part. While no 2-day course can prepare you for everything or make you a medical expert, it can provide you with considerably more knowledge than you had before.

I’ve also since revamped my emergency kit. My goal was to stock the kit with items that may be necessary in the bush, yet to keep it small, portable, and lightweight.

This is certainly not the end-all kit. I’m sure it’ll be a work-in-progress as I continue learning. For now though, this seems to be a good compromise between items and size/weight.

Keep in mind that this kit works with my Every Day Carry (EDC) Kit. For example, I have a bandana, safety pins, and duct tape in my EDC. All of those could be useful in a medical emergency.

A 21-piece First Aid Kit

  1. A small needle
  2. Large Self-Adhesive Bandages
  3. Medium Self-Adhesive Bandages
  4. Sam Splint
  5. Co-Flex Cohesive Flexible Bandages
  6. Non-Latex Gloves
  7. 2″ Gauze Bandages
  8. Butterfly Bandages
  9. Alcohol Wipes
  10. Pen
  11. 3″ x 5″ Index Cards
  12. Aleve
  13. Pepto Bismal
  14. Benadryl
  15. Burt’s Bees Wax
  16. Lanacane
  17. Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  18. Tweezers
  19. Cloth Medical Tape
  20. Clear Water-proof Case
  21. Medical Bandage Scissors (not pictured)

Edit: based on feedback from you and other research I’ve done, I’ve added a few additional items to then kit:

  1. Surgical Scalpel
  2. 3 Scalpel Blades #10
  3. Gauze roll

What do you carry in your 72-hour kit? What am I missing?

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33 Comments on “A 21-Piece First Aid Kit”

  1. ensmingerjl Says:

    As a physician myself I would recommend a way to deal with lacerations(a fairly common wilderness injury) other than just “band-aids.” For non medical personnel without suturing training, I would suggest a surgical stapler which can be used one-handed obviating the need for knot tying. Of course anesthetic is important as well. Topical lidocaine jelly and injectable lidocaine WITHOUT EPINEPHRINE would be on my list. Instead of a writing pen, I would consider an Epi-pen for any severe allergic reactions that could cause anaphylaxis.

    Jason Ensminger, MD Sent from my iPad


    • Joe Says:

      Thank you very much for your comments! As a physician and I’m assuming fellow prepper, you can offer great insight.

      Laura and I own several surgical staplers as part of our prepping supplies but I don’t carry it as part of my WFA kit. Perhaps I need to reconsider that.

      Topical lidocaine sounds like a better alternative than the lanacane I currently have.

      With regards to the epi-pen, the doctors at the WFA course recommended that as well. However those are prescription only, right?

      Thanks again for your comments.


    • prepperrecon Says:

      Dr Ensminger,
      Is it possible to get injectable lidocaine with out a prescription? If so, where?


    • melanie Says:

      prepperrecon yes i know because my dad is a docter and my mom is a nurse


  2. Bill Says:

    How about some tylenol and ibuprofen for fever or pain relief?


  3. Linda Says:

    The one thing that jumps out at me as missing is a way of dealing with bleeding. I would recommend adding gauze surgical sponges or even maxi pads as a way to apply pressure and control bleeding from a more serious injury. Also clotting powder is a good thing to have in a first aid kit..


    • Joe Says:

      Good point, Linda. I included some small gauze pads but that’s probably not enough. Since the post (and thanks to the comments), I’ve since added a 3″ x 4′ roll of gauze to the kit.


  4. Alan Roth Says:

    I suggest some resealable plastic bags, both pint and quart size, to store things as needed.


    • Joe Says:

      Interesting. Lightweight and easy to carry. What are you thinking they’d be used for?


      • arothriskmgmt Says:

        I think the most obvious would be edibles, things you come across along the way. They provide a waterproof container and also keep things from contaminating other things. It’s also a way to organize like-things together. Your kit is already full and your pockets may not provide protection. You have to consider inclement weather conditions. I did a lot of very long runs last year (15-18 miles twenty-five times) and I could gather mulberries along the way or put my GPS watch that wasn’t waterproof in a bag when it rained. I took food with me in bags as well as bandaids and my cell phone. I wore a belt with a compartment for accessories. It isn’t waterproof so the bags are important. Even if it were waterproof, I’d still use the bags.
        I would also add elastic bands to your list. I use them a lot to hold things together.


        • Joe Says:

          Yes, good point. This kit is strictly my first aid kit though. It’s part of a larger bag that I carry with me most everywhere. For example, I have duct tape, cordage, fire starting supplies, etc, in the other kit. I think that’d be where I’d carry the resealable bags since they have a broader use than First Aid.

          Thanks, arothriskmgnmt.



          • Schneb Says:

            This probably belongs on a different thread, but I’m not sure which one (feel free to delete/or suggest where to move it if it’s getting too far from the original topic) but in response to the plastic bag idea:

            Have you noticed how some bags that are part of food, etc. packaging are annoyingly difficult to open? I don’t know the terminology/specifications to describe different versions of plastic, but I associate such with off-brand/organic cereals–these don’t easily tear open at the top seam; my kids have to open them with a scissors.

            Seems like those would be good to pack as sturdy ‘buckets’–yes, they’d be noisy to work with, but they’re lightweight, compact, and relatively durable. And hey, you get a free box of cereal with every bag!

            Not a first aid item, perhaps, but still.

            A similar idea: ever been to meetings, etc. with catered coffee/donuts and the coffee comes in a sort of mylar/plastic bag inside a cardboard carrier? I’m thinking of those mylar/plastic bags. Their virtues are similar to the ‘tough cereal bag’ but in addition, they have an opening with a screw-on cap. The catered coffee is (tasty! but) usually overpriced, IMHO, but if you snag an empty one of these bags it’s like a cheap water-skin. Probably a way to rig up something with a tube through the cap to make it like a camel-bak bladder.

            I like the idea of cheap, scrounged items–as you can tell. It’s sort of a fix-it-with-a-wire-coat-hanger approach. Not as good as actually having the right part/purpose made, quality item, but for me, the likelihood of using these items to actually ‘bug out’ seems remote so putting a lot of $ into them is hard to justify. So scrounged stuff is a good answer.


  5. Officer Bacon Says:

    I think you would need some gauze rolls to pack puncture wounds and a tourniquet.


  6. Schneb Says:

    This might be too bulky for a kit that’s being carried–mine sits on a shelf presently but I intend to put it or one like in our car, too. At any rate…

    1) something for dental emergencies maybe? I don’t know if it’s any good or not, but ‘KANKA Mouth Pain Liquid’ in my FA kit. Also some dental wax–what they give to kids with new braces in case the hardware starts to irritate some part of their mouth. If someone loses a filling of gets a chipped tooth, that might keep exposed nerves from causing agony (but I’m guessing on that, so if I’m wrong or there’s a better ‘fix’, I hope someone will say.)

    2) a mess of q-tips (in plastic baggie)

    3) cold pack (what they use for bumps/sprains)

    4) hot pack (chemical hand/foot warmers–in the hunting goods aisle?)

    5) lots or alcohol prep pads or sani-wipe packets.

    6) Some sort of sunscreen–I ran across a sort of jumbo chap-stick like thing that’s SPF 30. Higher would be better, but 30 is better than nothing.

    7) Maybe something with basic first aid instructions/CPR guide–might be someone else using the kit who hasn’t had the training or having the info could make your delivery of such efforts go more smoothly. Too, seems like some things like snake bite or such, one hears a number of different ideas over time as far as how to treat such. It would be good to have written, authoritative instructions for such situations. Then again, thumbing through a booklet might not be in the cards, so to speak, if someone’s in a panic and/or bleeding a lot.

    8) another scenario: diabetic reaction. My dad was diabetic and kept a candy jar of fun-size snickers stocked in case of a reaction. If he had such at home my mom gave him O.J. I’m not sure when sugar is/isn’t called for, but that could be something to look into.

    9) maybe a form (on one of those index cards?) to note vital stats on an injured person so when they get to real medical folks you’ve got some info they could use to guide treatment.

    10) following from #9, a thermometer.


    • Joe Says:

      Thanks Schneb. You make a good point. There will be a lot of useful things that could be added. You’ve listed some of them. I also want to balance that will keeping it small and easily portable for backpacking trips, day hikes, etc. I want it to be stocked well enough to be useful, yet lightweight and portable enough to be with me all the time. A fine line.

      I keep a great field guide (a post on this coming soon) in my 72-hour kit. ( for just such emergencies. The candy idea is a good one. In my 72-hour bag, I keep a couple of home made MREs that, while they don’t have candy, do have some sugary food in them that could be used in a pinch. Nevertheless, a good idea.

      The cold pack and hot pack would be good if I could find the room. Will have to see.


  7. EC Says:

    As a possible first line of defense, liquid Benadryl, (50 mg) has been suggested to me, since I have a child with food allergies. That amount fits perfectly in a small clean extract bottle. But having an Epi in a kit is important enough that perhaps a determined prepper could find a way to get an RX 🙂

    Burn pads are amazing for fighting the pain of a 3rd degree burn, and small/light enough to put in a EDC. Easy to secure with the flexible bandage #5 you already have.

    Moleskin – again, small and light

    Imodium (anti-diarrheal) – available in a blister tab, so won’t be cumbersome, available OTC. More effective than the Pepto, if you are struck with a bad case.

    Meclizine (for bad vertigo, nausea) – RX needed

    Dramamine is available OTC, and you can get non-drowsy in case you are alone.

    Diazepam (generic valium, which is a muscle relaxer, but won’t put you to sleep) – RX needed


    • Joe Says:

      I’ve been carrying Benadryl in tablet form from weight on convenience but you’re right about young ones not being able to swallow it.

      I’ve actually heard and found that duct tape works far better than moleskin for blisters. Put a dab of ointment on the hotspot and then cover with duct tape. It stays on better than moleskin and does a great job decreasing the friction.

      Imodium is a good idea, EC.




  8. allison proctor Says:

    tampons.. so many uses


  9. david Says:

    I have been in the landscape buisness for 25 years and a must have is super glue I’ve closed lots of deep cuts on the job and not only dose it seal the cut it also keeps dirt out too


  10. Molly Summers Says:

    I noticed you had listed a needle but did not see any kind of surgical thread listed, I might have over looked it. Also, what about a thermometer. One of those fever strips is light weight and small. It will give you an idea if a fever reducer medication is necessary or not so you dont use up your medicine supply on ‘guessing’ if its needed or not. And the previous suggestion of tampons is right on…tampaxs are compact and are packed sterile. When one is opened it opens up like a flower and is pretty flat when fully opened. It makes a perfect bandage with a string attched that can be seperated into 2 pieces to secure the “bandage” in place if used on a finger or a toe injury.


  11. Ronald David Morris Says:

    My military training included a simple thick cotton sterile bandage with 2-3 foot long ends for tying it in place. The sterile inside of the bandage bag was to be used as a valve for sucking chest wounds. You want something in a tough plastic bag, sterile, so the bag can be used for the chest valve. An MRE bag or a thick baggie will work in a pinch. The duct tape is good but an Ace bandage for a knee or ankle sprain might help. 1 bright chemlight or a mini LED flashlight w/lamp should be in the kit so you can find it immediately. Sometimes all you grab is the kit not the whole bag. Especially if someone else is grabbing it. Same for tape.


  12. Cathy Says:

    Sun block and deet for me. Preventative mesures. Two things I can’t handle. Sun and bug bites.


  13. Jon Marsiglia Says:

    This is awesome information. Many times people think of First Aid occurring in normal everyday settings. However, being prepared specifically for wilderness activities is great for those that love the outdoors. In fact, there are several different emergency situations that people hiking, camping, or even picnicking can experience. I also appreciate that in addition to being properly certified in First Aid and CPR, having the right supplies on hand makes responding to an emergency that much more effective.



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