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10 Essentials for Backpacking First Aid

10 Essentials for Backpacking First Aid

As you’re preparing for your backpacking trip through the great outdoors, you may be thinking… what should I bring with me? There are basic necessities that every experienced hiker knows to bring: shelter, food, water, and a first aid kit. But what’s not so well known is what kind of items should be in your backpacking first aid kit.

While you are on your backpacking trip, any number of things could happen that might result in injury or illness. Yet trying to prepare for every possible scenario might result in you packing more medical items than necessary. And of course you don’t want to bring a huge emergency kit that would only serve to weigh you down. But does that mean you should just leave your first aid kit at home? Of course not!

What if we told you that you could pack a lightweight backpacking first aid kit that would prepare you for almost any medical situation, while allowing you the comfort and mobility needed for your trip? There are many medical items that have multiple purposes and can be particularly handy in an emergency situation.

Listed below are ten essential medical items that you can pack in your backpacking first aid kit… without weighing you down.

  1. Antiseptic wipes / Antibiotic ointment
    What it’s used for: Clean out small, shallow wounds such as cuts or lacerations
    Why you should carry it: While you’re exploring the great outdoors, it’s highly likely that you will receive small cuts or lacerations from rocks, trees, or even plants. Antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment can be found in just about any drugstore, and can prevent your smaller wounds from getting infected.
  2. ZipStitch
    What it’s used for: Closing deeper wounds
    Why you should carry it: Imagine you are hiking or backpacking, and you get an injury such as a minor cut or laceration that may need stitches. ZipStitch is a surgical-quality wound closure device available without a prescription. It is non-invasive, easy to use, and easy to transport. You can pack it in your first aid kit, so that you don’t have to interrupt your outdoor activities and potentially cause more pain just to get stitches in the ER.
  3. Pain relievers
    What it’s used for: Lessen pain, reduce swelling, reduce fever
    Why you should carry it: Whether it’s aspirin or ibuprofen, pain relievers are a great addition to your backpacking first aid kit. They are easy to attain and have multiple purposes, which will come in handy when you are in the wilderness and need some fast relief from the pain caused by an injury or wound.
  4. Allergy medication
    What it’s used for: Allergy relief from pollen, plants, and insect stings
    Why you should carry it: While you’re exploring the great outdoors, it’s pretty much unavoidable that you will be exposed to numerous allergens. Rather than being resigned to your fate, over-the-counter allergy medications like Benadryl or Zyrtec can provide relief from your symptoms, so that you can enjoy nature even more!
  5. Sterile gauze
    What it’s used for: Can protect and cover larger wounds
    Why you should carry it: When you get wounds that are too large to be covered by a bandaid, you will need something to cover it and help stop the bleeding. Pack sterile gauze in your emergency kit so that you can cover those bigger wounds (after cleaning it with the antiseptic wipes/antibiotic ointment) and prevent bacteria from entering and spreading infection.
  6. Wrap Bandage
    What it’s used for: Support sprains or other joint injuries, secure gauze-covered wounds
    Why you should carry it: On the off chance that an accident occurs where you sprain or injure a joint, a wrap bandage can provide the necessary support to stabilize the joint until you are able to see a doctor. As an added bonus, wrap bandages can also be used to dress a wound.
  7. Adhesive Bandages
    What it’s used for: Cover small, shallow wounds or cuts
    Why you should carry it: Protect small, shallow wounds or cuts from further irritants, and prevent infection from getting into the wound. Adhesive bandages can also be used on blisters to prevent them from getting worse.
  8. Insect-Bite / Anti-Itch Ointment
    What it’s used for: Relief from itchy insect-bites
    Why you should carry it: While you’re backpacking, you will undoubtedly come across many biting or stinging insects, or even poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison oak. Packing this in your emergency kit will allow you to provide near-instant relief in those unavoidable occasions.
  9. Safety Pins
    What it’s used for: Fasten bandages and slings, remove splinters
    Why you should carry it: You’re probably thinking, that’s not a medical item! But safety pins are a multi-purpose tool, in that they can secure or fasten wrap bandages and slings, as well as remove splinters. They’re also super lightweight, and easy to find. So why shouldn’t you carry them?
  10. Oral Rehydration Salts
    What it’s used for: Treat dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea
    Why you should carry it: Making sure that you are drinking enough water is a full time job, but when you add elevation and strenuous physical activity on top of that, staying hydrated is suddenly much harder to do. It’s easy to lose track of how much water you are drinking, and in the event of dehydration, carrying these salts in your backpacking first aid kit offers a way to treat any conditions that might result.

In this list, we have included a number of items that may come in handy in the event of a medical emergency. Of course you can personalize your backpacking first aid kit to carry whatever you think may be necessary, but these medical items have multiple uses to help treat any number of conditions or injuries that you may encounter while you’re hiking through the outdoors.

Carrying these items around in your backpacking first aid kit will help you be prepared for just about anything. By packing all these essentials, you can enjoy the outdoors without a worry!

Want to learn more? ZipStitch is in a league of its own as a newly developed, hospital-grade wound closure technology. There are multiple benefits to using ZipStitch rather than taking a trip to the ER. ZipStitch is small and easy to transport, so you don’t have to disrupt your outdoor activities to go to the hospital, and you can receive treatment right away. Because it is non-invasive, it is easy to apply, and may cause less scarring than typical stitches. ZipStitch may help you avoid those increasing hospital costs that can be an unwelcome surprise after an emergency room visit for stitches. Visit the ZipStitch website at https://zipstitch.us/.

*https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-there-are-shocking-costs-on-your-emergency-room-bill
**In an in-vivo study, more load in lb. was required to create a 1mm gap between incision edges approximated with Zip than with Ethicon 4-0 Vicryl® subcuticular running suture. Data on file.