Backpacking First Aid Kits for Hikers

Texas is renowned for its vast array of national parks and preservation sites. Planning a hike? Don’t forget to pack your medical survival kit. While the thought of a few extra ounces might seem an unnecessary use of weight and space, you might be surprised at just how grateful you are to have them, especially if you backpack solo.

Here are a few scenarios to consider:
• You develop a painful blister and you are miles from an inhabited area
• You have a throbbing headache with no relief in sight
• You stomach is cramping resulting in a severe case of diarrhea
• You have a cut that is oozing pus
• You are stuck in a rainstorm with no way to start a fire and stay warm

Assuming you have the basic essentials including shelter, spare clothing, water, food, headlamp, compass and map, there are 10 medical essentials that you should always carry with you including:
1. Moleskin – cut down to various sizes to combat unexpected blisters
2. Anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or acetaminophen. Store in a small dry zip lock style bag with the name of the mediation clearly labeled. Ideally, both an aspirin and non-aspirin medication is recommended. Aspirin for example is not ideal for pain associated with bleeding.
3. Anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, antiemetics for nausea and vomiting and laxatives kept dry, packaged separately and clearly labeled in small zip-lock style bags
4. Eye drops to help combat windy or excessively dry weather.
5. Sterile Gauze, 2” x 2” sheets work well for cuts and scrapes that are too large for Band-Aids. If they are not individually packaged, place in a small zip-lock style bag
6. Adhesive waterproof tape that is 1” wide.
7. Assorted Band-Aids, 3 of each size from a variety style pack
8. Butterfly bandages, a total of 6 which can be used to hold the edges of a cut together and speed up the healing process.
9. Antiseptic wipes, 6 preferably alcohol or iodine and unscented to prevent attracting the nearby wildlife. Alcohol wipes can also be used as an emergency fire starter
10. Electrolyte tablets such as Emergen-C (1 or 2 tablets) to replace minerals lost by unexpected illness or profuse sweating. Store in a zip-lock style bag, clearly labeled.

Other top essential items include: Duct tape, tweezers to remove ticks and splinters, safety pins to secure items like bandages, water proof matches & Firestarter kit, you can make your own by collecting dryer lint, mixing with melted candle wax in a small disposable paper container (such as those used for mouthwash) once dry cut away the paper container and store in wax paper. Reflective emergency aluminum blanket, water purification tablets, and small finger nail clippers are also handy items to have.

Always take into consideration the conditions you will be hiking in before deciding on which essentials you will take with you. If you are hiking in the sun, in an area with very little canopy, wear a hat and sunglasses and vice versa for cold regions. Have your woolen hat, gloves and an extra pair of socks handy. Regardless of the area or weather, you should always take an extra set of clothing and socks with you. Insulation and protection from the elements is essential to your survival in the great outdoors.