Guides Hiking First Aid Kits

Best Hiking First Aid Kit for Backcountry Preparedness: The In-Depth 2020 Buyer’s Guide

injured woman during hike

The best hiking first aid kit will include all the necessary supplies needed to treat mild to moderate injuries, burns, insect bites, or any other type of injury you’ll encounter on your journey through the backcountry. When you’re far from home, hiking through rural areas, it’s crucial that you’re prepared for any type of emergency. Taking a basic first aid kit will ensure you can provide necessary medical attention to anyone in your party, until you make it back safely to civilization.

I’ve created a buyer’s guide that will go over what type of supplies to look for when you’re shopping for a first aid kit, the benefits of bringing one along, and how these kits can be literal lifesavers when you’re on a backcountry adventure, with no help for miles around. I’ve also tested out many popular kits that seasoned hikers swear by, while also including four top product recommendations, each of which include the essential medical supplies you need to provide top care, on the spot. You can rest-assured, if you purchase one of these kits, you’ll prepared for anything the backcountry can throw at you. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that lists each of the models, their best features, and how they rated.

Hiking First Aid Kit Comparison Chart

Product Weight Carrying Case Waterproof Rating
Surviveware First Aid Kit 

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1 LBS Polyester Yes
EVERLIT First Aid Kit

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1.9 LBS Nylon Yes
WildmanSurvival First Aid Kit

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3.1 LBS Nylon Yes
Thrive First Aid Kit

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0.3 LBSEVA Foam No

Surviveware Small First Aid Kit


Our Rating: (5/5)

This kit consists of a large bag that’s made out of 600 denier polyester with ripstop material that will stop a tear before it can spread. The bag is very versatile and can be attached to a belt or backpack. The bag itself is waterproof, lightweight, and compact. All the supplies are housed in durable laminate pouches, for further protection against water damage. The inside of the bag is highly organized with clear labeling based on function. This model also includes a zip pouch that can be used for extra medications.

This kit includes:

  • Shears
  • Bandages
  • Butterfly sutures
  • Gauze
  • Eye pads
  • Emergency blanket
  • Medical tape
  • Gloves
  • Instructions
  • Safety pins
  • Strip wound closures
  • First aid guide
  • Splinter probes
  • Whistle
  • Tweezers

Pros

  • Perfect for longer trips
  • First aid guide included
  • Waterproof bag
  • Low price

Cons

  • Does not include OTC medication

Conclusion

This kit is perfect for longer hiking trips and includes a wide range of medical supplies that will come in handy in the event of an injury, although the bag does lack any type of over the counter medication including antiseptic ointment and aspirin. Fortunately, you can purchase these separately. The kit offers plenty of extra room if you want to add personal medications and supplies and features the type of lightweight durable design most hikers are looking for.

EVERLIT Survival First Aid Kit


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a 250-piece set that has been customized by US military veterans. The kit includes more than enough medical supplies to care for a large group of people. The bag the supplies are housed is is made out of 600 denier nylon material, which is water-resistant. The inside of the bag features three large compartments, with extra room to add your own supplies. The kit itself weighs just 1.9 pounds. The bag can be attached to your belt or backpack, for easier transport.

The kit not only contains all the essential medical supplies, but it also comes with a firestarter, folding pocketknife, paracord bracelet, flashlight, poncho, and glowsticks. Basically, this is the ultimate hiking first aid kit, for those longer hiking adventures through the backcountry.

The kit is also covered by a sixty-day money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Perfect for longer hiking trips
  • One-year warranty
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • The knife is very dull and must be sharpened

Conclusion

This is a kit that has everything you need to treat and stabilize an injured friend or family member in the event of illness or an injury, plus it also contains extra supplies that you can put to use to start a fire, create a makeshift shelter, signal for help, and more. If you’re looking for a premade first aid kit that will leave you feeling prepared, then your search is over.

WildmanSurvival Survival First Aid Kit


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This large hiking first aid kit is perfect for your next outdoor hiking trip and includes 313 pieces of first aid tools and medical supplies, so you’ll feel totally prepared on your next journey through the backcountry. The bag is made out of 600 denier nylon, which is water-resistant. The bag features a total of three compartments and weighs just three pounds. Aside from important medical supplies, the kit also includes a flashlight, four meters of paracord, a couple of glowsticks, saber card, a steel tactical knife, ferro rod, and a mini shovel with a compass.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Includes flashlight
  • 313-piece kit
  • Foldable mini shovel with compass

Cons

  • Heavy

Conclusion

This kit comes loaded with plenty of medical supplies, and extras such as a tactical flashlight and a mini foldable shovel. It’s also covered by a lifetime warranty and a money-back guarantee. This kit may be overkill for those day-long hikes, but the true outdoor enthusiast will not want to head to the backcountry without this latest kit by Wildman Survival.

Thrive First Aid Kit


Our Rating: (4/5)

This mini first aid kit is a great choice for short day hiking trips but won’t serve you well on those longer backcountry adventures. The case is made out of durable EVA foam that’s covered in ripstop material. The kit is compact and lightweight however, it can still hold all the medical supplies you need for a shorter hiking trip. This model weighs in under half a pound, so you won’t have to worry about a first aid kit weighing down your pack.

Pros

  • Weighs under half a pound
  • Made out of EVA foam
  • Perfect for short trips
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Not recommended for long hiking trips

Conclusion

This model contains many of the basic types of medical supplies you’ll need, such as bandages, band-aids, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and wraps. However, the kit isn’t designed for long trip use and isn’t a good choice if you’re hiking with a large group of family and friends. Additionally, the case isn’t waterproof, which means you’ll need to ensure you store it in a waterproof compartment in your pack to prevent water from damaging the medical supplies. Overall, this is a great buy for short hiking and camping trips, and it’s available at a price that’s affordable.

Hiking First Aid Kit Buyer’s Guide

When new hikers decide to tackle a challenging trail, they mistakenly believe that all they need to bring along is a few snacks, some water, and their camera. But that’s not the case. Even if you’re just heading out for a day of hiking, you still need to take a specialized first aid kit with you, one that will provide the medical care you need, whether you get stung by an insect, sprain your ankle, or break a bone. These kits will be invaluable on your trip, which is why most experienced hikers will never head out without one.

Now, let’s learn about the benefits of bringing one of these kits along on your next hiking adventure.

Benefits of Using a Hiking First Aid Kit

sprained ankle

  • One benefit of having a hiking first aid kit on hand is that it will give you and the other hikers in your party a little peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for mild and moderate injuries that can occur on your journey. In most cases, hikers that must be rescued from this type of environment are not adequately prepared for their adventure. Having one of these kits on hand can change all of that.
  • Using one of these kits will allow you to manage a medical situation before it escalates. When action is taken promptly, infection or further injury can be prevented.
  • For a serious injury, the supplies found in one of these kits can help to stabilize a patient until professional medical attention is available.

Now, let’s learn about the types of supplies that should be included in every first aid kit. While you can always add your own custom supplies to a kit, every kit should come with basic medical supplies that can help treat mild and moderately severe injuries.

Important Supplies List

Below, you’ll find a list of the essential supplies to look for in a hiking kit. This supply list is by no means complete, but it lists many of the important types of medical supplies that you’ll find yourself relying on for your next trip.

Basic supplies:

  • Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Pads
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Medical tape
  • Lotion/sunscreen/ointments
  • Moleskin for blister treatment
  • Burn dressings

Over the counter medication:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Neosporin
  • Bacitracin
  • Antacids
  • Rehydration salt

Medical tools:

  • Knife
  • Razor blade
  • Shears
  • Tweezers
  • Tick remover tool

Insects:

  • Bee-sting kit
  • Insect bite spray
  • Insect repellent

Sprains/Strains:

  • Compression wraps
  • Splint
  • Sling

Below, I’ll go in more detail concerning the must-have medical supplies a good kit will contain, what to look for, and how to choose a kit based on season and hiking environment.

Other Must-Have Features

When you’re trying to choose the right type of first aid kit, make sure it contains supplies that you’re comfortable using. The kit should be matched to your medical training, if you have any. Are you able to use everything that comes in the kit, correctly? The best kits will come with instructional cards or guides that will list all of the supplies, what they do and how they’re used. If you’re hiking with a larger group, make sure that the kit you buy comes with enough supplies, and supplies that are suitable based on where you’re hiking and the type of weather you can encounter. As an example, if you’re hiking through the dessert during the summer months, make sure the kit includes supplies that can prevent and treat mild to moderately severe sunburns.

Now, I’ll go more in-depth concerning what to look for in a kit and how to make sure you purchase a model that will come with everything you and your group will need to make it safely back to civilization.

User’s Manual

The user’s manual will list the supplies in the kit, the purpose the different types of medical supplies, and how they’re used.

Carrying Bag or Case

When you’re shopping for a kit, you’ll find that most are housed in a durable type of case or bag. Make sure the bag or case is water-resistant, which will keep your supplies protected and dry. Larger kits will often come in a duffle bag style case, while a small kit will house supplies in a hard-plastic case with a handle. These bags or cases will include dedicated spaces for the medical supplies, and the appropriate labeling.

Individually Packaged  and Full-Sized Supplies

A good kit will contain medications that are commonly used, such as acetaminophen and aspirin, as well as different sized bandages. Since you probably won’t need an entire box of bandages or a whole bottle of acetaminophen, these packages will often include supplies that are individually wrapped. Larger kits may come with full-sized products, since these kits are designed to provide treatment a higher volume of people.

Compartments

Many of the leading kits will also have designated compartments and pockets that are clearly labeled. This will not only help you stay organized, but it will also make it easier for you to keep an eye on your inventory.

Size

The size of the kit you buy will depend on the size of your group, the length of the trip, and each person’s individual medical needs, not to mention the medical training and knowledge of the people in your party. While a kit may come with plenty of medical supplies, the odds are that you’ll need to add some things to the kit for special needs, such as an epi-pen for a bee allergy, or other types of medication for anyone that may have a special medical condition.

Survivalist Supplies

Some kits will also include survival gear such as a flashlight, pocketknife, tarp, poncho, mini shovel, compass, and more. Of course, these kits are much larger than a standard first aid kit, which also means they will come with a higher price tag.

Over the Counter Medications

In terms of over the counter medications, many kits will include supplies to treat diarrhea, nausea, headaches, fevers, bug bites, allergies, and cold symptoms.

For extremity injuries, a kit will usually come with wraps and splints.

Cold Packs

Some kits will come with single-use cold packs, which can be used to soothe burns or help to reduce swelling for muscle strains or sprains. However, if your goal is to keep the weight of your pack low, you may want to avoid bringing these cold packs along since they can add some serious weight to your pack. Unfortunately, these single use cold packs don’t stay cold for very long. You’ll be better off putting a sprained ankle in a cold running spring. Additionally, these packs also have a reputation for rupturing, which can make a huge mess in your pack.

CPR

Top of the line kits may even include tools for CPR, such as a breathing barrier, which consists of a mask made out of plastic that’s worn by the person administering CPR.

Trauma Shears

These very sharp, durable scissors are used to cut open the clothing of an injured person, for cases when removing the clothing would otherwise cause severe pain.

Bandages and Pads

Look for a model that contains pads for blister treatment, bandages for small cuts and scrapes, and large bandages and gauze padding. Many kits may also contain triangle bandages which are used to stabilize a collarbone injury or for cradling splints.

Wound Care

Most kits will include supplies that you can use to clean and treat scrapes, cuts, and burns. It should also contain bandages and topical medications that will help treat and prevent infections.

All injuries in which the skin has been broken, must be flushed out to remove dirty and debris. Look for a kit that comes with irrigation tools, which are used to flush out wounds before dressing them. A kit should come with supplies that will allow you to clean, dress, and bandage an injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

medicine bag

How Often Should a First Aid Kit be Checked?

This can depend on how often you hike or camp. If you only do so annually, then the kit should be checked at least once a year, before your trip. Check the inventory and reorder any supplies that are running low. Look for expired supplies and medication. If you hike or camp more often, then check the kit before each trip. Keep a list of the supplies and medications that you most commonly use during a trip and add extra supplies to the kit if there’s room.

Should Aspirin be in First Aid Kits?

Yes. Aspirin can be used to treat a fever and can also be administered to someone who is suspected of having a heart attack. Some healthcare pros argue that medication should not be stored in a first aid kit, however, aspirin is the exception.

Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own First Aid Kit?

There are many benefits of buying a kit that’s ready-made. First, a premade kit is much cheaper and will include everything a hiking group is likely to need, in small convenient packages. Building a kit yourself will allow you to customize the supplies based on the people in your group and where you’re going, but it can be very pricey and many hikers will end up packing more supplies than they need. This can lead to a pack that’s too heavy.

What are the 3 Cs when Dealing with an Emergency?

If you’re hiking and camping with your family or friends and find yourself in an emergency situation that requires immediate action, then it’s important to follow the three Cs:

  • Check
  • Call
  • Care

Check and assess the injured person, call for help, and provide care that will help to keep the injured person stable until help arrives. If you don’t have much experience with emergency care, I recommend taking a basic first aid and CPR course before your trip. These courses are affordable and will teach you the basics, so you’ll feel more prepared in the event of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

The best hiking first aid kit should include essential supplies that can treat a wide range of injuries such as sunburns, insect bites, scrapes, blisters, deep cuts, and sprains. Many of the best-selling models will also have specific compartments that allow you to easily organize your supplies, making them more accessible, while allowing you to keep a close eye on a kit’s inventory. The kits I’ve included in my top four list each contain the type of important supplies that you’ll need on any hiking trip, whether you’re headed out for the day or a few weeks. Remember, the kit you choose should include enough supplies to treat every member in your group, should come in a durable bag or case, and should include an instruction manual that clearly lists the purpose of the different types of medical supplies in the kit and how they’re used. This guide is designed to help you choose the appropriate kit for your next backcountry adventure based on hiking environment, season, budget and the size of your group.