Adventure Medical Kits: Hiking and Camping Items You Need


When you’re off-grid, you are your own medic. Here is how to prepare adventure medical kits. From Do-it-yourself to Pre-Made, this is what you need.

Why Even Have a Adventure Medical Kit?

Getting out and away from it all is one of our favorite things to do here at OGE. Whether you’re out on that epic outdoor adventure or taking a scenic hike to pass time and get some exercise on a beautiful day, being out on your own in the wild has no better feeling. Often, when we grab our pack for the day, we can forget the little things that have a BIG impact.

First Aid kits are one of those little things that can have a big impact. Being prepared for a medical emergency can be the difference between you successfully treating an injury, or you having a bad situation get much worse with no nearby help.

While activities like a hike may seem routine or low risk, it’s important o remember a couple of things. 1. You’re generally not near-immediate help like you are at home. 2. Hiking often involves varying terrain, weather elements, and wild animals.

Now don’t get me wrong, the odds are slim that you head out on a trip and need your adventure medical kits. But like a seatbelt, it’s not the hundreds or thousands of days you drove and didn’t need it, it’s the ONE day you drive and it could mean the difference between life or death. First aid kits work the same way. So, just like your seat belt, let’s put it on and be glad we have it, just in case.

What To Have in Your Adventure Medical Kits

Ideally, what you bring in your adventure medical kits should vary based on your trip and activities. However, that’s not very feasible. You cant (or at least shouldn’t) have a 40lb Medics bag full of IV supplies, large fixed splints, 4 pairs of trauma shears 10 pressure bandages, and 30 rolls of micropore tape.

Those bags are designed to create a solution for a medical professional treating the potential of several injured personnel. A more realistic approach is to design a kit that will tackle the most common outdoor injuries that you will face and are capable of self-treating when out on your adventure. Not to mention, you won’t make it very far with a 40lb bag on your hike.

The DIY Outdoor Adventure Medical Kits:

The do-it-yourself outdoor first aid kit is an option that I use myself when CJ on the other hand keeps the VSSL handy (more on that below). For a DIY kit, it can be very simple and very cheap. We’ve made a sample packing list below to get you started:

  • Ziplock Bag (Or another Waterproof baggie/pouch To Hold the Items)
  • Alcohol Wipes – 5 each
  • Antiseptic Wipes or Cream
  • Small sample of Aspirin (10 pills)
  • Small sample of Ibuprofen (10 Pills)
  • Bandaids Small – 5 each
  • Bandaids Medium- 5 each
  • Bandaid Large – 2 each
  • Gauze Padding
  • Medical Tape
  • Small scissors or Trauma Shears
  • Tweezers
  • Sterile Gloves
  • Whistle
  • Survival Blanket
  • Roll Up Splint

This Do-it-yourself kit will take up very little room and its lightweight. You will be able to treat many of the most common injuries that occur on the trail like cuts, abrasions, and punctures. Additionally, with the extra items included in this list along with the sterile gloves, you have the option to help another person in your party or a stranger in need you may come across. Most of the items listed above you already have lying around your house and can be done right now.

Pre-Made Outdoor First Aid Kits

Maybe you don’t feel like tearing up your house trying to make your own first aid kit, or maybe you like the idea of a kit thoughtfully made with what you need all ready to go. In that case, take a look at these pre-made options that are highly rated across the outdoor community:

  • VSSL First Aid: This little guy is small but mighty. In a small durable and waterproof/impact-proof package, this ingenious device carries a compass, 46 first aid items including gloves, tweezers and bandages, but also has a built-in flashlight that can double as an SOS Emergency notification for up to 40 hrs. Check it out here, VSSL.Opens in a new tab.
  • Surviveware Small First Aid Kit: This is a soft-sided waterproof first aid pouch that also packs up small (5″x7″x3″) but is loaded with over 80 items, a D-Ring fr quick attachment and M.O.L.L.E. straps for even further mounting options to your pack. Check it out here.Opens in a new tab.

It’s important to remember, you don’t use these often at all. Don’t go too cheap on this if you buy a pre-made one. You what quality materials and you want them to work. Shelling out an extra couple bucks, may not be a bad idea.

In addition to what I have listed above, I also keep a tourniquet in my bag (and my vehicle). It’s a rarely used item, but if you need it, arterial bleeding literally means the difference between life or death. These are battle-tested and in use by many professionals and they don’t cost much. These are surprisingly cheap but really highly rated, check them out here.Opens in a new tab.

Know How To Use Your Adventure Medical Kits

This seems kind of simple, but like many things, we buy them and save them for an emergency. However, you don’t want to find out in the emergency you don’t know where certain first aid kit items are located when you’re under stress.

A medical emergency is already a concerning time at the moment, when you tack on the factor that you cant call 911 due to your location, that stress factor will increase. In these times, it helps to know your gear. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the items you have and how you use them in different scenarios. Rip a couple of bandages open and just try them out. There are endless YouTube videos online on how to operate any first aid kit items you may have.

Check Expiration Dates

Because these items are not used often and in many cases not opened for a year or more at a time, check your expiration dates periodically. Put a 6mo or annual reminder on your phone and just open the bag and see if any items need swapping out. Items like antiseptic cream often have an expiration date to be aware of.

Double The Fun

Because adventure medical kits are not very expensive, I recommend throwing two together (or buying two) and keeping one in your vehicle. Often, its bystanders who can offer first aid before the medics show up. Even if you don’t feel comfortable using the equipment, it’s good to have it on the scene and someone will likely be able to use the kit.

If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend checking out the YouTube video below to get you in the right direction when it comes to using your gear. Also, for other must-have items on your trip, check out this helpful guide. Remember, first aid kits are an easy option to throw together and they are easy to learn. Just like a seatbelt, you never need it, until you do.

First Aid is just another piece of equipment to incorporate into your outdoor lifestyle. It’s not that any we are doing is more dangerous than other activities, but we definitely want to have when we need it. For some other camping safety tips, you may have not considered, check out this excellent write-up by CarandTent.com.Opens in a new tab. Its wild times, I hope you are all staying safe and remember, get outside!

Mike is a Colorado resident, an Army veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.

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