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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralWhatWhat's in your first aid kit?
New Post
10/25/2011 1:08 PM

 This is a topic that's been discussed a ton, but I am curious to get this groups take on the individual first aid kit.

The other day I was going through my bigger first aid kit, and realized that I needed to restock, and replenish, and rotate some stuff. In the process I began to think about the smaller individual kit that I carry in my day pack. Here's what I stock currently in that kit, it's very minimal and I really only expect it to cover me for general cuts and blisters.

(2) sure prep towlettes for helping moleskin, or other dressings adhere

(2) alcohol towls

(1) Iodine swab

(2) individual antibiotic ointment packets

various cloth band-aids

Small amount of medical tape folded over itself and flattened

Safety pin

Ibuprofen, anti-diarheal, benadryl

(3) packages of steri-strip wound closures



This kit is really small, and like I said I don't expect to take care of any massive injuries, or every little thing that I could encounter. I recognize that one of the most important things I can add to my arsenal is knowledge, and I hope to take some first aid courses in the future.


What are your thoughts on an individual first aid kit for backcountry travel?


New Post
10/25/2011 4:36 PM

Ah, a topic near and dear to my heart.  My question is this:  what's the situation?  Boo boo kit?  Range kit?  Backcountry kit?  Vehicle kit?  

In general, I choose the kit based on the use case and injury mechanisms likely to be an issue, and I try to choose equipment that can be used in a lot of different ways.  For example, kravats/triangular bandages can be used to secure splints, can be tied into a sling or used as a tourniquet. 

When do you carry that kit, SuperBadger?  Is that your everyday kit?



New Post
10/25/2011 5:09 PM

Heck, Hansford is so into this he even has a "this is the one I keep in Scot's glove box" first aid kit....

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
10/25/2011 9:10 PM

Reading comprehension fail on my part, sorry Badger.  Not sure how I missed the middle paragraph on what you're using your FAK for.  I'm aligned now.

My general purpose kit is the one I use for hiking, backpacking and travel.  It contains the following and weighs a little over a pound:

pair of nitrile gloves

small emt shears

2 triangular bandages

dowel section for windlass

assorted bandaids, and gauze pads

3 tampons


small wound kit (irrigation syringe, steristrips, antibiotic ointment, green soap towelettes, tweezers)

small tube petroleum jelly


small ace bandage

small role curlex

sting relief pad


3 tums

and the smallest swiss army knife with the tiny scissors, blade, and file

New Post
2/13/2012 5:41 PM

For a long time I carried two separate kits, one was the Boo Boo Kit and the other was a TIMS Kit (Traumatic Injury Management Skills) or what most people would call a Blow Out Kit,.   A while back I decided to merge them into what I call my CFAK (Citizens First Aid Kit).  What makes it different than an IFAK is the typical blow out kit contents included in the kit.  As citizens we are the true first responders and everyone should have basic lifesaving skills and the minimal gear close at hand.  This kit is always in the Bag Of Evil, whether I am on the road or in the woods.

 Introducing the CFAK (Citizens First Aid Kit)

A little bit about the kit, I use a pouch made for me by SO TECH as part of another project we are working on.  It is 7.5 X 5.5 and 3.5 inches wide.  The trauma stuff includes-

CAT Tourniquet

Israeli Bandage

Quick Clot


What allows me to fit so much in a small bag is my use of glassine baggies containing the following-

Ammonia Inhalants

Sting Relief

Burn Relief

Sinus Relief

Band Aids (heavy duty cloth & cartoon ones for kids)

Steri- Strips

Hydrocortisone Cream

The way they sit in the bag lets me or anyone else go through them like a Rolodex.  They all have labels on them.

In the Med Box are OTC and RX meds based on my needs-

Anti Diarrhea

800 MG Ibuprophen

Anti Inflammatory


I plan on adding meds for nausea and a heavy duty pain killer.

The black pouch contains 3 pairs of gloves.  On top of the gloves in the picture is a pair of Uncle Bills Sliver Grippers.

This kit is not the be all end all.  It is based on my needs in the past and what I believe are most probable in the future.  If the kit was much bigger than this I don’t see it being carried as EDC.  The CFAK is one pouch out of my four basic sub loads.  It is of course marked with red para cord.  The Admin pouch is marked with blue, the Survival Pouch marked with Toxic Green, and for the Power “pouch” I instead use a Pelican 1040 case to keep all things electronic bone dry.  These four pouches/bags get tossed into whatever bag I am using that day.

I am a Dad of three.  The three most used items in the kit are the band aids, burn gel, and anti-diarrhea.    Those things have saved many a family outing.  When I find myself needing something more than once I add it.   I have not added much in a long time.

In the below pick you can get an idea of the size of the pouch compared to my Glock 19.

 Introducing the CFAK (Citizens First Aid Kit)


New Post
2/16/2012 12:06 PM

The revival of this thread finds me re-evaluating both medical training and the medical gear that I choose to carry as a result. Hansford asked a salient question - what is it for? As is my wont, I'm going to start at 10,000 feet and then zero in.

My medical background - all of the various years of training and retraining through Boy Scouts; AMR Basic First Aid / CPR a couple of different times throughout the years; and then WMI's Wilderness First Aid and CPR. The WFA / CPR certifications are current.

It strikes me that what constitutes "first aid" is a combination of three factors:

  • Severity of Trauma. Some trauma is so severe that if something isn't done immediately, the person is dead. That's why we learn CPR. Some trauma or ailments or so minor that there is never a need to escalate to trained medical personnel. The majority lies somewhere in between.
  • Distance to Trained Care. Protocols are different in the backcountry. Most civilian front country protocols assume almost immediate availability of medics and boil down to "don't do anything to mess it up for the real practitioners". Backcountry protocols recognize that some things are worth doing sooner than later and well worth doing if it is going to be a half a day before trained personnel intervenes.
  • Availability of Trained Care. In America, we have long taken high quality immediately available medical care for granted. In other places, that kind of infrastructure may not exist, or it may not be available for financial reasons. Unless there is a serious course correction, we are headed towards a situation in America where high quality medical care isn't the norm and isn't universally available either. Simply put, if you can do a good job with irrigation and steri-strips, you may not choose to spend the $500 to get a real doctor to stitch you up.

Every medical situation is going to be unique, and the type of response appropriate to the given situation will be based on how each of the three factors above play into it.

I've recently become interested in that middle ground between standard First Aid's "don't do anything to mess it up for the ambulance guys who are only 5 minutes away", and "no way short of lots of advanced medical training to address this situation". In Wilderness First Aid, I learned for the first time some things that you would do in the backcountry that you wouldn't do otherwise. Things like re-aligning broken limbs. I'm also aware that all of the learning that has come out of the military about dealing with serious trauma (TCCC) is putting very effective tools into the hands of relative laymen. That is the point of the "Basic Trauma Response" course, and I'm looking forward to getting that introduction.

So, I see a continuum of needs that you might want to address with a "First Aid" kit:

  • Maintenance / boo boos. Things like bandaids and moleskin and ibuprofen. Doggone near self explanatory.
  • Serious but laymen fixable wounds. These are things that you'd normally go to a doctor for, but you may not if the distance to or financial availability of that care is too far. Things like the aforementioned irrigation / steri strip scenario. Putting a dislocated joint back into place. The items you'd have in a kit to address these might include some very nice to haves that really make the difference between being able to address them or not.
  • Serious trauma that is laymen addressable. This is the TCCC stuff. Some items like a CAT (tourniquet), hemostatic dressings, and good pressure bandages may well be nice to haves bordering on making the difference if that situation arose.

A little bit more grist for the mill:

  • In the WFA course, the comment was made by the instructors "you'll never be able to carry the things you'll want to have if you need them, so you'll have to learn to make do."
  • After taking my WFA course, I asked the instructor who teaches in the winter and leads NOLS expeditions in the summer what the most common injuries he actually had to deal with were. Answer? Blisters, ankle sprains, flu like symptoms. In the case of flu like symptoms, could be any number of things but the treatment is always to hydrate and rest and see what happens. Usually, that fixes it. If not, it's most likely above your skill level to fix.
  • In an email conversation with the instructor of the Basic Trauma Response course, he had this to say about what to carry in your kit: "I think the 'carry two of everything' mentality of the Army and the 'really not much is going to hurt you that bad' mentality I have adopted from being a medic clash a lot and I don't know where the middle ground is. I mean if I put out this wazoo, cover all your bases, packing list, people will need a damn EMR to go on a day hike.  If what is suggested is too bulky or heavy, people will be less inclined to take it."  The comment about 'really not much is going to hurt you that bad' is an interesting one, and germaine to the conversation.

So, at this point, my theory on putting together first aid kits is:

  • Carry the maintenance items you're likely to use. They may not even belong in the first aid kit itself.
  • If backcountry, carry a decent selection of illness related items because you may not be able to run to the pharmacy.
  • Carry a modest selection of "nice to have" items that really make the difference if you have to use them (irrigation syringe, shears, CAT, burn spray or gel)
  • Carry whatever additional knowledge you need to get you through the period of time the kit is designed to cover.

I'm going to close out this post on all of my background thinking, and leave my current packing lists to a subsequent post.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
New Post
2/16/2012 12:33 PM

 Thanks for the replys everyone, this has given me a lot to ponder on. First and foremost in my mind, equipment/supplies aside is the need to acquire knowledge that can help in the "make do with what you have" department. I'm looking forward to taking the trauma class, and hope that I can take more classes in the future.

New Post
2/16/2012 1:19 PM

Last year I took Insights Training's Defensive Medicine, taught by Dr. Mike Shertz.  I had previously had a one day TCCC course taught by LMS Defense (additionally I have had wilderness first responder training, that basic soldier stuff they teach in the Army and my CPR /AED is current).  I assumed the Insights class was going to be some variation of TCCC.  I was incorrect in that assessment.  Instead, Doc Shertz focused on life threatening extremity hemorrhage (arterial bleeds from arms and legs).  His perspective was, in a front country setting, that would be the injury likely to kill someone before EMS could arrive.  To emphasize his point, we watched videos in which trauma patients in a combat environment bled out in a matter of minutes.  There was also some discussion that modern EMS is not really geared toward these types of injuries, and that statistically speaking, they don't see that many.  The point being that by the time an ambulance arrives, a big bleed will have run its course and the patient will likely be dead.  This perspective changed the way I see that area Evan referenced, the stuff you shouldn't do that might interfere with responding EMS.  The change was primarily a mindset one in which I don't expect a professional responding in 5 minutes to be there in time.  But it also influenced the selection of equipment I put in my kit.

For example, my everyday kit fits in a 4x6 eagle creek pouch.  It contains two triangular bandages, a 6" section 1/2" dowel (windlass for tourniquet usage), 2 pairs of gloves, a 3" ace bandage, and a roll of guaze.  The kit is lightweight, small, in my edc bag, and I can even fly with it.  I have a different kit for backcountry travel (focused more on the injuries Evan mentioned the NOLS instructor regularly sees, and the kit I referenced in an earlier post), and a TraumaNow! kit with tourniquets and such for the range and shooting classes.  In my vehicle I have a bigger kit with more of everything trauma related (ace bandages, tourniquets, etc) 

My mindset in each case is the same, but application of the tools is different.  The edc kit is lightweight and can go everywhere with me.  The backcountry kit is designed to handle every day stuff encountered in a wilderness setting, but there is an ace and some triangular bandages handy for improvised pressure bandages and tourniquets.  The range/tac class kit is setup for the injury I am most likely to see out there: penetrating injuries...and my assumption is that those injuries will be mine.  The vehicle bag is heavier and more heavily outfitted because to be honest, driving places is the most dangerous undertaking I probably do.  If I am using that kit either I have been in an accident and am using it on myself or a passenger, someone has found my wrecked vehicle and are rendering aid to me, or I am coming upon the scene of a MVA and need everything gathered together in one place to respond to others (probably multiple patients) with injuries. 

The medical training I have had has been great.  I'm a checklists kind of guy and EMS/wilderness medicine is based on that approach.  I dig the medical stuff and want more of it.  The class with Doc Shertz was about something else, though.  It tuned my mindset in a way that was absent from my other training. 

There's nothing I'd like more right now than to sum up the point I am trying to make.  I think I'll leave it open for further discussion and to answer questions if anyone has any.  Thanks for reading.

New Post
2/17/2012 12:55 PM

Interesting discussion - thanks for initiating it SuperBadger.  I'll reply with some more rambling thoughts and contents of my first aid kit later (which will likely change this next year), but I had an interesting conversation last night I thought I would tee up. 

I'm taking an EMT class right now, and one of my classmates is a former Marine medic who spent time in the desert overseas.  Quick Clot was mentioned in a trama discussion, and I asked if he had seen it used before.  He responded that he had used and seen it used several times and that it is very effective - dump it on the wound and it chemically reacts with blood to effectively super-glue the wound shut.  The caveat here is that he said when used, the quick clot basically has to be surgically removed (cut out) because it chemically bonds with your tissues.  So, when stopping bleeding is an absolute necessity and pressure and/or tourniquets are not enough, use the quick clot; just know you're going to lose skin and muscle around the injured area when the surgeon cuts it out.

New Post
2/18/2012 8:51 AM

I haven't seen the older granular stuff (Quik Clot) in a while. The last weapon induced trauma course I took was in 2010 with 2 18D's and they hadn't used it in a while at that time. The Combat gauze and other versions of it (2x2, 4x4, etc) do not cause the trauma the granular stuff did. It actually works by promoting the body's clotting process (real technical description huh?).  I carry it (Quickclot Combat Gauze) in my first aid kit under the thought that its nice to have an option in case of severe hemorraghe where a TQ is not an option (deep femoral, neck wound, etc.).

I'll post up on my first aid kit later, it's pretty much a standard off the shelf AMK booboo kit and then a few things I carry with regularity that are hard to improvise (sterile gauze being one). My background  - SOLO WFR then SOLO WEMT (current WEMT & NREMT-B), WMS member. Oh and I hang out occasionally with one of the Docs on the Committee on TCCC (also pretty active in the WMS), great to pick his brain on the current means and methods in regards to the medical side.

HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralWhatWhat's in your first aid kit?