first aid kit restock

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I've just decided it's time to restock the frist aid kit. Never really had a serious kit, always gone on the 'she'll be right' approach. But now I'm eyeing up a couple of remote first decents and really are thinking I would rather be perped if something goes wrong, that and a little while my mate busted his chops on the submerged rock at the bottom of dogs leg on the rangitikie gorge.

I'm wondering what are the esentials I must have and anything that would be nice to have in there. Brand names of the best stuff would be really good if pos (I really want stuff that works eh)

Cheers for any help if it's out there.

ryen's picture

Personally, I split my kit up into 3 parts.

1. The stuff you absolutely have to have every time for short trips

2. The stuff you absolutely have to have for longer trips

3. The stuff that's nice to have.

For part 1, I have the stuff I think I'd need in the event of a serious emergency in a not too remote location to keep someone alive long enough to get them help from someone who actually knows what they are doing. Basically this means duct tape, gauze squares, gauze rolls, triangle bandages, shears, gloves, etc. The raw basics for bad stuff. This doesn't include bandaids because by my thinking, if it can be fixed with a band aid then it's not going to kill you, at least not within an hour or so.

One cool trick I picked up a while ago is those little tubes of cake icing, for diabetics.

If you feel compelled to carry an epipen, it'd go under this category. However, don't carry an epipen without benadryl. If you don't know why take a class.

A CPR mask can also be added in here but personally I keep one in my vest along with a pair of gloves. On a side note about gloves, if you know anyone that works in a surgery facility (vet or people), get them to save you the orthopaedic sterile surgical gloves once they've gone past their sterility expiration date. There's nothing wrong with them, they just aren't considered sterile anymore and the places I've worked just chucked them after the date. I always snagged them because they are thicker than normal latex gloves which always tear on me and they have slightly longer cuffs than normal gloves so they protect farther up. They are also great for changing the oil in your car. They come in sizes so make sure you get ones that fit easily

I know I'm forgetting stuff here but the point is just think through what could go wrong and what you'd do about it. The best bet is to make up a list while taking a class.

For part 2, I've got all the stuff I think I'd need to keep someone alive long enough to get them to someone who actually knows what they're doing from remote locations. Again this is bare bones, keeping someone alive stuff, not comfort stuff like blister stuff etc. The basic concept is once they are somewhat stabilized or basically not headed for death quite as quickly, how are you gonna get em out or set them up so you can get help?

In addition to just some more of the stuff from part 1, I've got stuff like space blankets, athletic tape, light sticks, antiseptics, electrolytes, ibuprofen, fire stuff, steri strips, super glue etc. Again I'm trying to make a complete list, you gotta nail down what you need since the way I might go about fixing something may be completely different than you.

Part 3 is all the stuff that's "nice" to have with you, bandaids, bug bite medicine, whatever you want to make you feel wonderful. If I find I've got stuff in here that I don't use on a fairly regular basis then I ditch it since a nicety that doesn't get used is dead weight.

I also keep a sam splint in with this stuff since splints can be rigged up of anything but if I have the room it sure is nice.

With the three parts packaged separately (I use ziplocs and nylon cases) you can pack them as fits your situation. Part 1 should always be with you and fairly accessible, part 2 doesn't really need to be terribly accessible, just safe, and part 3 is nice if it's easily but not critical. Small pelican cases are awesome for storing med kits but a welding rod tube is a cheaper alternative. Regardless make sure it's all very very well sealed from water since sterile gauze etc is no longer sterile with even a little moisture. I just got the biggest pelican that fit inside my boat and I can get all my med stuff in there plus my camera so I usually just leave it all together all the time and it doubles as my car kit.

Just some other random thoughts...

I know it gets said a lot but classes and all that really are a good idea. I was forced to take the basic first aid on a regular basis as a guide and hated it because it was basically instructions on how to call paramedics which doesn't help if you can't call paramedics. I got coerced into doing some wilderness stuff though and loved it because they teach useful things that even though you can't do under normal circumstances, if your a ways away from help you may need to do. Basically, red cross first aid is about keeping lawyers happy and the wilderness stuff is trying to actually help.

If you know or meet any doctors, nurses, vets, vet techs, etc be real nice to them. I got so much free first aid @!#$ from my job it wasn't even funny. Surgical supplies have a shelf life for sterility and has to be ditched. Most of that stuff is still useful for first aid purposes and most of it can even be resterilized if your real nice.

Well anyway, good luck with it

Jamiegarrod's picture

We had to spend a night out and fire lighting kit was the lifesaver on the day. Without them it would have been an even colder and longer night and things may have turned more serious. For any trip that is more wilderness these are a must along with other spare items such as an extra layer, extra snacks and first aid supplies.

Sometimes your first aid kit may be seen as a novelty and taken for granted. It is a fine line between too much weight/bulk and having inadequate resources when it comes to the crunch. This can be combated by knowing what each member of your group is carrying. Better to be prepared as the unexpected is always around the corner when adventuring!

Make wise decisions. Happy adventures!

bob.morris's picture

I've just put together a first aid kit for paddling use and included matches and a couple of firelighters (as well as a good selection of the 1st aid items noted above).... my thoughts being we could come across a situation were a casualty and mate may need to be left by the riverside for a few hours whilst others get help, and the ability to make a fire would help them to keep warm and, to some extent, occupied .... any thoughts on this .... are firelighters and matches a good inclusion or am I just adding excess weight ???

I also stuck in a light stick ... could be good for attracting attention at night ?

j-9's picture

it is life saving to provide a epi-pen of adrenaline for severe allergic (anaphalaxis) but via presciption in NZ it costs around $150 with a very quick expiry date. If people know they have life threatening allergies they should have there own.

tim0's picture

I would probably add some Matches and a piece of old Cycle inner tube rubber. Those old cycle tubes burn great for starting a warm fire.

jonathan's picture


What you carry in your first aid is a delicate balancing act between those items you're most likely use, versus those items that are important if you have a major medical emergency. The duration of the trip, the size of the party, and the medical expertise of the party members, will also dictate contents.

Many items can be improvised. Snow stakes, split-paddles and closed cell foam mats can be used to make splints. Your sleeping bag liner can be cut up to make bandages. Plastic bags can be used to cover chest wounds and burns.

Below is a suggested contents list.

Day trip:

1. Face shield with one way valve (CPR)
2. Disposable rubber gloves ( 1 pair).
3. Crepe Bandage.
4. 2.5 cm Leukoplast zinc tape
5. Combine Dressing 20cm x 20 cm.
6. Saline ampules 15-30 ml
7. Antihistamine tablets
8. Telfa pads x 3
9. Scissors
10. Plastic bags x 2
11. Tweezers
12. Bandaids x 5
13. Pencil and paper
14. Survival/Space blanket
15. Safety pins x 2
16. Triangular bandage
17. Gauze swabs 7.5cm x 7.5cm
18. Aspirin 300mg [chest pain]

2-5 day trip:
17. Paracetamol
18. Ibuprofen
19. Solugel (for rashes/minor burns)
20. Razor blade (1 sided)
21. Betadine (Iodine liquid)
22. Needle
23. Digital thermometre.
24. First Aid Manual
25. Cotton buds
26. Medipulv antibiotic powder
27. Water Jel burn dressing
28. Electrolyte sachets (post vomiting)
29. Sterisrips/butterfly closures.

Longer trips : consider carrying antibiotics and stronger pain killers. Consult your GP.

Travel: consider including throat lozenges, cough lozenges, and medication for upset stomachs.

Don't forget to include other items like sun screen, lip balm and insect repellant. Waterless soap which comes in a gel form is also useful.

Every party member should carry personal medications. If you suffer from something serious like asthma or are allergic to bee stings make sure somebody else in the party carries a reserve supply of your medication. That way if you get separated from your pack all is not lost. Make sure the person carrying it knows how to administer the medication should the need arise.

The above is designed as a guide only. Outdoors people hold strong views as to what they carry. It is no substitute for professional medical advice. If you're serious about going in to the outdoors, do a standard first aid course. The Mountain Safety Council also run specialist two day Outdoor First Aid Courses. Other companies and institutions offer more in depth Prehospital Emergency Care Courses.


Warren Bowman, [/i]Outdoor Emergency Care[/i]. (2nd Edition)
[i]Hypothermia[/i], NZ Mountain Safety Manual 24. ($10.85 @ Bivouac)
New Zealand Outdoor [i]First Aid, NZ Mountain Safety Manual 33[/i]. ($27.00 @ Bivouac)
James A Wilkerson, [i]Medicine for Mountaineering[/i] (4th Edition)

Gareth Jenkin - Bivouac Outdoor Newmarket. Gareth completed a Prehospital Emergency Care Course in 2001, is a Red Cross first aid instructor, and is enrolled in the Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic).


jonathan's picture

[i][This article by Johnny Mulheron was previously published in FMC Bulletin #150, November 2002 (p23). Posted with permission. Johnny Mulheron has been the Chief Guide of a tramping club and a commercial guiding company. He is currently an ambulance officer in Wellington.][/i]

In the past I've been Chief Guide of a tramping club and a commercial guiding company. Now, my role as an ambulance officer, I’m constantly asked what should be in an outdoor first aid kit. I’ve seen it all: from the minimalist approach (half a roll of sleek tape) to MASH units complete with anti-psychotic drugs for people who are driven over the edge by Fiordland sandflies and rain.

The trick is to have a first aid kit small enough that you will take it with you wherever you go and not groan at the sight of it (should be able to fit in your coat pocket). It’s amazing what you can improvise with in the outdoors in an emergency.

If someone in the group has a medical condition e.g. asthma or diabetes, then get that person to tell you about their condition. Have someone else in the group carry some spare medication in case they leave theirs behind (a common example is to carry a spare Ventolin asthma inhaler).

Pack everything in ziplock plastic bags. I then put it all in a nylon toilet bag. The whole thing should be pretty small and fit in your coat pocket.

The following list is a pretty good start for a standard tramping group:
Disposable CPR face shield - for mouth to mouth
Disposable gloves - protection from blood and infection – also make good balloons
Tweezers and needle - splinters, cleaning wounds
Scissors - cutting dressings, removing clothes
Foil survival blanket - hypo/hyperthermia prevention, reflecting for aerial searches
Crepe bandage - splinting, strapping, dressings, compression
Waterproof strapping tape - strapping, splinting, blister prevention, holding dressings on, repairing punctured rafts and pack tears
Betadine antiseptic liquid (iodine) - prevent infection, water treatment if needed
Length band aid strip - minor cuts, abrasions, blisters etc
Assorted steri-strips - pull big cuts together
Assorted sterile dressings - for covering cuts and burns - get some big ones – you can always cut them down
Safety pins
Waterproof notepad + pencil

Personal medication:
Antihistamine tablets for sandfly/mozzie bites, bee/wasp stings that are driving someone crazy or any other allergy that is getting out of control

Some painkillers (take your pick – some are anti-inflammatory) e.g. Nurofen/Ibuprofen/Cataflam
Aspirin for people having a heart attack

I also keep the following odds and ends (you can't get enough of these):
Cigarette lighter/matches
Length of twine
Candle stub

Some other things you might want to consider putting in:
Barrier cream/vasaline – for chaffing
Blistertape – moleskin type stuff
Anakit (check expiry date) emergency pre-drawn syringe of adrenaline for use in severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). If you are going into areas with lots of wasps e.g. beech forest in the summer then seriously consider taking one of these. Not to be used recreationally!

If going onto snow some spare high factor sun block, lip balm and spare sunglasses.

Of course it's no use having a first aid kit if you don't know how to use it. I thoroughly recommend going on a reputable 16 hour first aid course, preferably an outdoors one such as those run by the Mountain Safety Council. Individual clubs often organise outdoor first aid courses themselves and bring instructors in- check your club notice boards.

I reckon all outdoors users should attend at least one outdoor first aid course and do a one day refresher every two years. For people more interested there are several 40 hour pre-hospital emergency care courses around the country provided by various polytechnics and outdoor schools. Make sure they have NZ Qualifications Authority accreditation. Outdoor club members who are involved in Search and Rescue should receive advanced outdoor first aid training every two years.


anon0's picture


(..)(..)'s picture

cheers rob that was x-actly what i was after, thanks for your help.

rob11's picture

Hi Cam! A couple of triangular bandages (for shoulders), though a ripped t-shirt will do, though not so flash - 10 or so bandaids, maybe some ointment as well - 10 or so butterfly bandages for big gashes - I like a few over sized bandaids - 4 or so large gauze pads - 2 rolls roller gauze - a few safety pins are nice - ibuprofin or something for pain - athletic tape ; these are things I use pretty often as a guide ---- If you have a 1st aid kit a must is CPR mask - Gloves - some germicidal wipes; this is for YOUR saftey! Put any bloody stuff in your gloved hand when finished and pull it inside out, then its all contained in the glove, tie it off ---- Some stuff that is perscription at least here in the states that I dont go out without, Epi-Pen for allergic reactions, and an inhaler for asthma, these things can save a life in the wilderness and the inhaler has come in handy for me, but know how to use them and when not to use them! Pretty simple, just find out about allergies before giving! Bottom line, with some gauze, some tape and a little imagination you can improvize just about anything, be creative. Maybe Something to start a fire with. Thats all I can think of off the top of my head, See ya!