Adventure medical kits

Adventure medical kits DEFAULT

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The woods are dark and full of terrors—or, at least, blisters, splinters, biting bugs, and ankle-twisting potholes. If you’re heading out on an adventure, pack a good hiking first-aid kit. After doing 14 hours of research and testing 12 wilderness first aid kits, we think the best one for most outdoorsy people is the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Kit. It has the best layout, contains high-quality supplies, and fits easily in a backpack.

With a unique layout, clearly labeled pockets, and high-quality supplies, the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Kit is the best first aid kit for weekend campers and hikers. Thanks to the kit’s innovative design, you can find what you want quickly and easily. The kit is stocked with items to address common first aid needs, and it even includes a handbook to wilderness first aid for reference purposes. The Backpacker Kit has enough supplies to cover the estimated requirements of two to four people who are planning to be out for up to four days, and it easily fits into a backpack, which is why we think it’s the best option for people planning short adventures.

If you want a basic first aid kit for patching up minor cuts and scrapes, the First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit is a good choice. Its components are more cheaply made than those of our top pick, but that’s to be expected given the price (significantly less than what the Backpacker Kit costs). Still, the Essentials Kit has tons of bandage choices and adequate cleaning materials for patching up minor injuries, it’s small enough to fit in a daypack, and you’ll find your supplies easily in the clear, open pockets.

Why you should trust us

I have taken a Wilderness First Responder course, and I've used my skills over the years when exploring on my own in my home state of Oregon, as well as while leading group trips as a camp counselor and outdoors instructor: I’ve patched blisters while hiking the Camino Portugués trail from Portugal to Spain, I’ve wrapped twisted ankles on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, I’ve cleaned wounds resulting from a fall while rafting down the French Broad River through Tennessee, and I’ve treated heat exhaustion on a bike trip on steamy Cumberland Island, off the Georgia coast.

Who this is for

No matter what you’ll be doing in the outdoors—hiking, rafting, climbing, or biking—it’s always a good idea to bring along a first aid kit, especially when you’re likely to be out of cell phone range or far from an urgent-care clinic. With a good kit, you should be able to treat minor injuries or ailments in the field, or stabilize more serious ones until you can get help. When we asked our experts what the ideal first aid kit would be, they said they would recommend assembling your own, basing it on your particular needs. However, we think you can easily add items to customize your kit according to your needs, and a prepacked kit gives you a good place to start. (After all, the very worst first aid kit would be the nonexistent one that you just hadn’t gotten around to assembling yourself!)

You can easily add items to customize a first aid kit according to your needs, and a prepacked kit gives you a good place to start.

This guide is for outdoor enthusiasts looking to take short trips with a small group of people. Our picks are not intended for search-and-rescue responders or EMTs (emergency medical technicians), who are expected to provide higher levels of care to patients and use more specialized tools and medications. Since you—unlike a first responder or an EMT—are probably out in the wilderness for recreational purposes, your goal is to never use your first aid kit. But having the supplies to treat some of the minor injuries outlined in this guide can make the difference between heading home or keeping the fun going.

Another benefit of having a first aid kit on hand is that its very presence serves as a reminder that any trip into the wild, however brief, requires adequate preparation. “The most common reason we rescue people is that they are not prepared to go where they are going,” said Josh MacMillan, assistant director of education at the New Hampshire–based SOLO, one of the world’s oldest wilderness-medicine schools. “I think that the general attitude is, ‘It’s just going to be a day hike, so I will just bring water and my camera and be all set.’” Having a first aid kit on hand can also help you manage a medical situation before it worsens. Our experts could list more than a few instances in which, by taking action promptly in the field, they were able to prevent a downhill slide from the initial injury (a campfire burn, a knife gash, or even a bee sting) to an infection (if you don’t clean and treat the wound) to having to call for evacuation (if things get so bad that, for instance, a fever develops). For more serious injuries, you can use the first aid supplies to help stabilize a patient until the EMTs or first responders arrive.

In my experience, ignoring seemingly minor ailments can be humbling—I had to take a day off when hiking the Camino Portugués trail to let some blisters heal so they wouldn’t get infected. (I quickly invested in the superior foam and gel padding that the kit I was then carrying didn’t have.)

When choosing a first aid kit, though, you need to make sure you’re comfortable using what’s in it. Consider first taking a CPR course, at the least, or completing a Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, or EMT certification. Tod Schimelpfenig, the curriculum director of NOLS Wilderness Medicine, said, “Match the kit to your training. Can you use everything that’s in the kit? Look in it every time [you] go on a trip.” The best kits we considered came with instructional booklets and cards, but it doesn’t hurt to dig out your own notes, wilderness-medicine guidebook, or class textbook and refresh your skills before a trip. And definitely go through your kit’s contents before every trip to make sure everything is present and nothing has expired, to replace anything you used up during the last trip, to add any extras you and your group may want, and to ensure that you know where to find everything you may need—it’s better to do this while you’re still at home than when you’re on the side of the trail, trying to comfort an injured friend.

One last note: This guide evaluates first aid kits, not survival kits. While some of the first aid kits we considered did come with whistles, compasses, duct tape, rope, firestarters, and the like, we decided that having those tools wasn’t a make-or-break criterion. Such items add weight to a kit, and many regular hikers and backpackers have them already—many backpacks come with whistles built into the straps, for example, and you may not want an extra roll of duct tape if you already have some wrapped around your trekking poles. If you do want survival-type items, we recommend adding them yourself.

How we picked

Various first aid kits

A great preassembled first aid kit includes commonly used medications and bandages bundled in smaller quantities than you’d see in a store, since you aren’t likely to need a whole bottle of aspirin or an entire large box of bandages. A great kit also has labeled and organized pockets for easy access as well as a design that won’t force you to dump all of the contents out to find what you need. The scope and size of your ideal wilderness first aid kit will vary depending on your trip’s length, the group size, individual medical needs, and the medical training level of the people going—no matter how good a prefab kit may be, you’ll probably want to tweak its contents based on those factors. And, of course, the kit still needs to be small enough to fit into your backpack along with the rest of your gear, and light enough that you won’t be tempted to leave it at home.

A great preassembled first aid kit includes commonly used medications and bandages, as well as a design that won’t force you to dump all of the contents out to find what you need.

With most first aid kits, you should be able to treat and clean cuts and scrapes to prevent infection, to pad blisters (a big one for hikers) and treat minor burns, to wrap or splint sprains or extremity injuries so your patient can make it back out to a clinic or doctor’s office, and to treat cold symptoms, headaches, fevers, allergies, bug bites, nausea, and diarrhea. More extensive kits include tools for CPR (such as a breathing barrier, which is a plastic mask that the person giving CPR wears), trauma shears (to cut open clothing, say, if a patient is bleeding or severely injured and needs to be examined), larger bandages such as triangle bandages (for cradling splints or stabilizing clavicle or collarbone injuries until you can get the patient to a doctor), irrigation tools (for flushing dirt and debris out of wounds before dressing them), and pads to help stop bleeding.

To find the best wilderness first aid kits, I spent eight hours researching existing options. I read several articles discussing how to build your own first aid kit from resources like the Wilderness Medicine Training Center, and I tracked down a few published papers as well. The Red Cross has a list of suggested first aid items that I cross-referenced. I also compared kits side by side with our top first aid kit picks for emergency preparedness.

Then I spoke with several wilderness-medicine professionals to see what they thought was most important to have in a first aid kit. Along with the NOLS’s Tod Schimelpfenig and Josh MacMillan of the SOLO schools, I interviewed Wilderness Medicine Training Center founder Paul Nicolazzo and Trevor McKee, an Outward Bound instructor based in Portland, Oregon.

The experts I spoke with and the articles I read all agreed that the most common injuries that are treatable in the wilderness include sprains or muscle strains; minor wounds like cuts, scrapes, abrasions, or puncture wounds; ailments such as headaches, allergies, muscle aches, and sore throats; and medical illnesses like diarrhea or dehydration. Schimelpfenig said he recommended asking yourself a series of rhetorical questions when considering what should be in your first aid kit: “If someone gets a cut, can I clean, dress, and bandage it? If somebody gets a blister, can I manage that? If someone sprains [an] ankle, can I manage that by providing them some support? … I’m looking for antiseptic to clean small wounds, dressing so I can dress the wound, some tape to hold the dressing in place, some tape to support a sprained ankle, and materials to help dress a blister.”

When choosing or packing a kit, it’s also important to consider your group’s demographic. Outward Bound leader Trevor McKee said that if he knew he would be leading a rafting trip for older veterans, he would pack extra aspirin, which could help slow blood clots blocking arteries, whereas if he would be leading a group of young kids, he would bring extra Band-Aids and cleaning supplies for the inevitable cuts and scrapes. Consider allergies or medical conditions and prepare accordingly—that could mean packing glucose for a diabetic person or an EpiPen if someone has an anaphylactic allergy (although you’ll need a prescription for the pen and a certification to use it; rules vary by state).

To compare different kits, we considered the best-selling and highest-rated ones available at such leading outdoor retailers as REI and Cabela’s, as well as the best-selling kits on Amazon. We also checked out what Target and Walmart had to offer. Then we dove deeper into offerings from individual brands that our experts recommended, including Adventure Medical Kits, Coleman, Lifeline, NOLS, and Wilderness Medicine Training Center (WMTC), as well as Cabela’s and REI’s own proprietary kits. After visiting the Outdoor Retailer trade show in the summers of 2017, 2018, and 2019, we also looked into kits from companies that we saw on the floor: 12 Survivors, Coghlan’s, Stansport, UST, and the Kickstarter-backed VSSL.

Through our research and interviews, we learned that Adventure Medical Kits is the dominant first aid kit manufacturer: As well as producing its own extensive assortment, the company makes the proprietary kits for Cabela’s, as well as kits for wilderness-medicine behemoth NOLS. The Cabela’s-, and NOLS-branded kits both differ slightly from one another and from Adventure Medical’s own kits, with the companies adding or subtracting ingredients based on what they deem necessary for their customers. As for Adventure Medical’s own kits, the company offers 9 lines of first aid kits, with focuses ranging from hunting to ultralight backpacking. After comparing all of Adventure Medical’s offerings, we concentrated on the two lines that had kits most appropriate for wilderness medicine: the Ultralight/Watertight Series and the Mountain Series. (We also considered the Sportsman Series, which we recommend for our emergency preparedness first aid pick, but those kits have items geared toward heavy bleeding and trauma from gun or arrow wounds, such as tourniquets and hemostatic dressings, and most hikers won’t need those items. If you’re likely to be out in the woods during hunting season, though, you might consider buying such a kit.)

After eliminating kits with a focus on survival tools (like firestarters, space blankets, and water purifiers) and kits that were exceptionally minimal and didn’t have good ratings or reviews, we ended up with a list of 27 first aid kits to look at more closely, evaluating them according to the following criteria:

Adequate scope: Whether a kit’s scope is appropriate depends on your group’s size and your trip’s length. Most kits specify how many people they’re meant to serve and for how long; we considered whether the included supplies seemed sufficient for the given parameters. We also noted whether any items had already expired by the time we got the kit, if anything inside the kit seemed superfluous, and if any crucial tools or medications were missing.

The items we deemed desirable included a CPR barrier and gloves; a large quantity and variety of bandages; dressings for larger wounds (with bonus points for things like wound strips and tincture of benzoin, which helps tape stick to the surrounding skin); tape; cleaning supplies like antiseptic towelettes and alcohol prep pads; antibiotic ointment; moleskin or other blister care like foam or Engo patches; and elastic bandages for wrapping sprains. Essential medications included ibuprofen (for aches and pains), as well as aspirin, antihistamines (for allergic reactions), and antacids (for gastrointestinal issues) and diamode (to stop diarrhea). Other must-have equipment included irrigating syringes to clean wounds, trauma shears to remove clothing, and tweezers to remove splinters, ticks, or debris from wounds.

Although single-use cold packs can be helpful in the case of a sprain or strain, our experts agreed that they likely weren’t worth the additional weight.

Note that this list doesn’t include tourniquets or single-use cold packs. You may be scratching your head and asking, “How can I follow the RICE formula for strains and swelling (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) without ice? And don’t I need a tourniquet, just in case?” Although cold packs can be helpful, our experts agreed that they likely weren’t worth the additional weight. “Those things don’t stay cold very long, and most often you can find snow or a cold stream if needed,” said Outward Bound’s Trevor McKee. Josh MacMillan of SOLO agreed, adding that “the disadvantage I have found with the cold packs is they have an ability to rupture in your pack and make a mess.” As for tourniquets, if you’re going on a hunting trip, they’re a good idea; for short hikes or lower-risk outings, though, they’re probably unnecessary. Tod Schimelpfenig of NOLS said, “The average person in the wilderness has a very low risk of needing a tourniquet or a hemostatic dressing. I don't carry these in my first aid kit. If I were hunting, maybe ....”

Kit instructions

Organization: A good kit should be organized efficiently, with the sections clearly labeled. The best kits list all of the included supplies on or in the kit so you can see what’s inside at a glance and quickly cross-check items you need to replace. When you open the kit, the contents shouldn’t immediately fall out—the kit should hold them in place with Velcro, zippered pockets, or elastic loops. “Some kits are like pouches—you have to open them up and basically dump everything out,” said Schimelpfenig. “I don’t like that because if it’s wet at all in the environment, that potentially exposes everything in the kit. I like a kit that I can unzip and lay open, like a little purse—that provides a little bit more protection for stuff that’s inside the kit.”

Durability: Because you’re likely to place a first aid kit on the ground, you should consider how waterproof the case is. Our experts also noted that the zipper quality was important, as zippers easily fail. The best kits have protective pockets inside to keep medicine packets and bandages dry and intact while you’re treating your patient and the kit is open.

Completeness: All supplies listed for a kit should be inside—nothing should be missing.

Manuals and patient-assessment forms: The best kits have first aid manuals or booklets (even if you’re trained, these are helpful for reference) and patient-assessment forms that you can fill out and then provide to emergency responders or to a doctor when your patient reaches a clinic.

Based on these criteria, we were able to pare down our list to 12 models to test.

How we tested

First aid kit finalists

After narrowing our model list, we compared the kits’ components side by side. We opened up all of the cases, observing how well they were organized and labeled on the inside and how durable they were on the outside. We counted all the items and compared them against the supply list to ensure everything was there. In addition, we checked the expiration dates and made sure all of the supplies were intact.

Then we asked Outward Bound instructor Trevor McKee to examine the kits and share his thoughts. McKee opened each one, looking at its organization, the individual components, and its overall scope through the lens of a wilderness-medicine professional.

We were able to eliminate several models for poor organization and already-splitting zippers. Others were too big to fit in a daypack or had too few supplies given the price—or to suit the needs of the average outdoor enthusiast.

From the kits that were still in the running, we tested the bandages, moleskin, medical tape, and scissors. I used the scissors from each kit to cut up a T-shirt (both to create a T-shirt roll that I could use to tie up a splint or wrap a wound and to mimic how the scissors would work as trauma shears). I wrapped one of my ankles over and over with the elastic bandages, and I used the triangle bandages to create slings on a patient friend. To see how different bandages fared, I put on adhesive bandages from each kit on one arm and on my knuckles. I also stuck moleskin from each kit on the soles of my feet, taped them with the provided tape, walked for a mile around my Portland neighborhood, and showered, to see how the dressings held up.

Our pick: Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Kit

Our pick

For weekend warriors who want to be prepared for common first aid needs, we recommend the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Kit. The best-organized kit we tested, the Backpacker Kit comes in one of the most durable cases, contains a great balance of first aid items for a weekend-length trip for two to four people, and has a few items, such as a wilderness-medicine handbook, that make it better for outdoor adventurers than the average first aid kit of its size and price. The Backpacker Kit is small and lightweight enough to fit in a daypack, but it has enough room for you to add some extras based on your specific group and trip needs.

The Backpacker Kit’s unique organizational system made finding items easier than with any other kit we tested. It unfolds into a flowerlike shape, with each pocket containing supplies based on a particular situation or injury. Pockets are clearly labeled by category, including Medication, Stop Bleeding Fast, Instruction/Instrument, Cuts & Scrapes, and Wound Care/Burn/Blister. The Backpacker Kit’s pockets fold back into one another, and you secure them with a Velcro strap, which helps hold the case when you’re zipping it shut. In contrast, several budget kits in our test group—such as the Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit and First Aid Only’s First Aid Essentials Kit—open like a book and have sleeve-style plastic compartments that aren’t labeled, so finding what you need is difficult. Plastic compartments are great for visibility, but if you’re trying to move quickly or you’re stressed about treating someone (which is totally normal), having a label to look for and things in a specific place can help you be more efficient. Another kit, Adventure Medical’s Ultralight & Watertight .9, has no compartments at all. Because its components are divided between two plastic pouches, you may need to dump the components on the ground—not great for the longevity or cleanliness of its contents.

Backpacker design

Compared with other kits we tested, the Backpacker Kit also does a better job of protecting components and keeping them in place. Each pocket in the Backpacker Kit is covered with thin ripstop nylon to protect the supplies from the elements, and is zippered to keep everything inside from tumbling out. Some other kits, such as Cabela’s Essentials First Aid Kit, use Velcro instead of zippers. While Velcro can be faster to open and close and is more foolproof than a zipper (it doesn’t split or snag), it doesn’t do as good a job of keeping everything in place, especially when a kit is sloshing around in a backpack. In still other kits, like the Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit and the First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit, the contents are loose in those plastic sleeves and can move around and maybe even fall out when you open the kit.

The Backpacker Kit doesn’t have any superfluous packaging, unlike the Cabela’s kit, which encases everything in plastic sacks within its fabric compartments. All of the contents are listed on the back of the Backpacker Kit’s case, too, so you can easily cross-check items when it’s time to refresh the supplies.

Next to the other kits we tested that were comparable in size and scope, the Backpacker Kit was one of the most durable. It has a reinforced bottom coated with rubbery TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) for extra support. The case is made from a sturdy, water-resistant nylon, and it has a handle so you can hang it. The zipper easily goes over the kit’s soft-shell structure. I couldn’t puncture the Backpacker Kit’s case with the pointy-ended forceps that came with the kit; I could, however, easily poke a hole in the thin case of the Ultralight & Watertight.

I couldn’t puncture the Backpacker Kit’s case with the pointy-ended forceps that came with the kit; I could, however, easily poke a hole in the thin case of the Ultralight & Watertight.

The Backpacker Kit is meant for two to four people who are out for four days at most. It has a few extras that other kits of its scope don’t have: diamode to stop diarrhea, trauma shears, and an irrigation syringe for cleaning wounds. It also omits the unnecessary, bulky items that we found in lesser kits, such as one-time-use cold packs. What it does have is a good range of high-quality medications, wound-care supplies, and items to help with sprains and strains. Compared with our budget pick from First Aid Only, the quality of this kit’s bandages, tape, and dressings was clearly superior after just a short test. Its fabric bandages were stickier and more flexible than the cheaper plastic ones in the First Aid Only kit (which does have some fabric bandages too), its moleskin was thicker and stickier, and the medical tape was twice as wide and stayed on better after getting wet. I also liked that the elastic wrap bandage had Velcro strips instead of metal clasps—they were easier to fasten.

Measuring 7½ inches by 6 inches by 3½ inches and weighing 1 pound, the Backpacker Kit will fit in a daypack and leave room for other staples. The trapezoidal design is intended to provide room for add-on supplies, and the pockets are spacious enough to hold them.

First aid kit supplies

For reference, the Backpacker Kit comes with a first aid booklet that’s a condensed version of a book included with Adventure Medical’s larger kits. The booklet has helpful reminders for first aid basics such as doing CPR, dressing wounds, assessing spinal injuries, and more, but it also has a few recommendations that seem to come out of left field—for example, a procedure to cut an opening in the trachea and add a tube for breathing in the event of a throat obstruction. Despite those oddities, and the fact that the booklet adds 3 ounces, we think it’s helpful for emergency situations to have notes or a book on hand, although you should always treat injuries based on your training.

If you’re going on a longer trip, you can move up to the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Explorer Kit, another kit in the same series as the Backpacker Kit. The Explorer Kit has the same flowerlike design but contains more items. Among those are disposable thermometers, additional gloves, a CPR barrier, duct tape, a patient-assessment form and pencil, and a triangle bandage for creating slings.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Although we wish the Backpacker Kit came with patient-assessment forms for documenting symptom progression and treatment, you could easily add forms and a pencil to the kit if you’d like. We also wish the Backpacker Kit came with a few additional basic items, such as a CPR mask and antacids, and ibuprofen and bandages in larger quantities. On top of that, although almost all of the Adventure Medical kits offer a few sheets of moleskin for blisters, we wish that all of them (including this one) also had superior blister-care items such as foam padding or Engo patches.

Budget pick: First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit

First Aid Only

For a more basic kit, we like the First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit. Although it lacks the higher-quality tools of our top pick and is missing some items we’d like to see in a wilderness first aid kit, it’s cheap, it’s highly rated on Amazon, and it comes with plenty of bandages and alcohol prep pads for minor injuries like cuts and scrapes.

Essentials supplies

Unlike the Backpacker, the Essentials Kit unfolds like a book; you slide its components in and out of open plastic compartments. These compartments have no labels, and because they’re open, the items inside can move around, making it hard for you to know what’s where. But the compartments are clear, which helps you find things, and you can rifle through them without having to take everything out of the case, as opposed to sack-style options like the Cabela’s kit or the Adventure Medical Ultralight & Watertight kit. The case of the Essentials Kit feels durable, and the zipper works fine, although it lacks the rubber reinforcements of the Backpacker Kit.

The Essentials Kit doesn’t indicate what size group it’s designed for, but the kit is packed with items—primarily bandages and cleaning supplies—that should cover more than a weekend’s worth of minor cuts and scrapes for up to four people. (However, when we received it, the kit was missing the fingertip bandages that were supposed to be included.)

Contents of first aid kit

As for the quality, in our comparisons we noticed that First Aid Only’s offerings weren’t as good as Adventure Medical’s. The scissors were smaller and didn’t cut fabric as easily. Although this kit had two rolls of paper tape, they weren’t as sticky or durable as the fabric medical tape that came in Adventure Medical’s kits. This kit’s plastic tweezers were clumsier to hold and control than Adventure Medical’s metal forceps. About half of the First Aid Only bandages were plastic as opposed to fabric and were, as a result, less flexible and durable. (The remaining bandages were fabric.) For blister care, this kit came with two tiny squares of moleskin and thin paper tape that wasn’t as sticky and comfortable on the skin as the moleskin and tape from Adventure Medical’s kits, but on my test, they still did the job.

Finally, although the Essentials Kit lacks an equivalent to the wilderness first aid booklet that comes with the Backpacker Kit, it does have a basic first aid handout with refreshers from the Red Cross for reference.

The competition

watertight kit

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Day Tripper: This kit, part of Adventure Medical’s Mountain Classics line, used to be our runner-up pick. However, the company eliminated that line (which was available primarily on Amazon), and this kit along with it.

NOLS Med Kit 4.0: The company’s best-selling kit, the NOLS Med Kit 4.0 is similar to the Weekender, but its compartments aren’t labeled and the case has no rubber reinforcements.

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit: This budget kit didn’t have as many items as the less expensive First Aid Only First Aid Essentials Kit, its hard shell made it less packable than the other kits we tested (which were all soft-sided), and its zipper had already split by the time we received it—the slider seemed to have difficulty going around the case’s corners.

VSSL First Aid Kit: Originally, we didn’t test the VSSL because it lacked blister care. After the company revamped the list of supplies included, we bought a kit to examine it in person. The aluminum tube is stylish, and incorporates a compass at one end and an LED flashlight at the other. The gear roll inside does now include four blister bandages, as well as some items not found in the Adventure Medical Backpacker kit (Celox blood coagulant, disposable thermometers, an emergency whistle), but it lacks shears, antihistamines, or an elastic bandage, which is strange, as the first-aid instructions printed on the roll explain how to wrap a sprain with one. We also struggled getting the roll out of the tube, and back in once we were done. The real dealbreaker, though, is the price, which is twice that of the Backpacker.

WMTC Minimalist First Aid Kit: The Wilderness Medicine Training Center’s kit is designed to let you add most of your own supplies. The case is very sturdy, and the kit is smartly organized, with elastic loops holding the containers and items in place, which means you can see them at a glance. The kit is carefully curated to include higher-quality first aid items like Engo patches for blisters, Second Skin, and small batches of Steri-Strips. We don’t think it has enough items to warrant the cost—$120 at the time of this writing—but if you want to build out from this kit, the items it does include are of high quality.

Replenishing your kit

No matter how careful you are in the wild, you’ll probably use up some of the supplies in your kit eventually—and some of them may expire before you have the chance to. For adhesive bandages and common medicines in pill or tablet form that you’d want to have at home anyway, you might as well just buy a normal-size box at a drugstore or online and use that to refill your kit, adding the extras to your medicine cabinet. But other supplies require special packaging for trail use—you’ll want to carry your tincture of benzoin, for instance, in small glass ampules instead of a 2-ounce bottle (which is what you’d find at a pharmacy), and you’d probably rather have your triple-antibiotic ointment in single-use packets than bring along the whole tube. You can order those items—along with refills of anything else in your kit—from Adventure Medical Kits or First Aid Only, and the prices (even for common items like fabric bandage strips) are, according to our quick calculations, pretty fair.

Sources

  1. Paul Nicolazzo, founder of Wilderness Medicine Training Center, email interview, June 29, 2017

  2. Tod Schimelpfenig, curriculum director for NOLS Wilderness Medicine, interview, June 15, 2017

  3. Josh MacMillan, assistant director of education at SOLO schools, email interview, July 6, 2017

  4. Trevor McKee, course director and lead instructor at Outward Bound, interview, August 7, 2017

  5. Paul Nicolazzo, Wilderness First Aid Kits—general concepts, Wilderness Medicine Training Center, November 30, 2016

  6. Matt Heid, A Wilderness First-Aid Kit Checklist, Appalachian Mountain Club, September 1, 2015

  7. Ryan Huetter and Viren Perumal, Choosing the Best First Aid Kit for Your Adventure, GearLab, August 12, 2017

About your guide

Anna Perling

Anna Perling is a staff writer covering kitchen gear at Wirecutter. During her time here, she has reported on various topics including sports bras, board games, and light bulbs. Previously she wrote food and lifestyle pieces for Saveur and Kinfolk magazines. Anna is a mentor at Girls Write Now and a member of the Online News Association.

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-outdoor-first-aid-medical-kit/
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Adventure Medical Kits (AMK)

Comments on Adventure Medical from The Team:

Adventure Medical Kits and Tender Easy Care Kits are wonderful presents.   The first time I found that out was when I was on vacation at the beach.  We had used the Easy Care Kit for some minor incidents (cuts and splinters) so when it was time to leave, I gave the kit to my niece to take home with her.  I soon found out that her sister was jealous that I had given the kit to her sibling.   I have since rectified that by sending the sister a new kit.  While I did, I also included some of the handy Pocket Medics for her and for other members of the family.   Both of my sisters and their families love to hike, kayak, ski and the outdoors in general.   I have since sent an Ultralight & Watertight  kit to my other adventurous sibling.   They love these kits!

~ Audrey Egan, Tender Corp.

One of the many pre and post-trip duties of a wilderness guide is to re-stock the group medical supplies. Counting bandages and gauze pads, refilling the drugs, and adding more antibacterial ointment all seem tedious when surrounded by the urban conveniences of cell phones, cars, and nearby emergency rooms. However, if you hike, paddle, or ride far into the backcountry all of those supplies become vital life-saving equipment. Long before working for Adventure Medical Kits, I spent 4 years guiding wilderness trips using the Comprehensive and Fundamentals kits. The most common injury: blisters. Glacier Gel, Moleskin, safety pins, tape, alcohol swabs, and bandages were constantly being utilized. It was fun to teach participants how to take care of their feet and to recognize the “hot spots” before they became problems. My favorite aspect of using the medical kits was how organized they were and still are today. There are so many things on your mind when you are guiding, from risk management to group dynamics, to route finding and navigation. If a medical situation arises, it is so helpful to have supplies organized by injury in order to find them fast and treat the patient efficiently. The organization of the kits proved to be especially beneficial on a 10 day sea-kayaking trip when I had to treat a patient who had eaten Spinach contaminated with E. coli (there was a recall of contaminated Spinach back in 2007). His symptoms started in the middle of the night and with a headlamp and my trusted medical kit, I was able to quickly get him some medication to help alleviate the pain, monitor his temperature with the thermometer, and write notes about what symptoms he was reporting. My co-guides and I kept him hydrated and stable and ended up evacuating him to a hospital. I am thankful to work for a company that makes quality products that are designed for backcountry adventures.

~ Katie Heineman, Adventure Medical

Sours: https://first-aid-product.com/brand-name-safety-products/adventure-medical-kits-amk.html
How To Choose A Hiking First Aid Kit - Adventure Medical Kits

Adventure Medical Kits from NRS

MEDICAL INFORMATIONComprehensive Guide 111Guide to Wilderness Medicine1   Illustrated Guide to Life-Threatening Emergencies11 1ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENTCPR  MicroShield®   1SAM® Splint  11Digital Thermometer 90F–105F   1EMT Shears  11Stainless Steel Bandage Scissors 1  Splinter Picker Forceps1111WOUND MANAGEMENT ITEMSIrrigation Syringe 111Povidone Iodine Solution  1.5 fl.oz.1.5 fl.oz.Wound Closure Strips 101010Butterfly Closure Strips3   Tincture of Benzoin1233Triple Antibiotic Ointment3339Antiseptic Towelettes6669Blister and Burn Dressings      2BLISTER ITEMSMoleskin1111Molefoam   1INFECTIOUS CONTROL ITEMSNitrile Examination Gloves2224Antimicrobial Hand Wipes1112Infectious Control Bag1112BANDAGE MATERIALS4x4 Sterile Dressings 48163x3 Sterile Dressings10   2x2 Sterile Dressings 488Eye Pad   2Non-adherent Sterile Dressing22228x10 Trauma Pads  115x9 Trauma Pads   11Triangular Bandage  11Conforming Gauze Bandage (2" or 3")1 (2")1 (2")2 (3")2 (3")Elastic Bandage w/ Velcro® (2" or 3") 111Adhesive Tape 10 yards (1/2" or 1")1 (1/2")1 (1")1 (1")1 (1")Strip Bandages351010Knuckle Bandages251010Cotton Tipped Applicators2244MEDICATIONSBurn Aloe Gel (Sun and Wind)   1Rehydration Salts (1 liter)   2APAP (Tylenol) 436I-Prin (ibuprofen)4436Aspirin   4Diphen (antihistamine)2246Alamag® Antacid   6Diamode (Immodium®)   4Glutose Paste (1 serving)  111% Hydrocortison (topical inflamation cream)   4Sting Relief Pads1223GEAR REPAIR/SURVIVAL ITEMSSafety Pins2233Storm® Waterproof Matches2222Two Person Emergency Blanket 1  Duct Tape11 1Accident Report & Pencil 111
Sours: https://www.nrs.com/learn/adventure-medical-kits-contents-chart

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