Thru hiking gives you a new perspective on everything you pack – or more specifically over pack. It’ll also give you perspective on what you’re willing to endure on a hike. So, I encourage you: don’t pack your fears, just bring the necessities.
When creating this first aid kit these three points heavily weighed in:
- The next town is usually never more than a few days away
- If it only needs a band aid… then it doesn’t need a band aid
- If it’s a real emergency then the first aid kit probably won’t help and it’s time to press the SOS button (please carry a PLB)
So, below is the full list of my first aid kit which weighs in at roughly 250grams.
First Aid items:
- Antihistamines – enough for a few days. Having an allergic reaction while hiking can range from uncomfortable to dangerous. Pack enough for a few days to get into a town
- Anti diarrhea tablets – Contaminated water or turned food can easy make you ill on trail, leading to extreme dehydration. Pack enough for a few days to get to the next town
- Water purification tablets – enough for a few days in case you loose or damage your water filter
- Anti-fungal cream – cause feet can get gross, especially when in wet shoes for long periods. Foot care is critical on a thru hike
- Antiseptic cream – The brave use hand sanitiser. Since it’s a rarely used item consider squeezing half the tub out. It’ll likely burst or expire before you can finish it anyway.
- Ibuprofen/anti-inflammatory – For pain and injury management
- Compression bandage – for snake bites and/or sprains or massive bleeding
- Shock blanket – I only bring this for cold sections, snow camping and canyoning (it makes a great insulator on the tent floor and under your mat)
- Sports body tape – not only great for strapping knees, ankles and other sore body parts but doubles as blister management. Use the sports tape to cover hot spots as soon as they appear to prevent blisters from forming. Sports tape also replaces band aids, just remember to cover the wound or blister in chap stick or paw paw to prevent the adhesive reopening the wound when removing it.
Additional items: (sometimes it doubles as a miscellaneous kit)
- Needle & thread – for draining blisters, see technique here
- 2 x Tampons (cause hiking can make your body do unpredictable things)
- 1 x Condom (because, well, let’s not risk it)
- 2 x Batteries (if the head torch is dimming)
- Personal medications/preferences, for me that is Ural since I’m susceptible to UTI’s when I’m dehydrated
- Hand sanitiser is packed in my poop kit which was used daily
- Chap stick was occasionally used as a first aid item but lives in my hip pocket
- Garmin inReach was my emergency beacon/GPS/2way satellite text (aka my safety blanket) and lived in the top pocket of my pack
Packing the first aid kit
A small thick (freezer) zip lock bag is all that’s needed to hold your first aid kit and keep it waterproof. After a while all the tablets pop out of their foil packets so take photos of the dosages and pop them all into a smaller zip lock to be safely contained.