What you must have in your First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit 1

By Oceana Setaysha

A first aid kit is a must-carry for any hiker or camper who understands and respects the wild environment they are exploring. Regardless of the length of your trip, how far you will be traveling, or whether you’ll be going alone or with companions, you should have a personal first aid kit at the very least.

Why Build Your Own First Aid Kit

While you can certainly buy first aid kits in most pharmacies, outdoor equipment stores and online, there are a number of benefits associated with putting your own first aid kit together. The most obvious benefit is that you can tailor it to suit your specific needs, where you’re traveling to, what you’re concerned about and so on. However the second benefit is that you’re familiar with every part of the kit, having put it together yourself. You’ll know exactly what you have, and you’ll be prepared to use it if the opportunity presents itself.

There are some ‘basics’ that we like to include in our hiking and camping field kits, which we feel should be present in most well-stocked kits. Purchasing a well stocked kit to begin with is always a good idea. It is more economical that starting from scratch. You can then build specific items from there to match your intended location.

Of course there will always be compromises; not everything can be carried. You may also choose to include additional items depending on your specific trip.

Here is a list of some of the essentials that should be in your own first aid kit:


Packing gloves in your first aid kit, in a bag of their own so they don’t get tangled in any zips, is always a good idea if you think you might be treating someone else. However if you’re packing a kit just for yourself, they’re probably not required.


If you take any kind of medication on a regular basis, carrying a backup in your first aid kit is a smart idea. Also present, at a bare minimum, should be painkillers, anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines.

Antiseptic Wipes + Betadine

You should always have some kind of antiseptic in your kit. Personally we choose to have both wipes, for cleaning up, wiping blood off tools etc. We also have Betadine, which is an iodine solution to prevent infections.

Blisters And Minor Wound Kit

While we do carry other plasters and dressings, a specific blister and minor wound ‘baggie’ within your kit is handy. It is something you can reach for easily. In ours we have wound closure strips for large lacerations, sterile gauze swabs, various sized plasters, padded gel plasters (for blisters).

Bandages and Dressings

In terms of the dressings and bandages we have, it will ultimately depend on how much you want to carry. If you have space we’d suggest an absorbent field dressing (military grade is best), a crepe bandage, a pressure bandage (for immobilizing or snake bites), and a small bandage that can be cut up. A sticky medical tape like leucoplast is also a smart idea.

Syringe + Blunt Needle

You won’t be giving anyone any shots, but a syringe is a useful tool for cleaning up a wound with water. While you can probably get away with just the syringe, the blunt needle increases the pressure to clean the wound out.


For removing splinters and thorns as well as for dealing with infected ingrown hairs on rub areas when you hike a pair of sharp tweezers are definitely worth taking.

Safety Pin

Safety pins are also handy for removing splinters, and offer a way to keep a sharp point in your kit without too big a chance it will stick you. These can also be used to make a sling tidy, and many other things on the trail.

Shears/Scissors/Swiss Army Knife

A pair of shears (with a blunt edge for quickly removing clothing) or a pair of scissors, are a necessity in a first aid kit. Of course if you’re trying to cut down on what you’re bringing a Swiss Army Knife or similar multi-tool will probably be suitable.


If you’re injured and cannot seek help, yelling out for hours is exhausting, dehydrating, and not always loud enough to attract the attention of rescuers. A whistle on the other hand can be blown with minimal effort and create a far-reaching sound.


A spare lighter is good to have in a kit for disinfecting tweezers or pins when removing splinters and thorns. Also, if you’re treating someone a fire should be your next priority after taking care of their immediate injuries. On a less serious note, some heat applied to a plaster can help it stick better.

CPR Mask

If you’re travelling alone, this is unlikely to be necessary. Although if you’re travelling in a group a CPR mask allows you to administer CPR on another individual safely. That is, without worrying about blood, vomit or saliva getting on or in you.

Head Torch

You might carry a torch or head torch with you in your gear. However if you’ve had an accident and you’re not able to reach that torch having one in your first aid kit is a really good idea. Make sure it’s stocked with batteries!

First Aid Training

While the equipment that you have is pretty important, you should also consider undertaking a first aid course. Most of the time these courses are done over a single weekend, and are relatively affordable. They provide an individual with all the skills they need to treat a variety of injuries as a first responder. As a hiker and camper you are often quite a distance away from mainstream medical care. Therefore knowing these first aid skills might save your life or the life of someone with you.


And finally…

A First Aid Guide

Camping First Aid GuideAmanda Parent has put together a first aid guide for dealing with all common first aid situations.

This inexpensive and potentially life-saving resource is available electronically from the Camping for Women website.

Whatever you plan to do in the great outdoors, always play it safe by having all the essential first aid equipment, resources and knowledge with you. You never know when you will really need it.


Blogger & Multiple Contributor at

Oceana Setaysha is a hiking-lover, geocacher and outdoors fanatic who loves nothing more than a long walk on a cool day, sleeping in a dome tent under the stars, and cooking on an open fire.

She lives in Darwin within Australia’s famous Northern Territory and is always on the lookout for new adventures, new walking trails, and new geocaches.

She moves around Australia a bit using her photography skills which you can check out on her website http://oceanasetaysha.com/

13 thoughts on “What you must have in your First Aid Kit

  • February 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    That’s a very helpful list and I cannot believe why I do not usually carry a first aid kit with me, it can be so handy, especially when you’re hiking! Although somethings might sound very obvious such as bandages, medicines that one takes on a regular basis or even safety pins and tweezers, Betadine sounds like a great addition to that kit, one always is at the risk of getting scratches and cuts and it really helps with those!

  • February 14, 2020 at 7:35 am

    I genuinely love your posts. They talk about simple things that we often take for granted. I couldn’t agree with you more about how important is to have your first-aid kit. I always have it with me – whether big or small trip. Personalisation and familiarisation are definitely the most important benefits for me too.

  • February 13, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing a very detailed post to pack first aid kit during camping or traveling. I too carry some basic medications, bandages, and torch too. But I never thought of whistle, but it is really good idea to capture attention or will be useful when we are in trouble. Carrying syringe or blunt needle is also a good idea, if get wounded.

  • February 12, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Quite a useful post. We also have three first-aid kits handy all the time. One for home, one for travel which is smaller and has only important stuff. Third, for road trips and mostly kept in the car. Glad you mentioned first aid training as that is so important.

  • February 12, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    As usual, a very basic but yet an important aspect of travelling and can only be expected from an informative provider like Nicole and her contributors. I have young kids and travel with them so this is something I have in mind but great to read and see what I have missed out or just to recheck my kit. It should be in every traveller’s bag especially when you outdoors and not in main cities sometimes, Plus when you travelling its got different names and compositions in different countries so always handy to carry what your body is used to. Thanks for sharing yet another helpful post.

  • February 11, 2020 at 9:47 am

    I have my first aid kit in my travel bag now, but it definitely lacks some important items that you mentioned. It’s a great idea to include lighter and head torch. I haven’t thought about the whistle or CPR Mask, so thanks for the tips!

  • February 10, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    It’s definitely better in my opinion to create your own first aid kit so that the meds and supplies are tailored to what you may need. Good idea to include a lighter, tweezers and safety pin. Scissors, antiseptic wipes, blister materials and bandages are always good to have but wouldn’t have thought of the others!

  • February 10, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    I get horrible blisters and didn’t know about plasters or wound closure strips! Thank you!!! Brilliant to use a syringe to clean a wound. Putting gloves in a separate bag to avoid zipper issues is really smart too. Great info.

  • February 10, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Having a first aid kit is so important for campers. I’ve never heard of betadine, but it sounds so useful to have in a kit. A whistle is something I wouldn’t think about, but when camping, I can understand why it’s a must have. A valuable post!

  • February 20, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    First aid kit goes with me everywhere. I even have one in my car! I would add super glue to this list as well – it’s really helpful in a pinch if you have a bad cut and it can be handy for other non-first aid things as well. I agree with making your own – I’ll admit that I use a pre-packaged one that I’ve frankensteined to have what I want. Thanks for this!


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